We recently responded to a question about school visits on another forum and we have a few more items to add:
1. WHAT TO WEAR: We always recommend dressing up for these. In other words, wear a suit. Yes, you’re likely to be the most formally dressed person in the room but that’s better than showing up looking like a slob. Most students will be in business casual (some will be really casual) however you’re not yet a student there; you don’t have free license to “be yourself” quite yet. You’re still hoping to make a good impression, right? If it were us, we’d wear a suit. (And get those shoes shined too! sheesh)
UPDATE JUNE 2016: MAYBE THE FORMALITY OF A SUIT AT AN INFO SESSION IS NOT QUITE AS NECESSARY IN THIS ERA… BUT WE DO HOPE YOU’LL DRESS APPROPRIATE TO THE OPPORTUNITY! -ES
2. BE PROFESSIONAL. Recognize that every interaction with the school could potentially factor into their decision-making process on you later! Not all schools track these things, but some do, and more are starting to all the time. Just like when you contact a company and their customer service department logs what was said, some schools take notes on candidates.
3. REMEMBER YOU’RE A GUEST. If you plan to sit in on a class, show up on time! Don’t leave early! Turn off your cell phone! Leave your laptop at home! Pay attention! At the same time, remember that you are a GUEST and just like with children in the olden days, you should be seen and not heard. You are not invited to participate.
3. TAKE NOTES. If anybody is taking notes during the school visit it should be YOU! Jot down the names of anyone you interact with — students, admissions office staff, professors. You can use this information strategically when it comes time to write your essays.
4. BE OUTGOING. Don’t be the wallflower. (Don’t monopolize conversations, either; remember this fabulous missive to students from Columbia’s IB club; we blogged about it here.)
5. DON’T ASK “THE QUESTION.” No matter what, resist the urge to ask the What are my chances… question. The application to business school is designed to allow the adcom to evaluate your profile. A question at an admissions event is NOT the right place to present this profile. There is absolutely nothing useful that anyone at the school can tell you in response to this question. Check out what Darden’s admissions director Sara Neher says about this (hint: it’s her #1 least favorite question):
Some of EssaySnark’s clients even have us do mock interviews with them BEFORE they go on campus visits, to help them practice the pitch. You cannot overprepare for any interactions with the admissions office!