Should Young Applicants Apply to MBA Programs?

Is now the right time? Paul Bodine, Senior Editor at, discusses the plusses and minuses of being a young applicant to business school.

LOS ANGELES, California-January 30, 2007:Young applicants to business school-meaning those just coming out of college or with one year of work experience-can learn a lot about their chances of admission and the advantages and drawbacks of being a young MBA student in a short, 20-minute podcast with Senior Editor Paul Bodine .

"Advice to Younger Applicants" offers key insights into the recent trend in business schools to actively recruit "early career candidates."

"MBA schools have a genuine interest in changing the perception that you need a certain number of years of experience to get in," says Bodine."Still, the important thing to remember is that while they may want to dispel that myth, business schools are not admitting young students at significantly higher percentages because of it."

In Paul Bodine's blog, The Admissions Insider, Bodine gives stats on the percentage of first-year MBA students admitted with one year or less of post-college work experience. "In 2005, only four of BusinessWeek's top 30 programs admitted more than 10 percent of such applicants, and twelve top schools admitted virtually none at all. In 2006, only six of BusinessWeek's top 30 programs reported a larger percentage of younger entrants, and only Vanderbilt's increase can be called substantial (from 3% to 9%).And, while there does seem to be a modest down-tick in the average age of MBA students, the bottom line is that the 'trend' toward admitting younger applicants is a modest one at best, and very young applicants are still not being welcomed by most top schools in large numbers."

"It's the exceptional applicant who will apply and be admitted," says Bodine, who is also the author of Great Application Essays for Business School. "You must have extraordinary experience that shows you're a 'fast track person.' Schools are not going to be comparing a young applicant to people with five or six years' experience, because the youngster just won't have it. But, schools who are willing to admit very young applicants will want to see extraordinary successes and that there's something atypical about your potential. At a minimum, you've got to be meeting school's requirements for GPA and GMAT test performance. Your record needs to demonstrate that you exceed your peers on leadership and impact in classes, community, or extracurriculars."

Leadership is the key, emphasizes Bodine. "You've got to demonstrate you have unusual leadership potential. You can do this in your involvement on campus or in the community. Clubs and community organizations are fine, but they are not enough. You have to do more than just be involved. You've got to lead, and you've got to show impact."

Other potential challenges in being a young MBA class member can range from being discounted in conversations among your peers (because they perceive you to lack experience), to meeting with recruiters who may not quite know how to deal effectively with the age factor, to the fact that initial salaries among young MBA grads tend to be lower (although their earnings over time tends to be higher). Bodine also emphasizes some of the advantages-that many young MBA applicants earn the degree prior to having the additional responsibilities of family and children.

If you do intend to apply to business school as a young applicant, make sure your application package is superlative. Bodine advises, "students should start ahead of time thinking about why they need an MBA and why now-they will need to be able to articulate this.They should also make sure to cultivate a relationship with a potential strong recommender (who, for young applicants, will usually include a college professor) so that they can speak to your motivations, leadership, and potential."

In addition to tracking trends in MBA admissions, Paul Bodine has helped hundreds of clients gain acceptance to the world's top business schools, including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Wharton, MIT, Columbia, Chicago, and Kellogg. He has been interviewed by BusinessWeek Online and is the featured host of GMAT Club's "Ask" online forum

More advice for younger applicants can be found at "MBA Admissions: Application Advice for Younger Applicants". provides personal advising to MBA applicants of all ages on presenting themselves at their best through their MBA application.

For more information:

"MBA Admissions: Application Advice for Younger Applicants" MBA Admissions Consulting and Essay Editing

Great Application Essays for Business School

Advice to Younger Applicants

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