Would you purchase a new car without a test drive? Would you buy a house without a walk-through? Of course not. The same holds true for an MBA education. This huge investment of time and money requires first-hand observation — before investing your hopes, dreams and potential. That’s why The MBA Exchange strongly encourages clients to make this a key tactic in their admissions campaign.
A campus visit is most valuable in the fall or spring, when you can observe a class; interact with students, administrators and faculty; and see the facilities actually being used. However, many Round 1 applicants realize the importance of seeing the school only when starting their applications during the summer, when most full-time MBA programs are dark.
Don’t panic. Visiting a b-school campus – even when classes are not in session — is always better than not visiting at all. But a summer visit requires extra research and planning to maximize the benefit. Here are a few suggestions:
• Visit when an Executive MBA cohort is meeting and/or the school is having a late summer, pre-term session for their incoming full-time students.
• Some administrators and faculty remain on campus in summer, so you can still try to meet with them while you’re there. And a few students are likely to be there, working with professors on projects, case studies or books.
• Your targeted school may have a year-round incubator or entrepreneurship center that welcomes visitors.
• Some current students may be doing their summer internships locally. So, meeting for coffee, lunch for a cold beer (your treat!) could result in a personalized, 1-on-1 campus tour.
After exploring those options, if you still find that traveling to the school in the summer would not be worthwhile, then it becomes even more important to reach out and engage remotely with students, alumni and administrators. Most MBA programs have a calendar of online and local information sessions that may be more accessible to you. Finally, for those who don’t visit before applying, having an on-campus admissions interview is highly recommended.
Whenever you get to actually see the school, savor this important opportunity to preview the place and meet the people who will have such a tremendous impact on your future. At the very least, it will help you make comparisons with other schools you’re considering. And, if all goes well, a visit make your first days as an enrolled student less stressful and more enjoyable.