MBA Tours: Top B-Schools Hit the Road

Students participating in The MBA Tour and similar programs have the opportunity to meet with admissions representatives from top B-schools

Students participating in The MBA Tour and similar programs have the opportunity to meet with admissions representatives from top B-schools

What if you could meet all the top MBA admissions representatives at once and in your home city to boot? Imagine sauntering into a single location, cruising through a series of panel discussions and signing up to meet with your top-choice schools – for free.  Welcome to the world of MBA tours.

High-achieving students and top business schools worldwide are eager to connect, and increasingly companies are providing the space, resources and knowledge to link the two together.  Take, for instance, three of the most popular programs – QS World MBA Tour, Access MBA Tour and The MBA Tour. Although they vary in their portfolio of services, all host a series of large-scale conferences in cities across the globe that allow students to mix and mingle with representatives from choice business schools, such as those at Harvard, Northwestern, MIT and Columbia.

Students sign up for sessions online and, because schools generally foot the bill, the conferences are typically free of charge – a few require nominal fees to weed out non-serious candidates. Each tour operator also offers a slew of auxiliary services, ranging from QS’ personalized MBA ranking tool to The MBA Tour’s one-minute video series with B-school advice. P&Q has pulled together information from three of the top MBA tours to help you select one that might work for you. We’ve also compiled a nifty little calendar to help you keep track of when each tour will visit your region.

QS World MBA Tour

Arguably the largest and oldest of the MBA tour providers, Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) was founded in 1990 by Nunzio Quacquarelli while he was still an MBA student at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.  Initially QS set out to provide guides and advice to connect top schools with suitable candidates. QS’ extensive research into the topic found that face-to-face time was a top priority for both students and B-schools, so the company introduced tours in 1994, Quacquarelli says. “The face-to-face interactions are extremely important in the applicant’s decision-making process,” he adds. “Candidates refer to websites, but they want to go that next step. They want to have that personal contact to make sure they’re making the right choice.”

QS’ World MBA Tour has grown year over year and now runs 112 events in 82 cities annually. The tour hosts early-stage, information-gathering sessions for students to develop their short list of schools, Quacquarelli says. Students can connect with B-school representatives and alumni at school booths during the fair portion. The conferences also includes GMAT seminars, admissions and expert panels and interactive classes to give students a taste of the B-school atmosphere. Interested female applicants have the option of signing up for Women in Leadership forums, which proceed the fair, where senior MBA alumnae speak about their experiences. QS also runs some 50 Connect 1-2-1 events, where consultants advise candidates on their B-school choices and arrange for personal interviews with top schools. Most recently QS launched registrant wristband technology that provides candidates’ information to the school representatives instantaneously – the bracelets will come to New York in May 2013.

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