This post was triggered by the most recent Wharton Adcom blog post "Inside Wharton MBA Admissions: Top 10 Applicant Myths We Encounter," specifically myth #9, "I have a better chance of being admitted if I visit or interview on-campus."
I am not disputing the adcom when it says Wharton doesn’t award brownie points for visiting its campus, although adcom members from other schools have said quite differently. All recognize that sometimes geography and financial resources can conspire to prevent a visit.
However, I strongly believe that regardless of the school’s view of visits and whether it awards brownie points or not, a visit does mean you will have a better chance of being admitted, not because of imaginary points, but because you will be a better informed applicant after you visit than before. You will know more about the school and its culture. You will know more about why it appeals to you, what about its style matches yours, and how it supports your goals.
To get the most from your trip, visit when class is in session. Then take a tour, meet with students, attend the info sessions. In short, take advantage of whatever is offered.
I was recently asked in the GMATClub Forum about preparing for schools visits. I am going to copy here the most relevant part of the exchange:
What sort of preparations one should do while visiting a school!
Any specific questions which one should ask [Questions that are important and answers for them is not easily available otherwise]
Prepare by going through the school’s web site thoroughly. It isn’t great when you ask a question that is answered 3 times on the school’s site. At the same time, going through the site may trigger some questions in your mind. Write them down and take them with you.
It’s a little difficult to suggest specific questions, because your questions should be guided by your interests, but here are some general questions I tend to ask when visiting schools, and I have received some very enlightening answers:
1) What is a typical day like for a first year or second year student?
2) Do professors see teaching an integrated approach to business, one that emphasizes the interconnection of business functions, as part of their job? Or are they teaching their specific class without a larger framework? If it is interconnected, how do they coordinate with other professors?
3) How do professors balance teaching and research?
4) How are interview slots assigned? Is there bidding process? What is it?
These questions can also be asked at receptions and info sessions held in your city, if you cannot visit the campus.
If you have other questions that you feel have been particularly effective in eliciting information, please share either via comments or trackbacks.