If you’ve been admitted to an MBA program, you’ve likely also been invited to a school’s Admitted Student Weekend, “Visitation Weekend” or “Welcome Weekend”. While the title of the event may differ from school to school, most programs host this event in the spring during which all admitted candidates are invited to spend time on campus diving deeper into the program, getting to know students, staff and faculty, and generally getting a more in depth feel for what it’s like to be an MBA at a particular school. By the time Admitted Student Weekend rolls around, you’ve done the interview, you’re already accepted, and you are likely down to a couple of programs on your short list. This is the last chance to ask your final questions before making your commitment to a school, and also a great way to start getting to know other students who will likely be in your class if you attend that program. (It’s also possible you’ve already enrolled in a program. If that’s the case, you should STILL go to your program’s Visitation Weekend. It will help you stay engaged, meet new people who will soon be your classmates, and maybe even give you the opportunity to knock some things off the administrative “to do” list long before orientation starts.)
Some tips on how to make the most of a “Visitation Weekend”:
1)I’ll say it again—GO! You can only gain more insight and be more prepared for what your new life as an MBA student will bring. Yes, you’ve probably already done a visit. Yes, you’ve probably already seen a class. B-school is a huge investment, and this is the last shot you likely have before taking the plunge. In addition, most programs offer some kind of financial support to help bear the cost of making the trip and the expenses associated with it (i.e.: providing hotel rooms, meals, travel reimbursement). Most also let you bring a guest (partner, spouse, parent). Schools understand that for many, embarking on an MBA journey affects your family too. Take advantage of the option to attend with a guest if you think it would be beneficial.
2)Talk not only to faculty, staff and current MBA students, but also spend time talking to other admitted students. These are the people you will be in classes with for the next 2 years. Does it feel right? Are these people you want to work with on teams? Are you on the “same page”?
3)The agenda for the weekend is likely packed. Schools want to really give you a thorough exposure to everything they offer because they know how important your decision is. Do your best to attend every scheduled session—even if they are optional. You’ll be exhausted at the end of the event, but you’ll know you gave it 100% and made the most of your visit.
4)If there’s something still “nagging” you, or you have a tough question you haven’t asked yet, ASK IT. Schools genuinely want you to make the right choice for YOU, and most administrators and students will be glad you brought up a question or issue sooner rather than later. Things you think might be “taboo” or inappropriate to ask are likely asked about more than you think.
5)If you can spare the extra time during the trip, take the time to look at housing options while you are there. In most areas, graduate student housing fills up quickly. Unless you are comfortable with the sight unseen approach, try to check out some places to live while you are in town.
6)Mind your manners. While the school will do its best to make the best impression possible, you should do the same. Even at this early stage, you are already creating a reputation with faculty and your soon-to-be classmates. Be aware of things like dress codes for certain events, and if alcohol is being served, know your limits.
7)Plan ahead and communicate with the admissions team at the school. If you will arrive late, leave early, or need some kind of special accommodation (dietary, or other), let the event planner know in advance so they can help you have the best experience possible.
Here’s to a fantastic spring full of fruitful Admitted Student Weekends!
Stacey Dorang Peeler
MBA Admissions Director
Penn State Smeal MBA Program