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Profile evaluation request non-traditional older applicant

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Profile evaluation request non-traditional older applicant [#permalink] New post 18 Apr 2010, 16:11
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Hi Alex or anyone else who has any thoughts. Some background info:

Age: 38

Citizenship: USA (Asian-American)

Education: Ph.D. in philosophy, Pac-10 school.

GMAT: I have not taken it yet. GRE scores from 10+ years ago, 720V, 760Q, 770A though the scores disappear after 5 years so I can't report this as an alternative to the GMAT.

Extras: published an academic book and several peer-reviewed journal articles in my field. Lectured and taught at several religious non-profit groups in 7 countries throughout Asia/Africa, etc.

Current Position: 2 years as VP of a small international religious educational institution in Asia, previous to that 10 years as the Executive Director of Asian-American non-profit in the USA, and also taught as an adjunct professor for several universities. Recently, I have been heading towards administration and feel I'm a bit lacking in the technical aspects of management. Initially wanted to be an academic but now heading towards more academic leadership/management roles. My organization has asked me to lead the founding of a new international university in Asia, so I'll have to wear more hats as a social/educational entrepreneur.

Background: I'm a non-traditional applicant who is interested in business school primarily for the networking. I've for the most part ruled out applying to two year MBA programs since a) the only ones I'm interested in are HBS & Stanford and I've already passed the age for such programs (thanks Alex for your good advice to others on this forum), and b) I don't really need it though I'm really interested in the networking possibilities an MBA offers especially with those who are younger than me.

1) Any thoughts on HBS's Executive Education program for someone like me? I looked through their website but they seem to be focused more on traditional applicants (finance, management, etc.). Getting alumni status would be very valuable mostly b/c I'm interested in networking and HBS has great networks in Asia.

2) Any thoughts on the Sloan program at Stanford? I'm not interested in another degree, but a 10.5 month program seems quite valuable. I'm trying to figure out whether I can get funding from external sources. Have you ever assisted anyone in applying to the Sloan program? I don't care about getting another degree, but I think the opportunity would be valuable.

3) Have you heard of anyone in my situation, (in particular my age) as a non-traditional applicant apply to programs and gain admission? Perhaps Cornell's one-year MBA program? Yale's MBA program since it's focused on non-profit? (Actually that's a two year program I think so probably not worth the time for me.) The issue would mostly be with funding, unless we get loan forgiveness it's not really worth it for most of us working for non-profits to attend.

Any thoughts on any of the above would be much appreciated. Thank you!
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Re: Profile evaluation request non-traditional older applicant [#permalink] New post 19 Apr 2010, 21:21
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First, just about every top school offers loan forgiveness programs for those who end up in nonprofit after b-school (usually the deal is you have to work for at least 2 or 3 years continuously post-MBA for the school to forgive the loan).

In your case, since you are a true non-traditional, I wouldn't completely rule out full-time programs. Even HBS or Stanford -- although you'd be a stretch, but still worth at least giving them a shot if you really want to go there. However, keep in mind that you will be the odd duck -- not just in terms of age but also professional background - that the biggest concern for adcoms (at any top b-school for their full-time programs) is not only your reasons for wanting an MBA right now, but your ability to fit into an environment where you will have very little in common with your classmates.

In any case, it's hard to really tell you what to do - you have an established career, you have more life experience than just about any full-time MBA student.

HBS as far as I know doesn't really offer an "executive MBA" - they offer specialized certificate type programs (more like month-long or weekend-long intensives) that are basically like taking a la carte courses. And yes, they are geared towards mid-career professionals like yourself.

Stanford Sloan is the only full-time executive program (others hold classes on weekends or weekdays with the assumption that you're still working) -- it may be another path to consider and probably a better fit for you than the full-time program.

It seems like you are really caught up with the "brand" thing - and I can't be bothered to convince you otherwise. You can't "buy" your way into a network anymore than "buy" real friends. Just because someone is a fellow alum doesn't mean they will roll out the red carpet for you if the only thing they have in common -- for example, just because the sons/daughters of the wealthy/connected/hugely successful happened to go to the same b-school as you did, doesn't mean you can just call them up and expect them to give you any more love than some random person on the street. That's the biggest fallacy quite a number of folks seem to make with these exclusive Ivy League type universities - just because you are in the same classes as the kings, queens and blue bloods, doesn't mean you are allowed in the same circles - and frankly, b-school is a far less exclusive place than undergrad (which is the true bastion of the rich kid network). B-school is full of mostly middle class and upper middle class folks who will end up mostly middle class and upper middle class - doing reasonably well medium- to long-term, but hardly "connected". It's about friendships ultimately, not networking. And friends who were friends first typically don't do business together.

But if the real reason you want an MBA is as a status symbol (but masquerading it as "networking") then you have to be honest with yourself that that's what is driving your desire to covet a top MBA. And decide whether coveting that status symbol is worth all that money. Not saying that is the case with you, but from the tone of your post as well as having dealt with many folks who seem preoccupied with brand -- more often than not it's the ego and lust for status symbols that predominates (primarily amongst Asians who seem to view educational brand as a status symbol more than anyone else -- it's like Asian Triple Crown - an Ivy League degree, a white spouse, and an unnecessarily gigantic house haha).

In any case, what I recommend is that since the prospect of b-school is a very expensive proposition -- you should invest the time to actually visit the schools, sit in on the classes and talk to students on campus - that's really the only way to get a real feel for whether this whole b-school thing is truly right for you - especially for a non-traditional applicant like yourself.
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Re: Profile evaluation request non-traditional older applicant [#permalink] New post 19 Apr 2010, 22:02
Great advice. Thanks really for taking the time to reply. Ah yes the coveted brand name, it doesn't concern me much - not at my age. My reasons for HBS and Stanford are actually more practical. Mostly I have to balance the high cost of attending with the sorts of people who I'll be working with (educated Asians)/trying to recruit who value big name schools and tend to flock to places with people who are from such places/schools.

" more often than not it's the ego and lust for status symbols that predominates (primarily amongst Asians who seem to view educational brand as a status symbol more than anyone else -- it's like Asian Triple Crown - an Ivy League degree, a white spouse, and an unnecessarily gigantic house haha)."

This is seriously funny (and true). I started laughing out loud. My wife is not white, we live in a small place, however she did go to an Ivy League school so maybe we can't get away from this. You went to Wharton so you have an Ivy league degree, I'd be curious to see if you have the other two. Hehe. After reading through this and lots of your other posts, I'm becoming more convinced that I'm not going to apply to an MBA program since the ROI is not high enough given the amount of sacrifice for myself/family.

On another note, I find your responses both informative and entertaining. That's a hard combo to pull off. Thanks again Alex.
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Re: Profile evaluation request non-traditional older applicant [#permalink] New post 20 Apr 2010, 18:34
Hahaha touche.

Since I'm not anonymous, I won't disclose the status of the other two. :-)
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Re: Profile evaluation request non-traditional older applicant   [#permalink] 20 Apr 2010, 18:34
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