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Stereotypes are everywhere, and grad school is no exception. Some people (you?) might feel anxious about perceived social stigmas attached to going back to school. Will you feel out of place if your classmates are older than you? Will your peers be significantly younger than you and tech-savvy? And, of course, the ever-popular question remains: Is grad school really worth your time?

Last year’s hiring rates for candidates with an MBA were relatively high compared to other advanced degrees. The table below compares actual vs. projected hire rates across business degrees, indicating that an MBA continues to be a versatile and potentially valuable degree.

Hiring projections

So if an MBA can provide career advancement potential, what about the age concerns? Can you be “too old” or “too young” to go back to school? Generally, the youngest a person can be when starting their MBA is 22 years old. The median age for a person enrolled in an MBA program is 28. However, graduate programs are known for having a wider variety of age ranges within their cohorts.

Why is this? There are several reasons why an MBA program might have a student body composed of many different ages and backgrounds. Each of those students brings a different perspective to the coursework and discussions and expands the personal network of every student to include people with experiences, interests and occupations to which they might not otherwise have been exposed. For example, some students want to jump into grad school straight out of college, and others opt for grad school after building up their work experience, or when deciding on a new direction in their career path. Any of these scenarios can make you a compelling applicant to an MBA program.

One consideration for potential students who have been in the workforce: Compare the amount of time you can utilize your master’s degree to the time it takes to earn one. If you do not expect to remain in your current career for much longer, earning an MBA might be beneficial if it is part of a plan to switch careers but might not return its value in your current position.

Other positives about being an older student in an MBA program:

  • Enhancing your experience by learning cutting-edge business practices for application in the current and future job market
  • Understanding the developing rules of the global economy and how to apply that knowledge as a leader and manager
  • An MBA may be expected, or even required, for senior and executive positions. Earning one can advance your career, and possibly your compensation, by creating a path to those jobs; and
  • Life after work is not always as enjoyable as it might sound, but having an MBA and the skills that come with it can offer a "post-retirement" opportunity for you to have a second career or build something new.

An MBA can help you move into a more advanced position, learn the latest business innovations, gain a better understanding of the modern business world and present you with great networking opportunities. No matter your age, graduate school can provide a wealth of professional opportunities.