I'm starting a program this fall. How do I start networking with my new classmates?
Jun 2, 2010
Written by Consuela Knox, Senior Associate Director / Diversity Recruiting Manager, MBA Admissions, Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management
Attending an admitted students event on campus, hosted in late March or in April at most schools, typically provides time for extensive interaction with new classmates. Although many participants will be your classmates in the fall, others will choose to enroll in a different program. The added value of attending this sort of event is that you have the opportunity to broaden your network to include business students at various programs aside from your own. Don’t forget to have business cards on hand!
Some business schools host admitted applicant gatherings in various regions of the world. Be sure that the university has your current contact information so that you can be informed of such events. Applicant data cannot be published without consent, but feel free to ask university contacts if they will share your contact information with others living near you (not all universities accept this type of request, but it is worth inquiring). If there are several incoming students for a certain university residing near each other, an incoming student might choose to organize a social event for the group.
Take advantage of social media sites. Many universities host private sites just for their admitted applicants. This is one of the best ways to interact with your future classmates and, sometimes, a great way to interact with current students in the program. Most of these sites have a chat-room feel—you can monitor conversations between other people even if you are not actively engaged in the topic being discussed. Sites like Facebook and LinkedIn can be useful resources as well; however, remember to respect the privacy of those who do not wish to expose their connection to a graduate school until closer to the point of enrollment.
If you are wondering with whom to connect first, my recommendation is dependent on what is most important to you. If you are a little anxious about relocating, reach out to those who live near you and ask about their relocation plans. If you want to jumpstart the MBA job search, try to reach out to those who have a similar career interest. If you are wondering what life will be like in a new city, reach out to incoming students who are local to the university. University-hosted online admitted applicant communities are the best way to figure out the background of other incoming students and connect with those you choose.