MBA Admissions Fairs: Where a world of b-schools comes to meet you

Spring is in full swing and, for the next several months, it’s the season of MBA admissions events. Maybe you’re wondering how valuable it is to attend these gatherings. Well, if you’re even thinking about pursuing an MBA, there isn’t a better way to find out about schools down the street and in far-flung corners of the globe.

Especially if you’re unable to schedule campus visits 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 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 discussions on related topics. But the major draw is the chance to chat with an admissions representation at the school’s table.

Registering early is important as most of these events have limited attendance and will turn away late-comers. Planning in advance which MBA programs you want to approach, what aspects of your background you want to share, and which questions you should ask is vital. We’ve actually developed a punch list of a dozen must-do’s that our MBA Exchange admissions clients have found very effective.

One particularly attractive series of fairs is sponsored by Access MBA Tour. There’s one coming up on Monday, June 18, in New York City. Follow this link to register and for full event details More than just a tradtional "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, bringing together applicants and international business schools in over 30 cities around the world. This year they’re including more schools with campuses in China and the UAE – locales where it’s becoming increasingly popular to pursue an MBA.

One especially important consideration: even if the roster of participating schools doesn’t include your immediate targets, there’s value to going to such an event. First of all, you’ll immerse yourself in the world of MBA education, which can only make you a more knowledgeable and confident applicant. Secondly, you’ll get a chance to practice your interpersonal communication skills in a no-risk setting. And, finally, you might discover a hidden gem — some particular MBA program that’s perfect for your background and goals but that you had not considered previously.

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 a prime opportunity to increase your chances for b-school success?