Michelle: Navigating the MBA Fair Jungle

Blogger MichelleIt’s the time of year where b-school admissions events are in full swing, and along with that comes the grand ‘ole school fairs. When there’s a fair in my area, I feel obligated to go, but I think the value of the experience is somewhat debatable. It’s hard to have a meaningful conversation with an admissions rep when there are so many other prospective applicants standing around the table.

Plus, the fairs kind of remind me of that scene from Mean Girls where Lindsay Lohan’s character visualizes the teens in the mall as a group of wild animals in Africa. [Yes, I am fully aware that this reference will only make sense to a small subset of people reading this blog.]

Anyway, here’s my take:

The elephant: There’s always the elephant in the room who takes over the conversation with an admissions officer. You think that eventually he’ll run out of questions to ask or things to say, but no, he keeps going. Even when a crowd of ten other people form and they are all patiently waiting to chat with the rep, the elephant seems oblivious.

The flamingos: These guys are HBS/GSB/Wharton groupies. They flock around the table and nod sagely at everything the admissions officer says.

The monkey: This guy basically just came to hang out. He awkwardly walks around the room, but you can tell he doesn’t have any specific direction in mind.

The hyena: This guy tries to be a step up from the monkey. He hasn’t planned any questions, but he really wants his time to chat with the admissions officer. So, he asks obvious questions that provide no further insight beyond what’s on the school’s website. He assumes some noise is better than none, right?

The lion: This guy (or gal) is clearly the king of the jungle. He asks insightful questions and you can tell he’s done his research. Everyone else at the table is secretly jealous and wishes that they would have asked such a good question. It somehow seems like he’s already BFFs with the admissions officers.

So, that’s my take on the whole MBA fair thing. Not sure which animal I am (but I know I am NOT the elephant… I hope?), or the true value of these events, but it can never hurt to try to get more face-time with schools of interest on the off-chance that I’ll hear something worthwhile to strengthen my essays.

Which is why I’ll be heading back into the jungle again soon.

When Michelle’s not hanging out at MBA fairs, she’s crushing the GMAT and working on her non-traditional MBA application. Follow her journey.

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