Indians, until recently, had believed in the practice of completing their education before starting on their professional career. The concept of quitting a full-time employment to pursue further education is relatively new among the Indians. However, since the last decade, a significant proportion of Indian corporate professionals have accepted the trend of obtaining preliminary professional experience prior to pursuing a management education. Similar to the wide prevalence of this trend in the developed nations, this trend is here to stay and grow in India. Nonetheless, a vast spectrum of professionals happen to realize their need for management education once their career growth plateaus and this phenomenon is likely to happen when the professionals have amassed about 7 years of professional experience and themselves attain the age of 30. Although there is no right or wrong age of identifying the need for MBA and desiring to enhance their professional skill-set, taking a well-informed decision is necessary as at an advanced age the opportunity cost is high, risk appetite is low, and personal responsibilities are on an increase.
Discussed below, in decreasing order of recommendation, is a list of options that are available to a 30+ MBA aspirant
Indian MBA programs of 1-year tenure
Several of the IIMs and most other Indian B-schools offer 1-year, full-time residential MBA programs. The best feature of these programs is the fact that these programs mandate a minimum years of experience for the aspiring candidates and the cohort comprises of highly experienced professionals of their respective domains. Opting for an Indian MBA is also advantageous because not only the placement drives are effective but also the networks formed during the program tenure can be easily maintained and leveraged upon. The logistical requirements of applying to the MBA program are also minimal and educational loans for the renowned schools are easily available. For candidates who plan to stay in India and do not want to deal with heavy investments or uncertainties associated with global MBAs, this is a strongly recommended option.
Global MBA programs of 1-year tenure
Mostly, all European MBA programs, and a few US, Canadian, and Asian MBA programs are of 1-year duration. While the average age of the class admitted to these programs is around 29 years, the work experience of the class is around 7 years. The benefits of opting for these programs is contained in the fact that the opportunity costs are less, the brand value, invariably, is high, the necessary global exposure is obtained of, and the learning environment, owing to the long heritage of and the association with the universities, is intellectually invigorating. A major disadvantage, nonetheless, is that most of these prominent programs are in Europe where the economy, having taken a severe hit, has affected the employment opportunities, particularly for international students, as well. Further, program durations of 1-year do not provide sufficient time to duly develop the necessary managerial skills necessary to negotiate industry challenges in an international geography. Even, a career switch will be difficult to materialize as no professional can assume a leadership position without sufficient prior experience in the domain; 1-year MBA programs does not even offer internship scopes. This option is recommended only if a candidate is not aspiring to a shift in career and is equipped with proper, tangible skills that boost one’s employability prospects on completing the MBA.
The Global MBA programs of 2-years tenure
Almost all of the top-notch USA MBA programs, and several of the renowned other global MBA programs, are of two years tenure. The average work experience of the cohort of these programs is around 5 years and the average age ranges between 27-28 years. The most aspired for MBA programs, these accord the coveted brand value to the profile and help develop strong global network. Further, the well-designed general management curriculum with option to select 1-2 electives provides the necessary thorough skill-enhancement training to the students.
However, these programs often hesitate to accept the candidature of students aged over 30 because compared to the students, with 3-6 years of experience, who acquire desired designations and salary package post-MBA, the 30+ aged students will not be able to derive similar advantages from the program. Further, the schools are also apprehensive of these 30+ aged students’ ability to adjust to the academic rigor of the MBA programs and compete and connect with the fairly young classmates. These programs also happen to be expensive and the duration of 2 years also adds to the opportunity cost.
Nonetheless, if the candidates are eager to belong to the best brands for their MBA, or wants to find an employment opportunity in the USA, or wants a shift in their career (a career move that is better accentuated with a longer MBA), should consider these options. For their profile to be duly considered, the candidates must present compelling reasons for their need for MBA at the given stage of their career and form a strong narrative for their aspired for career goals. They must also target high GMAT scores to justify their academic intellect. Importantly, the candidate must plan his/her finances judiciously before applying for MBA. This option is recommended for candidates looking for a shift in role, relocation to USA, or strong brand value.
Options that Accord Time – Part-Time/ Online/Correspondence/Weekend MBA
Several renowned brands offer the flexible MBA options such as part-time, online, correspondence, and weekend MBA. This may seem a lucrative option as the working professional is neither required to take the GMAT or CAT nor to quit his/her job. The aspiring professional only needs to spend few hours, post-work, on studying, and take multiple exams, and he/she gets to add a prestigious brand name to his/her Resume. However, these programs are mere certifications and hardly resemble the learning of an in-depth MBA program. Neither does this certification programs aid in placements. This program is not recommended because it does not add any value to the career trajectory. However, only if you are unable to take a sabbatical to pursue full-time education, you may opt for these programs.
The Indian MBA programs of 2-years tenure
For a 30+ Indian, the conventional Indian MBA programs of 2-years duration is ill-recommended. The average age of the cohort pursuing this 2-year MBA programs is around 23 years while the average work experience is only about 0-1 years. A 30 year old professional, with over 6 years of work experience, will be unable to relate to the maturity of this class; the skill-enhancement need will also be different. In such scenario, he/she will also not be able to gain much from peer learning and networking. On the contrary, programs, with average work experience of cohort ranging over 5 years, will extend profitable opportunities to the learner to benefit from exchange of perspectives. Further, during the recruitment drives, these experienced professionals will not be able to get the desired middle management profile as the companies will be only looking to hire candidates with little or no experience. One will then have to look out for jobs by oneself! This option is absolutely not recommended.
To Sum Up
Leaving a professional career to go back to school can be really difficult, especially after 30. To further add to troubles, such management programs are deemed to be expensive. However, as Derek Bok states, “if you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” If you are certain that an MBA will render the right impetus to your career, do not target cheap programs. Plan thoroughly and research diligently into the best available options for you. Focus attention on improving your GMAT score and apply to the renowned programs. Even if you are over 30, going back to school to experience your MBA in a vibrant setting with smart brains all around to enrich the skill-set and reinvent the charm will be a definite exciting experience! You shall then reap the benefits of a true MBA.
Wish you all the best!
The following article has been inspired by the thoughts of Mr. Mayank Srivastava. He is the Founder of Experts’ Global, one of the world’s leading EdTech firms in the field of GMAT prep and MBA admission consulting