The article 7 Questions to Ask During Business School Admission Events was originally published on mba.com.
You only get one chance at a first impression. It’s true in personal relationships, and its true in business school admissions. For most prospective MBA and business master’s applicants, that precious first impression is made at a business school event, like those hosted by The MBA Tour. One of the best ways to make a positive impression on admissions staff at business school events is simply to ask good questions.
What questions should you ask during business school events?
You know the saying “there are no bad questions?” That doesn’t necessarily apply here. The questions you choose at ask can communicate a lot to a school. For instance, if you ask basic questions that are already answered on the school’s website, that can give admissions reps the impression that you haven’t done your homework, and that you may not be that serious about gaining a seat in their program.
Instead, you want to communicate with your questions that you’ve done your research and reflected personally on how being a part of their program aligns with your goals. The admissions reps’ time is limited at these events—as is your facetime with them—so it’s key that your questions be smart and strategic. Use your time to get personalized insights that you won’t be able to get anywhere else, which ultimately should help you determine if a program is the right fit for you.
By asking the right questions, you can have discussions with schools that you might not otherwise get the opportunity to have. After sharing information about who you are, what you’re looking for, and where you want to go, spark deeper conversations by asking smart questions, like these seven examples:
1. Considering my career goals, what is the strength of your program?
This question requires that you have already discussed your long-term aspirations. If possible, lead with the ways you believe the program will support your goals and ask them for their opinion of your assessment. This approach displays your critical thinking skills and the fact that you’ve already done your research, elevating the conversation to nuances and perspectives.
2. What sets your school culture apart from others?
Culture can make or break an effective learning experience. There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Understanding the expectations and social norms, however, can help you determine whether the program is a good fit for your personality.
Do you expect a highly social cohort, with many opportunities to build new friendships and connect outside of working hours? A vibrant social scene can contribute to developing relationships that you’ll value well after the program ends.
3. How often do students interact with professors and alumni?
Although the curriculum is a big part of your business school investment, the opportunity to build your network and learn from the successful careers of others is irreplaceable.
Before committing to a program, try to understand the strength of the alumni community and any expectations set by the university for professors to be willing and available to students beyond the classroom.
4. How can I address a weakness in my business school application?
You may already know that your grades are below average for graduate school applicants or how your GMAT score ranks among your peers. Asking an admissions officer how to proactively respond to perceived shortcomings is critical insider knowledge.
✔ Read more: How to Improve Your GMAT Exam Score
Occasionally, a school will review an optional personal statement or an additional essay as part of your applicant package.
5. What is the most memorable application you’ve reviewed, and why?
Understanding what stands out to an admissions counselor can help take your application to the next level. This kind of qualitative question is a matter of opinion, but you may learn a creative tactic or two that you can apply as you put the finishing touches on your application packet.
6. How can I connect with current students, alumni, or faculty?
What is a business school without its people? Key to assessing your fit for a program is getting a sense of the people who represent its beating heart.
🤝 Read more: How to Network for Your MBA Application
A big part of how you’ll be evaluated as an applicant is how you see yourself being a positive contributor to your class. If in your essays you can communicate this while drawing upon a specific example of something you learned from an alum or current student you spoke with, that’s a home run.
Asking this question now during an admissions event will demonstrate to schools that you’re serious and that you’re committed to learning all you can about the student experience.
7. What are some things that students in your program do for fun?
It doesn’t all have to be super serious! Sometimes injecting a little bit of lightness and fun into your conversation is a good way to mix it up and show your personal side. Remember, business school isn’t all classrooms and case studies—a big part of the value is network, the basis of which is formed in fun shared experiences.
Asking this somewhat unorthodox question can actually signal your emotional intelligence, and your understanding of what the real value of business school is.
Good questions help you make good decisions
Business school events are a great way to speak directly with multiple business schools in one place, but you’ll need to think ahead and be prepared in order to make the most of admissions reps’ time—and yours.
Remember: prepare smart, well-researched questions to ask and focus on things that are a matter of opinion, not facts that could be researched elsewhere.
That said, don’t get too caught up on making a good impression. After all, that’s not the point of asking good questions—the point is to get good answers. Those answers should help you fill in your knowledge gaps so you can find the right MBA or business master’s program for you.
Our free guide, Finding Your Best Fit Full-Time MBA Program, gives you the expert tips and guidance you need to confidently narrow your options and identify the programs that make the most sense for your needs, preferences, and career goals.