How to Choose a Business School When You Can't Visit the Campus
Posted January 03, 2017 by Giselle Weybrecht
- Author, Advisor, and Speaker - Sustainability and Business
So you are hoping to attend a business school away from home. This might be a school across the country, or even on the other side of the world. Ideally you will plan a trip to visit your campus of choice in person to really get a feel for the program, the faculty, and the general community. It’s really important to visit the school if possible because, on the surface, many schools look the same. Ensuring that a school is the best business school for you can take some exploring. In addition, visiting a school in person can help demonstrate your interest in a particular program if you’re still going through the application and interview process.
But a visit isn’t always possible. These trips cost money—potentially lots of money, depending on where the school is located—and they take time, especially if you applied to a number of schools around the country or even the world. So how can you know if a business school is right for you without taking the trip?
Review the school’s website, carefully.
Don’t just look at the main pages aimed at applicants; really go through the website. Read news articles about what is happening on campus and what the students have been up to. You can tell a lot about a school and its culture from its website, what they report, on and how they communicate information.
Follow the school on social media. Business schools are all on social media, often including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Snapchat. Follow the school and other school-related channels, especially accounts linked to the specific business degree programs you are interested in. You can also follow the accounts of specific clubs you might be interested in joining, such as a sustainable business club, or departments that interest you, like finance or marketing.
Take a virtual tour of the school.
Want to take a look around campus without actually visiting the campus? Look through the school’s website. Many colleges and universities post videos with virtual tours of their campus and buildings. You can also search Google Street View to take a look around the campus.
Seek out student blogs. Many current, and past, students write blog posts about their experiences on campus and with the curriculum. This is a great way to learn more about what happens during that particular program on a day-to-day basis, as well as to get to know the culture, events, opportunities, students, and faculty at the business school. If you can’t find any student blogs, ask the admissions officers for some links.
Attend general admission events.
If you know of a business school event happening in your city or a nearby city and representatives from your chosen schools will be there, make sure to attend. Attending these means you will get an in-depth overview of the business school and what to expect, including plenty of opportunities not just to meet with admissions officers but also to interact with other accepted or potential students, some of whom may have already spent time on campus and can share some of their experiences.
Look into virtual events. Many business schools now have question-and-answer events or presentations about their schools online, over the phone, and on social media that you can sign up for. Business schools are increasingly broadcasting, sometimes live, conferences and events they hold on campus during the year for their current students that you can follow to get a better idea of what to expect when you are accepted.
Connect with alumni.
Ask admissions officers and look online to see if there are any alumni from the schools you are interested in based in your city or a city nearby. The school may even have an alumni network close to you that organizes regular social and professional events. Alumni are a really important resource throughout your application process as well as in making your final decision. Contact them, as they are likely to not only meet with you but to answer any questions you may have.
Remember what you are looking for in a business degree. This means both academically and non-academically. Make your list and use the tips above to build on that list, and then ask specific questions that will help you determine which business schools really have everything you are looking for. Does the school have the degree programs and subjects you are looking for? The opportunities? Is it focused on group work or individual study or a mix of both? What kinds of clubs and extracurricular activities are there? What are
Find out if there is an exchange program. Can’t decide between two schools? Most business schools provide opportunities to spend a semester or more at a different business school as part of your degree program. Some schools even offer dual degree programs with multiple schools around the world.
When trying to select a business program that best fits your goals and aspirations, it isn’t always possible to visit a campus, and that’s OK. You aren’t alone; a lot of other applicants weren’t able to, either. But with a bit of research and initiative, you are likely to gather all the information you need to choose the best business school for you.
Giselle Weybrecht is an author, advisor, and speaker on sustainability. Her most recent book is The Future MBA: 100 Ideas for Making Sustainability the Business of Business Education. Follow her at project-insideout.com and on Twitter @gweybrecht.