Prepare for a chat?!?? Why on earth would you need to prepare for a chat? Can’t you just show up?
Well…. if you really want to make the most of the chat experience (and even better, not embarrass yourself with this important panel of admissions people who are hosting the chat) then you should take some steps to be ready.
Recently we covered some purely logistical tips on getting yourself scheduled for chats. Today we’ll talk about decorum and a little on etiquette, and also some pointers based on issues we’ve seen come up over and over in observing applicants in these forums for years.
Make sure you know which program the chat is for!! If you’re in an EMBA chat and you’re asking questions about applying, the answers you get will be specific to the EMBA admissions which can be QUITE different from the answers you might get at the same school for their F/T program. If you’re in a Careers chat then you’re not going to be able to get answers about application requirements. Many admissions peeps can field answers about other areas too but you should be aware of what the focus is for the actual chat you’re in. Be an informed consumer, and don’t waste your (or their) time.
If you’re not familiar with how Twitter chats work, then figure it out ahead of time. For example, when you go to that #boothmba page , you’ll want to click on Latest to get the whole stream (rather than the default selection of Top). Remember that these are not private; the whole world can see them, and anyone can participate.
Figure out some questions to ask – and please, make them questions that aren’t easily answered by a click or two on the school’s website.
Even better: Read through the school’s website, including their essay questions and go through the full application too. Very important: Read their class profile. Know their standards for things like GMAT score and GPA. Most schools report that stuff publicly. You shouldn’t be asking about those basics in a chat. That would be, like, not very impressive to your adcom person on the other side of the computer.
Remember that in many cases, the schools will know that it’s you. Some chats let you participate fully anonymously, but others require you to at least select a username, if not use your real name and/or it’s tied to your email address that you registered with. They’ll either know who you are or they could figure it out based on systems. Please don’t forget that! Be on your best behavior. Don’t try to answer questions on behalf of the adcom (yes we’ve seen people do that). Don’t post lame questions like “Why are you better than Wharton?” (yes we’ve seen that). For a Boston school that travels to do interviews, don’t ask if they’re coming to Washington, DC (ditto). Don’t ask them if your GMAT is good enough (they won’t be able to tell you). Don’t ask them why they think you should apply (they don’t really care if you do, if they’re being honest). Don’t ask them when their next deadline is (c’mon really??). Write in full sentences, with no text-talk or shortcuts, and proper spelling please. A typo won’t matter but don’t be lazy or sloppy.
You can of course simply sign on and learn from what others are asking; this is a fine strategy too. If you don’t have something that you really want to know, then don’t just ask in order to ask. It’s not necessary to interact with the adcom just for the sake of an interaction. Some schools like Berkeley Haas publish a transcript of their chats later on, so going back over those resources is almost as good as being in the chat in real-time.
To some of you BSers, who are more on-top-of-it, these tips may seem very basic – but you’d be surprised. We find ourselves rolling our eyes too often on those online chats and you just KNOW that the adcom peeps are doing the same on their end.
Don’t be that guy. Don’t say something stoopid* in front of the people who are going to be evaluating your app in a few months’ time.
Of course, the VERY BEST WAY to research a school is BY VISITING. Read up on all of our posts about school visits here.
*Don’t let the fear of being stupid paralyze you, either. If English is not your first language, it’s totally OK if your sentence is not written perfectly or if you misspell something. If your question is sincere then please ask it! We’re not saying to be a lump on a log, either. Step up! Be brave! Take the bull by the horns and dive in! These chats are a low-risk environment. Just take them seriously, too. Lots to learn, so get learning, BSer! And you can always ask us if you have questions we can help you with, too. 😀