MBA Admissions Advice: Young Applicants

Oh Sundays… The most bittersweet day of the week. There’s church, brunch ( i LOVE breakfast foods), football (during NFL season anyways… hurry up Sept) and just complete relaxation; yet you can’t help but have the thought that tomorrow’s Monday on the back of your mind.

I spent pretty much the whole day procrastinating and studying, but now that my brain has decided to shut down for the night, I have shifted to perusing the internet for B school admission tips. I came across this article on that is very relevant to my current situation and just thought I would share if anyone else is also planning to apply to top programs with less than 4 years of work experience at matriculation.

The writer, Cindy Tokumitsu, lists 5 factors that young applicants should VIVIDLY demonstrate in their personal essays and resume when applying to MBA programs.

  1. Affirmative, practical reasons for applying at this specific time.
  2. Outstanding professional growth.
  3. Exceptional impact, leadership, achievement.
  4. Maturity.
  5. Ability to contribute socially and academically to the program.

I know for me personally, I have been struggling with the decision of whether I’m applying to B school too soon. I know why I want to go to business school, what I hope to accomplish when I get there, and am excited for all the personal and professional opportunities I will be apart of, but at the same time, I am always worried that even with all the time, money, and stress brought about by this long process, my one downfall will be a number I can’t do anything to change, years of work experience.

Let me know your thoughts on the article whether you are a young applicant or not, or even if you have personal advice you would like to share.

P.S. I hope everyone did Day 1 of the fitness challenge today!!



Posted on June 1, 2014, in MBA Admissions Advice and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Ugh, so totally relate especially to the ‘I want it right now’ mode. I’m not sure if this list comforts me or not, because I don’t think I check off all of these points EEP. I was wondering though, do you happen to have or know of a list of all the schools that tend to favour younger applicants? I don’t recall ever seeing something like that, would be pretty darn useful!

    • I actually do not have a list but from random articles I’ve come across, alot of the programs that accept a higher percentage of younger applicants are well outside the top 20.

      Fortunately though, through this blog and other mba resource websites, I’ve talked to many who are on the younger side of the age spectrum, or know someone who is, and have successfully gotten into top schools so it’s by no means impossible. We just have to work a little harder to prove we deserve to be there like everyone else and i think we’re both up to the challenge 🙂

      The list definitely makes you take a step back and reconsider things, but honestly I look at that as a good thing. Sometimes being naive to situations makes you vulnerable to reality, but now I feel 10x more confident knowing exactly what I need to show adcoms and how to combat any concerns they might have.

  2. Great post, Texaswannabecali! I am 23 and have about 3.5 years of work experience so far. Your post does address a lot of my concerns – conveying ‘maturity and leadership’ effectively in my essays and my ability to contribute to my program! But do not fret, I know for a fact, a lot of top MBA programs are accepting students with about 2-3 years of work experience. A friend of mine is headed to Yale this fall. She has 3 years of work experience, a 750 on the GMAT and 3.0. As long as your goal is clear and conveyed clearly, I don’t think you have anything to worry about.

    • Thank you so much for the words of encouragement!! I am very glad to know I have a fellow young applicant going through this process as well. That’s awesome about your friend, I would be racking her brain on the reg to get admissions advice. It’s always nice to have someone that’s at where you’re trying to get to. What are your target schools?

      • Haha! That is exactly what I’ve been doing- picking her brain to the point of being a tad obnoxious. And yeah, we will get through this together, it’s always reassuring when you know you’re not all by yourself! 🙂 I’m keen on Kellogg ( My first preference), Stanford, Yale, Cornell, Ross. Yes, Lofty dreams, I know. I own a company that is high on social Impact, I was drawn to these schools, because of their focus on social enterprise!

      • That’s awesome!! An entrepreneur at age 23… schools will love that. Kellogg is an amazing choice, and if i didn’t dislike cold weather so much, it would definitely be in my top 3 as well. My best friend actually went to Northwestern for undergrad in psychology so I’ve visited several times and love the culture, the prestige, and the city of Chicago in general (in the summer months). Best of luck. My fingers are definitely crossed for you 🙂

      • Thank you!! 🙂 Yes, the cold weather is something I am worried about, it isn’t anything like the kind of weather I am used to. Annnd I can use all the luck I can get! All the very best to you as well !

    • I’d just like to echo the above. Just to offer one data point, I have about 3 years of WE, and will be matriculating to HBS in the fall (750/3.7). Just remember, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, and you should never count yourself out until its literally impossible.

      With regards to career prospects, yes..there will positions which you will be shut out of based on your years of WE, but by no means is that all or even most of them. If you matriculate to a program which is well respected (and which you are excited about), I think a normal amount of elbow grease will get you to where you want to be.

      Good Luck. I know the process is rough, but there is something gratifying about coming out the other end (even if you are a little bit worse for wear).

  3. Being a younger applicant is not a bad thing, in my view. You might want to focus on those schools that tend to skew towards a younger average age at matriculation, since they’ve clearly demonstrated that they admit candidates with fewer years of professional experience.

    Also, look at it this way: the worst possible outcome for a younger applicant is that you get rejected for the class of 2017, take a year or two to firm up your candidacy, get more leadership experience, etc., and re-apply for the class of 2018 or 2019.

    • Lucas,

      Thank you so much for your insight. I can sometimes be very impatient and in a “i want it right now” mode, but you are definitely right. The admissions experience of being a reapplicant plus a stronger profile would just help me be a better b school candidate for the next time around if I were rejected from my top choices.

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