Mission Admission is a series of MBA admission tips; a new one is posted each Tuesday.
As you learn about your target MBA programs, you should be aware that browsing a school’s website is only the first step in your research and certainly not your last. Depending on the school, their website may give you a basic understanding of their offerings. However, there is no substitute for a priori research which gives you a sense of the depth of a school’s character and allows you to go beyond the superficialities of the website. Of course, campus visits are vital and thus MBA Admissions Committee members encourage candidates to visit and the Admissions Committee even weighs them in, certain cases, in some decisions. Still, if you are unable to make the trip to campus, there are other steps you can take to familiarize yourself with your target schools:
- Off-Campus Events: If the MBA Tour, World MBA Tour, Consortium for Graduate Study in Management or Forte Foundation host events in your area or nearby, you should definitely seize the opportunity to meet with and “interview” the many Admissions Committee members and alumni at these events. (While you should not interrogate the Committee Members, this is can be a valuable opportunity to ask questions and learn about each school’s differentiators.)
- Alumni and Student Outreach: MBA networks are vast, so, even if you do not know students or alumni from a particular school, one will likely be a part of your network, through work or your community of friends. Generally, students and alumni are engaging, so if you tap into one individual, you should not be shy about asking to speak with colleagues or friends.
- School sponsored programs: If you have no MBAs in your network, many schools have “ambassadorial” programs whereby you can call the school and ask to speak with students or alumni. Even some who don’t have official programs are happy to facilitate on a prospective student’s behalf.
- Admissions Committee, Faculty and Student Blogs: The blogging phenomena has been embraced by business schools; several Admissions Committees and Deans host their own blogs. Further, beyond the “sanctioned” blogs, many students run their own. These resources can give you an intimate and dynamic understanding of a school’s environment.
- Student Message Boards: Whether you are logging onto BusinessWeek, Manhattan GMAT, Pagalguy, the Wharton S2S Message Boards or any other online community of prospective students, student message boards can be a great way to learn about programs and network with other aspirants. However, because these boards are anonymous, their content should be read with a critical eye.
By seizing several of the resources above, you should be able to truly experience your target schools and create your connection via your essays and interview — a vital step in gaining that coveted letter of acceptance.