The Value of an MBA at Any AgeApril 15, 2011
Applicants often ask what the “age limit” is for the Wharton MBA Program for Executives. Often, they’re the ones who tell us that they think they are “too old” to undertake it. So is there an “ideal age” to obtain an MBA degree? Following are the perspectives of two more experienced students -- Bruce Crocker, WG’11, and Tim Withers, WG’12 -- who can help illustrate the value of an MBA at any age.
Bruce Crocker, 2nd Year Student
My reasons for getting the MBA in the first place were numerous and difficult to explain. I am not sure I fully understood them. Now that I am six weeks away from finishing, however, I believe I can articulate the reasons that I would do it all over again.
- The intensity of the learning re-engaged my mind in a very healthy way. I am a lawyer, and I was practicing law before and during the program. Thus, my mind was fully engaged before the program. But the new subjects presented by Wharton and discipline of studying required new ways of thinking.
- The program gave me 114 new friends. My classmates all are friendly, talented and very smart. I even can count them among my very best friends now.
- The Wharton reputation is obviously very valuable. If one never changes jobs (and I may not), one may not need that value. On the other hand, I am finding that I am being given new and different responsibilities as a consequence of my Wharton education.
- I have a strong sense of satisfaction for undertaking the program and finishing it. This is not an easy experience and anyone who completes it should feel a sense of accomplishment.
- The class of students is very diverse. I was working in a six-person study-group last Saturday and noticed that within my group the ethnicities included African-American, Indian, Caucasian and Chinese. The countries of birth included India, China, Argentina, Australia and the U.S. The oldest was 62 and the youngest was 29. There were two women and four men.
I experience more diversity at Wharton than in any other part of my life, personal or professional. By diversity, I mean racial, cultural, national, professional, gender, age -- you name it. I very much appreciate this diversity and consider it a very positive aspect of my Wharton experience. Moreover, the students at Wharton recognize the strength we have as a group in our diversity. No one treats me differently because I am older, or Caucasian, or an attorney or male. At Wharton the students interact positively with and are respectful of each other. I wish the rest of the world could learn how to do the same.
Finally, the experience is fun! It is difficult, but fun! Knowing what I know now, I absolutely would make the same decision I made two years ago.
Tim Withers, 1st Year Student
I have run a financial services firm for 15 plus years and in that time many things have changed. I wanted to seek fresh thinking. To really get creative, think differently, I felt I had to get outside my industry. This started me thinking about an MBA. But I, along with many others, am very busy and did not want to jeopardize my business growth for just any MBA.
I originally thought I might be too old for an MBA program, but Wharton changed my mind. When I really looked at my goals and talked a bit with Bruce Crocker, I saw the silliness of that thinking. (The MBA Exec office put me in touch with a student who had a shared perspective.) During my campus visit, I found the energy exceptional (sitting in Ziv Katalan’s class might have helped). The students and everyone in the office were very nice and supportive, not to mention excited about the program. Here, at last, was a place I felt welcomed, where I could learn, and where I could push myself.
When you are in business, you make daily investments of money and time. I suppose the same is true of life in general. Many of my friends are quietly contemplating their retirement, but I must say that retirement is the furthest thing from my mind. To me, the Wharton MBA gives me fresh thinking and new skills that I can apply when helping my clients, my family and the charities I work with for the next however many years.
My grandfather worked as an executive coach until he was 91, so in the end (while I whined about it initially), age is irrelevant. The question is whether you have the passion and drive to try and change the way you impact the world. The Wharton MBA for Executives is perfect for people like me who enjoy business and like what they do, but who know that learning never stops—there is always room for improvement.
Bruce Crocker, WG'11 Tim Withers, WG'12