Are you an MBA candidate who has received multiple offers of admission to business school this season? If so, you’re probably weighing where to spend the next two years of your life—not to mention hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s where the MBA admit weekend can help.
Once you receive those admits, spend time assessing what matters most for your MBA experience, career path, and personal journey. Ignore things like rankings, salary data, and job placements. These data points won’t be representative of your experience or future.
As we recently remarked to US News, the best advice is to try to take the time to visit the campus and its classes (if pandemic travel allows) and talk to current students and alumni. Go to admit day. There’s no better way to get a feel for the schools. Walk the campuses and envision yourself as a student at each.
A recent HBS graduate and former SBC client shared this advice:
Spend time talking to alumni who you admire and learn what they liked about their experience. Truthfully assess how visiting the school/talking to alumni/other admits/any other factors fit your list of what you want and value in your MBA experience.
Besides paying close attention to your overall gut feeling about the culture and energy on campus, you should keep these three goals top of mind during the MBA admit weekend.
Tip 1: Network with potential future classmates.
A hugely valuable component of an MBA program is that, over the next two years, you’ll create a network you will tap into for the rest of your career. The intense nature of the business school experience bonds students and makes it a wonderful place to make lifelong friends.
During an MBA admit weekend, gauge your comfort level with the current students. How do you feel about your potential future classmates? Did you develop a friendly rapport with any fellow attendees? Did you meet someone who could be a possible roommate if you are looking for one?
While you’ll likely gravitate toward people with similar professional or cultural backgrounds at this type of event, take advantage of the fact that your possible future cohort is a highly diverse group. Meeting people outside of your comfort zone will significantly enrich your MBA admit weekend experience.
Tip 2: Learn all you can about student life.
You likely already conducted exhaustive research about your target schools during the application and interview phase. Now that you’re admitted bring on the questions!
The MBA admit weekend is your chance to find out answers to all the lingering doubts in your mind. Ask tons of questions about clubs, classes, favorite professors, travel opportunities, and study abroad programs from current students who can fill in those remaining blanks.
Think of questions in advance and do a bit of research so that you know if there’s someone you want to talk with, a meeting you want to set up, or a location you want to explore. Keep your interests and passions at the forefront of your mind during the visit. You want to make sure the school in question can satisfy your non-negotiable needs.
This option is likely unavailable this year due to the pandemic, but we advise staying in student dorms during your visit if possible. Even if you have other housing plans, this is another valuable opportunity to meet current students and observe daily life on campus up close.
Tip 3: Get an authentic sense of the city or region.
Candidates often apply to business schools in geographic areas that are new to them. Think about where you want to end up working after graduation. Is the program in your desired city, or at least in the same overall region? Does it have a reputation for helping its students land jobs in the area you want to live?
Use the MBA admit weekend to get a better feel for housing options, too. Explore the neighborhoods where students typically live. Make sure to ask questions that clarify anything you want to know before moving to a new city.
If location isn’t a major concern, then focus on what does matter most to you. That might include recruitment stats for specific industries, the student body’s diversity, or international opportunities. While you likely reviewed this information when deciding where to apply, it warrants a closer look.
For applicants attending admitted student days at more than one program, go with an open mind and be prepared to reflect on the experience afterward. The decision where to attend business school is personal, and every candidate has unique needs to fulfill. Another SBC client, admitted to HBS and the GSB, suggested attending both schools’ events and “Then flip a coin. See how the coin flip makes you feel and go with your gut.”
If you have already accepted an offer and visited the campus before admission, still attend the welcome weekend event and experience the school again without the anxiety you felt as an applicant.
Know that no matter what you decide, you will have a once-in-a-lifetime experience at a prestigious institution. Pick from the heart. Use the MBA admit weekend to make sure that you’ve found the right school for you.