First, let me begin by saying that if you have the time and money to visit the schools that you’re thinking about applying to, then you absolutely should. And the reason isn’t because of the imaginary “brownie points”; it is because visiting a school will transform you into a much more informed applicant. There’s so much about a school’s culture, teaching style, and student body that can only be understood fully through experience.
The following 4 tips will help you make the most of your b-school visit.
1) Timing is everything. Visit the school when classes are in session so that you can see the learning in action. Don’t go during finals as students will likely be stressed out and not as eager to leisurely sit and talk with you.
2) Research before you go. You should read up on the school before you pay your visit. Your familiarity will enable you to ask better questions, make deeper connections with student, faculty, and adcom members, and feel more comfortable overall.
3) Prepare good questions. You’ll likely to speaking to lots of students, adcom members, and professors. Come prepared with good questions so you’re not left tongue tied when a good opportunity for a question presents itself. (See below for sample questions.)
4) Participate in visitor activities. Take advantage of all options presented to you, including attending class, a tour, info sessions, one-on-one meetings with students, etc.
• What is a typical day like for you here?
• What would you like to see improved here?
• What kinds of extracurricular activities are you involved in?
• Is it easy for someone to start their own club or group?
• How do professors balance teaching and research?
• Is there a bidding process for internship and full-time job interviews?
You should also ask questions that are specific to your target program and needs, like about individual professors or classes. Another good, program-specific question for students may be, “Why did you decide to attend this program?” You can also ask about their post-MBA goals and how this program will help them achieve them.
Finally the best questions are those about specific programs at the school that you are interested in because they will help you achieve your post-MBA goals.