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Trending Younger?

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Trending Younger? [#permalink] New post 23 May 2008, 06:47
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I am a new member of this forum and I've spent a good amount of time reading through the posts. I was a little shocked to see several remarks about how the B-Schools are looking for younger applicants. In a simple statement, you've got to be kidding me. Graduating at age 22, most of these kids will experience two years in the work force and then move on to obtain their MBA. Where is the experience in that two years? Only if the kid graduated from a top school and slid his or her way into a bulge bracket ibank, top consulting firm, or something similar could he/she have a decent job on their resume. Then it becomes a question of what did that kid actually learn in that two year time frame?

Now I'm not going to argue over whether or not four years of experience is better than two, but I will argue that it would take a lot more than two years to make decent managers out of a lot of my peers in undergrad. At such a young age, most of these kids are chasing the idea of big money that surrounds an MBA. Just walk into any finance or accounting undergrad class and ask what the students want to be when they're older.

It seems to me that an MBA may not be the great thing that it once was. If you graduate undergrad at 22 from a plain Jane state school, it's going to take you to near 30 to work your way up into a decent position. Sure there are some who can do it much more quickly, but let's be realistic here. At the same time, quite a few graduates that I know of who take entry level positions within good companies upon graduation, don't really do much in their job. Half the time they're on Myspace and Facebook all day, so how would they even have much experience to write about? Sure if they "ruffle a few feathers" and start throwing ideas on improvement to the boss, they might move up faster.

If someone graduates at 22 and launches their own business, that's a good five year timeframe before that business begins to show signs of success. Again yes you could argue that so and so business achieved $5 million in sales by year one, but that's not the norm. At that point of age 27, not only could the applicant be too old but now you have to argue your way out of having too much experience to attend B-School.

It's easier life wise to enter into an MBA program at only two years out of college. At the age of 30, you have to your life in order both social wise and financial wise in order to take two years off and attend a full time program.

I don't see how looking for younger and younger applicants can be positive for American business or the economy. Life includes failures and these failures help you to become not only a better person, but also a better businessman or woman. You need time to fail. Perhaps I'm the one who is completely off base.

Last edited by ThriftyMcGriff on 23 May 2008, 07:10, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trending Younger? [#permalink] New post 23 May 2008, 06:57
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Re: Trending Younger? [#permalink] New post 23 May 2008, 06:58
as Wharton adcom said, some ppl demonstate maturity at an earlier age than others do...

if the schools want to trend toward younger applicants, it'll be the ones that can show remarkable intellect rather than the fact that those applicants are younger, thus raising the bar....

that's just one view...
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Re: Trending Younger? [#permalink] New post 23 May 2008, 07:19
bmwhype2 wrote:
as Wharton adcom said, some ppl demonstate maturity at an earlier age than others do...

if the schools want to trend toward younger applicants, it'll be the ones that can show remarkable intellect rather than the fact that those applicants are younger, thus raising the bar....

that's just one view...


So would there then be two sets of admissions "requirements" for B-School applicants? If applicant A is a young gun with "remarkable intellect" and applicant B is a 32 year old with a fantastic management track record, it seems to me you'd have to view both independently and weigh the 32 year old's track record more heavily than his/her GMAT/GPA.

There are only so many individuals that show "remarkable intellect" that apply to MBA schools at any given time. Many of the young graduates today are nearly all the same on paper - same non target state school, worked many of the same jobs in undergrad, near the same GPA upon graduation, and worked similar jobs upon graduation. So how does a B-School fill the hopper year after year with the outstanding, very mature, and intellectual students?
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Re: Trending Younger? [#permalink] New post 23 May 2008, 07:43
im confused by the "good for american business" aspect you keep referring to. wouldn't the young applicants benefit most from getting an mba? does the 32 year old with the great track record even need an mba? the top mba degree has become a gateway now to many prestigious jobs, such as banking and mc. unfortunately those jobs require young blood willing to deal with the time commitments and sacrifices required.

i am on the younger side of applicants entering this fall at 24, but there is a critical mass of students like me that graduated college in 2005. i think they all have valuable work experience from diverse industries even though they only worked 3 years.
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Re: Trending Younger? [#permalink] New post 23 May 2008, 08:00
If we want B-Schools to help mold and shape tomorrow's business leaders, then I would argue that the 32 year old with a great track record would benefit from an MBA and the other MBA students would benefit greatly from his/her experience. If we want B-Schools to produce the next batch of hedge fund, ibank and PE managers, then send all the young guns for an MBA.

I've heard numerous conversations from young MBA students about how the meal ticket is to get into a top school and then make six figures for a management consultant firm. I guess my point is that it seems this has just become a money chase and shoveling tons of young applicants into the system will not help to produce tomorrow's business leaders.

I would also argue that a management consultant gig might take a lot of hours each week, but it also takes talent and the ability to analyze a business decision. Talent and analyzing business decisions can come from reviewing case studies in a classroom, but it can also come from having real world experience outside of a three year job. If the "presigious employers" want these MBA graduates, then how does the 32 year old with a great track record get one of those jobs without the MBA? How does he compare to the young guys at 26 with an MBA fresh from Wharton?
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Re: Trending Younger? [#permalink] New post 23 May 2008, 08:48
what makes the better manager?

2 years exp => 2 year mba => 10 years exp post mba

10 years exp => 2 year mba => 2 years exp post mba

both have 12 years of work exp. you seem to be arguing that the latter person would be a better business leader. i dont agree with that.
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Re: Trending Younger? [#permalink] New post 23 May 2008, 09:51
dabots wrote:
what makes the better manager?

2 years exp => 2 year mba => 10 years exp post mba

10 years exp => 2 year mba => 2 years exp post mba

both have 12 years of work exp. you seem to be arguing that the latter person would be a better business leader. i dont agree with that.


I also agree that it's impossible to say one or the other will be a better business leader.

However, I would say that the latter would make a better MBA student, in the sense of contributing to class discussion and having practical experience to back up theoretical learnings, and that's what I care more about as a potential MBA student myself.

Full disclosure: I'm 26.
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Re: Trending Younger? [#permalink] New post 23 May 2008, 10:08
Currently 24 and entering a MBA course this fall, I have to comment. Thrifty, I agree with you in that there is no substitute to real world experience. But I think that the whole 'schools are trending younger' is a bit overrated and overstated. Apart from HBS and Stanford, which other top schools are actively pursuing younger students? Maybe Chicago GSB (some program for applicants with 0-1 year of experience). Other than that, most of the top schools are still looking mainly for candidates in the age range of 27-28. Look at the average entering age for students at Kellogg, Wharton, Haas, Ross, Duke and Darden. And when HBS and Stanford say they are more open to younger applicants, this doesn't mean they are going to fill their class with 23 year olds fresh out of college. A small (<10%) of the class is that young.

And the richness of the case with all it's myriad possibilities and solutions can only be brought out with discussions. A class full of 32 year olds with tons of experience will lead to as rich a discussion as a class full of 25 year olds. What could a 25 year old rookie possibly know that a 32 year old veteran doesn't? Maybe the young guy comes up with a great suggestion because he hasn't done it before. Because he doesn't take it for granted that this is the way it needs to be done. To summarize: you need both - the young trailblazers and the well experienced 'wise' veterans to make the B-school experience what it truly is.
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Re: Trending Younger? [#permalink] New post 23 May 2008, 10:24
Terrific post KK, I'm in 100% agreement. Don't have much to add... as a 32-year-old headed for one of the "youth jihad" schools, I'm really looking forward to encountering new and fresh perspectives.
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Re: Trending Younger? [#permalink] New post 23 May 2008, 10:40
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terry12 wrote:
Terrific post KK, I'm in 100% agreement.


Thanks! now 'Kudos' me :-D I'm lagging so far far behind you guys with the K-points... :(
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Re: Trending Younger? [#permalink] New post 23 May 2008, 11:11
Hee hee- done!
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Re: Trending Younger? [#permalink] New post 23 May 2008, 11:52
Interesting topic and discussion. I see that people argue here the ability of youth to contribute to the class discussion. Well, I would disagree with that point although I may be mistaken (I don't have statistics in the hands!). In two years after college, one can get the critical mass to understand where he wants to further his or her efforts and what he or she wants from the life. My own three + years experience was painstaking and made me at least 2-3 years mentally older than I am now (25). But no regrets at all since I have obtained an invaluable experience that let me choose further goals and move in that direction. I believe that the schools seek for maturity in their applicants no matter how young or old they are. But, probably, the younger people get the priority because of some sort of their aggression so widely sought by the employers.
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Re: Trending Younger? [#permalink] New post 23 May 2008, 12:28
I thought that Harvard and Stanford were targeting certain younger applicants was because many top students head off to law school (and med school) immediately after graduation. We're really just talking about a few dozen students a year.

After a year in business school, it's clear to me that people with more extensive work experiences definitely have more to contribute in class. From a student learning perspective, it's great to have people with progressive levels of experience and responsibilities in a variety of fields. People with just a few years of experience definitely contribute less to the learning experience. On the other hand, these younger folks will start their careers earlier, which could benefit the school down the road.
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Re: Trending Younger? [#permalink] New post 23 May 2008, 12:30
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Currently 24 and entering a MBA course this fall, I have to comment. Thrifty, I agree with you in that there is no substitute to real world experience. But I think that the whole 'schools are trending younger' is a bit overrated and overstated. Apart from HBS and Stanford, which other top schools are actively pursuing younger students? Maybe Chicago GSB (some program for applicants with 0-1 year of experience). Other than that, most of the top schools are still looking mainly for candidates in the age range of 27-28. Look at the average entering age for students at Kellogg, Wharton, Haas, Ross, Duke and Darden. And when HBS and Stanford say they are more open to younger applicants, this doesn't mean they are going to fill their class with 23 year olds fresh out of college. A small (<10%) of the class is that young.

And the richness of the case with all it's myriad possibilities and solutions can only be brought out with discussions. A class full of 32 year olds with tons of experience will lead to as rich a discussion as a class full of 25 year olds. What could a 25 year old rookie possibly know that a 32 year old veteran doesn't? Maybe the young guy comes up with a great suggestion because he hasn't done it before. Because he doesn't take it for granted that this is the way it needs to be done. To summarize: you need both - the young trailblazers and the well experienced 'wise' veterans to make the B-school experience what it truly is.


Good point. To add to this, it may also be argued that it is more useful for a younger person to develop the network at B-School. After all, there is more value added for someone younger to build relationships and network at school (than an older candidate with established network).
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Re: Trending Younger? [#permalink] New post 23 May 2008, 12:45
i think the concept of "being a better mba student" is a bit overrated. being an mba student isn't a career. it is what you do with the degree that matters, and there are many smart 23/24/25 year olds that will benefit greatly from the mba experience. i think the benefit of the mba falls under a bell curve, where those with 0 years exp benefit little, those with 3-5 years exp benefit the most, and those with 10 years exp benefit little. an executive-mba would be a better fit for students with 10+ years exp.
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Re: Trending Younger? [#permalink] New post 23 May 2008, 14:09
Thanks everyone for responding. I do see the benefit of having a mix of young less inexperienced students in addition to the older and more experienced ones.

I guess my primary point is that if the schools overtime continously give preference to the younger applicants, then other than the professors, there will be fewer experienced people in the classrooms. This in my opinion would decrease the quality of the education that is received by the students.
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Re: Trending Younger? [#permalink] New post 23 May 2008, 18:15
I must say that if you look at most of the younger students at the top schools, many have very strong academic profiles (top notch undergrads) followed by a few years at big name companies. There are the outliers but overall the are a bunch of folks getting their tickets punched and were probably aiming at MBAs since half way through undergrad. I know I hadn't even considered an MBA until last winter, I enjoy my job but dont see much in the way to progress...initially I was going to do a local one to further my career but the more I learned about them the more I realized what they could do for me.

I have talked with some other folks in my age frame 27+ (I am 28 now, 27 when applying last fall)...and it seems more common for us to have the sudden whim to get an MBA. Some have MS already in eng or some other discipline and some just dont see continuing on their current career path. The younger folks I know often have been planning on the MBA path for longer than the older people, a lot knew during UG that they were going to want MBAs. Some schools feel these are great people to bring in while others feel they should maintain the recent history of bringing in people with lots of experience who already are bringing a lot of real world knowledge to the table.

A program filled totally with 24-25 year olds would definitely lose a lot of what real world experience brings to the classroom...but programs do want those fast risers and they are good to have on board. They can help motivate us older folks, and they bring a different view of how things work since they are closer to the bottom of the totem pole not the middle like someone 5 or 6 years older. Its all about the perspectives, you want to have diverse views and opinions, it adds to the overall program.

Personally I have no problem with schools admitting folks with 2 or 3 years experience. However, I dont think many kids straight from undergrad really belong...more probably get in at some schools than should. Its not an MS of engineering degree, its a management degree and you should have at least some experience before going after it. This probably isnt a popular opinion with younger folks since they think they can cut it...but it goes beyond being able to handle the course work, since I am sure any 20+ year old at a decent school could cut it academically. I think 4-6 years experience is ideal amount for MOST folks...yes some can do it faster and some longer...I hope schools maintain the average overall of 5-6 years.

I know I have learned a lot in the last 6 years on how to manage people and situations...and I have definitely learned how not to manage by having crap managers. If you have only worked for 2 years you probably havent had nearly as many experiences to draw from. Part of what gives MBAs value to employers is their abilities when they graduate and in many areas you are going to need skills that go beyond the stuff you learn in the class room and 2 week experiential learning consulting gigs wont make up for the years of experience people lack. This is obviously more important in some post mba career paths than others. If people get into a top school with only a few years experience I think there has to be something special about them at this point, I just wonder if folks with 2 years heading to a school not H/S/W would have been able to get an HBS admit with another year or two since they obviously have to be pretty impressive already.
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Re: Trending Younger? [#permalink] New post 23 May 2008, 18:30
I think the younger students who are getting into the top schools have already shown their management/leadership potential, whether it's through work, volunteer, or student org experience. Sure, the 24-year old isn't going to bring as much to the table as the 30-year old is, but he may get more FROM the program than the 30-year old. On some level, I think that the schools want to "mold" students, and it's easier to do that with a 24-yr old.

However, like others have pointed out, the scale of "going younger" is smaller than most people think. Only a small percent of each class at the top schools has 2 or fewer years of experience.

I whole-heartedly agree with the point about diversity. If I get in for fall 2009, one of the things I'm most looking forward to is learning from everyone else, whether it's the 22-year old who volunteered his summers to humanitarian efforts or the 35-year old who spent the last five years closing multi-million deals.
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Re: Trending Younger? [#permalink] New post 23 May 2008, 18:35
dabots wrote:
what makes the better manager?

2 years exp => 2 year mba => 10 years exp post mba

10 years exp => 2 year mba => 2 years exp post mba

both have 12 years of work exp. you seem to be arguing that the latter person would be a better business leader. i dont agree with that.


But thats an unfair comparison. What about 2 years post MBA who is going to be the better business leader. Yes 10 years post MBA they will probably be about equal and one will be older than the other. The guy who graduated from the MBA at 26 may work for 6 or 7 years longer than the guy who graduated at 32 but how many of them will be with the same company for those 30 odd years?

Companies recruiting fresh MBAs are goign to want the most bang for their buck. I think thats why people say its tougher during recruiting for a 25 year old than a 29 year old. Turn over is pretty high these days at most companies so they wont be looking at who is going to be around in 2040 but will be looking at who will be the better performer for them in 2012.
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Re: Trending Younger?   [#permalink] 23 May 2008, 18:35
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