Having taken the GMAT, you know you’ll have to make decisions with incomplete, and often imperfect, information. The same holds true when selecting a full-time MBA program. You’re not going to know everything until you jump in, but to aid your decision, here are four questions to consider during your visits.
What is the quality of the faculty?
Top business schools will naturally be the home to top faculty. Before visiting, research the instructors who will transform you into a business leader. Do the top faculty teach MBAs? More importantly, do you get the sense they enjoy teaching MBAs?
While visiting, talk with the professors and see if they’re just as excited to be there as you are. You want to find a program where the professors are willing and driven to invest in your success, like John Hill, Clinical Assistant Professor of Operations and Decision Technology at Kelley, who happily dedicated his time to help a business analytics major in the Consumer Marketing Academy nail a supply chain internship offer.
Does the school embrace different personalities and learning styles?
You know yourself best, and finding an MBA program where you feel accepted and comfortable is most important to your success. For example, I knew I didn’t fit the mold of a traditional business student. They all seemed outgoing, charismatic, and super confident. But when I first met Jonlee Andrews, Clinical Professor of Marketing, at an event in Indianapolis, she saw my insecurity struggles right away and said she’d help remove any barriers between me and my goals. I realized right away that Kelley isn’t going to ask me to change who I am, but would embrace and enhance my strengths through coaching and development.
Do you feel comfortable in the student community?
During your visits, meeting and talking to current students is very important because they will be your community and your colleagues during your degree. While visiting, are you able to freely talk to students with similar backgrounds and goals as you? Do you feel welcome? Do you feel anybody gatekeeping?
When I visited Kelley, I was constantly introduced to new people because the students were rooting for me to find the answers, advice, and insights I needed to make the right decision. They took me seriously and gave me the sense that I’d be welcomed as a peer. When you visit, be mindful of the little things that stand out. Chances are, your visit experience will match your program experience.
Is the staff friendly and helpful?
When assessing a school’s culture, don’t restrict your analysis to only faculty and students. You’re going to depend a lot on the school’s staff throughout your two years. Some schools have competitive cultures, some collaborative. Kelley’s reputation for being collaborative not only covers the faculty and students but also staff.
When you visit a program, introduce yourself to the staff. Then ask yourself: will you feel like you’re being a burden if you ask to find a room to take a phone interview? On a visit to Kelley, all the staff I met in the MBA office and Graduate Career Services were warm, empathetic, and genuine. I knew they’d be there to help, no matter what.