Yesterday we gave a breakdown of how to think about taking the GMAT or the GRE as your test of choice for the MBA applications you’re planning for. But what about the Executive Assessment? Most of you are aiming for a tippety-top full-time MBA program in the United States, and not for an Executive MBA…
Short answer: No, definitely not. Nuanced and more accurate answer: It depends on what you mean by “business school.” And by “old.” And for that matter, by “you.” If you’re asking, “Am I too old to get into a hypercompetitive full-time American MBA program?” Then it all depends on who you are and why you…
What we’re discussing today is not available for a standard two-year full-time competitive MBA program. However, if you’re interested in an Executive MBA, or potentially certain online or hybrid part-time MBAs — or practically any other graduate educational program in existence — then you typically have an opportunity to connect with an admissions person directly about your profile, your interests, your reasons for considering their program, and your suitability or fit to what they offer.
Again, not available with any big-name MBAs associated with all the brands that come to mind (Harvard Stanford Wharton -> Ross UCLA Duke).
BUT, surprisingly available most anywhere else.
Typically how it works is you submit your resume to them and then schedule a call where they talk about that specific program and how you might be a fit. Sometimes they’ll steer you to another of the degree programs that that school offers, but often it’ll be a way to encourage you to apply to that program specifically. It’s a high-touch approach that they find valuable, since it lets them start to build the relationship and gain exposure to what they offer, and it can be great for you as a potential applicant since they even sometimes coach candidates or steer them in a better direction on issues like which test (GRE or GMAT or for EMBA, Executive Assessment) and what type of score would be needed.
Case in point:
If you’re browsing the Yale SOM website for their MBA for Executives program, you will find this:
There’s a few other schools that offer this too, like Duke with their Global Executive MBA program:
This is merely a reflection of the different market dynamics in effect for these programs. It’s not that they’re not good programs, or they’re not in demand, or they don’t attract a high-caliber candidate. It’s just that they get far less interest from potential students for these tracks compared to the ever-popular full-time MBA, and also because with an executive program, they’re catering to (usually) an older person who is at a different stage of life and many times expects a bit more of the white-gloved treatment given their station in life. More hand-holding of the candidate is common, and this even extends into the actual student experience at many executive MBA programs — to the extent that the school offers catered meals throughout the residency portion of programming, and some schools will have any required textbooks pre-ordered and shipped out to students directly without the student having to deal with the hassle of getting them. That sort of thing.
These programs often will also waive standardized testing requirements depending on the nature of work experience or past educational background — again, a reflection of the different clientele and the separate market segment that the EMBA resides in (in most places) compared to the oversubscribed F/T MBA tracks.
Even Wharton has this opportunity with their EMBA:
(We say “even” in the case of Wharton because this is probably the most competitive EMBA program around — it’s nearly as hard to get into Wharton for Executives, particularly the SF location, as it is their full-time tracks! and they’re not going to waive the testing requirements.)
As we said, almost any other non-MBA graduate program offers these opportunities, too, so if you’re wondering if maybe you should ditch all this business-y stuff and follow your heart into an MFA, or you are in love with public policy and you want to try for a program in international development, or practically anything else, these opportunities to speak with an actual admissions person directly are common. This is also something you’ll find at a few of the European full-time programs like ESADE ; it’s not something that most of the top U.S. schools offer since they don’t have the ability to meet all the demand that they would have for it, nor do they really need to worry about convincing anyone to apply or trying to sell their program to any particular candidate.
But if you’re kicking the tires on MBA programs, and wondering if you’re “too old” for a standard full-time MBA (spoiler alert: you’re probably not! not if you can make the case for it, at least), then you might consider scheduling one or two of these pre-assessment phone chat executive MBA interview thingies. It can help you get a feel for the different programs and you can use it as a sounding board for your graduate education plans.
Just be aware of this reality: Most admissions people will be very encouraging of you to apply, almost regardless of whether you do in fact have a chance (read: Wharton). We’ve mentioned this phenomenon about cagey adcom types before; it’s always in their best interest to get you to apply (or reapply, in the case of those admissions teams on the rare full-time programs that offer feedback). They’ll be doing a sell job on you. But in some cases, they may also be candid. If you’re talking to an admissions person at an EMBA program that does not waive the GMAT, and you have a 550, they might directly say if they feel it’s too low for them to make an offer of admission. (We’re not telling you that a 550 is definitely too low at any particular program; we’re saying that certain admissions folks will be forthcoming if they sense a true obstacle to you getting an admit into that track. Or at least they may hint broadly that the test score is a risk, or be particularly encouraging of the suggestion that you try taking the test again. If they do that, take the hint, and take action, before you apply, if you’re really serious about getting in to their school.)
Those calls tend to be fun, since it’s a chance for you to interact directly with an insider who is knowledgeable about what their program can provide as an accelerant to your career. Don’t go into it cold; do your research on your own first! Study their website, talk to your friends who’ve done an EMBA, either at that school or elsewhere, come up with lots of questions that pertain specifically to you and your motivation surrounding graduate education. Use it to your advantage.
You can try the “What are my chances??” question in such a context and it’ll likely be received better than if you lob that at an adcom person work works in the full-time MBA admissions office.
Be sure to dig through all the pages of your school’s website to see about such opportunities, and if an admissions team offers it, then jump on the chance.
And oh yeah, to mention before someone brings it up in the comments: A handful of full-time MBA programs do indeed do applicant-initiated interviews, where everyone applying has the opportunity to be interviewed as part of their app process. This short list is primarily Tuck — if you can get your butt up to Hanover — and Kellogg — who may or may not waive the interview if they cannot match you up with an alumni to conduct it. Duke also offers this in a limited window at the very start of the admissions season in September.
This applicant-initiated interview opportunity is not the same as what we’re discussing here, which is a chance to meet with AN ADMISSIONS PERSON to discuss the program and your individual profile BEFORE YOU SUBMIT AN APPLICATION. These interviews with Kellogg and Tuck are where the school is actively evaluating you as a candidate to their program. While you shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that ANY interaction with anyone at any school is still part of your evaluation process (meaning, anybody can write a note to place in your file that captures anything exceptionally positive or negative that they experience when they talk to you), these pre-evaluation assessment things are somewhat more casual, and they’re definitely about the school trying to sell to you, instead of the other way around.
Anyone with a long-range mindset who’s looking at options to pursue in their future is likely doing plenty of “What if?” calculations on the different opportunities they’re considering.
If you’re a college student who’s interested in one of those Deferred Admission tracks that we spoke of recently, like the ones offered through Harvard with 2+2 and Booth Scholars and MIT Deferred Admission and the rest, then you might be wondering:
“If I try for a top school now and I don’t make it in, will that jeopardize my chances later on?”
This is one of the few cases where the answer is a simple and emphatic NO.
In most other situations, when someone is trying for bschool and their MBA apps are rejected, it does complicate the picture for trying for that school again. Plenty of schools are reapplicant-friendly and every year, they admit lots of applicants who had first applied in a previous year. So don’t get us wrong, it’s never a mistake to try if you think you’re ready now. You wouldn’t want to put your future plans and dreams on hold just because you thought it might now work out.
But if someone is, say, applying to a top school in Round 3 in the Spring, in an effort to be admitted to the entering class that same Fall, then yeah, there are real complications that should be considered in case it doesn’t work out (please look at our various Round 3 warning posts here on the blahg for more details). Some admissions directors like to tell applicants there is no harm to applying in Round 3 but honestly, it really can make it more difficult to get in later, since you’re going to be putting together a new set of essays in only a few short months, and that’s truly challenging for most people when they don’t have that much new to talk about in such a short time. (Again, please check out our Round 3 warning posts for more on this.)
For all the Young Talent and Early Admissions types, though, who are trying for the special-focus programs like HBS 2+2 where you have a guaranteed future entry after you’ve built up some work experience after college, then there’s no risk for trying right now. You can apply to any of these tracks that you want as a college senior and if it doesn’t work out, it won’t impact your chances of getting in as a “regular” candidate later on. That means if you really want to try for an admit today to Harvard Business School while you’re a senior in college, then go ahead and give it your best shot in the 2+2 round. (Make sure you have a very high GMAT or GRE score though! That’s practically a pre-requisite to getting in during the 2+2 cohort.)
We hope you make it in!!! But if you don’t — and be prepared for a letdown, since 2+2 is super competitive these days — then don’t worry about it. Go ahead and pursue the plans you’d already put in place for your post-college career, and then if after a few years you decide that you still really want to go to Harvard, you can apply in their standard MBA admissions pool then. You’ll essentially be creating your own independent 2+2 track. No, it won’t be the same, since you won’t have the support of Harvard behind you from the get-go, but it’ll essentially be the same career trajectory. You won’t be considered a “reapplicant” in the typical sense, and the Harvard Admissions Board won’t look at your application poorly at all. If anything, they may be pleased to see your motivation for success at such a young age!
So anyone thinking of an early-admission track so go ahead and apply with no concern about how things might impact their chances later.
If you decide to try for it, we wish you all the luck in the world!! And we’re here to help if we can.
Used to be, the answer to that was “Not really anywhere.” If you wanted to go get an MBA, many schools wouldn’t even consider an app from you until you’d accrued some work experience. Regardless of how motivated you may have been, you couldn’t apply to business school straight out of college. Well guess what? Times have changed!
Now, a bunch of MBA programs are practically falling over themselves to get undergraduates to apply.
Just this season alone, a bunch of business schools launched or expanded formalized programs where they will accept you even if you have not graduated from college yet. This gives you a guaranteed deferred admission to a future entering MBA class.
The new ones this season are being offered at:
- Columbia Business School who is calling this Deferred Enrollment (note: totally different from Columbia Early Decision, and also totally different from applying through a school’s standard admission, getting accepted, and then asking for a deferral)
- MIT Sloan MBA where it’s called Early Admission
- University of Virginia Darden who’s named it Future Year Scholars
These are tracks of admission for a specific cohort: Seniors, as well as students who are in their final year of another (non-MBA) graduate program (with certain restrictions).
What schools have had this for awhile?
- HBS 2+2 was the first track of its kind, launched over 10 years ago now
- Then came Yale Silver Scholars
- This season, Booth expanded its Booth Scholars program to allow rising seniors from any university to apply, rather than limiting it only to University of Chicago students as it had previously been.
There’s also at least one such track available at MBA programs in Europe, such as the Young Talent Path MBA track at IESE in Spain .
These new opportunities mean that graduating college students have more options than ever before if they’re motivated to aim for a top-tier business school early on and they like the idea of setting up options ahead of time. We’ve heard it said multiple times recently that a college degree is what a high school diploma used to be, and that a graduate degree is becoming an expectation as part of a typical career path, rather than a possibility or nice-to-have.
If as a college student you’re wondering about committing yourself too early, don’t worry: You’re never locking yourself in to any one specific future through these programs. If anything changes for you as you go out into the world and build your career, and when it comes time to start the MBA, you realize that maybe it’s not the right next step for you, or not at that exact time, then you don’t absolutely have to attend. There may be some deposits that are unrefundable, but you’re not sealing your future fate 100% by applying or accepting an admit to one of these programs. The schools understand that you still have a lot of Real Life to experience, and that maybe you’ll change your mind.
However, more and more college students are becoming more and more motivated to tackle their careers with a vengeance, and this is one option to consider. It can sure be nice to embark onto the first phase of your post-college career knowing how the next three to five years will play out for you! Some people really like that sense of security and enjoy putting a longer-term plan into place when they can.
You also get to avail yourself of tremendous resources from your school: You’ll be part of the student community, with all sorts of mentoring opportunities and special programming, and at some schools you’ll have access to the fellow students and alumni as you navigate your career and think through possible career paths. It can be a tremendous resource and support system, almost like a built-in ecosystem to nurture your career.
If you’re wondering how competitive these programs are, it’s harder to say, based on all these changing factors. There’s a lot more awareness of these opportunities at college campuses all over the world, which means the schools are seeing more applications. We can tell you that way back when Harvard Business School first launched its 2+2 program in 2008 or so, they got 630 applicants and admitted 106 — which was around a ~17% admit rate, which was INCREDIBLY favorable for those candidates compared to the realities of getting into HBS in their standard cycle.
Now that there are so many of these tracks available at so many different schools, it’s possible that some of them will become less competitive (maybe). It unfortunately also means that the increased awareness among college seniors will lead to way more candidates for the limited spots. Many schools may implement a waitlist for these deferred-start programs just as they have with their full-time MBA admissions — but don’t worry, if you’re on the waitlist to start at a top school in the Fall, you’re considered separately from these college-senior waitlisters. Those pools don’t mix. You won’t be competing against an experienced-admit if you’re a coming-from-college admit (and vice versa).
EssaySnark can help college seniors looking to lock in their MBA admits early — check out our MBA admissions consulting services or hit us up if you have questions! Our MBA Application Guides also may be useful, though do note that many schools have different essay questions and specific requirements for their college-senior applicants, and those are not necessarily covered in our individual school guides, which by definition focus on the standard MBA admissions process of applying to school the year that you want to begin.
We’re happy to help if you have questions! Please post them in the comments section and we’ll let you know what we can about your situation and the schools that you’re interested in.
We’re more and more impressed by the caliber of talent coming out of college these days and if you’re a go-getter who has an MBA in your sights some day, then putting the foundation for that now might be a decision that truly pays off!
Dang. You didn’t make it in. 🙁 BUT WHY???
Most schools are explicit with a no-feedback policy. All decisions are final, and they’re unable to talk to you about it because they don’t have the bandwidth to field all of those calls.
But some schools are much more generous with their time and attention and encouragement.
For example, if you didn’t make it in to Darden, they’ve often offered the chance to get feedback in case you want to reapply. Usually they make this available in June (mark your calendar now!).
Only a few schools do this. In the past, HBS would do it if they interviewed you and/or put you on the waitlist before rejecting you, though they don’t advertise this policy very loudly and we’re not clear if it’s a one-off thing or a standing offer that they’ll continue to make available if you ask. Tuck will do it too. Yale does it. We understand that Berkeley-Haas is no longer doing it, which is a bummer.
If you go for one of these feedback sessions, just manage expectations. The stuff they say tends to be pretty standard. Unless you’re one of those super qualified candidates who just couldn’t break into bschool this year because there were too many others in your pool, then the adcom is more likely than not going to tell you stuff that you should already know. By the time you go for a feedback session, then hopefully will be able to predict what the admissions person is going to tell you. You should have a sense based on profile self-assessment (or a simple comparison to the school’s class profile) what the issues are. If your college academics are not that strong, or if your GMAT is a little low, then that’s what your adcom person will say. Predictable.
They may also tell you if your essays weren’t up to snuff. Maybe.
Generally speaking, the reports we hear back from BSers who ask for one of these feedback sessions are largely the same. The value of such calls is usually a bit limited. The adcoms aren’t going to tell you REALLY why you were rejected (especially not if the reason was the you came across like a jerk in your app in some way, or if your recommenders did not say nice things about you – it’s unusual but it happens, and these reasons will definitely not be directly disclosed). The adcom peeps are more likely than not going to give you some vague comments about how you’re qualified but it’s competitive, yada yada yada.
It can still be useful to go through the experience but honestly, you hopefully by this stage of the game have done enough self-reflecting and gone back over your candidacy in a more objective light, that you are aware of the deficiencies that may have been in evidence. And, even more hopefully, you’re already taking steps to fix them, in preparation for the coming Round 1 season.
We’re of course always up for taking a look at rejected apps – we have the formal Post-Mortem (aka “Oh noz!!”) review where we go into great detail on every aspect of your application. Or you can just get the Comprehensive Profile Review which lets you understand how things may be perceived by the adcoms in the upcoming cycle.
We do still appreciate the schools that do this. It’s certainly an attempt to be more transparent, and it’s an applicant-friendly policy. But it’s kind of like when someone is breaking up with you; it’s possible you’re going to get some variation of, “It’s not you, it’s me” – or maybe, “It’s not you, it’s your test score.” Sometimes people need to hear that directly from A Person In Power before they’ll decide to actually do something about it, so if you’re skeptical of the assessments you’ve heard elsewhere (ahem), then definitely get some time on the calendar with your friendly admissions person and see what they say. No matter what, taking advantage of the opportunity shows that you are motivated, and if you reapply then they will see that you took advantage of this opportunity, which can only be a positive.
It also gives you something to do. Since you’re probably pretty darned bummed out. 🙁
Channeling those disappointed energies into next steps and coming up with a go-forward plan is the best way to deal with dejection.
If we can help? Please reach out! There are lots of opportunities to begin working with us. We’d be honored to be part of your reapplicant journey!
You may also be interested in:
Note: Just because we’re blahgging about this today is not meant as a signal that you should try submitting a Columbia full-time MBA app right now! The rolling admissions means that they’re really far along with their admits and it’s got low probability of a win at this stage of the cycle. However, the Columbia…
Welp this was supposed to go live on Friday. Ooops. We reported last week how Chicago Booth assured a prospective applicant to their Weekends MBA program that recruiters see a part-time MBA the same as a full-time program, and we promised further discussion. If you have comments or questions to ask about part-time vs full-time…
A part-time MBA is not even feasible for everyone — what if you don’t live near a school that offers a part-time program, what if your job security is shaky and you are not sure you’ll be employed, which is a requirement of many P/T programs. But you may know that it’s typically way easier to get in to a part-time MBA program than a full-time program at the same school. That tends to be true at schools like UCLA and Berkeley-Haas and NYU, and it’s especially true at schools like Kellogg and Booth where getting in full-time sometimes seems to require an act of God. It can be a wide gulf indeed between the probable outcomes of your profile getting into the full-time MBA at Kellogg compared to your chances of the admit for their Evening and Weekends option. That’s also true for the Columbia Executive tracks, which these days much more closely resemble the cohorts of a part-time program rather than a strictly “executive” one. Someone might struggle mightily in getting noticed by the Columbia full-time admissions people when they try for the Regular Decision option, but then seemingly sail straight in to an admit at the Columbia EMBA Fridays-Saturdays, as just one example.
But here’s how you need to be evaluating this:
Is a part-time MBA seen as equivalent to a full-time MBA by recruiters?
(That’s not the only question to be considering, but it’s a super important one!)
Here’s what we saw asked and answered on a Chicago Booth chat many years back.
A prospective applicant asked:
People often times view a part-time MBA inferior to that of a full-time MBA. How is the Booth Evening/Weekend perceived by employers and outsiders? Is there still the notion that full-time trumps all other programs? With that in mind, what steps are being taken to demystify that perception.
The admissions representative answered:
The Evening/Weekend MBA program is perceived the same as the Full-time MBA program since it’s the same MBA. You have the same faculty teaching the same classes across programs. Employers know this about the Booth MBA and this is why they choose to hire from our program. The caliber of students is the same since classes are on the same grading curve.
There’s actually a lot to unpack, in both the question and also the answer. So let’s continue talking about different aspects of the part-time MBA over the course of the next week. If any of you are considering one, what have you been concerned about? Any comments to offer? What have you discovered in your research? Have you heard anything on the applicant admissions boards that you want validation on, in terms of the realities of a part-time MBA and whether it’s worthwhile or not? Let’s take some time to discuss it! Comments are open if you want to pipe in with your questions, observations or concerns.
We get it, the EMBA is not the preferred format for many applicants interested in bschool.
But guess what? The EMBA is a pretty darned good alternative and many excellent schools have incredible offerings!!
As our recent Post-MBA Perspective series from a former BSer has pointed out, it’s a very individual decision and sometimes people don’t come to it easily.
It’s important to counter the fallacy that you can be “too old” for a regular full-time MBA program — though there is some truth in it, as there always is in the best lies propagated on the internet. Acceptance to bschool is never predicated on age. We have seen plenty (plenty!!) of BSers in their 30s who make it into all the schools in the world. At the same time, there is a standard age range for the cohort in any given program, and the adcoms need to be specifically impressed with someone who brings more years of professional experience with them on their application, in order to make an offer if they’re significantly outside the norm. There are always a lot of moving parts to any MBA application, and to someone who has more than ten years of experience then those moving parts need to be handled carefully in how the presentation to the adcom is made.
And, sometimes it just doesn’t work out, either aiming too high for the profile, or not pitching effectively. And for a BSer who really has decided that yes, business school would be an awesome opportunity and an advantage in furthering his or her career, then sometimes it makes sense to look at other options available.
Do you know how many Executive MBA programs there are? Quite a few! At many of the very best schools.
Here’s a quick lay-of-the-land to get you acquainted with what we would nominate as “the best” EMBA programs in the U.S. for you to consider:
EssaySnark’s Loosely Organized List of Notable Executive MBA Programs
(Basically, any top school that offers an EMBA is going to be on this list; it’s roughly organized by level of selectivity.)
- Wharton EMBA SF and Philly – probably the most selective EMBA programs around. Really tough to get into! And worth it if you do.
- Columbia EMBA NY – various formats including Friday/Saturday, weekends-only, and partnered EMBA with LBS, etc. More EMBA options than perhaps any other school. Also quite flexible on who they’ll accept; need not be a senior exec to demonstrate fit to a CBS program.
- MIT Sloan EMBA – they go for specifically more senior professionals in this track; they also have a shorter format one-year Sloan Fellows MBA for those with more experience than would be a fit for their regular two-year program.
- Chicago Booth EMBA Chicago, London or Hong Kong (and part-time MBA programs in Chicago too) – also more flexible on admissions, and currently catering to larger geographies including folks commuting from places like NYC (presumably who didn’t get into Columbia?? commuting for school is really a drag, though more and more students are doing it, to more and more places, especially up and down the West Coast)
- Kellogg EMBA Evanston (Chicago) or Miami – where a GMAT isn’t even required! Their Miami option caters to Latin America business, though not exclusively.
- NYU Stern with a variety of EMBA and part-time tracks on offer, including a recently launched Washington DC EMBA program, and their very exclusive TRIUM for senior execs
- Berkeley Haas EMBA which oddly we don’t hear many BSers being interested in, possibly because Haas has a part-time format which is a very strong draw for those in the Bay Area who want to stay working while pursuing their degree
- Michigan Ross EMBA including Global EMBA that had traditionally catered to an international student body interested especially in supply chain and overseas business, though this has changed in recent years
- UVA Darden which has had a Global EMBA for some time and has for several years also been expanding into the Washington DC area (Darden went to DC before NYU did, and of course Georgetown McDonough is also in DC)
- Yale EMBA which is one of the longer programs (22 months) and which, like Berkeley, we just don’t get that many people saying they’re interested in, but it’s well respected and a high-quality offering
- UCLA Anderson EMBA with different cohorts in LA and also through a joint program at National University Singapore
- Cornell EMBA with a new-ish NYC option along with a long-running joint program cohosted in Ithaca and at Queen’s University in Canada
Phew! That’s quite a list!
So who’s missing? Well, Stanford GSB has a non-EMBA EMBA — meaning, they have a unique offering that is targeted to the same type of more senior professional as other Executive programs, yet its got a totally different format (full-time residential, much closer to a standard full-time MBA) and a different degree (a Master’s, instead of the coveted little letters of “M-B-A”). It’s nearly identical to the Sloan Fellows program noted above (it was founded through a grant from Alfred Sloan, way back when, just like the MIT version was, and then renamed in the last ten years; LBS has a Sloan format too). The Stanford MSx is an awesome opportunity but we’re carving it out separate since it’s not technically an EMBA. But, it may as well be, in terms of the education offered, and, well, it’s Stanford. Not easy to get in!! At least as competitive as Wharton EMBA. But definitely a valuable option to consider if you’re in the market for a top-notch business education.
Where can you NOT go for an EMBA? There’s actually a handful of schools that don’t offer any formal MBA degree to this cohort, notably Harvard Business School and Dartmouth Tuck.
Some of the EMBA programs listed above are quite accommodating in terms of who they will consider for their programs based on age and career trajectory to date and overall levels of experience (Ross, Columbia, Darden); others (notably NYU, Berkeley, some of MIT’s tracks, etc.) are much more restrictive. Plus, the programs themselves vary widely. Some include travel to different locations with your cohort every semester; others only meet at your university’s campus. Most will require nearly as much group work as a full-time program does with your fellow students, though obviously the manner in which those projects are completed will differ greatly based on the distributed population. So the experience of going to class and meeting with teammates will not be the same. But, if you have diverse responsibilities already based on where your career is at and/or family obligations, then having a more flexible format might actually end up as ideal.
So today’s post is just to help you keep an open mind, and consider your options.