Applying Graduate School At 18/19

Let me preface this by stating, I have thoroughly thought about this and how it relates to my personal goals and career aspirations.

Now that I have gotten that out of the way I wanted to come to this forum to ask for tips from anyone who has applied for an MBA program at an early age. I am currently 18 years old and will be graduating next May with a B.A. in Economics at 19. I have began studying for the GRE (plan to take in June depending on Covid-19), reaching out to schools (as a way of networking), and getting my applications straight (prior to them opening, I want to have months to strengthen my essay). After looking into several programs, I have decided to apply to. . .

Wharton (I loved Penn for undergrad, didn’t end up going because I couldn’t justify the cost)

Kellogg (great school, close to a major city for internships)

Tuck (second choice, I really click with Dartmouth’s campus and how their program is integrated)

Johnson (Cornell, another great school, I have connected with a few of their students and have heard nothing but good things)

Darden (A safe, in-state choice that offers EA, an overall great campus fit, close to home)

McDonough (Georgetown, my safety school, still a school I see myself at and love)

Although I lack in work experience (I have worked for a year and a half, and been promoted to a management position. . . however this is at a cafe so I don’t know if it is relevant work experience) I have internship and leadership experience. I was told that although most programs do look for work experience there is something to be said about a student graduating at 19. Furthermore, I intend on getting two masters, the MBA, and possibly an MA in International Studies, after the MBA. I have a narrative for my application, that I am unwilling to disclose on here, but it is captivating. Furthermore, to all that will advise me to wait a few years and then try to get an MBA, I personally do not know if it is worth it later in life which is why I am attempting to get it now. An economics major with 10 years experience in the DC Area can make 125k-150k easily, and I wouldn’t be able to justify quitting a job and packing up my life at that point. Additionally, I’d love to continue my education while I am still in education mode, I have no debts, no family, no true obligations this would not be the case if I went directly into the workforce.

That is why, I would love to hear from anyone that went to an MBA program straight from undergrad. Preferably, at an accelerated age. I know I meet the GRE and GPA requirements but I am worried that an admissions officer will see my age and immediately reject my application.

Any help would be appreciated and tips or comments would be great! Thanks!

"Furthermore, to all that will advise me to wait a few years and then try to get an MBA, I personally do not know if it is worth it later in life which is why I am attempting to get it now. An economics major with 10 years experience in the DC Area can make 125k-150k easily, and I wouldn’t be able to justify quitting a job and packing up my life at that point. "

  1. Nobody is telling you to wait 10 years. "Apply now" and "apply 10 years from now" aren't the only options.
  2. PT programs exist.
  3. Have you looked at the career progression post-MBA?

“I know I meet the GRE and GPA requirements but I am worried that an admissions officer will see my age and immediately reject my application.”

Very likely what will happen.
Why the GRE instead of GMAT?

I don’t doubt you have a compelling narrative.

But, fundamentally, many MBA schools want students who have worked in career oriented jobs for several years so that they can share relevant experiences that benefit classroom discussion, and from which one’s peers can learn.

Your potential admission to MBA schools will depend on you demonstrating that you have valuable insights and experiences to draw from and that other students will accept you as a peer…that may be a difficult sell at 19, but again I don’t know your whole story.

The top MBA schools you list REQUIRE a minimum of two years full time employment experience post bachelor’s before applying to their programs.

No, that is not relevant experience for the schools you are considering.

And according to your posting history you started college as a freshman September, 2019.

And the fact that you were denied at Penn had more to do with your not attending than the finances.

To clarify, yes I started as a Freshman in 2019. I came in with two years’ worth of AP / IB Credits. While in college, I have been taking 18 credits a semester. So starting off as a junior + 36 credits (two semesters, passed all classes), taking an additional 9 credits over summer (a total of 105 credits by the end of summer semester). It puts me in a very interesting position. I know I could succeed in these programs, but it is about getting in. Furthermore, not to negate what you are saying but at the schools I am considering, there is nothing that says a candidate must work a set amount of years, (unlike say Oxford another school I was considering, but they do have a minimum). This thread was more specifically asking if anyone had tips for applications and how to make my application stronger as a candidate that is around my age.

Get a job with relevant experience. Getting this job as a 19 year old could prove problematic.

Getting accepted to an elite business school could also prove challenging. You will be competing with applicants with great job experience, internships, and life experience you don’t have.

You got below 1200 on your SAT…so where are you getting this bachelors degree now after attending college for one whole year, and with the last few months online.

You didn’t attend Penn because you didn’t get accepted (according to your posting history).

BTW, Georgetown should not be viewed as a safety grad school…because it’s not.

And you need two masters degrees like you need a hole in your head. Who do you expect to find these?

I’m going to be very frank. Your story is not believable.

How do you know this without having taken the GRE? Given that you had an 1180 SAT two years ago that claim is totally unfounded.

And getting in is about making yourself in to an applicant that is likely to be successful post-MBA as judged by elite b-schools.

Right now, I don’t see that given the maturity level and other indicators I (and others) see. For instance, right now, you’re trying to figure out some way to get an elite MBA without the achievements they want to see.

The only way you can make your application stronger is by doing well in school and getting several years of impressive work experience.

The most valuable part of a competitive B school is the networking- with other students, with faculty, with visiting CEO’s, with corporate leaders who lecture on various topics, with heads of state who visit campus and participate in roundtables to discuss long term economic trends, issues around workforce participation in their countries, the relationship between the corporate sector and political entities. The top schools have tons of this. The curriculum across schools- pretty much the same. Nobody has figured out the “secret sauce” to teaching operations research or supply chain management or managerial accounting- everyone is teaching pretty much the same core. But the top schools will likely have better networking opportunities.

Does every student take advantage of these opportunities? No. Some walk in, get their tickets punched with a degree, and walk out. But the value is there for an ambitious student who can take advantage of them.

Is an adcom going to bet on a 19 year old with limited work experience? Who knows. But the likelihood that your work experience will illuminate a class discussion, or add to a seminar taught by a corporate expert on M&A, or contribute something tangible and valuable to a Q&A on monetary policy and the EU…???

My tips for your application- study hard for the GMAT and blow the cover off the ball. Graduate and get a job. Work like a demon for two or three years, and have your boss write you a strong recommendation.

It’s not rocket science.

you don’t need to work for ten years- 2-3 will do the trick.

Georgetown for MBA is considered a safety school for me. 60% is rather high. Furthermore, I went into the SAT thinking I wouldn’t have to study because I was a good student in high school (and this didn’t). Whereas for the GRE, I have been studying for months now (in anticipation for graduate school, as not to repeat the mistakes I made for undergrad). GPA wise, I have a great undergrad GPA (3.92) which is above average for the majority of programs I am looking at. I am really passionate about getting my MBA, I am taking the steps to do so. My initial thoughts were that an admissions officer would look at my application and potentially take a leap of faith on me, seeing as I am very ambitious for my age. Also, to those doubting the fact that I am able to graduate so soon, I’d like to further explain: I am from an area that values education, we have several of the top high schools in the nation, parents and educators really do work to make sure we have options. At my high school, IB/AP/ and a dual enrollment option (to achieve an associates) were all offered. So there were quite a few students from my school that were in accelerated programs (Gifted and Talented) in middle school which allowed us to be able to take APs (and Pre IB) courses starting 9th grade (instead of the basic algebra one, intro to earth science, etc). Additionally, I went to a “state school” but also a school that is overall seen as a good school. An MBA is one of my personal goals and besides that, I feel that if I didn’t continue my education I would be in the same situation, just with employers. How many 19 year olds do you see working at say Mckinsey, KPMG, etc? Hence why I came back to the forum, I was looking for advice from those who have applied to business school right out of college in hopes of reaching out to someone that has a similar experience to me. I am simply here to get more information as I haven’t been able to find much online about people in my situation and I can’t just drive over the bridge to Georgetown due to the current situation.

“Georgetown for MBA is considered a safety school for me.”

No it isn’t right now.

It may be in a few years of decent work experience with good recs.

But in any case, you seem unwilling to hear what other people say.

BTW, other master’s programs (that don’t generally look for work experience) exist too.

Look, ambition’s good. Now do something with that ambition. Look to start a company or something.

Do research. There’s a lot in your posts that makes me think that b-school adcoms won’t consider you at the proper maturity level yet. There are deferred acceptance MBA programs. There are master’s programs that don’t require experience. You can look to do a lot at 19 (travel the world, volunteer, start a business) that will increase your maturity level.

Georgetown is not a safety for you, admission is holistic. Average age: 28. Average years of (relevant) work experience: 5.59 years.

Here’s more data:

Exactly! There are very few 19 year olds working in jobs/careers that are pertinent when applying to the top MBA schools. This fact helps make the case to not apply right now, unless you are going to apply to a program that is not highly ranked…I am sure there are some that would love to have your money. Would going to a ‘lesser’ MBA program allow you to achieve your goals?

You have yet to respond to the posters who have told you that lack of work experience will be a difficult sell to top school AOs. What is your plan to try and accomplish that?

I could give you a long list of B schools which will accept you now. If you’ve got money to burn-- go for it. But assuming that your “ambition” is going to get you in to Wharton- who do you think applies to Wharton- the unambitious?

Take the GMAT. Score in the 99th percentile. Work for two years and cultivate strong relationships with your peers, boss, and bosses boss.

Done. This is the formula. You don’t want to hear it? That’s on you. Every B school on the planet will be happy to read your application and cash your check. Does it mean you are getting in to one of the top schools??? The leap of faith you are hoping and wishing for? Doesn’t sound like someone who understands and calculates risk very well, which is a critical component of the MBA curriculum!

Well thank you all for these responses. I think I am going to apply to one or two MBA programs (most likely McDonough and Tuck) and see how it goes from there. I am taking into consideration the other responses I have gotten, but there isn’t much to do (at 19) and my parents aren’t going to let me just sit around the house (rightfully so and any “job” i get will not allow me to afford an apartment anywhere near the DC area). Traveling is currently a no (and will be presumably for the next year) and I have traveled extensively already. I currently volunteer and plan on continuing to do so. At this point, I am just going to attempt to truly perfect my application.

If you have a BA degree, why isn’t there “much” to do? get a job? Most new grads share with roommates; that’s how you afford an apartment.

DC is filled with opportunities for someone with a degree in econ. And assuming that by next summer the last of the Covid waves are over, you could be targeting World Bank, IMF, every single Congressional office, all 50 states have offices in DC to follow legislation and figure out the economic impact of changes to entitlements to their state budgets, etc. And that’s just the government- banks, corporations, etc. all maintain offices in DC and hire young econ grads. Think Tanks, non-profits.

Your choices are most definitely NOT sit at home or go to grad school!

Apply now for a Masters in Econ from LSE- it’s 1 year, and applications are still open. You need a 161+ on the Quant part of the GRE. That will get you in a position to get an intro consulting job at a top MC firm. 2 years experience, and apply to whatever MBA program you like. Done and dusted: in 5 years you could have a Masters from LSE, an MBA and 2 years experience at a top MC firm and can go any direction you like.

What is LSE @collegemom3717 for those of us not familiar!

sorry, @thumper1- London School of Economics

Lots of these 1Y master’s programs available (if you can afford them). Including some near you like Georgetown. But I comment about maturity because you don’t seem to know what they look for or have researched even though there is a ton of info online these days and your views are less than nuanced.

Some (like LSE) do get recruited by MBB. But it’s not easy for anyone to get in if you’re less than near-genius-level from any school.