Should I Get an MBA After 30?

June 10th, 2020

| Last Updated on June 12, 2020
MBA after 30

The fact that you’re reading this article now means that you must have had some lingering thoughts about doing an MBA all these years. Though you are still excited about the idea of pursuing an MBA, some part of you is wondering, “Should I get an MBA after 30?”

“Am I too old to get an MBA?”

And like all the others in the same boat as yours, you’re also completely uncertain whether it even makes sense to get an MBA after 30. Becoming a student at the age of 30 is something that most probably doesn’t sound like the best idea. You’re probably thinking,

“Can I even get into any decent B-School?”

To that, we say, “If you have the drive to do it, your age really doesn’t matter!”

Let us tell you this: More than 40% of the participants we have in our webinars are people with more than 7 years of work experience. This means that they are all hitting the “30-year age bar or more” or at least close to getting there.

We understand that you may have your own reason or even a few reasons for not pursuing an MBA degree earlier in life. It could have been just that you did not feel like doing an MBA or that you weren’t aware of the benefits of getting an MBA. Some of you might have tried to get an MBA admit but could not do it with your CAT score or maybe you already have one MBA!

So, all of you who have serious doubts and reservations about doing an MBA after 30, give this detailed article a read and see if you feel differently by the end.

In this article, we’re going to talk about:

       1. What will you gain from an MBA after 30?
       2. How can you get an MBA after 30?
       3. How do you convince AdComs to give you an admit?
       4. How do you select the Right B-Schools?
       5. FAQs – Is 30 too old for MBA?

We know that you can’t wait to read all the details we have accumulated for you in this article. Let us just tell you one more thing before we get started, “Doing an MBA after 30 is in fact a good idea.”

1. What will you gain from an MBA after 30?

Before we tell you what you will gain from an MBA, let us clear the clouds out of your mind a bit, shall we?

Take a look at the table below and observe the average age of candidates at the top B-schools in the world. It ranges anywhere from 27 years to 32 years! This is proof that people across the world pursue an MBA at the time when they are comfortable doing it.

Average Candidates Age at Top B-Schools

B-SCHOOLAVERAGE AGEAVERAGE WORK EX
  STANFORD GRADUATE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS (US)27 years4 years
  WHARTON SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA (US)28 years5 years
  HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL (US)27 years4.2 years
  UNIVERSITY OF ROTMAN (CANADA)27 years4.3 years
  WESTERN UNIVERSITY IVEY (CANADA)28 years4.8 years
  LONDON BUSINESS SCHOOL (UK)29 years5 years
  INSEAD ( FRANCE AND SINGAPORE)29 years6 years
  IESE BUSINESS SCHOOL (SPAIN)28 years4 years
  ESADE BUSINESS SCHOOL (SPAIN)29 years5 years
  HEC PARIS (FRANCE)30 years5.8 years
  WARWICK BUSINESS SCHOOL (UK)32 years9 years
  IMD (SWITZERLAND)31 years7 years
  NUS (SINGAPORE)32 years7 years
  ISB (INDIA)27 years4.2 years
  IIM – A PGPX (INDIA)32 years9 years

Let us now cut to the chase.

So you either have enough and more work experience or you have an above-average study quotient, by which we mean that you have probably spent years on your PhD or maybe you are a doctor!

In either case, what will you gain from doing an MBA after 30? What’s in it for you?

People who pursue an MBA have the usual reasons as to why they are pursuing it – Better pay or a promotion.

But let us tell you this: Candidates trying to pursue an MBA after 30 can get some more specific benefits from an MBA. They are:

i. Knowledge

ii. Perspective

iii. Network

i. Knowledge

We are sure that you have garnered enough and more practical knowledge and probably even developed a kind of functional expertise in what you do. Having worked for so many years in the field, your knowledge of your field of work must be based on practical experience and not theory.

This expertise must be what helped you rise through the ranks all these years. However, as you go higher, you need to become more of a general manager and less of a section expert.

That’s exactly what an MBA after 30 can help you do.

As you get into management positions, you’ll need to manage functions you’ve never dealt with before.

For example, if you’re an IT engineer, you may never have handled profit and loss statements (Generally referred to as P&Ls), marketing reports, and sales updates. As a manager at any level, you’ll need to know how to use these things as tools to enhance your team’s performance.

An MBA will give you the know-how to perform the functions necessary to be an effective manager.

ii. Perspective

In all probability, you must have not had the time to invest in yourself so far. By this, we mean that you may not have thought much about your social skills, your emotional intelligence or your leadership skills. We are not blaming you for it.

But you need to understand that being self-aware and having good interpersonal skills are both qualities that are necessary to perform well as a leader or manager at any level. Both these can be developed if you invest in yourself. Doing an MBA after 30 can help you achieve these qualities.

It gives you the opportunity to finally take some time to focus on yourself. You can use this time to rediscover yourself and develop any hobbies and skills you choose.

An MBA provides you with an opportunity to be in a class full of students learning to do the same thing. Any good B-School will have a variety of student clubs created to help you develop your personality beyond your job description.

Remember:

“Your career depends not only on your IQ but also on your ability to work with all kinds of people, especially those you don’t particularly like.”

An MBA also helps you make the transition from a functional expert in your field to a visionary who can guide an entire team towards success. It helps you create a ‘new and improved’ version of yourself, which is a necessity for career growth after 30.

iii. Network

At a certain point in your career, your net worth becomes your network. You will be assessed based on who you know.

You may have already started to realize that people who have strong networks can get things done. You may have already seen it. Your ability to make things happen, to handle obstacles and overcome them, to pull off bold manoeuvres, all get affected by who you know.

How much power you have is a direct function of how many powerful people you’re connected with. 

Getting an MBA from a reputed B-School will open many doors as far as networking opportunities go. Most importantly, after crossing the 30 years mark, you should know that your next job is not going to come from online portals.

The entire dynamic of looking for better job prospects changes as you grow in your career. Whether you have reached the middle- and upper-management levels or not, after a certain age, you don’t expect to be looking for jobs online. The network you have defines how your career goes.

Think about this:
You have some aims and ambitions for your career, right? Maybe you want to become the CTO of a big company at the age of 50. That’s a pretty realistic dream to have.

What you need to realize now, though, is that you’re never going to see that position as a job opening looking for candidates through ads or online. Contenders for those positions don’t apply for them, they’re referred.

This is why you need to start building that network now. An MBA after 30 will automatically help you build this network.

An MBA is a one-stop solution to all the issues you’re probably facing now as well as those you will face if you do not pursue the degree.

So, do you get an MBA after 30? Let us discuss that in the next section.

2. How can you get an MBA after 30?

It probably seems pretty intuitive – just pick a good MBA program, apply, and start your course – right?

If you believe that statement, you’re in for a BIG surprise.

An MBA is not like any other master’s degree you can just sign up for and get on a whim. It requires clarity of mind and a sense of determination and purpose.

Let’s take a look at the three stages that you will have to go through as you older MBA candidates typically go through in their MBA journeys.

i. Figuring out your intentions

Before you begin with your application process or even before you decide to apply for an MBA, you need to know what effect an MBA after 30 can have on your life. Ask yourself if you truly want the life it can create for you. You need to be sure that you want that life because you’re going to have to work pretty hard for it.

The point is, getting an MBA is going to be a long process, so you need to double down and prepare yourself mentally to face its rigours in advance. Be ready for it.

ii. Preparing for the GMAT

Let’s face it – studying isn’t exactly fun.

On top of that, you’ve likely been out of touch with the routines of studying and taking exams for ages now. Getting back into the groove is going to take some solid effort on your part.

Also read: All You Need to Know About the Interim GMAT Exam You Can Take from Home!

Add to this the fact that you have a lower attention span than before. Plus you’re a busy professional with a hectic lifestyle

Now, how are you going to find the time to study?

This is the point where you have to remind yourself to keep your eyes on the prize!

Knowing and visualizing the difference that an MBA can make to your life will help you stay on track. Pick a GMAT coaching program designed for busy professionals that will help you stay focused and manage your time effectively.

Here are some facts: 

With a 550 GMAT score, you’re likely to give up on the MBA idea altogether. If you get a 650, though, you’ll consider applying to some of the good B-Schools. You might drop any grand plans to apply to the top B-Schools but at least you won’t give up.

However, if you get a 750 score, you might even decide to take a shot at getting into Harvard!

Also read: 23 Powerful GMAT Day Tips to Maximize Your Score

However, you should mentally prepare yourself to retake the GMAT if you don’t get the score you want in your first attempt. Unless you’re prepared, just one bad score can bring your MBA dreams crashing down. 

iii. Getting through to the MBA program

Once you’ve run the entire obstacle race of MBA applications and made it through, you’ll reach another very important juncture: actually beginning your MBA degree.

Many older MBA aspirants often have a pessimistic approach where they don’t really expect to make it through and get admits. That’s why, when they get to this stage, they blank out.

If you’ve done well in the aforementioned stages, you will end up with one or multiple admits into various great MBA programs in top B-Schools.

This is when you have to choose where you want to be. And we wish this choice was simply about comparing programs, but it is not. You have to factor in your MBA financing options as well. This includes scholarships, loans, and a multitude of factors, depending on the country you’re going to.

To start your program, you’ll have to be comfortable leaving your entire life behind.
This might seem like an obvious thing that you will have thought of already, but trust us, when the time comes to actually leave, it can be quite difficult.

These five critical stages in your MBA journey will define what your life will be like a couple of years down the line. Now that you’re aware of these obstacles, you’re already better prepared to face them and make it through. 

Checkout what  Arun Jagannathan, CEO of CrackVerbal and MBA expert, has to say about getting your MBA after 30:

We hope that the points we mentioned above have really sunken in. It is very important that you understand the importance and difficulty of an MBA journey.

Having said all of that, it’s important for you to be able to handle the biggest question you’ll have to face over and over. We feel that you need to get comfortable answering this one question before you take a step further. That’s what we’ll address in the next section.

3. How do you convince AdComs to give you an admit?

As a candidate applying for an MBA after 30, you will face some very specific challenges when it comes to convincing the AdComs. We highly recommend that you bring up these issues before AdComs or others bring them up for you. This way, you can control the narrative.

The AdComs have their own reasons to scrutinize your MBA profile. There are four factors they consider while evaluating your profile:

i. Your potential to do things that you haven’t done yet

ii. Your flexibility to adapt to what is taught

iii. Your ability to fit in with the class

iv. Your salary and career expectations

While these are four factors that the AdComs take into consideration, here are seven challenges you will have to face while facing them:

P.S. We have also included our recommendations on how to tackle them. (You can thank us later.)

i. What to do with your chequered career path?

Being an older candidate, you probably have a long history of professional experience. If you write out everything you’ve done, it might fill up a couple of pages.

In all likelihood, if this is the case with you, then you must be feeling some pressure to summarize your CV. Do not do that.

Chances are that your resume has a couple of jobs that don’t make you look that great. Trust us, everyone has those. But if you try to downplay or hide those jobs, it might work against you. Instead, we recommend that you elaborate on everything you’ve done.

Some of these jobs may just have been stop-gap measures that you took on while looking for the right opportunities. Others may have taken on to experiment or to try and build on a skill or hobby you have.

What you need to do is to explain what you learned from each job you held and how it contributed to what makes you who you are today. This will portray confidence instead of a lack of focus.

ii. Are you ready to learn?

As mentioned before, one of the major reasons why B-Schools are apprehensive about taking on older candidates is a belief that older candidates might be too ‘set in their ways’.

While the ball is still in your court, establish that you are willing to learn. The best way to do this is to mention the activities, courses, or projects you have undertaken recently and talk about why you took them. Exhibit your tendency to invest in yourself, to grow as a person and be open to learning new things.

An MBA is, in many ways, the ultimate investment you can make in yourself.

Show the AdCom that you have a high ‘LQ’ or ‘learning quotient’. Display a history of investing in yourself and actively seeking learning opportunities. It will go a long way in building the AdCom’s confidence in you.

iii. How will you get placed after your MBA?

Another major fear B-Schools have about older candidates is that they will find it difficult to find a job role of their choice. Here’s how you can get them to calm down:

Establish clearly that you will not be entirely dependent on the B-School’s placement committee to get good opportunities after your MBA. What you need to show is that your extra years of experience have given you the skills and network to make it on your own.

Whether you end up taking the placement committee’s help later or not is immaterial. The point here is to show AdComs that you have absolute faith in yourself and that you are a self-starter.

Our recommendation is, don’t outright claim that you will not seek help, but do indicate strongly that you can do it on your own if the need arises. Doing this will take care of the AdComs’ fear that you may become a liability to them towards the end of the course.

iv. Why do an MBA now?

One of the most interesting questions to try and answer is, “Why do you want to do your MBA now?”

Your actual reason may be that you’ve hit an air pocket in your career and you’re finding it tough to get out and move on. But you cannot say this without sounding like you’re externalizing your problems. No B-School appreciates candidates who sound needy.

If you say you’ve hit a plateau in your professional growth and are looking to get an MBA that will spark growth once again, you will probably have to forget about getting into a decent B-School.

Instead, convince the AdComs that you are going to excel with or without their MBA. They are always interested in candidates who are already making things happen; candidates who will use the MBA only to accelerate their existing growth plan.

One of the terms often used by older candidates to address this question is ‘retooling’. It means re-equipping oneself with knowledge, skills, and acumen that is relevant and important for growth in the desired direction.

So, what you can say is that you’re retooling to try and change your career path. Say that you’re looking for an MBA program to help you do that more efficiently and in a structured manner. Link what you’ve done so far to what you want to do in the future. Basically, establish that you’re looking to grow your existing skills and build on new ones to help you develop a more globally-oriented skillset.

Make it clear that you’re not expecting the MBA to wave some magic wand and infuse life into your dying career. Instead, reinforce that you’re on your way to success and are looking for a program to enhance the process.

v. What will be your class contribution

Every B-School is quite concerned with what each candidate brings to the table. We’ve talked earlier in this post about how diversity is a big deal for B-Schools as it enhances the overall learning experience.

You can exploit the desire of B-Schools to bring more diverse and rich experiences to the classroom.
Of course, you have to be careful not to overdo it, but you must talk modestly about how you think your years of work experience will contribute to the entire class’s takeaways.

Mention the biggest lessons you’ve learned, the skills you’ve picked up, or your greatest achievements. Talk about what you think the younger candidates can learn from them.

This is a great opportunity to paint your weakness as your strength. Portray that you’ve got a lot to offer the B-School and that they can also benefit from having you in their class.

vi. What is your X-factor?

At the end of the day, remember that your direct competition is not the 27-year-old applicants; instead, it is the other applicants who are your age. Take into account that anyone who has been in the field and working for around 10 years will most probably have the same kind of experiences and insights to a certain extent.

This would make your profile look just like theirs and it may slip through the gaps.

To avoid falling through the cracks, talk about something that makes you unique. Mention something about your personality, background, or just about anything you can think of and talk about how that affects the perspective you can provide.

The aim here is to stand out as a more memorable or more valuable candidate than the rest.

vii.  Why a full-time MBA?

One of the only other major challenges we can foresee for older MBA aspirants is this:

Establishing why you want to take a break from your career and go for a full-time course instead of continuing to work while pursuing a part-time MBA.

Since you’re already ahead of most applicants in your career, it’s easy for an AdCom to reject your application thinking that you’d be better suited for a part-time commitment. That’s why it is quite important for you to clearly state that a part-time or online MBA is not for you.

You can say that you think immersing yourself full-time into learning is the most productive or effective way for you to learn. Feel free to mention that part-time and online courses don’t go into the kind of depth that you are looking to get into.

Don’t hesitate to express it if you feel like you won’t be able to handle work and studies together if that’s one of the reasons why you prefer a full-time course over any other format.

So, when it comes to getting into a good MBA program, there’s no doubt that your opportunities shrink with age. The older you grow, the more challenges you will face and the less convenient it will be to field the questions volleyed at you. But it is not impossible.

Now that you know how to tackle the questions raised by the AdComs, let us figure out the potential B-schools you can apply to. And let us also see how you can select the right B-School for your MBA.

4. How to select the right B-Schools for your MBA after 30?

Now, you’re aware that B-Schools typically have their reservations about taking in older candidates for their full-time MBA programs, right? What we haven’t discussed yet is the handful of schools that are known to be friendly towards older MBA candidates.

If you apply to any of the MBA programs at the following schools, your chances of getting in are likely higher.

Each of these B-Schools offers multiple formats of MBA programs. There are also many choices when it comes to specializations, but you can always opt for a General Management MBA as well. In any case, you can be sure that these schools are open to admitting older candidates to their MBA programs.

However, an MBA is not the only way forward for you, either. Some of the world’s leading B-Schools also offer other programs that are specially designed for candidates who wish to study after 30.

For instance, consider IIM – Ahmedabad’s PGPx program. This is one of the many other programs that are looked upon as an MBA even though it isn’t formally called that. 

The simple reason for this is that these courses are very similar to MBAs, they’re just tailored for more specific needs of the students.

Here are a few examples of schools offering such programs:

One of the highest-ranking universities of all times, MIT is world-renowned for its higher education programs across numerous walks of life. 

Its Sloan School of Management offers a massive variety of programs with various specializations for business executives. You can use the MIT program finder to help find the best fit for your profile.

One of India’s most prestigious B-Schools, IIM – Ahmedabad, offers a postgraduate program for business executives. 

This is a highly coveted program not only because of IIM-A’s stature but also because of how effective the program has been. The progress made by the alumni of this program is quite spectacular.

The IMD is the only institute of its calibre in the world that is not affiliated with any university. 

It is an independent institute that exclusively offers management training programs including MBAs and executive MBAs. It has a vast variety of leadership programs that you could benefit from as well.

The Indian School of Business is a globally-recognized and -respected B-School with two campuses – ISB Hyderabad and ISB Mohali. It offers one of the country’s best learning experiences through its MBA programs and the postgraduate program (PGP) it offers rivals the one provided by IIM-A.

Consider all your options carefully and weigh them against each other before you decide which program you want to pursue. Understand that you have options other than just an MBA after 30.

The reason we ask you to do this now is that you will have to be very certain of your choices when you face the AdComs. Whether it is through your essays or your interview, your conviction regarding which course you want to pursue will make a huge difference in convincing AdComs to give you an admit.

However, this does mean that getting an MBA after 30 is a bad idea. It does not mean you should give up on your aspirations just because of your age.

All you need to remember is that the secret to a successful MBA journey lies in planning and anticipating it well (Go back and read what CrackVerbal had to tell you about getting an MBA after 30).

So, we would ask you to stop worrying and start working towards pursuing an MBA. Follow the steps we mentioned above so that you do not get stuck anywhere.

If you wish to speak to an expert about your MBA application, please click here and schedule a call with us. Our experts will get in touch with you and help you out.

5. FAQs – Is 30 too old for MBA?

 

  • Can I get an MBA after 30?

Yes. You can get an MBA after 30.

  • How do I know if my profile is suitable for an MBA?

You can get your profile evaluated to see if it is suitable for an MBA. Click here to get your profile evaluated.

  • Does MBA add any value to my years of work experience?

Yes. An MBA will help you go up the career ladder and lead teams or take care of businesses.

  • Is MBA similar to other master’s programs?

No. The whole purpose of an MBA is different from the other master’s programs.

  • Is it difficult to get an MBA after 30?

No. You just need the drive to pursue an MBA. Age is not the deciding factor.