ForumWatch: How Young is Too Young for an MBA?

Posted by: Louis Lavelle on March 29, 2011

Every few weeks or so, people come onto the Bloomberg Businessweek Business Schools Forum to ask questions about how their age influences their chances of getting into a top program. These forum participants tend to be either fresh out of undergraduate programs or well over 30. Since most MBA students are in their mid- to late-twenties, these participants are concerned they don’t have a chance.

Recently, the subject came up in a discussion thread after a 21-year-old, who is expecting to graduate in May from an undergraduate program, posed the question, “Am I too young for an MBA?” This person, who goes by the username “acrossley,” has already launched a business and doesn’t want to wait to gain experience before attending business school.

As one might expect, those who responded to the original message suggested gaining work experience and maturity before entering business schools. After all, both admissions committees and fellow students look for the value a candidate will bring to campus. At the same time, there are some programs that are skewing younger, and every so often exceptional applicants are accepted fresh out of an undergraduate program. What would you tell acrossley? You can share your suggestions and opinions here, or on the forum discussion thread.

—Francesca Di Meglio

Editor’s Note: This is the first of what we hope will be many blog posts about discussions taking place on the Bloomberg Businessweek Business Schools Forum, where prospective b-school applicants, current students, and recent alumni trade admissions tips, job-hunting advice, and occasional barbed comment. We invite you to join these discussions or start one of your own.

Reader Comments

ZXC

March 29, 2011 7:42 PM

Only hardwork required is in application. It should be convincing enough to show the need of management studies. Equal importance is given to clearance of future goals and how MBA fits into that.

Jim in NC

March 30, 2011 10:14 AM

If you are already in the business world and making cake then slowly work on your MBA. The degree is good to have. But there are a lot of people who have found out that $4 and an MBA can get you a Venti latte. In other words, success has many factors in business. If you are planning to work for larger corporate company then the MBA is a good thing to get done quickly.

Aimee Akimoff

April 8, 2011 4:52 PM

Applicants who are early in their career can explore the opportunities of early career MBA programs.

MBA programs have changed in recent years. Rather than relying on the prior experience of students to illustrate the management principles shared in class, the early career model, like that at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, brings practical projects into the classroom or exposes students to opportunities outside the classroom. This "experiential learning" enables the student to acquire an MBA degree while also adding to his or her resume. Examples include a student investment fund, business plan workshop (and subsequent "new ventures to market class") and other projects that pair student groups with outside clients. Speaking of which, one of Willamette's real-world courses was featured among Inc. Magazine's 10 Best Entrepreneurship Courses of 2011!

Willamette University recognized the need for an early career program designed for students with plenty of ambition and motivation, but without the work experience required of traditional programs. Along with the projects outlined above, effective early career MBA experiences are only possible with strong support from career services programming. This includes internships, mentorship programs, peer career coaching and company site visits.

Visit www.willamette.edu/mba for more information!

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Read daily reports from BusinessWeek editors and reporters Louis Lavelle, Geoff Gloeckler, Alison Damast and Francesca Di Meglio and boost your chances of getting into your best-fit B-school.

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