This morning, Dee Leopold, Director of Admissions at Harvard Business School, updated her Blog with a post that will be of interest to virtually all HBS candidates. What her post boils down to is that HBS would love for you to visit the school in October, when class visits begin, in order to better understand what the school is about and how the case method functions. However, she is careful to clarify that a class visit is not mandatory and is not taken into account, as the HBS admissions committee evaluates candidate profiles. (Ms. Leopold can be lauded for advancing the cause of transparency amid a process that many see as opaque and confusing.) So, there is no cost to your candidacy if you are too busy or too far away to visit and no real benefit if you happen to be able to make it – aside from the a priori experience which will help you make your decision.
At MBA Mission, we encourage applicants to visit campuses, whenever possible. Like Ms. Leopold, we think that it is important that you truly experience an MBA program’s environment and culture before committing to a lifelong relationship. Each year, we have a few clients who are almost shocked that they did not appreciate a Stanford or Harvard, as if it were their duty to fall in love with the schools that have the strongest reputations. Similarly, we have the occasional candidate who chooses a school outside of the top ten, instead of a school at the top of the rankings, because he/she really appreciated a campus visit and felt that he/she could benefit greatly from the lower ranked school in the long term. School visits allow candidates to go beyond the rankings and get a sense of “fit.” Ms. Leopold is emphasizing fit and, in doing so, likely adding utility to most class visits and ensuring more mutually beneficial and enduring relationships with applicants.