Ask the AdCom: What are Some Orientation Traditions?

Hey everybody! We’re back with another installment of “Ask the AdCom,” where we share a wide range of tips and advice from admissions team members from a dozen top business schools. Since AdCom members are human, too, we know our readers will enjoy seeing  a different side of what makes these guys tick.

This fun space is not really about the application process but more about real-life topics, like what’s a good book to readbest place to study, where you can find a killer meal near campus, and all the fun stuff happening at b-school that creates those lifelong, cherished memories for MBA students.

We hope you become inspired, too!

MBA orientation activities
Welcoming the Class of 2018 at Johnson Graduate School of Management

Today’s question is: Do you have an activity/tradition during orientation? If so, what is it?

Morgan Bernstein, Executive Director of Full-Time MBA Admissions at Berkeley-Haas School of Business: Week Zero, our orientation week, includes a mix of social and academic prep activities. Some highlights include the big cohort and study team reveal, cohort Olympics, a volunteer day, and a celebratory reception atop Memorial Stadium.

Virginie Fougea, Associate Director of Admissions at INSEAD: INSEAD organises a one-day team building activity to kick off the programme. The aim is to get to know the other students as well as support local charity within the community (SPLASH programmes).

Isser Gallogly, Assistant Dean, MBA Admissions  at NYU Stern School of Business: Stern’s full-time MBA orientation, called Launch, includes a boat cruise to Ellis Island, chosen as a symbolic convening place that represents the welcoming of new people, ideas, and diverse cultures, and representing the start of new journeys.

Melissa Fogerty, Director of Admissions  at Yale School of Management: Each year our incoming students enjoy dinner on the beach at New Haven’s Lighthouse Point Park, with its 1847 lighthouse, pavilions, boat launch, beach, and fishing pier (little known fact: both Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb played in the old grandstand/ballpark at this park!).

At this Orientation event, students ride the historic carousel and experience a true New England clambake with their classmates and partners, organized by our Academic Affairs and Student Life (AASL) staff. During Graduation week, AASL again holds a family picnic at Lighthouse Point Park for graduates and their guests, so these two experiences are the bookends to students’ two years at SOM.

John Roeder, Assistant Dean Graduate Admissions  at SMU Cox School of Business: Orientation lines up with the start of Football season and that means Boulevarding (Tailgating) at Cox. Whether students are going to the SMU football game or not, they don’t want to miss the Dean’s Tailgate on the Boulevard, which is scheduled for each home game in the fall.  Current Cox students socialize with recent grads, faculty, senior executives and CEOs in an informal and relaxed setting.

Allison Jamison, Admissions Director  at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business:  Section chants!  When students arrive at Fuqua, they are placed on diverse teams, and each team is assigned to a section.  Your section becomes your family at the start of the program, and Section Pride is strong!  Each section develops its own unique chant (2’s Your Daddy!), and students are loyal to their section throughout their time at Fuqua.

Orientation inspires a lot of noise – section chants, our Daytime dean chant (Rus-kin Mor-gan!), and the Section Olympics.  Students also enjoy the 90s party during orientation – some fashion trends are too good to see go away!

Judi Byers, Executive Director of Admissions and Financial Aid  at Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management, shares this student favorite from Sydney Chernish MBA ’16 and Najeen Riazi MBA ’17: A hallmark activity of orientation is Johnson Outdoor Experience (J.O.E.). This is a day when we participate in a low-ropes course and bond with our core teams. We also enjoy playing games and taking dips in the lake. The memories will last for years to come.

Rodrigo Malta, Director of Admissions at UT McCombs School of Business: We get in the Olympic spirit with our cohort games (mostly outdoor competitions between our four cohorts). Then, in Texas, BBQ is always a favorite. We introduce our incoming students to an Austin classic, Salt Lick BBQ during orientation!


Look out for the #AskAdCom in our social media channels, and we’ll see you again next week when we check in to Ask the AdCom to name what they consider to be a “must take” course.


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