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MBA Programs to Target - Evaluation

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MBA Programs to Target - Evaluation [#permalink] New post 25 Jun 2009, 15:49
Hi,

I am unsure what is realistic to target in terms of top business schools and would greatly appreciate your candid feedback. The profile: I am currently 41 years, have a BBA in Accounting from the University of Houston Bauer College of Business (1991), was briefly in graduate school shortly thereafter but did not complete the schooling due to personal reasons (my mother passed away). While pursuiting my BBA, I worked -- sometimes 1, 2 or even 3 jobs because my mother was ill. Needless to say, my GPA ended up at about a 2.75 overall 3.1 in Accounting.

The bottom line is that I am at a point in my career in which attaining an MBA would prove quite useful because of my interests. Some people have suggested an Executive MBA but I do not believe that my career thus far has provided me with enough senior level management experience to believe that would be a good fit. On the other hand, pursuiting an MBA just for the coursework is not my ambition. I am really seeking a career change and, more importantly, the full experience an MBA has to offer at one of the better, top schools.

Recent senior level managment I have worked with have suggested I apply to Rice University in Houston, among others. In looking into Rice, it did not appear there was enough emphasis on leadership. Finally, the aforementioned managers all graduated from top tier schools; specifically, Harvard, Northwestern and The University of Texas and Rice. A few will be writing recommendations.

Given the above, and a GMAT score of 700, is it even realistic to apply to an institution such as Harvard?

Thank you.
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Re: MBA Programs to Target - Evaluation [#permalink] New post 27 Jun 2009, 07:32
Without knowing a whole lot about you (your work experience to date, anything interesting about you outside of work, etc.), it's hard to give any feedback.
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Re: MBA Programs to Target - Evaluation [#permalink] New post 27 Jun 2009, 09:16
Thank you for the reply. My background has been focused primarily on work because of necessity. It's a bit strange reading the posts and comments about what adcom look for and value in an applicant. More specifically, for those of us that have really had to work to pay for school, maintain family obligations, reading the expectations of adcom committees seems unrealistic for someone with my background. Working in the energy industry in accounting in Houston post graduation, meant overtime, overtime, overtime. Having even a remote sense of a personal life was fleeting -- especially recent work experience in which the shareholders (privately held) was a venture capital firm. It was a phenomenal experience but required 12-14 hour days, weekends, working on holiday, working until 2-3 in morning, even until 5 or 6 am due to reporting requirements and analysis-- that is the reality of work at many companies (though not as extreme as the really late night hours). Does the fact that I have worked in the Ukraine, Brazil, gone to the UK on business help? Have also traveled extensively to Europe (parent born in Holland and moved to US after WWII).
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Re: MBA Programs to Target - Evaluation [#permalink] New post 28 Jun 2009, 09:28
Working abroad certainly adds some color to your profile, but it's not something that will make you stand out.

To be honest, you're going to be a hard sell for a full-time program simply because the full-time programs aren't really designed for career switchers at your age. I really think you may be overestimating what a full-time MBA can give you at this point. It's not some transformational experience where you "find yourself" or where you can figure out what to do with your life, and where recruiters are all open-minded and willing to give you a chance.

It's a factory. Students get in. Recruiting is a meat grinder where they are looking for young hungry kids to fill their junior level ranks (i.e. entry level middle management jobs that are only a few degrees removed from entry level positions that college grads will take). It's going to be a lonely road for you, no matter what people say. You will have to do a lot of legwork on your own. 99% of the kinds of job opportunities coming through the b-school won't be a match for you (i.e. they won't want you because of your age). The kinds of opportunities you will be seeking will be highly unique to your situation - i.e. specific jobs where your prior experience will be a huge asset *and* aren't entry level type positions which means it's not really a career switch after all. Alternatively, it may be jobs you get through your friends, ex-colleagues, etc. Or starting your own business. But the chances of you getting the kinds of post-MBA jobs that your younger 25 or even 33-year old classmates are getting will be slim.

If you want to make a career change, that's a great thing. However, you have to be realistic about how to get there, and more importantly, WHAT you want to do. Based on what you wrote, I get a feeling that you know what you're switching *from*, but far less sure or specific about what you're switching *to*.
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Re: MBA Programs to Target - Evaluation   [#permalink] 28 Jun 2009, 09:28
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