As the 2017 academic year winds to a close, students all over the world are preparing themselves for final exams. With a similar amount of angst and tension, hopeful business school applicants are beginning to prepare as well, but instead of taking tests, they will be writing applications.
One of the most important things you can do to prepare for this is to visit each of your target schools in person. The experience of sitting in a real, live MBA class alongside other actual students is something that will strengthen your perspective on a school like nothing else can.
No brochure, no website, no 2nd hand tales from friends who went there is a substitute for the in-person visit.
In fact, we often find applicants who are struggling with reasons for why they are applying to a particular school will have more than they can even fit into an essay once they complete the visit.
Often, however, applicants decide to schedule a visit too late.
By the time they reach out to their favorite schools, the semester ends, graduation is over and the first years are off to their internships, leaving the buildings quiet and lifeless, with no classes to sit in, no students to interact with.
Of course, you can always schedule a fall visit, which is typically the most common time of the year for schools to host prospective applicants, but why wait until then and risk squandering a whole summer of introspective reflection on your visit?
The fall will be busy enough with all you have to do to get applications in before the deadlines, so cramming visits on top of this whirlwind can sometimes be enough to send applicants over the stressful edge.
Consider beating the rush and scheduling a visiting tour. Perhaps you can take a week off work and lump visits together based on geographic location, knocking out several observations in one journey.
Or maybe you would be more comfortable working in a visit or two during a vacation or long weekend? Just be sure to schedule with schools on a Friday or Monday when classes are still in session.
Checking with them before you book plane tickets will save you time, money and disappointment. Most schools don't even have classes after noon on Friday, for example.
If you are able to fit in a visit or two before the academic year closes, here are a couple of tips for your visit. Firstly, make sure you take notes throughout your time there. You may be surprised how much you will forget by the time you leave and travel back home. While it's fresh in your mind, jot down anything that gives you some fresh insight into why you think you would fit in at your target school. Secondly, make sure you ask for business cards or contact info from any students you meet, as they can serve as good sources of information for you when you begin writing your essays. Thirdly, don't miss an opportunity to stop by the admissions office to meet some folks, introducing yourself to people who work in the office can be a great way to begin building a memorable impression of yourself. Finally, make sure you are kind to fellow prospects whom you may meet during your visit. Not only will you make a favorable impression on your target school by doing so, you will also potentially make a friend who just might become a classmate. Happy Visitation!
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