Researching Schools

In my last post, I spoke about the importance of doing research as to which school is the best fit for you. This entails visiting the campus (if you have the chance), sitting in one of the classes, or reaching out to alumni or current students to get their perspective.

Since it is currently during the summer, it may be harder for you to sit in on a class but there are a whole host of admission events / informational sessions run throughout the year that you can attend.

Imagine for a second you were on the admissions committee reading the ‘Why do you want to attend X business school’ essay written by two candidates. One vaguely brings up generic facts about the school easily found on the school’s website vs another who in detail describes an event he/she attended and poignantly recalls an incident or statement that a faculty member had made. Who do you think will have a much more compelling essay as to why school X is a better fit? That is not to say you should name drop everywhere but the more connections and incidents you can relate to, the more the reader can truly believe that you are the type of candidate that they want and not the other way around.

If you were strapped for time and visiting schools was a far stretch, the one thing I would highly recommend doing would be to talk to as many current students or recent graduates as you can. If cold emailing is not your thing, one tip I have is to scour LinkedIn looking for students who have either graduated from your alma mater or have worked/are currently working at the same company as you are. This gives you an immediate connection with the person you are speaking to and reduces the barrier and awkwardness that may seem inherent when reaching out.

Listening to students’ perspectives have not only been instrumental in me choosing which schools to apply but have also gotten me quite excited about the opportunities that business school provides.

Here are a rough set of questions that I prepare before any chat:

  • Why did you choose to go back to school and why at that time?
  • Why did you choose this school in particular? What was your career goal at the time of applying and has it changed since?
  • Do you have a favorite memory from your time in business school? Any favorite classes?
  • Are there opportunities to participate in classes outside the business school? Did you attend any such classes?
  • How have the skills you learned translated to your current role?
  • What do you love about the city the school is in? What does an average Fri night look like?
  • Any advice you would give to someone applying?

Don’t be afraid to reach out! The students are more than gladly to take the time to answer your questions as long as you are sincere and prepare questions ahead of time. I hope with these tips that you’ll come out not only knowing more about the school but more about yourself as well.

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