Am I Too Old for B-School?
How to Misinterpret the Data.
So I get this message the other day from one of my students and it goes something like this:
"I just turned 28 and graduated in 2003. If you follow this graph it's basically saying I have no chance of getting into HBS, since out of 9,524 applicants they admitted only 17 people in my graduation year or later. (I'm using 2002 and older.)
"Logically I shouldn't apply, right?"
The Harvard Histogram
He's referring to the preliminary admit histogram released on July 8 of 2010 for the class of 2012 and, as you can see, very few people who graduated more than six years earlier were admitted. The situation looks grim for older applicants, but it's not as bad as it might seem.
First, Let's See the Numbers
The stats below appeared on the same page as the histogram:
|HBS Class Profile|
|Total MBA Enrollment||910|
|Number of Applications||9,524|
|Middle 50% GMAT Score Range||710-750|
|Full GMAT Score Range||510-790|
Here's What My Student Did
He took the 17 people admitted in year 2002 or later and divided by the 9,524 total applicants and came up with a success rate of 0.18% for older applicants. Pretty depressing. But here's where he went wrong.
(Note This Logic: It's a Technique Tested in the Critical Reasoning Section of the GMAT)
Of the 9,524 total applicants, what if only 100 of them graduated in 2002 or later? That would make for an acceptance rate of 17 percent among older applicants — much higher than the overall acceptance rate of 11 percent. Now it seems like being an older applicant is a good thing.
One of the reasons why older applicants are significantly underrepresented in the full-time programs of elite business schools is that they don't apply in large numbers. Older candidates tend to be more established in their jobs and to opt for part-time programs — or for no program at all. A dearth of older students in the Harvard admit profile doesn't mean it's more difficult for them to be admitted. In fact, it usually means only that they're not applying.
So am I Too Old for B-School?
Probably not. Most older applicants freak out when they see admit profiles like the one above because they don't understand the dynamics of the MBA applicant world. I've sent many older applicants (people well into their 30s) to top-tier full-time programs. They just needed to articulate why someone their age and in their career position needed an MBA. That's not so hard to do.
What About that 510 in the Admit Profile?
I know! Can you believe that? I've never seen a number that low at HBS. Was this guy raised by wolves or something? Did he invent a vaccine that saved millions of lives? Is he Lloyd Blankfein's son?
I don't know. Very weird.MBA Executive Summary Homepage >
MBA Executive Summary
Issues for MBA Applicants
What to know before applying to B-school.
- Executive Summary Homepage
- Which MBA?
- Part-Time vs. Full-Time MBA
- Executive MBA Programs
- Joint-Degree Programs
- Issues to Consider
- Too Old for B-School?
- Are Campus Visits Worth Doing?
- Other Stuff
- Read Peter Drucker