For many MBA hopefuls, particularly those targeting multiple programs and coming from abroad, a campus visit can be a real challenge during the application phase. Whether the problem is the prohibitive expense of air travel and lodging or the time off from work required, these candidates must turn to other sources to fill in the blanks as they decide on which programs to target.
A great starting point for any applicant is connecting with students and alumni at the schools you are considering. Top MBA programs host numerous events around the world each year, so plan on attending the event nearest you in order to meet admissions officers, alumni and current students, and to gain valuable application advice.
These individuals can offer the inside scoop on student life and what makes their school unique. Participating in online information sessions and virtual webinars is another valuable way for candidates to get a better sense of the school’s culture.
For instance, on Wednesday, June 6th, the HBS admissions team will hold a webinar walking through each element of the application, which goes live in early June.
Business schools often have programs that connect applicants via email or Skype with current and former students of similar backgrounds and profiles, and this is a great introduction to the program that can help you narrow down which schools to focus on for your MBA. Even if there’s no such formal program in place, most admissions officers will happily put candidates in touch with an alum or current student if asked.
Positive engagement with the admissions committee via social media is another excellent strategy and could help you stand out in a competitive applicant pool. Schools that actively monitor their social media sites can often answer an applicant’s questions in mere hours, whereas an emailed query could take days to receive a reply. Prospective students should also subscribe to the feeds of student and admissions blogs to find out immediately about any news that could influence their interest in the program.
Online research can’t replace the value of the in-person experience, but candidates who simply cannot visit their selected schools before applying should take comfort in knowing that there are many ways to thoroughly get to know a program without a campus visit to guide them. Diligence and motivation are all you really need.