Campus Visit: What Not to Do

by on May 4th, 2010

pajamasIn late February I had the opportunity to visit a top business school for lunch and an information session. While I gained a lot of useful information, something else was the most memorable part of the experience. During the campus visit I met someone – we’ll call him Bill – who is the epitome of what not to do on a campus visit. Here’s his story:

Bill was late.

The day consisted of two parts. First, a group of four students led the attendees to a nearby take-out restaurant for lunch. This was really beneficial because you could ask questions about student life, classes, and internships. After lunch there was an information session lead by a second year student. This is when I met Bill. About five minutes after our presenter started speaking, Bill barged into the room and blurted out “Is this the presentation? I’m lost.” Not only was he tardy, but he also rudely interrupted someone who reviews applications!

Bill was wearing pajamas.

Once the awkward moment passed, I noted that Bill was seriously under-dressed. Everyone was wearing either a suit (some had an interview) or other business casual attire. Bill, of course, was wearing sweatpants.

Bill looked pissed to be there.

Ok, so at this point Bill was fighting from behind. His appearance and punctuality were hurting his impression. Someone with a little common sense would have performed damage control by having a positive attitude. Except this was no normal person. Bill had a terrible look on his face, almost as if he was pissed to be at the information session. He didn’t even try to fake a smile.

Bill had no career direction.

The presentation carried on and our speaker had everyone introduce themselves by answering “why an MBA, why this school, and what’s next [career goals]?” Most of the attendees had a scripted answer (this was a sharp group), but not Bill. His introduction went something like this “I know I want an MBA because my old boss had one, and I was just laid off so I need something to do.”

Bill is an extreme case (trust me, this usually doesn’t happen), but each of his mistakes teach a valuable lesson. Not only are campus visits for a prospective student to learn about a school, but they are also for the admissions committee to evaluate you. Before setting foot on campus you should know about the school you’re visiting, know why you want an MBA, dress the part, and be on your best behavior.


  • WOW. It blows my mind that you actually met someone like this at a school visit!

  • This can be very true as there are still lots of people who go to business school just for their parents,just they have no other options,sometime just because they have money.....

    so if there is no intension,target,vision then these things becomes minor trival things for that kind of person....

    I think these are carelessness on the part of student as getting well dressed,look keen,have plan is true for every thing.

    I would rather love to read, may be mistakes ,we may make unknowingly as we may not have experience about things in usa....
    may be difference between other countries system and usa education might be doing this when your professor enters in your class in your country but in usa............and so on..

    any way thanks for article

  • hahaha @ Bill, of course, was wearing sweatpants. The sad part is I can totally seeing this play out. I've been amazed at what some people deem appropriate for a business school visit!

  • Can you imagine to be with Bill for the next 2 years ?)))

  • I don't know whether other people had this experience during college, but I do remember having classmates who would come to class not only in pajamas, but unshowered and barefoot!

    • Well in my undergrad I wore sweatpants (in some classes), but never pajamas. I found 1st years wore pajamas often.

      I can't imagine wearing sweatpants in MBA. I am hoping to get a ton of office shirts and a few pairs of pants and dress up professionally on daily basis.

    • B-school students do seem to dress better in general than undergrads.

      And Jacko--I'm guilty of sweatpants as an undergrad myself!

  • I am not suprised at bills actions. I still get amazed at what people consider professional attire to be.

    • Actually, lack of professional attire is what I like most about working in Silicon Valley. For a few years I worked as a product manager at Intuit (big tech company that makes TurboTax), and I loved the fact I could wear jeans and a t-shirt everyday. No pajamas though. :)

  • Question -- is it ever OK to go on a campus visit without an appointment? I say NO but there are those who think it's OK. If you just want to take a look and see on the campus, then fine. But if you plan on seeing people, going there without an appoinment only tells me that you have no consideration for others.

    • I would hope people make appointments. Its just rude not to and show up and expect others to answer your questions.

      Also, its your own benefit to make appointment so that the person you are looking for is not away

    • I agree with Casia and LoveTheGMAT--probably better to make an appointment, especially if your objective is to meet with a specific student or admissions folks.

      Casual campus stroll of course requires no appointment. Nor does striking up conversation with some students on a whim.

Ask a Question or Leave a Reply

The author Sean McNeil gets email notifications for all questions or replies to this post.

Some HTML allowed. Keep your comments above the belt or risk having them deleted. Signup for a Gravatar to have your pictures show up by your comment.