Will visiting the campus improve my candidacy?

Feb 28, 2011
Tags: Admissions Process, Applications, Choosing the Right School, School Selection

Written by Marisa Cox, Director, MBA Admissions, Eller College of Management, University of Arizona

In most cases, yes. Here are three positive things you can accomplish through a campus visit:

1. Demonstrate real interest. Admissions staff love to host applicants and prospective students on their campuses. It gives them an opportunity to showcase their facilities and the quality of their faculty, while also allowing the prospect or applicant to engage directly with current students and in some cases local alumni. By taking the time and investing the resources in flying or driving out for a visit, you are demonstrating a heightened level of interest in the program.

  1. “Personalize” your application. If you visit either before you apply or during the admissions process, the admissions staff will likely recognize your name when they receive your application and will be able to put a face to the name they see on the file. This is particularly true if you apply to a smaller program with a smaller volume of applicants.
  2. Help determine fit. In addition to evaluating your application based on standard criteria, MBA admissions staff are also looking to assess fit. The feedback they receive during or after your visit will help them evaluate your interpersonal skills and how well you would engage and interact with your fellow students.
I started off by stating that a visit can help your candidacy in most cases. Here are three things you can do during a campus visit to hurt your candidacy:
  1. Show up late. Being late or showing disregard for the itinerary that a school may have set for you shows a lack of courtesy and professionalism.
  2. Dress inappropriately. Unless instructed otherwise, business casual dress is typically appropriate for a campus visit. Shorts, jeans, flip flops, miniskirts, and other attire that you would wear to your friend’s party are not appropriate. As I indicated before, you are putting a face to your application. Make sure it is a clean, alert, professional one.
  3. Act discourteously. When you visit a campus remember that you are making an impression on everyone you meet. Being rude to the receptionist, a student worker, or anyone else in the MBA office will reflect poorly on your judgment and professionalism.
Although there is always the risk of making a bad impression, in most cases your visit will reflect positively on your candidacy. More importantly, a visit will help you determine whether the school is a good fit for you.