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The Secret of Maximizing your Time at MBA Information Sessions

Posted on December 01, 2016
MBA Info Sessions

Many top MBA schools in the world are coming to India to attract top quality applicants. Though a few host independent info-sessions, most prefer coming as part of MBA conferences.
 
There are 2 such events coming up.
 
1. The MBA Tour.
 
Click on the below link to get more information and register for the event.
 
Register for The MBA Tour
 
2. The MBA Tour.
 
Click on the below link to get more information and register for the event.
 
Register for The Access MBA Tour
 
If you are reading this article then you probably have an MBA session coming up.
 
Are you are just curious.
 
Or you believe in preparation 🙂
 
Whatever the case, this article is all that you need to know EXACTLY how to nail the MBA Info sessions.
These could be sessions held by individual schools or an MBA event conducted by organizations such as The MBA Tour, Access MBA Tour, or QS MBA Tour.
 
In this in-depth article, I will show you how exactly:
 
1. Why you should maximize the time spent on these info sessions (and avoid some costly mistakes).
 
2. How you can really act as a “cool customer” – and maybe strike up a conversation that leads to a positive first impression.
 
3. What questions you should be asking them and what you should be wearing – to make the maximum impact.
Does this sound like a deal?
 
Read on!
 
 

4 Reasons why attending an MBA info sessions might be a good thing for you

 
Why would I need to attend an MBA info session? Why can’t I just read them up on the website / look up on social media.
 
Especially since MBA events held in cities such as Bangalore, New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Hyderabad involve a lot of travel (considering many such events are held in 5-star hotels in the central business district during workday evenings).
 
However, such info sessions can provide you with valuable information that you cannot otherwise get from the website.
 
Here are 4 reasons to attend an MBA admissions event:
 

1. Compare various MBA programs on offer and choose one that’s right for you.

 
Have you decided if you want to pursue a full-time MBA or a part-time MBA or an Executive MBA or a Global MBA or even an online MBA?
 
Also a lot of times while talking to a school rep or an alum – you get a “feel” for the school. The culture exudes in the way the people talk about their MBA experience – make sure you clued in on that.
 
I have had many students tell me that MBA information sessions are sometimes like a blind date.
 
There will be ones that you will hate, and ones that you will fall in love almost instantly!
 
 

2. Explore Networking opportunities

 
An MBA fair is a brilliant opportunity to network with admission officers and MBA alumni. While admission officers can provide direct assistance with your applications, ex-students will be able to provide you with an overview of campus life.
 
Remember to ask for the college representative’s contact details, so that you can contact them at a later date to stay informed of other info sessions/open houses and visit the campus if you get a chance.
It is also recommended that you talk to the alumni present at the event. This will give you a fair idea of their experiences with the school, the support they’ve received and the exposure they’ve got.
 
 

3. Learning how to finance your MBA

 
An MBA info session can be a great place to learn about different financing options.
 
This is a great opportunity to know how other students who have been admitted in the past have dealt with financing. In most cases – this might have been through loans, so you can dig a deeper into that.
 
You can also get information about the various scholarships offered by the school. If there are none – you get to know that too.
 
Apart from the colleges, you can also connect with financing companies such as Credila and Prodigy Finance to learn more about their loan offerings.
 
It is good to do your homework so you know what you are getting into.
 
 

4. Learn more about student visas

 
An MBA admissions fair is the perfect place to find out more about global B-Schools, their admission requirements and the course fee.
 
You can also learn about the student visa rules and regulations for different countries and accordingly make an informed decision.
 
Make sure you are asking specific questions about both ease of getting a student visa as well as the opportunity to convert it to a work visa post the program.
 
You can get to know about the placement of the batch that graduated the same year (or the previous year). How hard or easy is it for students to get the work visa.
 
 

Pro Tip: Many times the reps might end up giving you information that is “off records”. That is, stuff they cannot put on the website or on official mails but stuff they share in a casual conversation.

 
 
Now let us look at some simple tips to make the most out of an info session.
 

How to look superior to others in the MBA Information Sessions?

 
CrackVerbal has been associated with various MBA fairs and info sessions since 2010 and has seen very closely the kind of interactions that happen in such meets.
 

Here are the top 3 kinds of people who attend such seminars/info sessions:

 
1) Curious Cat
 
curious-cat
 
He has come over with little clue about what he wants from the session.
 
He has definitely not taken the GMAT nor is he aware of B-school admissions processes.
 
As the name suggests, he is just curious to understand how this whole thing works.
 
He can be spotted by the way he goes from one stall to another collecting brochures but not really engaging in a conversation with any admissions representative.
 
2) Anxious Anna
 
anxious-anna-1
 
This one has perhaps taken the GMAT and has some idea about MBA applications.
 
However, our friend is also trying desperately to find answers to questions such as “Will I get admission to your school?” or “What scholarships will you offer me?”
 
However, she is busy hopping from one booth to another desperately trying to find someone who will answer in the affirmative.
 
But as the questions are way too subjective, she will never get an answer!
 
3) Cool Customer
 
cool-customer
 
This one is really assured and is typically seen only at a few select B-school booths.
 
The person has already researched on the school and therefore has very specific queries that pique the interest of the MBA representatives.
 
He/she knows what to look for and is seen engaging in a meaningful conversation with the MBA admissions person
Typically the person is seen having a dossier in hand – with important stuff such as a 1-page business resume, and a list of specific questions for the B-School rep.
 
So who do you want to be? Don’t bother answering – it was more of a rhetorical question 🙂
 
Remember that the AdCom members are keeping their eyes open for people who are smart, articulate and can make for a good fit for the program.
 
There have been instances when they have started a conversation at an MBA info-session and have ended with an offer once the candidate applied.
 
 
If you really want to see yourself in the 3rd category, here is a checklist of 4 things that you can do to look “cool” in the eyes of the admissions committee.
 

1. Assess your goals and needs

 
Before you attend an MBA fair, ask yourself the following questions:
 
What are your short-term and long-term goals?
 
Why an MBA? How will an MBA help you achieve your academic and professional goals?
 
What are you looking for in the ‘perfect’ business school?
 
How will you contribute to the school, as a student?
 
 
Here’s how you can present your profile to the Admissions Committee.
 
Learn how to get into a Top B-School
 
Once you have your answers to these questions, it becomes easier to assess the resources you have in hand, your academic and professional eligibility, your budget and then decide on the kind of schools you’d like to pursue.
 
 

2. Make a list of schools that you will be visiting

 
Have a good idea of the schools that are going to be visiting in the seminar/fair, so do the background research by Googling everything you can.
 
What is the ranking of the school in a particular geography (you may want to check out Bloomberg, or US News)
 
Look at the geographic location – does it have any locational advantage?
 
What are the various specializations offered – are these in my areas of interest?
 
What is the program cost and does it fit in my budget?
 
Learn how to select the right B-School
 
 

3. Decide on the criteria for choosing a B-School

 
Once you’ve done some basic research, fix certain criteria to further shortlist colleges of your choice.
 
Ask a few detailed questions such as:
 
What is the student profile like?
 
Do you know anyone from that school on Linkedin so you can connect with?
 
What are the companies that recruit from these colleges?
 
Which industries do the students bag the most jobs in?
 
What social activities do the colleges focus on?
 
What is the approach to learning?
 
Once you have a comprehensive checklist of criteria and schools, it will become easier for you to visit different booths and strike up an appropriate conversation on the day of the fair.
 
 

4. Prepare to sell yourself

 
Carry a 1-page business resume.
 
If not above, just carry a sheet that gives a high-level summary of your profile such as GMAT, Education & Experience, along with major extra-curricular activities.
 
While you hand over a copy to the representatives, you can start your 60-second elevator pitch (link). This makes the conversation crisp.
 
Ensure you get their business card so you can write to them later.
 
Thank them for their time, and always put in a word of praise (based on what you have read up) as it is courteous to do so.
 
 

5. Post-Event contact

 
Once the MBA fair is over, you need to make it a point to follow up with all the school representatives you’ve spoken to.
 
Write an email with a short “thank you” and summary of the conversation
 
Stay in touch by adding them on LinkedIn or following them on twitter
 
Visit further open house/info session that is conducted by the school
 
See if you get an opportunity to interview with them face to face
 
Request them to connect you to alumni
 
If possible pay a visit to their campus
 
 

2 Factors that influence your image in the Info session: What you ask and what you wear?

 

1. What to ask the MBA representatives at the event?

 
Ask questions, lots of them!
 
Don’t think too much about approaching a school’s admission officer. They have come all the way to answer your queries.
 
As mentioned earlier, ask them questions that are relevant, well-researched and insightful.
 
Not just to impress them but also because these questions can help you choose a school that’s aligned with your requirements.
 

Another tip is:
 
For all questions you can end with “Is there anything else that you think I should know?” or “Is there anything else that you think is important for this”?
 
Make sure the Admissions Member is able to provide you pointers that you may have NOT anticipated.

 
Also, remember: Don’t ask for data – ask for opinion
 
The value should be given to the person’s perspective and not to something google-able. So try to pick their brains by asking things specific to your case.
 
Here is a table that can help you:
 
mba-infosessions-table-final-1
 
 

2. What attire to wear during such MBA events?

 
You don’t want to be wearing full formals and end up feeling odd in the crowd.
 
You don’t want to wear your pair of khakhi shorts and sandals either.
 
You want to wear something that is in middle: makes you look professional yet not over-dressed.
 
Step in Business Casuals!
 
mba-clothes
(img src: http://www.businessinsider.in/Heres-What-Business-Casual-Really-Means/articleshow/40420369.cms)
 
Here are a few “thumb rules” that will help you decide:
 
Would you wear this for an interview?
 
Can you go to a fine dining restaurant after the event?
 
Is this something you typically wear to meet clients at work?
 
If you answer these questions honestly, you will get the answer.
 
Bottom line: be comfortable whatever you are wearing!
 
 
Now that you are all set to go, get going on that list of questions you want answered at an Admissions event.
 
Register for The MBA Tour
 
Register for The Access MBA Tour
 
If you need any help with your MBA profile
 
Get your Profile Evaluated!

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