“It’s too far to travel. I’m too busy at work. I don’t know what I’d do there. I’ve heard it’s not necessary.”
There’s a long list of excuses available to MBA applicants when it comes to the topic of campus visits. In our experience advising nearly 5,000 candidates over the past three decades, The MBA Exchange has heard them all. Yes, it can feel challenging, perhaps even intimidating, to travel to the business schools before applying. However, the practical value far exceeds the thought and effort required.
Here are just three benefits that serious MBA applicants should keep in mind when contemplating a b-school road trip:
- A campus visit demonstrates to the admissions committee (oh yes, they document who has been there!) that you’ve observed an actual class, seen their facilities, experienced their community, and are serious about attending their school if admitted.
- A campus visit gives you direct access to current students who will share their perspectives, candidly answer your questions, and maybe even endorse your candidacy.
- A campus visit prompts highly personal observations and insights that you can feature in essays and interviews to demonstrate your authentic fit and affinity with a school.
Thoughtful and thorough planning is essential in order to maximize the ROI. Drawing from the guidance we provide to our clients during comprehensive admissions consultations, here are some key steps to ensure a successful campus visit:
2. In addition to formal tours and info sessions, schedule informal conversations with a few current students. These individuals are always busy so show the respect to request time in advance. And never underestimate the appeal of hosting them for coffee, pizza, a beer, etc.
3. Spend time in advance exploring the school’s website, online student newspaper and official blogs so you’re current about initiatives and issues on campus.
4. Have a clear understanding of your own MBA candidacy so you can present others with a succinct description of your strengths, interests and goals. (If you’re unsure about this, get a free expert evaluation before you arrive.)
5. Unless your campus visit includes a formal admissions interview, pack some nice casual clothes rather than a stodgy business suit. The more you look like an MBA student, the sooner you’ll feel like and be perceived as one.
So, are you convinced that visiting business schools would be a valuable element of your admissions campaign? If not, here’s one more thought. Imagine you’re a business school admissions officer trying to choose between two nearly identical applicants. Same GPA. Same GMAT. Same work experience. However, only one of those applicants has actually visited the school, attended a class, talked directly with students, walked through the community, and shared all those observations with passion and conviction.
Which of those two applicants would you admit?