School visits. They are time-consulting and expensive. And they contribute to global warming.
Furthermore, Dee Leopold in The Director’s Blog at HBS’ web site makes clear that HBS does not weigh a visit as a factor in an admissions decision. The Wharton adcom blog made a similar statement a few years ago.
Is personally visiting the campuses of your target schools a waste of time and effort? Absolutely not.
I am not disputing Harvard‘s or Wharton‘s statements that they don’t award
brownie points for visiting. However, whether or not your target programs award brownie points, 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. You will know more about the school and its culture.
You will know more about why it appeals to you, why its style
matches yours, and how it supports your goals.
As Dee suggestions in her post, to profit the most
from your trip, visit when class is in session. Then take a tour, meet
with students, participate in the info session, and attend a class. In short, take advantage of
whatever is offered.
What if you simply can’t visit your target schools? If you live far away, don’t worry about it. You still need to demonstrate a deep understanding of the school’s culture and program, but the school won’t hold your lack of visit against you. Even schools (e.g. Tuck and Darden ) that really value a visit as a sign of serious interest understand that international applicants can’t necessarily come. Other schools explicitly ask what you have done to learn about their program, for example Haas queries “What steps have
you taken to learn about the Berkeley MBA program?”
What steps should you take on the road to an MBA acceptance?
- Scour the schools’ web sites.
- Attend the many receptions and events held by the schools.
- Participate in MBA Tour events.
- Talk to current students and/or recent alumni.
- Read current student blogs to get a feel for campus life.
Here is a list of upcoming MBA Tour events in the US, but the Tour is international so check their website if you are outside the US.
September 2 : Chicago
September 4: Houston
September 6: New York
September 7: Washington, D.C.
September 9: Atlanta
September 11: Boston
September 13: San Francisco
September 14: Los Angeles