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As MBA fair season approaches, we’d like to offer some advice for using them to your benefit in the admissions process.

What is an MBA fair?

MBA fairs are like job fairs for business school candidates. Traveling city-to-city, they offer an opportunity for you to attend school presentations, hear from different GMAT/GRE and admissions experts, talk with admissions representatives, and evaluate which programs are your best fit. In addition, it gives the admissions officers a chance to hear questions directly from the front lines and make connections with prospective applicants.

Are they worth the effort?

I can just do my school research online, can’t I?  Yes, and you absolutely should.  However, at an MBA fair, you’ll hear varied perspectives (insider and outsider) and gain exposure to programs you may not have considered. Moreover, you’ll be able to get your questions answered directly by a member of your future admissions committees. What better way to demonstrate your interest, and make a positive first impression. And if you do it right, believe it or not, they will remember you.

How to do it right:

Knowing this, it’s important to put your best foot forward and use these events to your advantage.  Here are 5 tips to ensure you make the most of your MBA fair experience:

  • Act professionally. Every touchpoint reflects upon you as a candidate, be it with the Dean of Admissions or an assistant handing out brochures.  Smile, offer a confident hand shake, radiate positivity and humility, and show your utmost professionalism with whomever you speak.
  • Do your homework.  Nothing shows your interest like asking a thoughtful question or two, beyond what can be found on the website.  Ask about a topic that intrigues you, an aspect of the curriculum, or campus initiatives related to your goals.  Show your sincere curiosity, rather than simply a desire for face time.
  • Book 1×1 sessions.  Some fairs offer a chance to reserve a time slot to meet with the admissions team privately or in a small group.  If you’re genuinely interested in an MBA program, don’t miss this chance to build a relationship with the school in advance of applying. Bring your resume and business cards!
  • Follow up. If you did engage with any admissions committee members, go home that night and send a brief email. Thank them for their time, reference the conversation, and reinforce how much you’re looking forward to applying to their program. It is a perfectly appropriate gesture, shows your professionalism, and will help the admissions officers to remember you.
  • Be open-minded.  One of the best aspects of these events is the chance to learn more about other programs that may actually be a great fit for you.  Even if your presumed dream school won’t be in attendance, go anyway. Walk around, talk with different people, learn what various programs value in an applicant, hone your sense of what does and doesn’t appeal to you, and soak in every tip that you can. Who knows, you might even find yourself on an unexpected new path.

[For personalized advice on assessing your candidacy for your target business schools, please contact us at]

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