"Test Drive" B-Schools During Admit Weekend

by on January 18th, 2013

It’s the New Year! Now is when tides turn from applicants to admitted students! And while you can see the end of the tunnel, decisions aren’t over yet. Soon start the Admit Weekends.

I see Admit Weekends kind of like a test drive of a car. You’ve done your online research on the car, talked to other owners, checked out all the stats and probably even visited the dealership to look at the car. Now is time for a test drive.  You get to sit in the car, see how it feels, see how it runs and if you can actually envision yourself with that car.

You see where I’m going? Admit weekends are a huge opportunity to help yourself make tough decisions about which b-school is right for you.

Here are a few tips on how to make the most of your Admit Weekends. Good luck!

  • Before you attend, take an inventory of which aspects are most important to you. Admit Weekends can be a flurry of meeting new people, seminars, free food, events and information. It can be helpful to have a framework or a structure to remind yourself which factors are most important to you in your b-school decision. Certainly see everything there is to offer during the weekend, but make sure you remember what the big deciding factors are for you.
  • Take notes and get contact information. Notes can be as simple as “liked this professor” or “talked to Sam Smith about recruiting company he is starting”. These types of insights can be very helpful after the inundation of information at admit weekend for you to follow up with afterward.
  • If you are not from the area, take time to look into housing and exploring the city. Are there specific areas where many students live? Are there certain neighborhoods you like best? What are transportation options? After deciding on a school, having insights into these next items will be extremely helpful later on.
  • Ask questions and take time to dig for deeper answers if needed. I always appreciate people who ask questions. This is your opportunity to find out answers to the little lingering question marks in your mind. It is also helpful sometimes to dig a little deeper than an initial question to get real insights. For example, I remember a lot of people asking current students what their favorite part of school was. Their response was usually “the people” or “my peers”. This is helpful to know, but after the same response many times, isn’t very helpful. Try rephrasing the question to what are their top three favorite parts of business school so far, or even following up with what about their peers is so intriguing to them. A little digging can get a lot more information.
  • Attend all the events you can, even the unofficial ones. But don’t be afraid to go off the beaten track. Maybe you want to take some of your free time to go check in a student office rather than get the coffee break that is suggested. Just because something isn’t on the official schedule, usually doesn’t mean it is off limits.
  • Lastly, keep an open mind and enjoy yourself. You don’t have to make a decision that weekend. Try to be in the moment as much as possible. Save the analysis for when you get back home!

Tricia Felice, Forte Fellow MBA 2014, University of Chicago Booth School of Business

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