MIT Sloan | Mr. AI & Robotics
GMAT 750, GPA 3.7
Tuck | Mr. Liberal Arts Military
GMAT 680, GPA 2.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Social Entrepreneur
GRE 328, GPA 3.0
Wharton | Mr. Industry Switch
GMAT 760, GPA 3.95
Stanford GSB | Mr. Irish Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Marine Executive Officer
GRE 322, GPA 3.28
Harvard | Ms. Developing Markets
GMAT 780, GPA 3.63
Harvard | Mr. Policy Player
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Wharton | Mr. Future Non-Profit
GMAT 720, GPA 8/10
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Tough Guy
GMAT 680, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. CPPIB Strategy
GRE 329 (Q169 V160), GPA 3.6
Harvard | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
Chicago Booth | Mr. Bank AVP
GRE 322, GPA 3.22
Kellogg | Mr. Double Whammy
GMAT 730, GPA 7.1/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Infantry Officer
GRE 320, GPA 3.7
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Ernst & Young
GMAT 600 (hopeful estimate), GPA 3.86
Kellogg | Mr. Engineer Volunteer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Kellogg | Mr. Operations Analyst
GMAT Waived, GPA 3.3
Kellogg | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.15
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Indian Dreamer
GRE 331, GPA 8.5/10
Kellogg | Mr. Innovator
GRE 300, GPA 3.75
London Business School | Ms. Private Equity Angel
GMAT 660, GPA 3.4
Chicago Booth | Ms. Indian Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 9.18/10
Yale | Ms. Biotech
GMAT 740, GPA 3.29
Stanford GSB | Ms. Global Empowerment
GMAT 740, GPA 3.66
Harvard | Mr. Renewables Athlete
GMAT 710 (1st take), GPA 3.63

Why You Should Visit Business Schools BEFORE You Apply

Next year’s MBA applications are rolling out, and the deadlines are earlier than ever. There are a lot of things that you should do right now – and here is why you should plan to visit business schools before you apply.

  • Business Schools are Different.

On paper, it’s easy for MBA programs to blend. Most offer similar core courses, experiential learning, clubs, recruiting, etc. Plus, there is a ton of information to absorb when you first start looking at schools – making it even harder to figure out what factors are most important to you.

One of the best ways to cut through the marketing and start to figure out which programs offer what you need is to visit. Business school is a huge investment – and the right program might not be the one that looked best from the website. Visiting before you apply allows you to shape the optimal list.

  • School Specific Essays are Hard.

Once you start to apply, you will understand just how hard it is to capture what differentiates a school and makes it a good fit for you, personally. There is no substitute for specific knowledge and firsthand experience on the campus. Candidates who visit can talk about the course they sat in on, the admissions officer they interacted with at lunch, and how much they had in common with their student tour guide. You might also pick up some inside information about new courses or opportunities. These details can make the difference between a credible interview response or essay and one that falls flat.

  • You Need to Convey Interest.

You know that this is a competitive process. You also know that schools worry about yield, and about fielding a class of students who will get along and be happy at their program. It’s extremely hard to sell the admissions committee on the fact that their school is your absolute first choice if you have never been there. Yes, people absolutely get in without having visited –but it’s much, much harder.

If you have the resources to visit schools before you apply, even a subset of your target programs, I really encourage it. There are also other ways to connect with programs remotely, including talking to students and alums and attending events in your city. The bottom line is that you need to do everything you can to understand and connect with your target schools.

 Karen has more than 12 years of experience evaluating candidates for admission to Dartmouth College and to the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Since founding North Star Admissions Consulting in 2012, she has helped applicants gain admission to the nation’s top schools, including Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Wharton, MIT, Tuck, Columbia, Kellogg, Booth, Haas, Duke, Johnson, Ross, NYU, UNC, UCLA, Georgetown and more. Over the last three years, clients have been awarded more than 14.6 million dollars in scholarships, and more than 95% have gotten into one of their top choice schools.

MORE FROM KAREN:  Should You Settle For Your Second Choice Business School?, Why The Admissions Committee Cares About Your Activities, Are You The Perfect MBA Candidate?