I’ll be 32 when I start B-school. Will I be able to gel with younger go-getters?

I’m 31, and filling in my HBS MBA application forms – which means if I get accepted, I’ll be starting when I’m 32. I’m in the process of a career switch, from medicine to management – so the HBS Healthcare Initiative is perfect. But I’m slightly concerned at being in the older age group of my class and not being able to gel as well with the younger go-getters, as a significant part of my doing an MBA is for personal development and growing through meeting like-minded individuals. Is my concern valid?

The Harvard MBA Says:

Dear Marissa,

You’re certainly wise to put a strong emphasis on the social aspects of B-school.  As I’ve said many times, the network of friends that you develop in school is one of the most important assets you’ll get out of your time on campus.

The good news for you is that 32 would hardly get you put in the “older” category.  I attended HBS at 25, which made one of the youngest 5% of the class.  The average age of my classmates was 27, and I had plenty of classmates in their early 30s.  I even had classmates in their 40s and 50s.

The bigger difference isn’t age, but rather life situation.  Being 32 with two small children is very different from being 32 and single.  If you’re a “young” 32, you shouldn’t have any problems at all.  And even if you do have small children, you’ll still be able to bond with the folks who are in the same situation.


  1. conrad
    Posted December 26, 2009 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    Marissa I don’t want to be a downer but a more valid concern might be your admittance. Statistically speaking being 32 you have about a 1% chance of admittance if you have a rock star CV. Would help a lot if you were coming from the military.

    I know this because I was thinking of applying and would be 31 upon admittance. Times have changed a lot recently and HBS and Stanford are accepting increasingly younger students.

    If you are confident about your age/profile I would be interested to know why?

  2. SS
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 12:30 am | Permalink

    Conrad- where did you get the 1% stats?

    I am yes, 40, and was actually thinking of HBS w/o a rock star CV…so your answer is of some interest to me

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