When To Apply For An MBA

Applying to MBA | Admissionado

It’s no secret that MBA programs are comprised mostly of students in their mid-to-late-20s (though European programs skew a bit older,) but the question nonetheless arises of “when is the right time to apply to increase my odds of getting in?”

Obviously, as the MBA is a professional program, it’s good to have some professional experience. Coming straight out of college might be a mistake because you won’t have the contextual wherewithal to really benefit from the program, and chances are you could have learned a lot of what you were hoping to learn about business by joining the workforce and, well, working in business. On the other hand, waiting too long to apply might hinder the efficacy of the program simply because you’ve gone so far in one field, probably earning a series of promotions and making a number of career moves, thereby making an MBA kind of unnecessary. There’s also the question of your network. Being too far away from the average age of a program might make it more difficult to form the kind of meaningful bonds with your peers that carry with you throughout your professional life after the MBA. But, if we’re being frank, all of these age-related considerations really miss the mark.

Instead of worrying about what the right age to apply to an MBA is, consider WHEN you NEED an MBA. The answer is remarkably simple: apply for an MBA when it’s the inevitable next step along the path to your goal. The adcom isn’t admitting students based on their ages. They’re looking for who would most benefit from the experience right now. They’re looking for who needs an MBA now in order to continue along their career trajectory. A compelling structure for an MBA essay includes demonstrating your passion for solving a particular problem (your long-term goal) and then demonstrating what you’ve done already to solve that problem. Somewhere along our path, you hit a roadblock – either because you lack certain educational skills you need to take the next step to your goal or because you need to transition career fields because you’ve outgrown your current role and, in doing so, realized your passion lies elsewhere. The question of age is irrelevant. What IS relevant is: did that roadblock happen… well… right now? If there are skills you need that you can only gain through an MBA, then now is the time to apply.

So, don’t worry so much about your age. Don’t try to wait until the right age in order to game the system, or on the flip side, don’t NOT apply because you think you’re too old to be taken seriously by the adcom. Go as far as you can toward trying to reach your goal, whatever that may be, and when you can’t go any farther without an MBA, that’s the time to apply.

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