Mine the Wisdom of Current MBA Students
Embarking on the MBA journey is a huge decision that can profoundly shape your career and future. As you navigate the maze of choices, there’s one invaluable resource to consider. We’re talking about the wisdom of those who have been there and done that—current MBA students. Today, we’ll explore why speaking with current students is crucial before applying to MBA programs. We’ll also provide some practical tips on initiating these conversations.
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Why Talk to Current MBA Students?
In a recent post on the admissions blog at Michigan Ross School of Business, the AdCom team encourages all MBA applicants to reach out to their 300-plus student ambassadors as part of their program research process.
“Chatting with students is an opportunity to get firsthand perspectives on our school’s academics, recruiting, student clubs, the Ross community, what living in Ann Arbor is like coming from places like New York, San Francisco, Tokyo, Sao Paulo, Lagos, etc., what they were looking for in a school, and how Ross met their criteria,” they write.
By connecting with current MBA students, you’ll discover:
Insider Insights: These students know firsthand the program’s strengths, weaknesses, and unique features. They can also provide candid insights into the day-to-day life, the rigor of coursework, and the program culture, helping you make an informed decision.
Realistic Expectations: Speaking with current students can help you set realistic expectations about what to expect during your MBA journey. You’ll better understand the workload, time commitments, and challenges you may face.
Networking Opportunities: Building relationships with current students can be the gateway to a robust professional network even before you begin your MBA. They can introduce you to alums, professors, and industry connections that can benefit your career.
Program Fit: Every MBA program has its unique culture and focus areas. Current students can help you assess whether a particular program aligns with your career goals, values, and aspirations.
How to Connect with Current MBA Students
Use Social Media: Platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter can be excellent resources to find and connect with current MBA students. Many MBA programs have dedicated groups or pages where students and applicants interact. Join these groups and start engaging in discussions.
Attend Virtual Info Sessions: MBA programs often host virtual information sessions where current students share their experiences. These sessions provide a chance to hear their insights, ask questions, and sometimes even connect with them directly.
Reach Out via Email: Most programs list contact information for their students in leadership positions. Don’t hesitate to send a brief, polite email expressing your interest and asking if they would be willing to chat or answer your questions
Use Alumni Connections: If you have connections with alums from your desired MBA program, ask if they can introduce you to current students. Alums often have strong networks within their alma mater.
Campus Visits: If feasible, visiting the campus and attending MBA program events can be a great way to meet current students in person. This allows for more personal and meaningful conversations.
What Questions to Ask Current MBA Students
Once you’ve established contact with current MBA students, asking the right questions is essential. Here are some questions to consider:
Why did you choose this MBA program? Understanding their motivations can give you insights into what the program offers that appeals to them.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your MBA journey so far? This question can reveal the strengths and highlights of the program.
What has been the most challenging part of your MBA experience? Learning about challenges can help you prepare for potential hurdles.
How accessible are professors and staff for support and guidance? Access to faculty and staff is crucial for academic and career development.
How would you describe the program’s culture and student community? Assessing the program’s culture can help you determine if it’s a good fit for you.
What advice would you give to someone considering this MBA program? Current students’ advice can be invaluable in making your decision.
How do you balance your coursework, extracurricular activities, and personal life? Understanding time management and work-life balance is crucial for success.
Listen to B-Schooled Podcast #153: Connecting with MBA Students, Faculty and Alums
Etiquette for Conversations with Current Students
When chatting with current MBA students, it’s essential to be respectful and considerate.
Be Respectful of Their Time: Remember that current students have their academic commitments and other responsibilities. Be mindful of their availability and schedule conversations at their convenience.
Prepare Thoughtful Questions: Show that you’ve done your homework and are genuinely interested in their experiences by asking thoughtful and specific questions.
Express Gratitude: Always thank them for their time and insights. A simple “thank you” can go a long way in building positive relationships.
Follow-up: If you receive valuable advice or information, consider following up with a thank-you note or a brief update on your application progress.
Reaching out to current MBA students before applying to programs can be a game-changer in your MBA journey. Their insights, experiences, and advice can provide you with a wealth of information to decide which program aligns best with your goals and aspirations. So, don’t hesitate to start those conversations and tap into this invaluable resource as you embark on your MBA adventure.
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