Visiting your target MBA program is a necessary and extremely helpful tool when crafting a winning application, but most people are strapped for the time to do so. Often, it’s only the holidays which provide the required extra time to make a visit in person.
The one problem with this plan is a real doozy. MBA classes end in early December and students are long gone by the time holiday visitors come around. Certainly schools do not conduct official tours or visits during this time, but you can always go on your own. Staff and many faculty must work much longer into the holiday season than the class schedule indicates, so there will be a few stragglers there, but this leaves a potential MBA candidate wandering empty halls.
While it’s helpful to meet any remaining admissions office personnel in the flesh, a visit during a program break can be very disappointing.
In fact, such a visit will essentially turn into a facility perusal and not much more, save getting a few questions answered by remaining MBA staffers. No class visits, no meeting potential classmates, no chance to make a good impression with program participants.
While it would be a far better use of time to visit once Spring semester begins, if this is impossible and you find yourself a wanderer of halls, know that you can still extract value from such a visit.
Perhaps the most valuable takeaway is merely the fact that you put the effort in to visit at all. Except for HBS, Stanford, Wharton and perhaps a couple of other elite schools (who really don’t care if you visit them or not), most schools will give you props for making the effort. Showing up to visit a school in person, even if it’s outside their official visit program, can communicate you are indeed serious about attending, something that can give you an advantage over someone who never darkens the door at all. Of course, the applicants who are able to do an official visit will have their own advantage, but we’re talking here about making lemons out of lemonade are we not?
Turning a negative into a positive is a helpful skill for any MBA program.
If you start now, during the application process, you will begin forming the right attitude which will make you a success in b-school. If you are forced to wander empty halls this holiday season, make sure you extract enough from your time there that you can work something unique into your application. Remember, it’s often the tiniest of detail that distinguishes one applicant from another. In short, a desolate visit is better than none at all, but you must make the most of it.