The question of the right age to apply for an MBA program is a difficult one and is critical to one’s application.
Age matters mostly to the leadership and career aspect of the program. MBA programs want to see significant accomplishments and progress in the applicant career.
Financial companies often include the sentence “past performance is no indication of future results” , however Admission Committees mostly use applicant’s past achievement as an predictive measure to estimate who will be a successful student, alumni and job seeker.
For applicant with shorter experience in full-time job compared to the programs’ average, I would recommend focusing on your achievements given the period of full time employment. For example, showing that you have been promoted – in terms of title or responsibility – is a good indicator of one’s potential. It’s true that many MBA programs claim to shape the future leaders; however they do so by accepting applicants who have already exhibited signs of leadership and have been successful in their early career. This message has to be communicated in all the relevant channel of the applications – in the resume, in the essays and of course in the recommendations.
The Admissions committee also wants to ensure that potential recruiters find enough “meat” and experience that will lure them to recruit these candidates. So, for some candidates, staying another year at the same company or switching, but really creating significant achievements and impact could be worth it. This waiting year is a great opportunity to research programs, network and overall prepare for the application.
Another topic and personal trait to emphasize for younger candidates is maturity in both personal and professional level. If applicants interested in returning to the same industry, business schools might wonder why someone left after only 1 or 2 years and not fulfilled all the potential in that position. These issues should be addressed carefully in one’s application.
To be continued for applicants who are worried about having too much work experience…