In keeping with the recent Admissions Tips we have posted for the new crop of applicants to the Class of 2014, today we want to offer some tips on engaging the community of one’s target programs. Communicating with b-school insiders can be beneficial for a number of reasons; in addition to learning about a given school and your potential fit, you’ll also generate material for your essays, demonstrate your interest in the program, and perhaps even make an ally or two. In your efforts to go beyond the schools’ websites and promotional materials, we recommend reaching out to individuals in a few key groups:
Current Students – People who are currently enrolled in a given program can obviously provide the clearest picture of the present state of the school community. They are often more capable of evoking their school’s overall culture than brochures put out by the admissions offices and can describe to prospective students the ins and outs of academic and extracurricular options. In addition to reaching out to friends and acquaintances who are studying at a given school, it’s also wise to get in touch with the leaders of clubs and programs in which you are interested (their contact information is generally available through the website). This will help you to understand the impact you could make while on campus and provide a sounding board for the ideas you plan to share with a certain student group or organization.
Alumni – While students offer a great view of the program itself, a school’s alumni can often provide the best perspective on just how far an MBA from a given program can get you in a certain field. Meeting with alumni working in your target post-MBA industry (tracking them down either through your own network or school-sponsored events) may help you anticipate the program’s strengths and weaknesses in setting you on the right professional course. You might also gain some valuable insight that will help you to refine your career goals and better understand what short-term position would best prepare you for your long-term plan.
Faculty – The professors at business school tend to be a bit less accessible than students and alumni, but if you’ve identified someone whose research interests match yours or sat in on a class that you found particularly intriguing, there’s no harm in sending a note to let the faculty member know that you find his or her work appealing and would like to speak if possible. The individuals responsible for designing and teaching the curriculum can offer great insight into the specific skills and lessons you would learn from one class to the next and help you to refine your understanding of the ways that an MBA would bridge the gap between your current skills and those you will need to achieve your goals.
Aspirants to the Class of 2014 should consider each of these options in the months ahead. Not only are many individuals quite pleased to discuss their experiences with prospective students, admissions committees also like thoroughly informed applicants (of course in all cases, patience and manners are of great importance). For more tailored guidance on what sort of programs you might consider, feel free to contact us for a free initial consultation or consider reading the Clear Admit School Guides, our in-depth profiles of the leading business schools, or the School Selection Guides, which offer comprehensive summaries of career-specific offerings at the top MBA programs.