Maximizing Your School Visits

Making the most of your MBA campus visits is a paramount gesture when choosing where you want to apply.  If you think simply stopping by and walking around is going to do the trick, think again.

Everyone knows that visiting your target schools in person is critical as you assess which schools are going to be a good fit.  You can only ascertain so much from a brochure or website, so despite how troublesome and time-consuming it is to organize and execute, carving out time on campus is something we all must do.  While summertime is not the best time to visit, since MBA students are off campus and faculty are traveling or doing research, it’s a great time to plan your fall visits. 

A common mistake prospective MBA students make is waiting too late to reach out to book a visit.

Schools only have so many tour slots to offer, so make sure you are researching and reaching out early in the summer when admissions offices open their calendars.  If you are thinking it’s too much trouble to do this, you should reconsider, because it’s important to book an official visit with your school vs. stopping by on your own. One reason is the class visit.  Many schools will allow you to sit in on an actual class, which is definitely something you won’t have access to if you try to conduct your own tour. 

Additionally, schools will usually assign you to a current student ambassador to show you around or take you to class.  This is a highly under-rated feature of the official school visit, as it gives you direct access to a real-live MBA candidate at your target school.  Knowing someone in the program can be a huge advantage, since you can ask more candid questions than you might feel comfortable doing in an interview. 

One mistake to avoid is making a bad impression during your visit.

Most schools will solicit and consider the opinions of their students, so if you make a poor impression, it will likely find its way indirectly back to the adcom.  How do you make a bad impression?   You’d be surprised how many rules of common courtesy can be broken when spending several hours with folks.  Abiding by your grandmother’s guidance is beneficial:  be polite, look people in the eye, and don’t be rude—especially to your fellow applicants.  You are not there to look better than them, you are there to demonstrate you can get along well with them.  Remember, some of them might end up as your classmates!

Not every school will allow such a deep look at their inner-workings, but for those that do, you should take full advantage.  You might even consider asking in advance if you can meet a professor you have heard about or who does research in your area of interest.  Don’t be shy about communicating your desires to the admissions office.  They generally do their best o accommodate, and if you appear professional and courteous in the process, it can go a long way in making a lasting impression while you are there.

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