The Admissionado Guide to MBA Fairs

Ah. The MBA Fair. The biggest thing to happen to MBA admissions since…erm… the application. Haven’t been to one yet? You should really consider it. They’re not that hard to find, after all. Top MBA and The MBA Tour hold them all around the world, but if you’re too busy to put on business casual attire and attend, The Economist has even put their MBA Tour online!

The concept is always the same: admissions officers from business schools all over the world come together and hold info sessions and seminars (and hand out swag) in order to convince you to apply to their program. It can be overwhelming (we went to one with over 100 programs represented!), but if you do it right, an MBA fair can provide you with a wealth of information to help you through the admissions process.

The key here, folks, is doing it right. Here are a few helpful tips to make the most of your MBA fair experience:

1. Do your homework.
Don’t just blindly walk into a fair with no direction. Before the event, do some research:  make a list of the programs you’re interested in and questions that you’d like to have answered. Things that are important to you might not be at the top of the representative’s agenda, so make sure you know exactly what information you want so you don’t leave the fair with unanswered concerns.

2. Admissions officers aren’t the only people there.
While it may be tempting to stand in line all day waiting to talk to an admissions officer, take some time to meet with others. You could meet potential classmates, school alumni, professionals, and school faculty to help build your professional network.

3. Don’t waste your time.
Although it may be tempting to go to the information session on the underwater basket weaving graduate program, focus on what you’re really interested in. There are going to be so many different information sessions going on at once (either from individual schools or general presentations on application tips or financing), so get the schedule in advance (they are always online) and make time to attend the ones that are most important to you.

4. Get ahead on your finances.
Even though it might seem a bit early to start thinking about how you’re going to pay for your education, spend some time at their financial aid information session to see what types of funding, grants, and scholarships are available. Also, make sure you figure out exactly how much your program is going to cost- you wouldn’t want a huge 5-figure tuition bill to sneak up on you at the last minute.

5. Evaluate the pros and cons.
After the fair, sit down and do some serious thinking. Were all your questions answered? Did the admissions officers care about your concerns? Did you meet the right people? Do you feel confident that the program is right for you? Will you be able to afford it? These are all important questions that you should consider before committing to a b-school.

6. Take Notes.
Who did you talk to? What was his or her name? What did he or she tell you? Sure, you may think you’ll remember all of it, but after 3 hours and countless conversations, it will all start to blend together into one big MBA admissions mess. And that sorta thing won’t help anyone get ahead.

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