Experts Speak: Visiting your target Business Schools

We at mbaMission get many inquiries from MBA candidates who are curious about whether they should visit their target schools. Is doing so worth the time and cost? Of course, one thing to keep in mind is that a class visit has tremendous relevance beyond the formal admissions process—it is a chance for you to give the school a thorough “test drive.” Imagine you were buying a $250,000-$500,000 home. Would you not want to walk through it before you bought it? Maybe you would turn on the taps, open and shut the doors and windows and check out around the yard. Your business school education—when you take into account tuition, living expenses and the opportunity costs of leaving your job—will likely cost you somewhere in that dollar range. So, don’t you think you should find out firsthand whether the place that will be your home for the next two years is right for you?

We at mbaMission strongly believe that MBA candidates should visit their target schools and personally experience the environment, pedagogy, quality of students and professors and much more. Visiting can make a positive impression on the admissions committee, gives you the opportunity to personalize your applications and may even help you decide which school to ultimately attend.

However, we do not think that you need to visit at all costs. If your funds or time are limited, you should not deplete your resources by traveling to the various campuses. Other ways of getting to know your preferred programs are certainly available (e.g., Web sites, mbaMission Insider’s Guides, podcasts, alumni conversations, outreach events), but if you do have the time and money, we strongly recommend that you visit your target schools and gain empirical experience. A brief trip could pay a lifetime of dividends.

Behave Yourself

When you visit campuses, you should always be on your best behavior—this should go without saying. Although the receptionist in the Admissions Office is not a “spy,” and your tour guide’s main concern is not to inform the admissions committee of your actions or comments, both of these individuals will likely feel compelled to report any bad behavior to the admissions committee. Most candidates are on their best behavior anyway, but we nevertheless offer this important reminder.

Consider a Second Visit

If you find yourself in the (very lucky) position of needing to choose between two or more schools, you may consider a second campus visit.

After the MBA admissions committees have defined your choices and shifted the decision power back to you, you have the opportunity to really spend some time familiarizing yourself with your target schools and completing diligence that may not have been possible before.

This article is contributed by mbaMission