3 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Campus Visit

campus tourBusiness school visits are a lot of work, and they take time to set up before you actually step onto a campus. Below are 3 steps you can take to make sure you have a successful visit with your target schools.

(Before you dig into this article, be sure to check out 2 Ways to Prepare for Your Campus Visit.)

1) Sign Up for An Official Visit
Most campuses offer official visit programs that allow you to sign up to sit in on a class, learn more about the program, and sometimes have lunch with current students. These programs could be a half-day, full day, or even a weekend of events, such as Fuqua’s Weekend for Women. Each school will vary slightly, so take a look at their websites for more information. These visits will be great introductions to the campus life and the specific programs that you are interested in – you’ll get to see how the students interact in class and what the professors are like before you choose to spend two years there.

2) Use Your Network
Once you sign up for a visit, let your network know that you will be on campus! If you’ve met an admissions representative, or had any phone chats with current students or alumni, contact them and see if they’ll have time for a quick meet up to grab coffee or a bite to eat. Engaging with the school’s community shows your continued interest and also helps admissions representatives remember you once your application comes through.

If you haven’t had too much contact with students yet, this is a great time to email the leaders of campus clubs and ask if they can meet with you so you can learn more about their experiences. Remember that these students are sure to be very busy, so ask for a quick 15-minute chat where you can buy them a tea or a coffee. If they are available, chances are they will be more than happy to meet with you.

3) Make Your Official Visit Unofficial
This one might not be as easy for some to do (and it is probably best if it comes naturally) but it will really help you get a sense of the school community. Try to take advantage of any random run-ins with current students. During the Fall Friday for Women event at Yale, I met someone in the bathroom who I started chatting with. We quickly became friends and she invited me to a fellow student’s birthday party that evening. At that event, I was able to meet a dozen other MBA students and it was helpful to see the social side of business school life in an informal setting where no one was officially trying to sell me on a program.

If you can form genuine relationships with students, no matter what campus they are on, it will help you and your application. These relationships will allow you to craft more genuine essays, and regardless of whether or not you attend that particular program, that person can still be a great resource for you when you are later networking for jobs – networking is a huge aspect of business school, so it will only help you if you can start before you even apply to your target schools.

Without these school visits, I would have no idea how to go about choosing the right program for me. It was Michigan’s admitted student event, Go Blue Rendezvous, where I was really able to see myself on campus, and it was after that weekend that I knew it was the right place for me. If you’re lucky enough to have a decision to make after your applications are reviewed, these visits will definitely come in handy when you are choosing where to put down your deposit.

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. You can read more articles by her here

HBS Waitlist Update

Last week Harvard Business School’s Dee Leopold posted a brief update on the HBS blog, providing some news for waitlisted applicants as well as some advice for those who may apply in 2009-2010. Whether you’re anxiously awaiting news on your HBS waitlist status or your business school applications are just a twinkle in your eye right now, this brief post was especially useful.

In her update, Dee wrote:

  • Our Round 1 deadline for the next application season will be earlier in October, BEFORE fall class visits are open. We encourage those of you who are thinking of applying in Round 1 to consider a class visit this spring — class visits are available until May 8. Visiting an HBS class has absolutely no impact on the application process – we just want everyone to know that you are welcome.
  • We will be making more offers from the waitlist this year, and we hope to make the majority of these decisions as soon as we can – definitely before the end of May.
  • International students will have access to loans without needing a U.S. co-signer. We will release details/terms on specific programs as they are finalized.

That first point is very interesting. If you apply in Round 1 this coming fall, you won’t have a chance to sit in on an HBS class before you submit your application. Therefore, even if you’re not sure that you’ll apply to HBS, if you can get to Boston this spring, it’s a good idea to schedule your visit now. Doing so — and being able to write about it in your HBS admissions essays — may give you a small but important leg up vs. other applicants next year.