One question that many admissions committees want answered in their MBA application and/or admissions interview is “Why are you applying to our school?”
In this article, we offer some school research tips that you may not have thought of that will help you to generate valuable material for a “Why are you applying?” MBA essay or interview question.
Visit the School
School visits will provide you with the kind of first-hand observations that admissions officers really appreciate. For example, in your essays and interview, you can reference students you met and things that stood out to you while visiting the school. Don’t go overboard, however, because if it feels like you are name-dropping or padding your answer to make an impression the effort might back-fire.
Join Official Email Distribution Lists and Read Admissions Blogs
Many MBA admission offices communicate regularly through traditional and new media channels. We recommend that you make every effort to stay on top of information the admissions office publishes. Be sure to add your email to the distribution list of each school on your target list so that you don’t miss out on important news and events.
Follow Student Blogs
An increasing number of MBA students are writing blogs to share their experience in business school. Some of these publications are sanctioned by the admissions office, others are not. These opportunities to benefit from eye-witness accounts from current students should not be missed.
Talk to Current Students
An even richer source of information than a student blog is a chat, on the phone or in person, with a current student. Many MBA students will be happy to play the role of ambassadors for their program and give you some of the “inside scoop” on classes, clubs, and the student experience. The officers of student clubs related to subjects or industries you are interested in tend to be accessible if you don’t have any friends or friends-of-friends in your personal network. Make sure to respect the time of everyone you speak to — these are very busy people. Think carefully about what you want to learn so that you can ask the kinds of questions that will lead to great insights for your “Why are you applying” essay.
Chat with Alumni
The school’s alumni network is one of the most important assets of any MBA program. Many alumni are ready and willing to tell you more about their experience and relive their days in the program by sharing them with prospective students. Search your professional networks (such as LinkedIn) for connections to alumni from the schools you will apply to and ask them if they would be willing to have quick chat with you about their alma mater.