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Contacting student ambassadors

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Contacting student ambassadors [#permalink] New post 10 Mar 2007, 00:39
I'm at the beginning of the "researching schools" phase and have a question. I've noticed that alot of people here mention that having contacted the student ambassadors is always a plus when it comes to the interview. Its always good to be able to mention something that isn't on the school's website, but it seems that some of the school's websites are so comprehensive that I can't think of anything else to ask! For example, take NYU's website. It has student blogs and experiences, a list of speakers they have had, complete course descriptions, alumni credentials, special programs, etc., etc. What on earth are you supposed to ask the student ambassador that isn't already mentioned? Student experiences are already on the website.

I was wondering if some of you could post a few questions you asked the student ambassadors of the schools you were interested in to kind of point me in the right direction. Of course there are the standard, "What was your favorite class and why?" or "What makes your experience at X school special?" but like I said, some of these things are already covered on the website. Of course, this isn't a problem when the school's website isn't very descriptive, but what about when you just don't have any questions after throroughly going over the school's website? Is contacting a student ambassador really all that important? Thanks in advance.
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 [#permalink] New post 10 Mar 2007, 06:01
Well, I think you answered your own question... Sure, there might be some portions of the website that discuss student life and the like, but its pretty unlikely that the answers the person your speaking to would give you are already on the site. In general, I always stuck to the easy questions

What have you enjoyed most here?
Is there any advice you might have for an applicant?
Hindsight is 20 20. What would you say is the one thing you wish you had known your first year here? (asked of 2nd years)
Is there anything youd say I absolutely shouldnt miss checking out during my visit to campus?

etc.

As long as its about them and their opinion, there is no shortage of questions. Its not so much that you can't ask something thats on the website - I mean for instance, say you are really interested in Marketing and there is a ton of info about the program online. That doesnt mean you can't ask "Are you in Marketing? Have you taken any courses in it? What have you enjoyed?"... What it means is you shouldn't ask: "Do you have a marketing program here?" or "When is the application deadline for joining the marketing club?" or "What professors do you have?"

Anything that is logistical is bad, anything that is subjective is good.
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 [#permalink] New post 10 Mar 2007, 15:59
Thanks for the advice. I was thinking of going that direction, but then I thought, "why bother?" Have you ever heard someone say, "Man, my MBA program really sucks,"? Of course if you ask someone about their opinion of their school, they are going to give a glowing review, probably along the lines of, "Well, I really liked professor X's class because he used real world examples and could relate things to us in an understandable way..blah...blah.." or something like that. How is this going to help you in the interview process or give you insight into the school that you can't glean from the website that includes student testimonials? On a detailed webiste, there are usually a few quotes from students conerning just about every aspect of the school, from clubs to activities to specific professors and programs. I suppose the value would come from the fact that you contacted a real person rather than rely completely on the website's information. I think I will go the route you suggested. Thanks again.
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 [#permalink] New post 10 Mar 2007, 23:28
Are you serious? Think about the fact that you're about to dish out a ton of money for a product that you don't know a lot about. For instance, if you're buying a car, maybe it's nice to look at the Chevrolet website and see what the company says about the car, but don't you want to talk to the people who actually drive the car and get an objective perspective?

If you're only reading the websites, then you're basically just reading the carefully crafted marketing materials. It's been my experience that students have no problem leveling and telling you straight up what they like and dislike.
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 [#permalink] New post 11 Mar 2007, 16:29
Quote:
Are you serious? Think about the fact that you're about to dish out a ton of money for a product that you don't know a lot about. For instance, if you're buying a car, maybe it's nice to look at the Chevrolet website and see what the company says about the car, but don't you want to talk to the people who actually drive the car and get an objective perspective?

If you're only reading the websites, then you're basically just reading the carefully crafted marketing materials. It's been my experience that students have no problem leveling and telling you straight up what they like and dislike.



You have a point, but I'm not talking about contacting a regular student. I'm talking about contacting a student ambassador. I think that these people are made ambassadors for a reason. The school isn't going to give you the contact information of a student that is going to disparage the school, am I right?

Last edited by justin520 on 11 Mar 2007, 18:18, edited 1 time in total.
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 [#permalink] New post 11 Mar 2007, 17:51
I'm not sure how they go about picking these people. I imagine they select people that are personable, and at least respectable if not exceptional students.

The students I spoke with gave me some great insights, and lots of random anecdotes that I was able to use in interviews. Your interest in a school seems much more sincere if you can manage to weave these sorts of things into an interview. For instance:

INTERVIEWER: Why are you interested in our school specifically?
YOU: Well, I'm interested in advertising and I know Kellog has the preeminent blah blah blah...and also for reasons X, Y, and Z, and the students I spoke with were all very enthusiastic about the travel program, in fact one of them told me that when they were travelling to England they met Richard Branson face-to-face, which is unbelievable, but I know that these are the sorts of amazing opportunities I could look forward to at a great school like Kellogg...

Dropping an anecdote like that will (1) Show that you took the time to reach out to students (2) Show that you are personable (3) Will make you a more memorable interview because you're talking about something interesting instead of saying, "I have great quant skills, your school will help me make them even better, I love numbers, I'm a robot" (4) It will show that you have "awareness" or "maturity," you're able to recognize that b-school is more than just classes and placement statistics, you will come across as someone who is genuinely excited about the b-school experience.

Your initial questions with an ambassador might not yield much, but if you follow up with them and probe to get some interesting stories/insights.
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 [#permalink] New post 11 Mar 2007, 18:01
justin520 wrote:
Thanks for the advice. I was thinking of going that direction, but then I thought, "why bother?" Have you ever heard someone say, "Man, my MBA program really sucks,"? Of course if you ask someone about their opinion of their school, they are going to give a glowing review, probably along the lines of, "Well, I really liked professor X's class because he used real world examples and could relate things to us in an understandable way..blah...blah.." or something like that. How is this going to help you in the interview process or give you insight into the school that you can't glean from the website that includes student testimonials? On a detailed webiste, there are usually a few quotes from students conerning just about every aspect of the school, from clubs to activities to specific professors and programs. I suppose the value would come from the fact that you contacted a real person rather than rely completely on the website's information. I think I will go the route you suggested. Thanks again.


Don't buy it all hook line and sinker. Some people drink the koolaid, some don't. Inevitably, someone who is a student ambassador is going to have drunk the koolaid.

The value,as already suggested, isnt so much in getting a truly honest perspective on the school - as you point out, who's going to say "this place sucks, i work too hard" - but the value in comes in being able to drop tidbits into your interviews and essays. Little anecdotal meaningless truths that show your research and desire to attend, in a way that I'd venture, 80 % of candidates cannot or do not.

For a true perspective on the schools value and whether or not it was worth it - ask alumni. Just call the school and ask for contact info for a local alumn, or just go search for the alumni pages and, more often than not, the local city president or whatever has public contact info. I did this for Darden and spoke to two people... one told me it was "Worse than IB" and another told me "Don't go, its too harsh." No student ambassador would ever have said that - but those are not details I could use in my interviews.

Student ambassador type people = interview and essay fodder (it doesnt even matter what they talk about.)
Alumni = reality check

IF all else fails, this is fun:
http://www.kongregate.com/games/FreeWor ... tricman2hs
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 [#permalink] New post 11 Mar 2007, 18:50
I've heard a lot of people say that Darden is really gruelling. Wonder why that is. Has anybody heard anything positive about that school?
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 [#permalink] New post 11 Mar 2007, 20:05
mmm, koolaid
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 [#permalink] New post 12 Mar 2007, 02:58
johnnyx9 wrote:
I've heard a lot of people say that Darden is really gruelling. Wonder why that is. Has anybody heard anything positive about that school?


Uhm, Dave Barry lives in that town I think.
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 [#permalink] New post 12 Mar 2007, 05:48
rhyme wrote:
johnnyx9 wrote:
I've heard a lot of people say that Darden is really gruelling. Wonder why that is. Has anybody heard anything positive about that school?


Uhm, Dave Barry lives in that town I think.


There's a really cool sustainable farm nearby, and it sells a lot of its produce to local restaurants. The farm was discussed at length in Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma," a totally cool book.
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 [#permalink] New post 12 Mar 2007, 05:51
So awesome produce and someone who's famous for being kind of funny. Awesome, sign me up for Darden.
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 [#permalink] New post 22 Mar 2007, 21:06
Ok, so I have composed a short list of questions:

What have you enjoyed most here?
Is there any advice you might have for an applicant?
Hindsight is 20 20. What would you say is the one thing you wish you had known your first year here? (asked of 2nd years)
(courtesy of Rhyme)

In your opinion,who was the most memorable speaker to speak at X school and why?
What was your favorite class and why?
Favorite professor?
Did you participate in (University's signature program)? If so,what was your experience?
In your opinion, what have you gained from attending X school that you could not gain anywhere else?
What is your opinion of the Finance department? If applicable, what has been your experience?(my post MBA goal is corporate finance)


So, too many questions? Not enough? What do you all think? Any input is appreciated. Thanks.
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 [#permalink] New post 23 Mar 2007, 05:14
Those are great questions, those should yield some really interesting responses.
  [#permalink] 23 Mar 2007, 05:14
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