Many MBA applicants set their sights on more than one school. In the fortunate case that a candidate does gain admission to multiple business schools, how does he/she choose between two (or more)? If you cannot determine a definitive “winner” based on specific academic or professional criteria, you may now need to make a campus visit or, for some, another campus visit. If you have not yet had a chance to visit your target school(s), we advise you to get to know the program(s) better before deciding where to invest two years and $100K or more. However, even if you have already visited your target campuses, this may be a good time for a second, more focused trip.
Many candidates go on marathon tours of business school campuses in the fall but have only a limited window in which to get to know each program they visit. After the admissions committees have defined your choices and shifted the decision power back to you, you can really devote some time to familiarizing yourself with your target schools and completing diligence that may not have been possible before. For example, as a nervous prospective student, you may not have truly pushed the students you met to define a program’s weaknesses, or you may not have felt that delving deeply into the recruiting situation on campus was appropriate during your initial visit. Similarly, you may not have experienced the social environment on campus, preferring to maintain a strictly professional profile. Although attending “welcome weekends” will allow you to meet and mingle with your potential future classmates, visiting campuses now—while classes are in session and the schools are operating as they will next year—will provide valuable insight that will facilitate one of the most important choices of your life.
Visiting target schools can not only help prospective students make a positive impression on the admissions committee, but also give candidates the opportunity to personalize their applications (essays and interviews, in particular—depending on the timing of the visit) and may even help them select their schools. But remember, whenever you visit campuses, you should always be on your best behavior.
Although the receptionist in the Admissions Office is not a “spy,” and your tour guide’s main concern is not to inform the admissions committee of your actions or comments, both of these individuals will likely feel compelled to report any bad behavior to the committee. We spoke with one former receptionist (now an admissions committee member) at a top-ranked school who said that if she encountered rudeness from a visiting candidate, she would make note of it and send a message about the incident to the admissions director—who would subsequently remove the candidate from consideration for admission. Although we imagine most candidates plan to be on their best behavior during any school visit, we nevertheless offer this important reminder.