Mendoza School of Business

Advice from Admissions When Applying to an Executive MBA

Author: Tracy Kulwicki

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Tracy Kulwicki, Associate Director of Admissions – Global Executive MBA

I’ve been talking to adults considering going back to school for over 16 years at three vastly different institutions. From a first-generation single mom trying to build a better life for her kids with an Associate degree to a career student contemplating their fifth (or more) degree to a busy Executive thinking about going back for an EMBA, the fears and worries are all pretty similar.

Going back to school as an adult with a demanding job, busy family life, and other personal obligations is challenging, but not impossible. Read on to learn about the common fears that often keep EMBA students from applying, and find out how to calm these worries to take the next step in your educational journey.

Am I too old?

Learning is for everyone and you’re never too old. The average age of the Notre Dame EMBA program students is 40, and the program typically enrolls individuals aged 28 to 65. We’ve even had a few students in their 70s. If you have further goals for your career and a desire to learn and grow your skills, knowledge, and abilities, go for it.

Do I have what it takes?

Many students fear that they are not good enough to succeed in the degree program of their dreams.

The fear of not being good enough often holds them back from even putting themselves out there and applying.While EMBA programs are rigorous and challenging, admissions committees review each candidate holistically to determine academic readiness and program alignment. Work history, industry training and certifications, community involvement, and academic record are all important factors that can showcase the unique contribution and ability of an individual student.

As far as determining if you have what it takes to succeed in an EMBA program after admission, the best advice is to remember that everything is figure-out-able. If you’ve made it this far in life and your career you have the skills you need to build success in the future you are aiming for. Once admitted you can stay confident in the fact that the admissions committee believes in you and your ability to succeed in the program. Stay committed, and focused, and utilize the resources available.

How will I fit another thing into my busy life?

An Executive MBA program is specifically designed for working professionals with demanding careers and busy lives. The classes meet one weekend a month on Notre Dame’s campus in addition to three, week-long immersions spread throughout the 22-month program. Students are assigned to a small group team to support, encourage, and work with throughout the experience.

An EMBA program will challenge you and demand time and energy currently allocated to other areas. Gather resources, build a support system, and identify your priorities. Everyone has the same amount of hours each week. Figure out what you need to adjust and what you need to let go of to allow you the opportunity to pursue your dreams.

Is it worth it?

Define your reason why. Each student’s motivation for pursuing an EMBA is unique to them. If you haven’t taken the time to identify why you want to go back to school it will be a million times harder to show up each day and put in the effort. Take the time to uncover your motivation, and what you are looking to gain from the experience, and then find the right program to meet your needs.

The EMBA program at Notre Dame is strategically focused on developing impactful, mission-focused leaders. The curriculum and collaborative learning environment are focused on values-centered leadership, global perspective, and providing the tools needed for the complexity of senior-level decision-making in today’s corporate world.

Students in the Notre Dame Global EMBA program learn from top-tier faculty and a classroom filled with talented peers from a wide variety of industries. The Notre Dame alumni is ranked #2 in global alumni effectiveness, providing lifetime connections to values-based, service-minded leaders across the globe.

Will I fit in with the rest of the class?

At Notre Dame, we begin each EMBA residency with the simple message of “Welcome Home.” We are dedicated to building a unique and diverse class of students who each add their special voice and contribution to the cohort. We balance this diversity with a dedication to the belief that we are stronger together and everyone belongs. Our collaborative environment and a deep sense of community help build lifelong relationships and a strong sense of belonging.

The best learning comes from diversity. When considering your options for an EMBA program, think about the unique voice and contribution you will add to your classes. Look for the value that you can glean from each of your classmates. The best way to determine the right community fit for you is to visit campus, talk to other students or alumni, and attend informational sessions. Visit the Mendoza Global EMBA events calendar to explore opportunities for connecting with our unique culture and community.

Is now the right time in my life?

Life typically only gets busier. As you move up in your career demands on your time are likely to increase. Personal life and responsibilities at home aren’t likely to slow down either. There is no perfect time to go back to school. You will never feel ready. Something will always come up to give you an excuse to wait. Stop waiting for perfect and just jump in.

People at every stage of their professional career have pursued an Executive MBA. You will be surrounded by classmates juggling busy lives right along with you. The sooner you start the faster you can experience the benefits of the learning, experience, and community.

How will I afford it?

An Executive MBA is an investment in yourself that can begin paying off the moment you step into the classroom and begin expanding your skills and network. Starting in the first week and continuing throughout the program, students can bring new skills back to work, apply what they have learned, and immediately add value to their teams, divisions, and organizations as a whole.

The great part about going back to school as a working professional is that many companies will help pay for a degree, recognizing the value for them as well. Talk to your company leadership to determine what support your employer may be able to provide. Additionally, most schools offer some type of scholarship opportunities and can discuss additional options for financing your degree.

If you’re thinking about going back to school for your Executive MBA, know that you are not alone in your worries and fears. Also, know that thousands upon thousands of adult students with those same fears are figuring it out, one step at a time, and you can too.

Mendoza School of Business