Tuesday, November 13, 2007

MBA Tours, MBA Fairs, and MBA Information Sessions

November and December are very busy months for recruiting directors at MBA Schools. This is typically when a large number of National and International MBA Fairs/Tours/Information Sessions take place.

In most cases, representatives from a host of schools get together in a large hall, set up their individual booths, and provide an opportunity for students to learn about the offerings at different schools at the same time. Some of the larger and better known tours include:

The MBA Tour: www.thembatour.com
The World MBA Tour: http://www.topmba.com/mba_fairs/wmtevents/

Both of these events bring together representatives from schools from North America, Europe, and select international schools. Most Canadian schools are representated at at least some of the tour stops.

These events can be a valuable opportunity for those who are gathering information about MBA programs in general, but are typically more important for those who are considering a number of different schools. Some pointers on how to make the most of an MBA Tour are below:

Information Gathering
While it would be ideal if you did some research ahead of time so you had an idea of what's expected in the MBA application process, it's okay to show up and have some general admissions questions (such as, What's the GMAT?). However, it would be a good idea to not ask one school all of your questions.

A good option is to write down some of the questions you may have, or get a list of requirements from one school and then ask one question at a number of different schools. Not only do you get to find out about different schools and what they offer, but you'll have all your questions answered. Schools would also prefer this as it's generally very difficult to spend a large amount of time answering one person's questions when there is a line of interested students.

Targeted Approach

Pre-Fair

Before the fair, it's a good idea to come up with an idea on where you want end up when you are done your degree. If you have a very strong interest in Finance, it's easier to tailor your search requirements to schools with a strong finance background.

The Internet is an invaluable tool during the selection process. It's easy enough to get the basic information for schools in your target set ahead of time (i.e. strong finance program, located in Ontario, low - medium tuition). If there are a couple of schools that will be at a fair that you are especially interested in talking too, get in touch with them before the fair. More often than not, representatives from the school would be happy to set aside some time to talk to you one on one before or after the fair.

At the Fair
Fairs are usually very busy, with a large number of attendees trying to get in to visit all of the schools they are interested in. The last thing a School wants to end up with is one or two people who ask them question after question, preventing other interested parties from getting some information.

If you've done some work pre-fair, this is where you can come up with one or two questions about something that is important for you when it comes to selecting a school. Perhaps one school you are interested in has a student group that does consulting work. If you are interested in participating, asking more questions about the group is a very effective thing to do. It's not something that can easily be found out on line or through a brochure and it tells the School representatives that you are interested in their School and have done some leg work ahead of time. It's a good way to make an impression with the School and you might even get to spend more time talking directly with the Schools representatives.

It's also a good idea to show up at the fair dressed respectably. You are making a first impression with the School and showing up in an old t-shirt and wrinkly jeans is probably not going to lead to the Schools representatives spending much time learning about your background and answering your questions. Business casual is usually a good bet.

Finally, even if you aren't sure about a school, it's a better approach to just introduce yourself to a representative and say what you are interested in rather than just grabbing a brochure and walking away. Chances are, you aren't going to read the brochure line for line and letting a representative know what you are interested in could lead to them sharing something that you weren't aware of (such as a new major being offer, a new marketing professor joining the school, new internship partners, or scholarship opportunities).




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