Tips for planning your MBA school visits
Some of you may well remember your undergraduate college visit tour. You may have gone with your parents; you may have shared the back seat with a sibling or two. You may have been the driver, figuratively and literally, and scheduled the tour to only include schools you thought you would like. Some of you may have not have had a tour at all, but had to choose your school based on location, cost, or family expectation. This week, I’m talking about how you can add value to your MBA school research with a visit, no matter what your past experience visiting campuses has been.
If you did make undergraduate school visits, did your mother embarrass you by asking about dorm safety or academic advising? What did you really care most about–the gym, the theater, the labs? Were the visits fun? Did you take an active part in searching for the information that would inform your decision? What were the students like (in addition to the tour guide)? What was the look and feel of the place?
If you are engaging in your own MBA program research project this fall, here is your chance to visit schools again, with your own agenda, on your schedule and, possibly, without your siblings. (Still, we encourage you to bring with you to Babson as many family members as are interested in the school, or interested in your success at our school.) So, here are three quick tips to keep in mind.
1. Check out schools’ websites for their visit options. (Here is a link to Babson’s.)
As I suggested last week, if you have already done a little research into MBA programs, you may already know which schools you want to visit. Depending on whether you want a part-time program or a full-time program, these visits may be local or regional, or they may be international or very long distance. Before you invest your time, you want to know what the school is offering on campus: general information sessions, program-specific sessions, class visits, lunches with students. What are your questions (besides “Which school is the right fit for me?”) Knowing the questions you want to answer will help you decide what school visit offering you want to take.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for or make an unscheduled visit.
You may not like pre-set programs. The schools’ schedules may not fit with your work/life schedule. Do not be afraid/intimidated/nervous about calling and politely asking if you can come for your own visit, and while there, can you set up time to visit a class/talk with a student/talk with an admissions rep. Schools should be delighted to help you. We at Babson accommodate drop-in visitors every way we can.
3. Prepare to be surprised.
Surprises can be really good sometimes (think bonuses, parties, free lunch). If you have been using virtual tools and even old-school print tools, you may have a good grasp of the facts about each school, like: Babson offers one MBA, delivered through 4 distinct programs. The Babson MBA is only one that grounds its students in Entrepreneurial Thought in Action (ETA) so that they may take action and make an impact everywhere.
But you need to add color to your facts. That is how a visit can bring to life what you saw online, can add or subtract from the picture you’ve developed in your mind. Is the campus larger, smaller, more colorful, more dreary than you thought? Do people stop to talk to you, help you if you look lost (or are lost?) Could you easily find the Admissions Office? Did they make time for you if you dropped in? Were you wowed by your class visit?
Whether or not you subscribe to the “blink” theory of decision making (shout out to Malcolm Gladwell), do not discount the powerful effect a visit can have on your decision to apply to a school.
Good luck. Think big.