Once upon a time, the Admissionado
founders met countless admissions committee members from schools in the US and Europe at different recruiting events and conferences. One particularly surprising insight was shared repeatedly. Many adcom members (especially those in Europe) revealed they would NEVER admit someone who didn’t visit the campus.
“What if they can’t afford it?” we always asked. Their standard reply time and time again: business school is expensive and if they can afford b-school, they can afford a visit. A visit was hard evidence this person really wanted to attend, and that they took the time to really get to KNOW the school.
The bottom line, obviously, is that schools visits are important. The value you get from them is unquantifiable. We won’t say "visiting will get you in” -- you can’t strike out on the application and expect a visit to save you - but it’s a good and important step in this whole process nonetheless.
Stepping foot on campus (vs. just reading about it on the interwebs) will make you confident about your choices, knowledgeable about the school, and will expand your network. Plus, it’s just… fun. I mean, gosh, go hang out on a college campus for a day or two? Yes please!
And let’s be honest - if you're gonna drop $200K on a school and spend 2 years there... you should check out the goods first, right? Get a little consultation? Who spends that kind of money on something they’ve never seen?
So, yeah, you should make some time to pop on over to the schools on your shortlist. But before you do, make sure you know how to make the most of that trip:Dress sharply and professionally.
This isn’t undergrad, folks, so leave the sweats at home. And even if you’d wear jeans to class as a student, don’t do so as a guest. The aim is to impress, after all, so business casual is appropriate.RESEARCH.
Don't fall for the tempting idea that you’ll "learn stuff when you get there.” Find out all you can about this school BEFORE you go, and show up familiar with the program. Additionally, go with some goals - maybe to see a specific professor in action, to see how a club works, or to chat with students from your country/desired industry.Before you visit, think about how you would answer the "Why I want to go to school X" question.
And when you’re there, taking in the scenery, take notes on anything (personal OR professional) that might be of use in your essays. This will absolutely come in handy later. You can work your findings into your essays to prove to the school that you've done your research and that you're serious about attending, and you can "name drop" people that you met and professors you listened to.Take notes.
Write down the name of EVERY person (student, alumni, faculty, administrator) you meet, what you talked about, and anything else about them (age, profession, country of origin, etc.) After a visit or two, all those faces and buildings and programs are going to blend together, and the last thing you want to do is profess your love for Darden’s cluster program….in a letter to MIT. Uh, have FUN?
This isn’t a work trip, folks. At least not ALL work. It’s about figuring out where you want to spend the next 1-2 years. So live it up. And soak it up. All of it - the people, the community, the program, the atmosphere, the “scene.” Get out there, try the school on and see how it fits.
And when you leave, a clearer picture in your mind, send a thank-you note to anyone you met with from the admissions office
(no need to thank professors…unless you want to) This is a classy move (wahoo!)… if you do it right. So make it brief. Don’t overdo it or attempt to sell yourself. This isn’t an application, after all. Just thank them for their time and sign off.
Then head home and start working on those essays.