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Am I too old for business school?

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Am I too old for business school? [#permalink] New post 06 Apr 2009, 07:34
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Hello everyone,

First of all this is a great forum and I think you guys are incredible. I was running in the Cooper River Bridge Run Saturday in Charleston, SC when I passed a guy who had applied to Kenan Flagler with me. He and his girlfriend BOTH got in with a GMAT that was 30 points less than mine. I scored a 650 to give you background. They were also a few years out of school, where as I had 11 years experience, a professional engineers license, as well tremendous leadership qualities with my job (I oversee 60 people). My question is , I'm 34 and am I just hung? I am studying for the GMAT again and take it in June - but my question is why bother? If a higher score is not gonna help why go through the hell? I have also thought about executive programs but I am looking for more of a career change. It was very frustrating on an otherwise perfect day. Kenan Flagler was the only school I applied to, I also really really like Vanderbilt - I want to do a Real Estate concentration. Maybe I should look at a Masters in Real Estate Development?

I thank you guys,

Ben
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Re: Am I too old for business school? [#permalink] New post 06 Apr 2009, 07:47
You are not to old, you need just to chose corectly the school. I'm 34 also, and i have a 670 on GMAT. I'm admited in a top 10 program in Europe and top 30 in the world, and I had some interviews, but I spent a lot of time in applications for schols with 27 mean age of the class and I was dinged. You must chose a program with 29-30 median age. I don't think that your GMAT is a problem, since a 670 was not a problem for me. Good luck
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Re: Am I too old for business school? [#permalink] New post 06 Apr 2009, 07:51
vbalex,

Thank you so much. Could you tell me what schools you recommend in the US and abroad that have higher average age? You didnt get into LBS did you? That is my dream school!
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Re: Am I too old for business school? [#permalink] New post 06 Apr 2009, 07:56
Ben,
There are many other factors besides your GMAT score. My understanding is that the older you are the more weight the Adcom's put on your GMAT score and the less on your undergrad GPA. It could also be their work expericences are what the school is looking for. Also both your score and the other applicants scores fall within UNC's middle 80% range so the school may view those as equals. On a positive note during Blue Devil weekend I met some admits who were older than you one being in his earlier 40's, so your age of 35 won't automatically rule you out. I would encourage you to try agian next year, perhaps call UNC in the summer and ask if they will give you some feedback. I would also encourage you to apply to more than one school.

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benpack03 wrote:
Hello everyone,

First of all this is a great forum and I think you guys are incredible. I was running in the Cooper River Bridge Run Saturday in Charleston, SC when I passed a guy who had applied to Kenan Flagler with me. He and his girlfriend BOTH got in with a GMAT that was 30 points less than mine. I scored a 650 to give you background. They were also a few years out of school, where as I had 11 years experience, a professional engineers license, as well tremendous leadership qualities with my job (I oversee 60 people). My question is , I'm 34 and am I just hung? I am studying for the GMAT again and take it in June - but my question is why bother? If a higher score is not gonna help why go through the hell? I have also thought about executive programs but I am looking for more of a career change. It was very frustrating on an otherwise perfect day. Kenan Flagler was the only school I applied to, I also really really like Vanderbilt - I want to do a Real Estate concentration. Maybe I should look at a Masters in Real Estate Development?

I thank you guys,

Ben
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Re: Am I too old for business school? [#permalink] New post 06 Apr 2009, 08:01
Thanks smokedpotatoes,

I really liked UNC because it is cheap (NC Resident) and they have a strong real estate program. However, I am going to apply to Duke next year as well - lol after I pick up my GMAT a bit. I was much more impressed by the Dukies than the Tar Heels - not to sound jaded, but its true. Plus I am a Wolfpacker, so I could really get into pulling for Duke - UNC NOT SO MUCH. may I ask a strange question? I grew up Methodist and I'm still a member of the Methodist church. Did Duke ask this on the application? I had heard a rumor that they had. Congrats on getting in - Duke is a fantastic University and community.
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Re: Am I too old for business school? [#permalink] New post 06 Apr 2009, 08:36
benpack03 wrote:
Thanks smokedpotatoes,

I really liked UNC because it is cheap (NC Resident) and they have a strong real estate program. However, I am going to apply to Duke next year as well - lol after I pick up my GMAT a bit. I was much more impressed by the Dukies than the Tar Heels - not to sound jaded, but its true. Plus I am a Wolfpacker, so I could really get into pulling for Duke - UNC NOT SO MUCH. may I ask a strange question? I grew up Methodist and I'm still a member of the Methodist church. Did Duke ask this on the application? I had heard a rumor that they had. Congrats on getting in - Duke is a fantastic University and community.


Ben,
No worries, I don't recall them asking that question or any question about religion, any one want to correct me on that one? Also good call on getting the GMAT score up, I think that will help you. I used the Mahattan GMAT self study course and it worked well for me. Also I would start workinmg on the apps in the summer (something I did not do) Good luck with the app process next year. :)

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Re: Am I too old for business school? [#permalink] New post 06 Apr 2009, 08:43
I'm 32 and I'll be attending a FT MBA program this fall.

As long as you can justify why you need an MBA at this point in your life, being in your early- to mid-30s shouldn't be an issue.

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Re: Am I too old for business school? [#permalink] New post 06 Apr 2009, 12:30
I think like others have mentioned, the GMAT is only one factor the adcom look at in evaluating your application. I don't think your age will keep you out of FT programs but you will need to do a better job of justifying why now is a good time for you to get the MBA, as well as how an MBA will help you now that you've been working for 11 years. Since you mentioned that you were a career changer, I think a FT MBA over an exec-MBA does make sense. I would try again this fall, an apply to several programs to better hedge your chances of getting in.

Also, I applied to Duke - didn't see any questions on the app about religion.
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Re: Am I too old for business school? [#permalink] New post 06 Apr 2009, 12:42
Honestly, in reading over the OP, my first thought was that you should have applied to more than just one school. B-school admissions are kind of a black box -- you can speculate on what a given school is looking for, you can run numbers to see how competitive you would be, but at the end of the day, it comes down to what two or three very human, very subjective people felt when they reviewed your app. There can also be fit issues, so just because your scores are competitive, they may not have heard the things in your essays that suggest to them you'll be a good fit for their culture.

So even the most competitive applicant is best served applying to multiple schools unless the one school they apply to is well into their safe zone. (And even that can be dangerous, as some schools will ding or waitlist you if they don't think you'll come, to protect their yield.) There's just too much potential for a bad read of your app to result in a ding -- if you apply to multiple schools, the odds are better at least one adcom will look at your app and find something they want in you.

I can say I met a number of students your age and even older at Blue Devil Weekend this past weekend. I don't know their GMAT scores, but AFAIK none are managing 60 people. You should be competitive -- cast your net a little wider next year and I bet you'll get an admit.
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Re: Am I too old for business school? [#permalink] New post 06 Apr 2009, 13:21
Skitalets,
I couldn't agree more with your advice and observations. I'd give a kudos if we still had them. :P

SP


Skitalets wrote:
Honestly, in reading over the OP, my first thought was that you should have applied to more than just one school. B-school admissions are kind of a black box -- you can speculate on what a given school is looking for, you can run numbers to see how competitive you would be, but at the end of the day, it comes down to what two or three very human, very subjective people felt when they reviewed your app. There can also be fit issues, so just because your scores are competitive, they may not have heard the things in your essays that suggest to them you'll be a good fit for their culture.

So even the most competitive applicant is best served applying to multiple schools unless the one school they apply to is well into their safe zone. (And even that can be dangerous, as some schools will ding or waitlist you if they don't think you'll come, to protect their yield.) There's just too much potential for a bad read of your app to result in a ding -- if you apply to multiple schools, the odds are better at least one adcom will look at your app and find something they want in you.

I can say I met a number of students your age and even older at Blue Devil Weekend this past weekend. I don't know their GMAT scores, but AFAIK none are managing 60 people. You should be competitive -- cast your net a little wider next year and I bet you'll get an admit.
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Re: Am I too old for business school? [#permalink] New post 06 Apr 2009, 14:09
Hey Ben,
What about EMBA? I think you are competitive for most EMBA programs. Would your company sponsor you? It appears to me you are already in a pretty high level position.
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Re: Am I too old for business school? [#permalink] New post 06 Apr 2009, 15:25
Thanks guys for all your help.

I have looked at my EMBA, but I am currently a highway engineer with the North Carolina Department of Transportation - so it would be a huge career change for me. I wanted to go into real estate development and use my construction background with the MBA. Smoked, I too have bought several of the Manhatten books including sentence correction and number properties and have also been doing the GMATClub tests (its funny that my quant is so low and I'm an engineer). I will apply next year and will seriously look at Duke - a good friend of mine is in their exec program. Do any of you Duke admits know anything about the MBA/MPP program? Terry Sanford was a friend of my family's growing up. You guys are really great and I do thank you for your time, I hope you all do well.

Ben


P.S. I live at Lake Junaluska in the mountains of North Carolina - its the world Methodist headquarters. I think it may have been an old wivestail I heard about the being Methodist thing.

P.S. 2 Not to keep asking questions, but did any of you guys hire an admissions consultant?
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Re: Am I too old for business school? [#permalink] New post 06 Apr 2009, 16:04
Ben,
I've also found the GMAT Club forum members to be ery helpfull. Feel free to ask as many question as you want. In general people here are more than happy to help. Unfortunately I don't know much about the MBA/MPP dual program. Another peice of advice is to visit the school early sya this summer and again in the fall and build a rapport with some people in the admissions office (something I did not do). :) I also did not use an admissions consultant. I was lucky in the fact that I had friends who are currenlty in MBA programs, they were very helpfull with essay edits and suggestions. You def want to have people read over yoiur essays, AND make sure you ANSWER THE QUESTION BEING ASKED.

SP


Oh to you comment on your quant being lower than verbal even though yoiur an engineer. I'm actually in the same boat I'm a CPA /w a masters in accounting and currenlty studing for level III of the CFA exam, yet I scored much higher on verbal than math go figure!!!

benpack03 wrote:
Thanks guys for all your help.

I have looked at my EMBA, but I am currently a highway engineer with the North Carolina Department of Transportation - so it would be a huge career change for me. I wanted to go into real estate development and use my construction background with the MBA. Smoked, I too have bought several of the Manhatten books including sentence correction and number properties and have also been doing the GMATClub tests (its funny that my quant is so low and I'm an engineer). I will apply next year and will seriously look at Duke - a good friend of mine is in their exec program. Do any of you Duke admits know anything about the MBA/MPP program? Terry Sanford was a friend of my family's growing up. You guys are really great and I do thank you for your time, I hope you all do well.

Ben


P.S. I live at Lake Junaluska in the mountains of North Carolina - its the world Methodist headquarters. I think it may have been an old wivestail I heard about the being Methodist thing.

P.S. 2 Not to keep asking questions, but did any of you guys hire an admissions consultant?
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Re: Am I too old for business school? [#permalink] New post 06 Apr 2009, 16:10
Ben - you may want to ask about the Duke MBA/MPP in the Admitted to Duke or Calling all Duke Applicants threads - there's probably a better chance of people familiar with it reading those threads.

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Re: Am I too old for business school? [#permalink] New post 06 Apr 2009, 20:01
Age is not an intrinsic handicap per se, however it does mean that you have to take special care in addressing a few key issues. These are the questions to come to mind (in no particular order of importance),

1. Timing.
Why now? Why not earlier like most b-school applicants? Or why not a little later and do an E-MBA? Chicago is famous for emphasizing this point, but I think most top b-schools will also be very interested to know your rationale for applying.

You are at an age where it's a little on the old side for an MBA, and perhaps a little too young/inexperienced for an E-MBA, so I think it's even more important to explain clearly why you feel you have to get an MBA right now.

2. Future plans.

Applicants to good b-schools tend to have pretty good jobs and/or are on track to be quite successful at what they currently do. Hence, one of the biggest question that all applicants (and not just older ones) have to answer well is why an MBA is needed. I feel this is more so with older applicants because they tend to be more well-established in their career, so the need for an MBA is less obvious.

This is even more critical when you are trying to switch careers. For example, if you have been an engineers for 10+ years, and now you want to become and I-banker, you must have a very compelling reason for this. Also, I think there are two kinds of career switchers, 1) the "engineer to i-banker" career switcher, which is basically going from apples to oranges and 2) the same/related field but a different role career switcher, e.g. you were an engineer, but you hope to lead an engineering team post-MBA. I get the feeling you belong in the latter group (so do I actually,) and I think you will be able to give a very compelling reason for your application.

I also feel this is important because this will definitely affect how the AdCom views your chances of getting a good job post-MBA. Again to re-use my earlier example, if you're an engineer with 10+ years of experience but want go into the banking industry post-MBA, this will be quite challenging. And even if you do get into banking, because of your inexperience in that area, your compensation might not be as competitive as some of your peers. So if you're a complete career switcher (i.e. going from apples to oranges,) you need to show why you feel this switch is necessary this late in life. Otherwise you come off as someone who just wants to go to b-school because you're not happy with status quo. Always remember to come off as the guy going from one green pasture to a greener one, and not as the guy who's fleeing a forest fire.

3. Fit
There is no secret that (most) b-schools are trending younger, and the average age in (almost?) all b-schools are south of the 30 line. So you will be interacting with people significantly younger than you when you get into b-school. I think you have to show that you will be able to fit in well and be young at heart at least. This doesn't mean being to drink the younger students under the table, and stay out as late as them and party. It does mean being able to work with them as a peer, understand the (slight) generation gap, and being very open-minded. It's one thing to show you can manage younger people (which as an older applicant, you should not have any problems with), but it is another to show that you can work with younger people as peers.

I am an older applicant as well (32 at matriculation) and these were some of the issues I gave a lot of though to and tried to address to the best of my ability in my applications. Hope they can be some help to you as well.
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Re: Am I too old for business school? [#permalink] New post 07 Apr 2009, 10:39
from an older candidate who has gone through the fire, let me give you some advice.

Schools are not averse to taking older applicants, but you need to directly address your higher level of experience and very specifically why it makes more sense for you to have applied later rather than earlier.

Without doing this, you will just look like and older, lazy guy who jumped on the bandwagon.

I honestly don't think age is a huge determinant, but the older you get, the harder it is to convincingly explain what I have outlined above. It's practically self-selecting in that way.
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Re: Am I too old for business school? [#permalink] New post 07 Apr 2009, 15:26
Hey Ben,
From what I can read, you have a distinctive profile. I think you might be a bit too hung up on the GMAT. Retake it if you like but don't go overboard. As long as you are within the 80th percentile you should be fine. Your strong work and leadership experiences along with some great insightful stories and solid well thought out aims will get you in a school (and not a super high GMAT score).

You will find that European schools in general are a bit more older applicant friendly. I know LBS has a good range and the median age is somewhat higher. I am turning 30 this year personally.Among the American schools I know of - Chicago and Wharton seem more older applicant friendly.

Good luck.

benpack03 wrote:
vbalex,

Thank you so much. Could you tell me what schools you recommend in the US and abroad that have higher average age? You didnt get into LBS did you? That is my dream school!
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Re: Am I too old for business school? [#permalink] New post 07 Apr 2009, 15:41
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I'm 33 and think H/S/W is a big question for old guys. As you are old as me you should answer clearly a few questions:
1) why not EMBA
2) why now
+
3) high GMAT & great achievements (better than 27-old guys).

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Re: Am I too old for business school? [#permalink] New post 30 Apr 2009, 05:41
I just wanted to thank you guys......I have been taking those GMATClub tests and really been in my own GMAT bubble!

It was greta advice and I thank you.
Re: Am I too old for business school?   [#permalink] 30 Apr 2009, 05:41
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