MBA fair season is upon us, with multiple tours passing through the world’s major cities, along with local information sessions hosted by schools themselves. For many applicants, this will be the first time they ever come face-to-face with official representatives from their dream schools.
Wow, high stakes, right? One well-timed question could turn you into a superstar in an admissions representative’s eyes, while one boneheaded remark could forever ruin your chances of getting into HBS. Right? Isn’t that how these things work? Don’t admissions officers stand behind their little tables with one finger permanently on the “trap door” button?
Of course not. The reality is that truly the best way you can help yourself at these events is by asking thoughtful questions to learn things that you really want to know. It’s always nice to strike up a deep conversation with a a school representative, but remember that they’re going to meet possibly hundreds of applicants at the event, then probably have to grab their bags and jet off to the next city to do it all over again. And again and again. So, instead of trying to hit a home run with a question, go with some legitimate questions in mind, ask the right questions of the right people (e.g., a recent alum or current student may be better equipped to talk about what the school experience is like for students’ spouses), and be respectful of admissions representatives’ time.
To this last point, the foot traffic at these events always has interesting ebbs and flows. One minute a table may be swarmed with applicants, while the next minute it could be empty. If you’re really interested in drilling down deep on a topic with a representative, be smart about doing it while the table isn’t overly crowded. Early in an event is often a good time to do it, before the place gets too crowded. You can also wait until the end of the event, although sometimes admissions representatives are trying to hurry up and pack and head off to the airport. Admissions officers always appreciate when an applicant is sensitive to the challenges of manning these fair booths.
In terms of what NOT to do, the folks at QS wrote a nice list of rules & etiquette for MBA fairs earlier this year (it was actually written for EMBA fairs, but the advice still applies for full-time MBA program fairs). And, an unfortunate applicant who bombarded some Fuqua representatives last year provided a template for what not to do at these events.
There’s already plenty of good advice out there, and with some modest research and a healthy helping of common sense, you will do just fine.
By the way, we’ve partnered with the QS World MBA Tour, and will be at some of their events in North America this year. If you haven’t already, register for an event near you. Hopefully we’ll see you there!
Photo courtesy of SeedRocket, under a Creative Commons license.