Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How To “Ace” Your School Visit

By Lindsay Petrovic
Johnson School of Management at Cornell, Forte Fellow 2013 MBA Graduate

As Round 2 application deadlines are rapidly approaching, so are the prospects for school visits. It can be a stressful time, but visits are a fantastic way to get a feel for a school, meet current students, and gain valuable culture and fit information that a school website just can’t offer. While a visit is a great learning opportunity for you, it also is a great learning opportunity for the school. Keeping this is mind, being prepared and professional during a school visit can send a great message to the school, and can help you get the most out of the visit.

A few tips to get you started:

1. Wear professional attire. A suit is always appropriate, although business casual at some schools may be acceptable. I personally think, however, that you can never be overdressed!

2. Make appointments to meet current students through admissions related activities, such as class visits, but also try to connect with students that have similar backgrounds or career paths as you. The school website will most likely be able to connect you with these people, as will admissions. If you have a personal contact at the school, they can also help out as well. Additionally, try to meet as many students through both means as possible. The more people you can interact with, the better. Don’t let one person positively or negatively cloud your perception of the school.

3. Connect with admissions during a visit. You may be able to get some one-on-one time with a member of the admissions team, which is always valuable.

4. Come prepared with as many questions as you possibly can think of. No question is ever silly if the answer means something to you. Questions will not only help facilitate your interactions with people at the school, but also will help you get the most out of your visit. Additionally, there’s nothing worse than arriving back home from a visit with a pressing question unanswered.

5. Take a look at what the university has to offer outside of the business school, and take a tour of the campus. While you may ultimately align with the business school, the campus, classes, seminars, and resources the university has to offer may play significantly into which school you decide to attend.

6. Venture into the local area. Each city has its own flair or charm, and it’s important to understand that your location may, for you, play into your happiness at school.

Finally, be confident and smile! Both qualities will serve you well, wherever you may go.

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