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Is Visiting Business Schools Still Important?

Is visiting business schools in person still important? The short answer is this: maybe not and absolutely yes!

When researching schools, visiting them in person is not 100% necessary, particularly if a flight would be required. However, doing so, if possible, is certainly recommended. And if you live in the same general metropolitan area as a program you are applying to, you would be doing yourself a disservice to not visit. An in-person school visit offers so many benefits. 

First, it’s an invaluable way to determine whether the school is the right fit for you, academically and personally. You will naturally develop a gut feeling about a school after spending a day touring its campus, attending a class, speaking with professors, and conversing over lunch with students. Not only can that feeling be difficult to argue with, but it will also enable you to offer more-authentic responses to questions you are likely to get about why the school in question is right for you, either in an essay or an interview. Visiting a school’s campus is also an incredible opportunity to learn the “inside scoop” on the MBA program via conversations with enrolled students and to confirm that the actual experience matches what has been touted by the school in its marketing materials. Countless clients have shared with us meaningful insights they gleaned through one-on-one, in-person conversations with students that they would never have learned otherwise. 

Second, given the planning, time, and cost often involved, an in-person visit can be a signal to the admissions committee of your deep interest in the school’s MBA program. This is important as the committee assesses your candidacy, because the higher your interest level, the more likely you are to enroll if accepted. This in turn can affect the school’s yield rate, which is one of the factors considered in MBA rankings. So, if you are trying to stack all the odds in your favor, this is a very good way of doing so!

However, not everyone is able to visit their target business schools in person, often for very valid reasons. Luckily, one silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic is that MBA programs have notably increased the number, frequency, and quality of their virtual events and school tours. This means you can come remarkably close to the experience of actually being at the school live and can participate in multiple discussions across a range of dates. Definitely make sure to at least take part in virtual events, not only to be better equipped to speak in depth about why the school is a strong fit for you and your career goals in your application and interview but also to confirm for yourself your true desire to attend.

Many schools also offer admitted-student weekends or special days for the applicants they have accepted. In these cases, the tables have turned, and the programs are trying to “sell” you on their value and convince you that they are the perfect fit for you! Without a doubt, attending admitted student events in person is highly recommended. After all, would you buy a house without ever stepping foot inside it or a car without first taking it for a test drive? Given the investment that business school demands both from a time and monetary perspective, you owe it to yourself to assess your potential new “home” as thoroughly as possible before committing to it.

Fortunately, you have a plethora of ways to learn about MBA programs these days—both in person and online—and thus have no excuse for not doing your due diligence for your applications. See the chart below for a high-level overview of both in-person and online opportunities to engage with some of the top U.S. business schools.

Overview of In-Person and Online Opportunities to Connect with Top US MBA Programs

IN-PERSON
Events & Opportunities
VIRTUAL
Events & Opportunities
Berkeley HaasImmersive Campus Visitation Program
Class Visit
Virtual Admissions Information Session
Pre-Recorded Class Observation
Virtual Self-guided tour
Virtual Student-led event
Chicago BoothCampus Visit with Admissions Q&A
Admissions Office Hours
Connect with Student
Self-Guided Virtual Tour
Columbia Business SchoolClass Visit
Campus Visit
Information Session
The MBA Tour (multiple locations)
Recorded Events
Cornell JohnsonMBA Admissions Consultation
On-Campus Events
Cornell Tech
Campus Photos/Info
The MBA Tour (multiple locations)
Dartmouth TuckCampus Visit
Coffee Chats, Happy Hours in Select Cities
Campus Tour
Student, Club Coffee Chats
Conversation with Admissions
Duke FuquaCampus Visit
Open Interview
Coffee Chats, Dinner, Happy Hours in Select Cities
Webinars across Range of Topics
Harvard Business SchoolClass Visit
Campus Tour and Information Session
Information Session in Austin
Case Method Class Experience
Campus Tour
Information Session/Chat
Events/Webinars across Range of Topics
The MBA Tour (multiple locations)
Michigan RossCampus Visits
Weekend Events for Select Groups
Admissions Office Hours
“Ask Me Anything” Virtual Events
MIT SloanClass Visit
Information Session
Coffee Chats
Coffee Chats
Information Session – Livestream
Northwestern KelloggCampus Visit
Preview Days
Campus Tour
Information Session
Alumni Panels
Webinars across Range of Topics
NYU SternCampus Tour
Coffee Chat
Information Session
Chats with Students
Mock Application SessionWebinars/Recordings across Range of Topics
Campus Tour
Stanford GSBClass Visit
Chats with Students or Admissions Officers
Chats with Students or Alumni
Information Sessions
“Representation Matters” Discussions
The Wharton SchoolCampus Visit
Student Panel
Information Session
Class Visit
Class Visit
Campus Tour
Information Session
UCLA AndersonCampus Tour
Student Hosted Events Lunches/Dinners
Information Session
Open House
Preview Day
Campus Tour Diversity Events
Information Session
Admission Q&A
Student Chats
UVA DardenClass Visit
Open House (Class visit, Campus Tour, Connect with Student)
Coffee Chats in Select Cities
Virtual Coffee Chat with Admissions, Students, or Alumni
Webinars across Range of Topics
Yale SOMCampus Visit
Admissions Q&A
Student Panels
Women’s Day
The MBA Tour Europe (multiple locations)
Admissions Q&A
Student Panels
The MBA Tour (multiple locations)

Accurate as of October 2023

For additional perspective on the differences between MBA programs and an assessment of your MBA applicant profile, sign up for a free 30-minute consultation here with one of mbaMission’s experts.



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