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Speaking to Alumni Can Help You Choose the Right School

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Who better to give you the inside track on choosing the right program than b-school alumni? 

The process of applying to graduate business school has many important steps – taking the GMAT exam, writing essays, securing letters of recommendation, visiting campuses, among others. One often overlooked resource to consider is the alumni community. Alumni can provide information that you are seeking and in some cases, information that you may not have considered before.

Below are my top 5 reasons why you should connect with alumni during your application process.

  1. Experience the school culture. Each school has its own culture and climate. Speaking with alumni allows you to experience that culture first hand. You can also ask what type of people attend the school (bankers, consultants, marketers, teachers). Ask if it is a competitive environment, do people support each other, is diversity and inclusion valued at the school, etc.

  2. Get advice on best way to visit campus/see program in full action. Alumni can provide great advice on how to structure your visit, how to contact faculty, meet with students, possibly sit in on a class, etc.

  3. Gain insights into career options and opportunities. One of the top reasons you are going to business school is to advance your career. Alumni are great resources to understand the impact of the school's career management center on his/her career, what companies recruit/hire students at that school, learn about the career outcomes of other alumni.

  4. Provide a window into specific experiences. Business school is not just about taking classes. It is a wonderful way to test your limits and get out of your comfort zone. Alumni can provide a "window" into specific experiences for consideration – favorite courses, school faculty, classmates, global experiences, signature conferences, academic internships, community service, etc.

  5. Get answers to the "I didn't know what I didn't know" questions. Alumni can provide information that's otherwise hard to find, such as answers to questions about financing your MBA and learning about pre-MBA internship opportunities. 
At UCLA Anderson, alumni participate in a variety of capacities to help prospects understand the power of the UCLA Anderson MBA. Many alumni host lunch events, inviting prospects to join and learn about the school. Others meet one-on-one within their own firm for a coffee chat, and then more participate in school sponsored events (e.g., recruiting events on the road) to provide their voice on why they chose Anderson.