MBA admissions representatives want you to get to know and like their schools! Sometimes this interaction is an overlooked step in the MBA application process. Yet for many schools, it is a critical one.
While these meetings are crucial, it is easy for prospective students to interact the WRONG way.
As you plan for The MBA Tour this summer – read these key DOs and DON’Ts from Personal MBA Coach.
- DO NOT speak just for the sake of speaking. In an effort to be noticed, many candidates will speak just to say something. This can actually do more harm than good. It is easy to remember candidates who wasted their time and did not say or ask something intelligent or insightful. Think carefully about whether what you say is painting you in the best light or not.
- DO NOT ask a question that can be easily answered online. This a classic example of speaking for the sake of speaking. If you can easily find the answer to a question on a school’s website or in a brochure, why use precious face time asking it?
- DO NOT interrupt. At busy events, it can be tempting to “push” your way to the front or “interrupt” to be heard. Proper etiquette is crucial here as it can be surprisingly easy to make a bad impression. Remember, admissions directors interview lots of candidates and subtle moves could be evaluated.
- DO NOT say anything negative. This may seem obvious, but I am surprised by how often admissions representatives come up to me after events to share stories of students who asked negative questions or made negative comments such as “Why did your school make Y change? It was better beforehand.”
- DO NOT try to get someone to sell you on her school. In a similar vein, questions such as “Why should I go to X school?” are also deal breakers. While you may be lucky enough to be in a position to ask this question one day, The MBA Tour is not the time for this.
- DO considerable research in advance. If you are not prepared (more on how below) you will easily make one of the above mistakes.
- DO plan which schools you want to speak to before you arrive. You cannot speak to everyone. First of all, it is an open room and it is easy for other schools to see who you are talking to. If you proclaim your love for each school for unique reasons, it will seem a bit obvious after time. Second, you cannot do enough research to have intelligent conversations with 27 different schools.
- DO keep an open mind when making your school lists. As a follow-up to #7, while you cannot speak to everyone, you should develop a broad list which includes both reach schools and safety schools. Keep an open mind. Many of my candidates are surprised at how well they would fit at a school they never intended on applying to (and vice versa).
- DO dress the part. These are business events and you should dress appropriately. Take the time to change (if you are coming from a casual workplace) and freshen up before you enter the event.
- DO bring memorable questions. Your goal here is for admissions representatives to remember you. Arrive prepared with personal questions that show you have done your research and are truly passionate about the school. An example of this would include probing on specific programs related to your field of interest.
When and how to interact with business school students and staff should be top of mind throughout the entire MBA application process. In addition to attending The MBA Tour, check out these other tips from Personal MBA Coach for courting your target schools:
- Attend individual school networking events: Once the application season wraps up, MBA admissions staff hit the road, scheduling events throughout the world to target prospective candidates. Now is the time to schedule these into your summer travel plans. This does not mean you have to fly halfway across the world to attend, but be on the lookout for opportunities near you and plan accordingly.
- Look for affinity group events: Similarly, there are many targeted MBA events for students of various affinities and nationalities. If applicable to you, these specialized events will provide you with a more intimate setting to show your interest and ask questions about particular programs. The more your questions show your research, the better.
- Seek out professors doing research in an area of interest. While this may not be possible for all candidates (nor is it by any means required), if you have a unique area of interest, reach out to a professor in this area and let her know you would be interested in learning more about her research. Not only is this another great way to show your specific interest in a school, but this can also help you to expand your network on campus.
- Network with alumni. Naturally, look for alumni from your target schools within your network and ask them for brief 15 min chats, or in some cases out for coffee or to lunch. They will likely be happy to share their experiences and may connect you with other alumni or have targeted advice for you. It is best to start with your personal and professional networks, but undergraduate alumni databases can be another great source for identifying alumni.
- Visit campuses. Making the trip to campus and scheduling a class visit can be an easy way to express interest. Visiting the campus before you apply is more important for some schools than others, but if you can make this trip work, it is never a bad idea. Not only will this confirm your interest in the target school, but it will be a good source to gather information to use in your application essays.
- Keep in mind, it is possible to do too much of a good thing, so be sure to find a balance. In addition, schools vary widely in terms of which communication vehicles they find most effective and the importance they place on such communication.
Personal MBA Coach provides clients with advice on when and how often to connect with their target schools.
Need personal support? Founded by a Wharton and MIT graduate, Personal MBA Coach regularly helps applicants navigate their applications each year. Our comprehensive support includes mock interviews with a team of former M7 interviewers and customized GMAT/GRE tutoring with tutors who scored in the 99th percentile.
Personal MBA Coach has been guiding candidates through all aspects of the MBA application process for over 11 years with a 96% success rate. Call us today at +1 617-645-2424 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation on your profile along with how we can help make your MBA dreams a reality!