Is attending MBA admissions fairs really worth the time and effort? Given the crowd of eager applicants hovering around the b-school reps, one could easily rationalize not participating. Being busy with work, not wanting to get all dressed up, lacking a current resume or business cards – these are common and convenient excuses for taking a pass on this opportunity.
Especially if you’re unable to schedule a campus visit to b-schools of your choice, these forums represent a one-time opportunity to actually meet the admissions officers who ultimately will decide your fate. Seizing the chance to introduce yourself, ask insightful questions, size up your competing fellow applicants, and get yourself motivated for the admission campaign ahead are great reasons to register and attend.
Some schools put on their own "information sessions" – on campus and in major cities – whereas admissions fairs are large events at which multiple schools are on display in a "tradeshow exhibit hall" setting. Most offer presentations or panel dicussions on related topics. Registering early is important as some of these events have limited attendance and will turn away late-comers. Planning in advance which MBA programs you want to approach, what apsects of your background you want to share, and which questions you should ask is vital. We’ve actually developed a punch list of 12 must-do’s that our MBA Exchange admissions clients have found very effective.
One point that often discourages attendance at admissions fairs is that the specific schools the applicant is targeting are not all participating. However, even if just one of your targets is on the roster, you can use the opportunity to learn more about MBA programs in general and hone your communication skills by speaking with school officials. And who knows? You may even discover a great MBA program that you had not been considering previously.
Deciding which forums to attend should be based on the answers to two key questions: 1) will the format allow you to interact directly with the admissions reps; and 2) how credible is the sponsor of the event. One particularly attractive series of fairs is sponsored by Access MBA Tour. They bring together applicants and international business schools in over 30 cities around the world. More than just a "fair," Access MBA Tour events enable future MBAs to meet with admissions decision makers, career advisors and GMAT tutors on a one-to-one basis. Details are available at www.AccessMBA.com. For example, they have mid-June 2011 events coming up in New York, Toronto and Montreal – great destinations even if you don’t live in one of those cities!
So, future MBAs, let the Googling begin! Find out when and where you can participate in a fair. Shine your shoes, polish your "elevator pitch," and show up ready for some serious schmoozing with some very important people. Your enthusiastic participation now could make a big difference later when MBA admissions decisions are announced.
Why miss this prime opportunity to increase your chances for b-school success?