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MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: I Am Too Old to Get into Business School

We at mbaMission often receive panicked phone calls from applicants in their late 20s, asking if they are too old to get into business school. Why do so many candidates have this concern?

Over the past decade or so, several top schools have declared their openness to younger candidates and have even been courting them. Harvard Business School has welcomed “direct admits” (those entering immediately after completing their undergraduate degrees) and started the 2+2 Program to encourage undergraduates to consider deferred acceptance. Chicago Booth followed suit and launched the Chicago Booth Scholars Program, which grants deferred admission to undergraduate seniors from all schools, in addition to various Early Career Candidate programs to attract candidates with one to three years of experience. Such schools as MIT Sloan and Northwestern Kellogg have also launched deferred MBA programs more recently. Although the Stanford Graduate School of Business does not publish the average age of its students, it does state that its students have an average of approximately four and a half years of work experience. So, if you are an “older” candidate at 27, 28, 29, or—dare we even write it?—30, should you even bother applying?

First of all, we must note that not all schools have jumped on the bandwagon with admitting younger candidates. Dartmouth Tuck, for example, states on its Admissions FAQ page that “in general,” it does not accept applicants with fewer than two years of work experience. The average work experience of students at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business is listed as four years, with a range of one to ten—meaning that the school typically does not accept direct admits, though the school notes on its website that it does not have an official minimum work experience requirement. Michigan Ross requires that students complete their undergraduate degree before applying, meaning that college seniors are ineligible.

However, if you are focused on a school that is open to younger candidates, you should still think logically about the situation: you cannot get any younger, so you can either self-select out of the application process or let the admissions committee read your application and make its own decision. Further, applicants should not confuse an openness to younger candidates with an aversion to older candidates. If you have something special to offer, you are still in the running—no secret cutoff is in play that would immediately eliminate you from the applicant pool.

As we have written before, business schools are governed by self-interest. They want the best candidates they can get! If you are among the best, your age will not be an obstacle.

Admissions Myths Destroyed

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Manhattan Prep

Global Perspective MBAs at Georgetown University and George Washington University

Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business - mbaMission

Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business

Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business  has featured a global emphasis in its curriculum for the past several years, starting with the unveiled an updating of its MBA curriculum in 2012. The school’s dean at the time, David A. Thomas, announced the changes as a response to the evolving global business landscape, meant to equip students “with the skills to be innovative leaders—whether they are joining established organizations or becoming entrepreneurs.” During the fall semester, first-year students are required to take “Structure of Global Industries,” an immersive core course that provides a foundation in international business. The global emphasis continues in the second year, when students take the core course “Business and Policy in a Global Economy,” and culminates with the school’s signature “Global Business Experience”. In this program, students take on consulting roles working for actual international organizations or Fortune 500 companies. In the spring, student teams travel to their respective client’s country—in 2019, these included Ghana, South Korea, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, and India—to gain firsthand experience working in a global consulting and management setting. After the participating students return to campus, they present the stories and takeaways from their experiences to their classmates at the school’s Global Business Conference.

George Washington University School of Business 

George Washington University School of Business 

Just four miles away from Georgetown, the George Washington University School of Business offers a similarly international MBA experience—in fact, the program is titled “Global MBA.” During the first year of the program, students take such core courses as “Micro for Global Economy” and “Competition in the Global Economy,” before taking part in the Consulting Abroad Program, during which all Global MBA students spend seven weeks preparing on campus in Washington, DC, and two weeks abroad in the partner company’s country. Although the novel coronavirus outbreak prevented students from traveling abroad in 2020, the teams delivered their presentations virtually to their partner companies in Germany, South Africa, and Singapore.

Finally, Global MBA students have the option of enrolling in one of the school’s graduate certificate programs—such certificates as “Global Management” and “Tourism Management” may be of interest to those hoping to focus on international experiences.

Professor Profiles: Jeffrey Carr, NYU Stern School of Business

Many MBA applicants feel that they are purchasing a brand when they choose a business school. However, the educational experience you will have is what is crucial to your future, and no one will affect your education more than your professors. Today, we profile Jeffrey Carr from New York University’s (NYU’s) Leonard N. Stern School of Business.

Having taught at Stern for more than a decade as an adjunct associate professor (and earning the 1996 Stern/Citibank Teacher of the Year Award), Jeffrey Carr joined Stern’s full-time faculty in 2007 and is now a clinical professor of marketing and entrepreneurship. Carr also serves as director of the NYU Stern Fashion and Luxury Lab, which was launched in 2017. He was formerly the executive director of the Berkley Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation and has garnered a reputation as one of the school’s most respected marketing experts, featured by such major news outlets as NBC and the New York Times. Carr is president of Marketing Foundations Inc. and has worked on projects for such companies as Booz Allen Hamilton, IBM, General Electric, Pfizer, Kodak, Time Inc., and Unilever.

As one first year we interviewed said of his experience at Stern, “So far, the most impressive class has been ‘Marketing’ with Jeff Carr,” adding, “He’s super engaging and makes you think more about the consequences of your actions in marketing than simply teaching you the tools. The class structure is very informal, but all of the students are learning a ton.”

For more information about NYU Stern and 16 other top-ranked business schools, check out our free mbaMission Insider’s Guides.

New York University (Stern) Professor Profiles

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The Dos and Don’ts of GMAT CATs, Part 3

With regard to the GMAT, raw intellectual horsepower helps, but it is not everything. Manhattan Prep’s Stacey Koprince teaches you how to perform at your best on test day by using some common sense.

What are the Dos and Don’ts to get the most out of your CATs? If you have not yet read the earlier installments of this series here and here, go take a look!

DON’T take a practice CAT within five days of the real test

Would you run a practice marathon a few days before a real marathon? Of course not! You risk tiring yourself out or (mentally) injuring yourself (by reducing your confidence) just before the real test.

If your score is not where you want it to be, postpone the test; you are not going to change it substantially by taking a practice CAT at the last minute (or doing anything else).

DON’T go months without taking a CAT

When someone does this, the impetus is usually anxiety. You feel nervous that you will not get the results that you want, so you avoid getting any results at all. Alternatively, maybe you plan to study everything and then when you take the test, you are confident that you will get the score you want… but practicing without any CAT data is going to cause you to build bad habits (such as spending too much time on a question) and fail to build good ones (such as learning how and when to cut yourself off and guess).

If your last CAT was so long ago that you are no longer sure what your strengths and weaknesses are under testing conditions, it is time to take another CAT.

Takeaways

In short, do take a CAT pretty early on in your study process. Then analyze the results and use that analysis to inform your study plan. When you have addressed a substantial proportion of the major issues identified via that analysis, take another CAT. Most of the time, you should be able to find at least two to three weeks’ worth of issues to address after every CAT.

Once you have your score where you want it to be, start your final review. During this phase (which typically lasts a couple of weeks), plan to take one CAT two weeks before and another CAT one week before your real test date. Read the article “The Last 14 Days: Building Your Game Plan” to learn what to do with this data.

Good luck and happy studying!

GMAT

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How to Build the Ideal Resume for Your MBA Application

MBA ResumePresent Both Responsibilities and Results

In your MBA resume, be sure to showcase your accomplishments, rather than merely stating the responsibilities of your position. When your responsibilities are presented with no accompanying results, the reader has no understanding of whether you were effective in the role you are describing. For example, consider the following entry, in which only responsibilities are offered:

2018–Present Household Products Group, Flocter & Gramble Cincinnati, Ohio

Brand Manager

  • Responsible for managing a $10M media campaign, supervising a staff of five junior brand managers, monitoring daily sales volumes, and ensuring the consistent supply of product from five production facilities in three countries.

The reader is left wondering, “Was the media campaign successful? Did the staff of five progress? Did sales volumes increase? Did the supply of products reach its destination?” When this one long bullet point is instead broken down into individual bulleted entries that elaborate on each task and show clear results, the reader learns not just about the candidate’s responsibilities but also about that person’s ultimate effectiveness and successes.

2018–Present Flocter & Gramble Cincinnati, Ohio

Brand Manager

  • Initiated $10M television/Internet “Island Vacation” promotion introducing new Shine brand detergent, surpassing first-year sales targets within three months.
  • Mentored and supervised five junior brand managers, each of whom was promoted to brand manager (company traditionally promotes 25%).
  • Analyzed daily sales volumes and identified opportunity to increase price point in Midwest, resulting in 26% margin improvement and $35M in new profits.
  • Secured “safety supply” of vital chemicals from alternate suppliers, ensuring 99% order fulfillment.

By comparing the first entry with the second, you can see how much more effective an accomplishment-driven resume is than one that simply lists responsibilities.

Demonstrate Nonquantifiable Results

Presenting quantifiable results in your resume is preferred because such results clearly convey your success in the actions you undertook. However, in some instances, you simply cannot quantify your success. In such cases, you can instead demonstrate nonquantifiable or even potential results. Consider the following examples:

  • Persuaded management to review existing operations; currently leading Manufacturing Review Committee, which will table its final report in June 2020.
  • Established divisional continuing education series, noted on review as “crucial” and “game changing.”
  • Initiated biweekly “Tuesday at Five” team social event, resulting in enhanced workplace morale.

In each of these bullet points, the results of the writer’s actions are not measurable, but they are nonetheless important. The accomplishments, while “soft,” are conveyed as clearly positive.

Keep It Concise

Ideally, your resume should be only one page long; admissions committees generally expect and appreciate the conciseness of this format. If you choose to submit a resume consisting of two pages or more, your reader may have difficulty scanning it and identifying (and remembering) important facts. With these space constraints in mind, we offer two fairly straightforward “space saver” ideas:

  • Do not include a mission statement at the beginning of your resume. Your mission in this case is to get into the MBA program to which you are applying—and, of course, the admissions committee already knows this! A mission statement will take up precious space that can be used more effectively for other purposes.
  • Your address should take up no more than one line of your resume. Many applicants will “stack” their address, using four, five, or even six lines, as if they were writing an address on an envelope. Consider how much space an address occupies when presented in the following format:

Ms. X
123 Y Street
1st Floor
City, State 10001
646-111-2222
x@y.com

You just wasted five lines of real estate! To help whittle your resume down to one page, try putting your address on just one line so you can save five others for valuable bullets.

And, while we are discussing the document’s length, resist the urge to shrink your font or margins to make your resume fit on one page. Your font should be no smaller than ten-point type, and your margins should be no smaller than 1″ on either side and 0.75″ at the top and bottom. Rather than trying to squeeze too much information onto the page, commit yourself to showcasing only your most important accomplishments that tell your story best.

Application Tips

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