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Harvard trending younger - smart move or not?

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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink] New post 12 Aug 2008, 06:25
The move also allows plucky, young, internet start-up "whiz kids" to think they have a good shot at being accepted. I'm pretty sure Harvard would love to have the founder of the next Facebook or what have you among its alumni.
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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink] New post 12 Aug 2008, 13:13
kryzak wrote:
msday86 wrote:
In fact, I'll go so far as to say that some "b-school babies" might even be better than you will be at analyzing cases, because I assumed they are very intelligent and accomplished to get in at a younger age.


msday, I would try to avoid using words that may be misconstrued as making an argument "personal", in the case quoted above.


I didn't see the connection to a personal argument then, but now I do. Edited my earlier post.

kryzak wrote:
Also, getting in at a younger age doesn't necessarily correspond to being more "intelligent and accomplished." Everyone finds their path at different times. Some of us earlier and some of us later due to all sorts of reasons. :)


kry, you have a 10-year track record of excellence in the workplace/grad school/etc. It's "easier" to get into b-school with a 10-year track record than it is with a 2-year track record, which is why I said younger applicants have to be more qualified in other areas.
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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink] New post 12 Aug 2008, 20:30
msday86 wrote:
kry, you have a 10-year track record of excellence in the workplace/grad school/etc. It's "easier" to get into b-school with a 10-year track record than it is with a 2-year track record, which is why I said younger applicants have to be more qualified in other areas.


I see what you mean now. I think I agree with river in the sense that you get evaluated differently based on how many years of exp you have. It's very difficult (and somewhat unfair for both sides) to compare someone with 10 years of exp and someone with 2 years of exp. For the 10 year exp, the adcoms are probably looking for demonstrated leadership experience (managerial or otherwise) and a good career progression. They also care a lot about WHY this person wants an MBA this late in the game. In that sense, you have to be a very strong candidate to get selected (i.e. your career must be pretty darn impressive over the 10 years).

On the other hand, a 2-year candidate may not have direct managerial or leadership experience, but they have excelled in other areas such as teamwork, college leadership, GPA/GMAT, demonstrated "potential" for leadership (maybe through ECs, maybe through other things), etc..

That is why it's so important to have a diverse class with regards to WE, ranging from 2-10+ years. I'm probably preaching to the choir here, so I'll stop now. :) Good comments by all!

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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink] New post 13 Aug 2008, 05:22
The issue is once someone is over 30 they are walking a fine line. They have to be successful enough to justify getting in but not so successful that an MBA makes no sense for them. They why an MBA and why now are hard for both very young applicants and older applicants but I think its a lot harder for older folks. Young people can be offered deferred admissions and schools are probably willing to admit a younger person who seems more of a why now/why mba risk.

It still appears that 26-29 are the sweet spot at all schools besides HBS and there is a reason for that.

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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink] New post 14 Aug 2008, 17:21
Generally speaking, I would say that more experienced people will have had more time and more opportunity to have developed their soft management skills than a younger MBA who is more likely to be great from an analyst perspective. As a person works longer they are more likely to be in a position to manage peoples careers and development (as opposed to managing projects which can be done at quite a young age).

Therefore, generally speaking of course, an older MBA graduate should be seen as having a better 'all-round' hard and soft skill set when it comes to certain post-mba positions. Of course, a lot of post-mba jobs are very analyst based which suits the younger post-MBA market.
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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink] New post 05 Feb 2010, 16:05
smkrn wrote:
Here's another aspect to consider. At HBS in 2 years, when the first 2+2 group actually matriculates, there will be up 10% fewer spots for all the other traditional applicants (so instead of 900 available spots in the class, there will be as few as 810 spots for 8000+ applications). I think there might be somewhat of a backlash from students towards the younger applicants (of course, backlash from students probably won't matter to anyone but students, but it could be an interesting dynamic), especially if the older students feel like the the younger students aren't qualified to be there (I'm not saying the younger students won't be qualified - I'm just talking about the perception of more traditional students). It will be interesting to see how it plays out. Just something to think about.


so it looks like the first 2+2 group will be matriculating this year? as there will be 10% fewer spots, will those with less work experience suffer the most, since harvard has already promised a bunch of people with 2 years work experience admission? are those of us with 2-3 years work experience who did not have the foresight to apply to 2+2 in college screwed??
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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink] New post 05 Feb 2010, 18:12
quite a bump you did there!

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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink] New post 05 Feb 2010, 19:32
username123 wrote:
smkrn wrote:
Here's another aspect to consider. At HBS in 2 years, when the first 2+2 group actually matriculates, there will be up 10% fewer spots for all the other traditional applicants (so instead of 900 available spots in the class, there will be as few as 810 spots for 8000+ applications). I think there might be somewhat of a backlash from students towards the younger applicants (of course, backlash from students probably won't matter to anyone but students, but it could be an interesting dynamic), especially if the older students feel like the the younger students aren't qualified to be there (I'm not saying the younger students won't be qualified - I'm just talking about the perception of more traditional students). It will be interesting to see how it plays out. Just something to think about.


so it looks like the first 2+2 group will be matriculating this year? as there will be 10% fewer spots, will those with less work experience suffer the most, since harvard has already promised a bunch of people with 2 years work experience admission? are those of us with 2-3 years work experience who did not have the foresight to apply to 2+2 in college screwed??


I believe it's next year. Either way, I still can't wrap my mind around the perceived benefits of sharing a case-study classroom with a 23yr old kid.
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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink] New post 05 Feb 2010, 19:39
username123 wrote:
smkrn wrote:
Here's another aspect to consider. At HBS in 2 years, when the first 2+2 group actually matriculates, there will be up 10% fewer spots for all the other traditional applicants (so instead of 900 available spots in the class, there will be as few as 810 spots for 8000+ applications). I think there might be somewhat of a backlash from students towards the younger applicants (of course, backlash from students probably won't matter to anyone but students, but it could be an interesting dynamic), especially if the older students feel like the the younger students aren't qualified to be there (I'm not saying the younger students won't be qualified - I'm just talking about the perception of more traditional students). It will be interesting to see how it plays out. Just something to think about.


so it looks like the first 2+2 group will be matriculating this year? as there will be 10% fewer spots, will those with less work experience suffer the most, since harvard has already promised a bunch of people with 2 years work experience admission? are those of us with 2-3 years work experience who did not have the foresight to apply to 2+2 in college screwed??


you know, i never thought about it that way before, but you do bring up a good point. if you're HBS, you're already getting the cream of the crop (so to speak) from your 2+2 program. either your entire class will be overrun by 24 year olds at some point, or you'll have to scale back regular admits who are in the same age range (at least by 10% , to compensate for the increase in 2+2 kids).

is this trend a good idea? i don't know. you can make good arguments both ways, but it seems that other top schools are trending younger slightly as well (someone mentioned a pretty large # of younger students on a facebook page for wharton admits). other schools have rolled out similar programs (yale's silver scholars for example). i wouldn't be shocked if more top schools slowly follow the trend that HBS seems to have started.

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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink] New post 05 Feb 2010, 19:56
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Harvard is taking a risky move with the 2+2. A risky move that only a top school can afford to take. Before I started the b-school application process I didn't quite understand the reason why schools look so heavily on work experience. Now I see that work experience has a huge impact on the employability of the graduates. I guess that's why even HBS requires the students to get 2 years of WE before matriculation, to mitigate some of the risk.

HBS (and other top schools, Silver Scholars, McCombs Scholars) lucked out on the timing, as these programs started within the last couple of years. Imagine if they started the programs 2 years earlier. The graduates will be entering the job market with little or no work experience during a recession. It's hard to judge how competitive they will be, but I think they will be at a disadvantage. Since job placement and starting salary are metrics for school rankings, the schools would take a decent hit to their ranking.

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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink] New post 05 Feb 2010, 19:59
tdave wrote:
I believe it's next year. Either way, I still can't wrap my mind around the perceived benefits of sharing a case-study classroom with a 23yr old kid.


i think that's what i meant :-D

so the people applying this year with 2 years of experience are screwed? anyone know how many are in this first class of 2+2?
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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink] New post 05 Feb 2010, 20:32
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im not sure i like the trend younger...im not saying there is not room for meaningful contributions by early 20 year olds in an mba classroom setting, but i think it is a mistake for bschools to focus and expand this subsection. i remember being 23. you think you know things, but you simply dont. its like reading an economics book as a student and then thinking you can run the fed. its like being a professor writing a paper on the economic crisis and not understanding why the government doesnt just implement your ideas. the world simply just doesnt work that way (ask obama, hes a relatively new politician for being president, ask clinton about his first few years in the white house. theyre both intelligent. they both got spanked). there are nuances you learn being a leader in a high stakes professional setting. things that few early 20 something year olds experience enough to be able to contribute the type of seasoned perspective to a discussion that i am looking for. also, frankly, the likelihood of an early 20 something year old being incredibly useful as an inside contact, an industry informer and networking partner is slim. what can they contribute that is immediately valuable in this capacity? i should wait another four years for their career to take off? no offense to you young whippersnappers with tremendous potential, you may all be my boss one day, but im glad im getting an mba now before this trend saturates all the other bschools.
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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink] New post 05 Feb 2010, 21:00
In sense and sensibility of Dollar value... tough economy does not leave with much choice for schools to innovate... even if that it means opening doors to younger and dreamy crowd... given that not all 20 yr olds are gullible either... but its much much harder for a seasoned pro to throw 150K plus change on a degree which possibly comes with a world of doubts of ROI... in this economic climate...!

all done and said... reality of life is talent and passion will shine no matter what it is at 20 or 80...will always beat the odds of statistics...! Don't sweat it...Risk it to seek the reward...!
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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink] New post 05 Feb 2010, 21:05
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oh boy...im off on a rant...somebody stop me!

ok. i get that bschools want to attract younger talent. they want to compete with med and law school where those applicants train in that discipline mostly immediately after undgrad. if thats what were are aiming for here, then i think bschools are going to have to revamp their systems entirely. med school and law school have a set curriculum and professional examinations. are we going to get those for business school? hmm. and does this early option really tip the scale for someone considering law/med school? (not a rhetorical question btw - anyone?) i mean the career differences seem miles away, no?

another thought. does anyone else get the feeling that bschools on this path might be being a little underhanded here: that what they are really thinking is that the younger they get applicants the more likely the graduates will identify the school as a major factor in their success and thus more likely to make a significant contribution to the schools coffers later? something like the dotcom/facebook thing mentioned earlier? am i being too sinister? its one thing to grant entrance to those truly exceptional early 20yr olds that any employer would be glad to take, but to increase the general entrance odds because of age? and will this not put these young graduates at a disadvantage in the eyes of recruiters?

imho the most effective argument for schools going younger is to attract more female candidates. i mean lets be honest. we need more female perspectives in bschool. i do have doubts even about this argument though. dont females that tend to be ambitious enough to pursue graduate degrees also tend to defer having families until their in their 30s anyway? if so is that not sufficient time to get an mba without carving out section for super young candidates?

why not create separate program for them? a traditional academic masters concentrated degree then? im not trying to be antagonistic here. tell me if you agree or disagree with me and why. i clearly just dont get it.
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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink] New post 05 Feb 2010, 21:28
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I guess I'm in the minority, I am an advocate of the younger trend. I think most of the opposition coming from those in school and those applying now simply comes from envy - mad that this trend was not as "hot" while they were applying or when they were still in school/younger or they are upset that 2+2 programs didn't exist for them - and those who fear for their chances of admission over the next couple of years as these 2+2er's enter into each respective school, making fewer spot available. I have known that I wanted a MBA since my junior year in HS, and I too wish there was a 2+2 program when I was a senior, I feel I actually had a stronger profile then and would've had a better shot at H than now.

Secondly, I think a lot of people are overlooking the management/leadership experience younger people, especially the type to be accepted into a 2+2 program, have gained by leading clubs, student government, teaching courses at school, community involvement etc. Even at the typical 3-6 years experience, many (not all) of us aren't managing or leading people on any substantially different scale than we did in undergrad.

As far as the classroom, let's be honest, aside from those of us really looking for a certain set of technical skills, business school is mostly about the network and job options, not the business education - finance and derivatives is the same at No Name Community College as it will be at Wharton, the only difference is the brand. It's great to hear someone else's perspective on a business problem, but after 2 years of working, you've experienced or heard about enough business problems and seen/implemented enough solutions for you to be able to contribute your obligatory 1-2 comments per class.

Lastly, I think it's time that business schools recognize that people have clear goals for themselves and would like to attend b-school at a younger age. Every other graduate school program (ok, maybe not some selective RED programs) allows students to come straight from undergrad. Why should someone have to postpone the next step in their education just to get into school? And as a woman, I'm really sympathetic to this as business school and trying to re-launch your career post-graduation and establish yourself as a professional cuts into your prime childbearing years (for those of us who want kids), postponing the whole ordeal affects your personal and professional life. Who cares if compensation takes a hit, 25/26 y/o graduates coming out making 80-90k will be doing a whole lot better than the majority of their peer group who are still in entry level and/or very junior roles. And of course, a lot of employers find it easier to hire younger students into these "level 2", long hour, analyst/associate roles.

The only downside of admitting the 2+2er's is dictating what will be appropriate experience in those two years before they come. If you already know as a senior that you're headed to HBS, what makes you obligated to take crappy 9-5 or 60-90hr work weeks in MC/IBD?

Overall, I think the longevity of work experience is overstated and it's definitely more about the quality, especially coupled with outside experiences that present just as many leadership and problem solving opportunities. I applaud the schools who recognize this and am happy to see focused 23-25 y/o's being more openly welcome into top b-schools.

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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink] New post 05 Feb 2010, 22:27
i don't know what the original intent of a top MBA program once was, but it seems clear to me they are now focused on recruiting into professional services: banking and consulting. those professional services then can vault a career into general management, as the work experience gained in those tracks is respected universally.

given that people aren't even "managers" persay in consulting/banking, especially starting off, i don't think there is a problem with young applicants. personally i'd rather get my 3-4 years of the grind in a bank associate position done while i am still young.

the threat of competition from law school is indeed there. professional service outfits are open to recruiting law students (especially YHS ones) for consulting and banking positions. a smart, young ambitious person has a top JD as a solid choice, and they will pursue it when they are young. and the fallback of a top JD (biglaw) is probably more attractive career-wise than a general management position.

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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink] New post 06 Feb 2010, 03:19
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I guess I'm in the minority, I am an advocate of the younger trend. I think most of the opposition coming from those in school and those applying now simply comes from envy - mad that this trend was not as "hot" while they were applying or when they were still in school/younger or they are upset that 2+2 programs didn't exist for them - and those who fear for their chances of admission over the next couple of years as these 2+2er's enter into each respective school, making fewer spot available. I have known that I wanted a MBA since my junior year in HS, and I too wish there was a 2+2 program when I was a senior, I feel I actually had a stronger profile then and would've had a better shot at H than now.

Secondly, I think a lot of people are overlooking the management/leadership experience younger people, especially the type to be accepted into a 2+2 program, have gained by leading clubs, student government, teaching courses at school, community involvement etc. Even at the typical 3-6 years experience, many (not all) of us aren't managing or leading people on any substantially different scale than we did in undergrad.

As far as the classroom, let's be honest, aside from those of us really looking for a certain set of technical skills, business school is mostly about the network and job options, not the business education - finance and derivatives is the same at No Name Community College as it will be at Wharton, the only difference is the brand. It's great to hear someone else's perspective on a business problem, but after 2 years of working, you've experienced or heard about enough business problems and seen/implemented enough solutions for you to be able to contribute your obligatory 1-2 comments per class.

Lastly, I think it's time that business schools recognize that people have clear goals for themselves and would like to attend b-school at a younger age. Every other graduate school program (ok, maybe not some selective RED programs) allows students to come straight from undergrad. Why should someone have to postpone the next step in their education just to get into school? And as a woman, I'm really sympathetic to this as business school and trying to re-launch your career post-graduation and establish yourself as a professional cuts into your prime childbearing years (for those of us who want kids), postponing the whole ordeal affects your personal and professional life. Who cares if compensation takes a hit, 25/26 y/o graduates coming out making 80-90k will be doing a whole lot better than the majority of their peer group who are still in entry level and/or very junior roles. And of course, a lot of employers find it easier to hire younger students into these "level 2", long hour, analyst/associate roles.

The only downside of admitting the 2+2er's is dictating what will be appropriate experience in those two years before they come. If you already know as a senior that you're headed to HBS, what makes you obligated to take crappy 9-5 or 60-90hr work weeks in MC/IBD?

Overall, I think the longevity of work experience is overstated and it's definitely more about the quality, especially coupled with outside experiences that present just as many leadership and problem solving opportunities. I applaud the schools who recognize this and am happy to see focused 23-25 y/o's being more openly welcome into top b-schools.


Most opposition stems from envy or admissions anxiety? I don't think so. The biggest concern is that the 2+2ers will reduce the quality of the MBA experience in regard to classroom discussion, recruit-ability, networking options and overall MBA rankings. The real debate here is whether the perceived benefits of admitting college seniors outweigh the potential negatives.
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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink] New post 06 Feb 2010, 08:23
tdave wrote:
Most opposition stems from envy or admissions anxiety? I don't think so. The biggest concern is that the 2+2ers will reduce the quality of the MBA experience in regard to classroom discussion, recruit-ability, networking options and overall MBA rankings. The real debate here is whether the perceived benefits of admitting college seniors outweigh the potential negatives.

And I addressed all of that. 2 years is quite enough time to have valuable experiences, secondly, how much are you really learning from classmates, especially when people only comment a few times per class? Even in group work, everyone will have a strength regardless of how short or long they've been out of school.

Recruiting is moot, aside from some rotational/management programs, 2 years won't adversely affect someone going into mktg, MC, IBD, etc - most people are career switchers anyway, so even if you have 4-7 years of experience, if you're completely switching careers, longevity alone does not make you a better, more desirable candidate.

Network? If a 24 y/o comes in and has an established network from their UG peers or they have close ties to senior management in top companies, or they are from a powerful family, that's more valuable than some average schmuck who's older yet went to school just to gain a network.

Everything being mentioned is unquantifiable...I don't think there are more negatives in letting younger people in, more than likely these young people will be the cream of the crop - they have to be since they don't have much professional experience to stand on. While I also don't want to see more kids come straight from UG, moving toward 2-3 yrs as the benchmark for expected years of W/E poses no threat to any of the things you mentioned, IMO.

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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink] New post 06 Feb 2010, 08:25
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Words from the mouth of a Stanford adcom "We like to admit younger students so that they have more time to go out in the world and effect change with the education we give them"

I think the whole ageism in business school is complete bs, and the comment above was pretty pompous. We are talking four to five years difference between the young applicants and the "old" ones. When an average working career now spans probably forty years, you're telling me that being four or five years younger is going to make a difference in someones success? Give me a break.

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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink] New post 06 Feb 2010, 13:34
Ginetta wrote:
We are talking four to five years difference between the young applicants and the "old" ones. When an average working career now spans probably forty years, you're telling me that being four or five years younger is going to make a difference in someones success? Give me a break.


That was going to be my first point exactly. Come on. Maturity is relative and age often has nothing to do with it. The difference in experience levels of a 23 year-old and a 26 year-old are going to be deal-breakers? I don't think so.

My second point, regarding the problem of attracting female students, is this: That attitude completely perpetuates the stereotypical male-female roles given us by society. Women are supposed to get their MBAs earlier so, what, their careers can still end by the time they're in their 30's? Even the ambitious ones are going to give it all up for the kids? Or are we all expected to be Sarah Palins and practically give birth in airplanes? Can we ever hope to be mothers AND successful? I'd like to see some dads willing to put their careers on hold and help raise the next generation. It takes two to make a baby, and it should take two to raise one.
Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not?   [#permalink] 06 Feb 2010, 13:34
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