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# Harvard trending younger - smart move or not?

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Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink]  10 Aug 2008, 18:43
Being incredibly bored by my math exam coming up, I was thinking about the "going-for-youth" trend at HBS. I understood that it was originated by a demand coming from the IBs. However, is this not a danger for their reputation? Isn't it dangerous for a school to do that move when it is solely based on case studies, where peer learning is essential? If so, it will decrease the quality of the Harvard MBA grads and it will only be a matter of time before the companies realise this and downrate HBS.

Obviously this is an extreme scenario (Harvard brand being so strong), but I'd like to have your input on the subject.
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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink]  10 Aug 2008, 21:20
I dont see how this should decrease the quality of the grads very much. Lets assume someone starts the MBA age 26 with four years work experience. That person would already have a fairly good understabding of their industry and two, three or four extra years probably wont add that much considering it is only one aspect of the candidate. It's not the specific knowledge that members of the group have, but rather their personalities and ways of working that have the most value.

I would actually say that this could further strengthen Harvards position. I dont think it's only the IBs that this would appeal to. I believe most companies would prefer to hire a younger MBA over an older one if they are both career switchers with no relevant experience. If Harvard gives them what they want this can only strengthen their relationship. Anyway, you can bet your bottom dollar Harvard would be very much aware of any change in reputation brought about by this lowering of average age.

For me personally, I would love to start my MBA aged 26 (am currently 24) but I'll probably postpone a year to try and beef up my application and have the best possible chance. I would much rather be in a MBA group with an average age of 30 as opposed to 26, but I think the difference is negligable considering other factors (mostly economic ones).
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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink]  11 Aug 2008, 05:25
mubs352 wrote:
I dont see how this should decrease the quality of the grads very much. Lets assume someone starts the MBA age 26 with four years work experience. That person would already have a fairly good understabding of their industry and two, three or four extra years probably wont add that much considering it is only one aspect of the candidate. It's not the specific knowledge that members of the group have, but rather their personalities and ways of working that have the most value.

I would actually say that this could further strengthen Harvards position. I dont think it's only the IBs that this would appeal to. I believe most companies would prefer to hire a younger MBA over an older one if they are both career switchers with no relevant experience. If Harvard gives them what they want this can only strengthen their relationship. Anyway, you can bet your bottom dollar Harvard would be very much aware of any change in reputation brought about by this lowering of average age.

For me personally, I would love to start my MBA aged 26 (am currently 24) but I'll probably postpone a year to try and beef up my application and have the best possible chance. I would much rather be in a MBA group with an average age of 30 as opposed to 26, but I think the difference is negligable considering other factors (mostly economic ones).

I couldn't find the data, but from what I saw HBS students tend to have way less than 4 years years of experience. If they have >4y experience, I agree that's it's a good thing, but from what I understood these guys tend to have <2y experience. Correct me if I'm wrong though.
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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink]  11 Aug 2008, 05:38
I think 40% or so had <= 3yr WE
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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink]  11 Aug 2008, 05:40
From the spreadsheet created by svrider, it appears that the middle 80% range for Harvard work experience is 3.0 - 5.0 years, and the average age is 27. When we say "trending younger" what we mean is accepting 24 - 25 year old applicants, or even the 2+2 program (although no one really knows what Harvard is looking for in those applicants). Under the new "trending younger" concept, someone that will be 29 at matriculation next fall would be considered a b-school senior citizen.
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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink]  11 Aug 2008, 08:04
sm332 wrote:
I think another important factor here is trying to entice women into coming. I can use my own married life example. Both me and my wife are 25 (same exact birthday's actually - which is really odd ) and I reckon that her window of opportunity to do an MBA is the next 2 yrs as in ... she probably needs to start by the time she is 26 or 27 max before other desires (child rearing kick in).

I think this is a really solid move to attract more women ... they are not going to start branding it that way but I suspect the numbers will bear it out.

So you're saying it'll be a bunch of old stodgy men with a bunch of young women?

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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink]  11 Aug 2008, 08:17
hey ... I am going to be a perpetually young man ... never going beyond 29!!

But this is just my thought ... time will tell what really ends up happening.

A lot of smart young women cant ever be a bad thing though .... especially if you are single
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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink]  11 Aug 2008, 08:53
sm332 wrote:
she probably needs to start by the time she is 26 or 27 max before other desires (child rearing kick in).

Really depends on the woman...I am 28 and so is my wife. Many people we know here at school are 27-30 and none of the women want kids anytime soon. Seems many professional women want to wait until they are in their mid 30s these days. I think its more a matter of trying to get smart young career driven kids before they head to law school or med school.

Personally I think it definitely has its drawbacks. Some companies dont mind and may even prefer younger folks however some still value pre-mba experience and age. IB age probably is not much of an issue, most likely being 26 is better to them than being 32. However, it is harder to take very young folks seriously in some jobs. If you are in charge of people they may look at you as a kid, where as if you are closer to 30 not so much a problem. A few years difference in your 20s can make a huge difference in how you are viewed.

Also I think that many young folks are unprepared not for the academics or social aspects of the MBA but for the interactions. I sat in on a class last fall and there was one kid who was trying to participate (it was clear he was barely out of undergrad) and other students were trying to not snicker when he was talking about his vast experience in the subject. If you are 24 and only worked for 2 years its not just the fact your may not have done as much as a 28 year old but you also have had fewer interactions with co-workers...faced fewer challenges working on teams or leading people.

Personally, I think outside of young IBers who do their 2-3 years and are 100% set on going back to the field...most people would be much better off having 4+ years of exerpience. Especially engineers, IT folks, accounting, auditing, even most consultants...chances are it takes you several years before you are even remotely leading teams or projects and then having a few years of practice doing that is a big benefit. Its a management degree, its not like a normal masters. Honestly if I was 35 and some hot shot 25 year old recent MBA grad was my boss, I would definitely not take him seriously...thats me, I would look at him as who does he think he is. Where as a 30 year old, I could relate to instead of looking at a kid who was in diapers when I was in high school.
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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink]  11 Aug 2008, 09:09
sonibubu wrote:
I think 40% or so had <= 3yr WE

Yeah thats about right it seems...
http://www.hbs.edu/mba/profiles/classprofile.html

So there would be many people with two years or less of work experience, I think 20% would be ok but 30% a bit too much.

I read somewhere that the average age was 27. However, there will probably be many more people < 27 than > 27, considering you can hold the average with two 24 year olds for every 33 year old.

I think an average of 27 yrs at matriculation is ok but any younger and you have start really asking questions about the value of such an MBA.

I think the real question is whether other schools catch on.
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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink]  11 Aug 2008, 09:28
mubs352 wrote:
I think the real question is whether other schools catch on.

Probably the opposite. Stanford can get who ever they want...small program with an amazing brand. However, if HBS becomes known as nearly impossible for students in the 27+ age range (nonmilitary, phd, wierdos) then the other schools will benefit by attracting top talent who is just a too old for HBS.
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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink]  11 Aug 2008, 09:32
i would say for MC, you cant have 20 something telling a CEO of a fortune 10 company to reform their org structures..it just doesnt fly...

HBS is probably trending lower cause the would like to recruit younger WOMEN, those who would like to start a family soon but would like to get their MBA out of the way first..
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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink]  11 Aug 2008, 10:09
fresinha12 wrote:
i would say for MC, you cant have 20 something telling a CEO of a fortune 10 company to reform their org structures..it just doesnt fly...

Ha! I can picture the scene:

CEO: so this is how I have been running the company for the last 25 years

MC kid: OK, you've got 25 years of experience in the field; personally I have about 25 minutes of experience, but I can already tell you that you've got it all wrong

CEO: hmmm... Remind me your hourly wage again?
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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink]  11 Aug 2008, 17:27
interesting observation about the women part linking to trending younger. I haven't thought of that angle before. On a side note, one of my classmates is pregnant right now and delivering sometime in Oct/Nov, generally the 1st year "crunch time". It'll sure be interesting.

I personally think that HBS has enough of a brand name and feed the industries that sustain the brand name (IB, MC, PE, etc...) well enough that trending younger won't hurt them much. Their biggest worry right now is that the US president is their most visible alum.
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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink]  11 Aug 2008, 18:38
fresinha12 wrote:
i would say for MC, you cant have 20 something telling a CEO of a fortune 10 company to reform their org structures..it just doesnt fly...

I imagine it's very rare when a fresh b-school grad gets to directly influence his clients' senior leadership, so the situation you're talking about will never happen. Even if it does, does it really matter if the MC is 29 years old or 25 years old??
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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink]  11 Aug 2008, 18:46
riverripper wrote:
Also I think that many young folks are unprepared not for the academics or social aspects of the MBA but for the interactions. I sat in on a class last fall and there was one kid who was trying to participate (it was clear he was barely out of undergrad) and other students were trying to not snicker when he was talking about his vast experience in the subject. If you are 24 and only worked for 2 years its not just the fact your may not have done as much as a 28 year old but you also have had fewer interactions with co-workers...faced fewer challenges working on teams or leading people.

I'm not going to try to argue that a 24-year old has less professional depth than a 28-year old, but of all my class visits, most of the discussion was on analysis of the case, and not dependent on individual experiences. And I think one does not necessarily need 5+ years of work experience to be able to analyze a case on its merits. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that some "b-school babies" might even be better than a more experienced person would be at analyzing cases, because I assumed they are very intelligent and accomplished to get in at a younger age.

riverripper wrote:

Honestly if I was 35 and some hot shot 25 year old recent MBA grad was my boss, I would definitely not take him seriously...thats me, I would look at him as who does he think he is. Where as a 30 year old, I could relate to instead of looking at a kid who was in diapers when I was in high school.

In 5 years after b-school, if one hasn't made it up the ladder far enough to avoid reporting to a fresh MBA grad, then one has bigger problems than deciding whether one is going to listen to a kid who was in diapers when one was in high school. No?

EDIT (8/12/08): Changed second-person to third-person!!!

Last edited by msday on 12 Aug 2008, 13:09, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink]  11 Aug 2008, 19:59
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.

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.
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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink]  11 Aug 2008, 20:17
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.

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.

Wow, people are really careful not to insult others here! I didn't even spot that comment (in the way you mean) By "you" I think he meant "any other guy" (as in "you" in general).

But better like that than like on BW... I really like the spirit here and everybody's devotion to keep it like that. Good work!
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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink]  11 Aug 2008, 20:33
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.
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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not? [#permalink]  11 Aug 2008, 21:47
msday86 wrote:
I'm not going to try to argue that a 24-year old has less professional depth than a 28-year old, but of all my class visits, most of the discussion was on analysis of the case, and not dependent on individual experiences. And I think one does not necessarily need 5+ years of work experience to be able to analyze a case on its merits. 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.

With age comes wisdom. Sorry but I would argue everyone that gets into a top 20 business school is going to be intelligent and accomplished. I would actually say the older folks I have met have been far more accomplished, not necessarily because they worked for longer but because the bar for them getting in is MUCH higher than a 25 year old. There are things that experience brings, and at times the ability to analyze things goes beyond the academic portion. I still say its a management degree and if you are going into a field to manage or provide advice (aka consulting) then having experience is important. IB where your first few years are close to the bottom then its not so much a big deal.

msday86 wrote:
In 5 years after b-school, if you haven't made it up the ladder far enough to avoid reporting to a fresh MBA grad, then you have bigger problems than deciding whether you're going to listen to a kid who was in diapers when you were in high school. No?

I think you misunderstood my comment...many recent MBA grads in lots of fields will work with people who dont have MBAs. Often they will manage them. I was making the statement from that point of view. If you go into banking once again where MBAs dominate the higher positions and people either move up quickly or move out then it doesnt apply. But for many other jobs where you are either leading things where not everyone will have an MBA or advising executives of companies...then you are even at 30 going to be younger than many people you interact with.

I wont say that no one who is 24 or 25 is prepared for an MBA or in need of one. Obviously it helps you advance faster in some areas and other careers are hard to break into without them. Its up to each person to determine what is right for them. However, judging by what some people have said, recruiting can be an uphill battle for young students for some industries and companies. Much like there are companies who only interview US citizens, there are ones who look for more experience than a few years.

Dont get me wrong there are definitely young folks that belong in school. But there are some who would probably benefit from some more experience...even if they get in, in the long wrong for their growth and success additional experience could have been an advantage.
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Re: Harvard trending younger - smart move or not?   [#permalink] 11 Aug 2008, 21:47

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