While time consuming (and often expensive), visiting business schools is a key component of your application process. While you have the opportunity to learn about the campus environment, culture, and student body, the admissions committee has the opportunity to learn about you.
So, where do you begin?
1) Do Your Research
First, do your research. Your business school visit begins long before you actually step foot onto a campus. You will need to narrow down your MBA search so you know which schools you most want to visit. During your initial research, determine what factors are important to you in a business school community. Does the school foster a collaborative environment, or is it more competitive? Does it have a larger or a smaller class size? Do most students commute to campus or do they live within walking distance?
Some of these factors may be more important to you than others. If you’ve always lived in an urban environment, do you want to continue that lifestyle and look into NYU Stern or UCLA Anderson, or are you interested in living in a rural community like at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business? If you are going to business school with a partner, you might want to consider the percentage of partnered students in your target programs as well.
Determine which environment you will thrive in. The environment makes up the campus culture, which is an important thing to understand about your target programs before you visit.
2) Start Networking
Once you’ve determined a handful of schools that you want to visit, start networking (if you haven’t already)! Part of your initial research process might involve networking with alumni and admissions officers, but if it doesn’t, now is your chance to get to know some of the people involved with your target programs.
There are several MBA admissions events throughout the world all year long. You can meet with admissions representatives from top programs at events like The MBA Tour and the QS World MBA Tour. At these events, you’ll have the opportunity to get to know admissions representatives, alumni, or both! Talk about your goals and why you are interested in their program. They’ll be able to talk about program specifics that will help with your post-MBA goals, or put you in touch with people who know more.
You can also start to reach out to the leaders of the clubs you are interested in joining once you get to campus. These conversations will help guide your application essays and give you a stronger sense of the school before you hit submit. If you can showcase your understanding of and fit with the program, it makes your applications even stronger!
As you can see, campus visits take a lot of time, so start early. A great place to start your initial search is with the free Veritas Prep Essential Guide to Top Business Schools. With this tool, you’ll learn about schools’ class sizes, average GMAT scores, percentage of partnered students, and so much more. The networks that you start to build with this information will come in handy when you begin visiting campuses. Check out our next post to learn more!
Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.
Colleen Hill is a Veritas Prep consultant for the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.