Potential student, 30
Chioma is chief executive of Expartus, the business school admissions consultancy, a former admissions manager at Harvard Business School and author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets. Her answer will appear below on Wednesday July 2 2014.
The ideal time to visit a business school is when the school is in session so you can sit in on a class and observe the teaching method, the level of student engagement and the quality of faculty instruction. Every school is different and applicants need to be discerning about the differences of each programme.
Most business schools have programmes that involve a class visit as well as an admissions information session. These visitation programmes typically start at the beginning of each semester. Check the schools’ websites to confirm when their visitation programme is in session.
Here are some things to consider when visiting your target schools:
● The academic environment of the school. Are students passive in class while professors lecture the entire time or is there a good level of student interaction? What do students say about the teaching quality at their school? How effective were the professors you observed in class? It is important to pay close attention to what happens in and outside the classroom.
● The social culture. Many MBA programmes regularly host happy hours and other social activities and they are usually open to visitors attending their events. Pay close attention to the social climate of the campus and whether it is inclusive.
● Career support. Take time to understand the career resources and support available to students. Current students are a well of information and can be instrumental in informing you about how effective or ineffective the career services programmes are at their school.
● The residential environment of the school. While the housing quality isn’t usually the main factor in selection of programmes, you should take a tour of the school to familiarise yourself with the available housing options as well as other facilities such as the library, gymnasium and classrooms. It is also important to note whether the school empties out at the end of the school day or is more residential where students spend a lot of their time on campus. Such information will help you determine whether the school is a good fit for you.
If you can only visit schools during the holidays when classes are not in session, I recommend that you still go and see the school if you are able to do so. There is value in being on the campus and experiencing the school for yourself. Such visits will allow you to quickly ascertain whether the school environment is the right fit for you. For example, is it too rural or too urban for you? And while you are there you should seize the opportunity to meet the admissions board member who is giving the information session. You never know what connections you could make.
But if you are unable to visit your target schools don’t worry, the schools are now much more proactive about bringing their programmes to your doorstep. Many MBA programmes offer webinars which serve the same purpose as an on-campus information session. Visit the programme’s website to sign up.
Many MBA programmes also take their programmes on the road by offering taster sessions at leading cities around the globe. Applicants should make sure that they provide their contact details to the schools they are interested in to receive an invitation to these admissions events. Such events provide applicants with a chance to learn about the school from admissions board members and alumni of the programme.
Regardless of whether you visit the business schools or not, applicants must carve out time to research the programmes and take advantage of every opportunity available to learn more about the MBA programme they are considering.
Read more articles on applying to business school:
How to assess the value of an MBA
Tips on one-year v two-year programmes
Tips on writing admissions essays
Tips on MBA interviews
Tips on entrance exams