A desirable part of the application process to b-schools is the on-campus visit. The visit usually has two purposes: (1) help prospects clarify their own impressions of the school and either build enthusiasm or, conversely, help rule certain programs out; and (2) demonstrate interest in the school by meeting with current students, administrators, etc.
But what happens when COVID-19 hits, or geography, time, and finances conspire to make a visit impossible? Below, we give you all the tools to communicate the same enthusiasm and first-hand knowledge in your b-school application even when an in-person visit wasn’t possible.
COVID or no COVID and regardless of money, location, or circumstances, applicants and prospective students should contact schools to learn about virtual tours and online admissions events, which are increasingly being offered in the wake of the global pandemic.
How can you make the most out of the virtual opportunities? Peter von Loesecke, CEO and Managing Director of The MBA Tour LLC, which organizes information sessions between MBA admissions representatives and prospective students, offers these tips:
- Come prepared. Research the schools participating in the event ahead of time. Think about your career interests and goals and know how an MBA helps you achieve those goals and interests.
- Make a good impression. Have your resume available and wear business attire. Business casual is ok, but most serious students, especially those outside the United States, attend in business attire. (If you don’t know the difference, look here!) And remember: Dressing one’s best even for virtual interactions is just as important as for in-person ones!
- Ask questions that pertain to your personal situation and goals, and avoid asking questions that can be answered off the school’s internet site. You might also use a question to demonstrate (gently) that you, the applicant have done a bit of background research and have an initial reason for being interested in the school, as well; this can always help to preface a question, e.g.: “I understand that your program offers students the opportunity to do X. I’m wondering if it has any options for Y, as well?”
- Don’t monopolize conversations with school reps; limit your chats to between three and five minutes unless no one else is waiting.
- Expand your horizons. Don’t be limited by first impressions of programs and where you want to go to school. Try and visit as many schools as you can and have your visit recorded so there is a record of interest at that program.
- Ask for business cards. This way you can send follow-up emails thanking them for the time they spent with you. You can even resend your resume too!
- Don’t ask questions that are not relevant to your situation or that show you haven’t done any research.
Questions not to ask include:
- “What is your average GMAT score?” Research this online.
- “Tell me why I should apply to your school.” This sort of question implies you think the school would be privileged to accept you and shows arrogance. You might, however, ask, “Is there a particular aspect of your school that you think sets it apart from others?”
- “How strong are your career services in this city?” A better question is: “Does your career services center have connections with XYZ industry where I am looking for a position after graduation?” The first one will generate a predictable response of “Of course we are strong in job placement in this city.” The second question is more specific and tells the school rep a bit about your unique interests and ambitions.
If you still can’t get to a school or visit a school fair, you can amass a wealth of information without even leaving your chair or couch thanks to the internet. Blogs, articles, podcasts, webinars, chat transcripts, and other information are available through individual school websites, Accepted’s website, and others such as Bloomberg Businessweek, MBA Podcaster, QS World MBA Tour, Poets & Quants, and The MBA Tour. These resources provide valuable insights and help you learn in-depth about the programs you are interested in, enabling you to narrow down your search. Don’t let the current coronavirus prevent you from pursuing your MBA dreams!
For personalized advice tailored just for you, check out our MBA admissions consulting and editing services and work one-on-one with a pro who will help you discover your competitive advantage and use it to get Accepted.
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“What Should You Do If You Can’t Visit B-Schools in Person?” is adapted from MBA Admissions for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools, by Linda Abraham and Judy Gruen.