Essential Tips for Attending MBA Fairs

How to Make the Most of an MBA Fair

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An MBA fair is an event or a conference that brings together business schools and MBA applicants. Every MBA fair is a little different but the primary goal is usually to help applicants learn more about MBA admissions and the MBA experience.

Examples of MBA Fairs

Some of the most well-known MBA fairs include:

  • QS World MBA Tour - The QS World MBA Tour is one of the most prestigious and well-known MBA fairs. Events are held all over the world. Attendees get a chance to learn more about admissions procedures, GMAT strategy, studying abroad, and more. But the biggest benefit is getting to speak directly with admissions directors from top business schools around the world. The QS World MBA Tour also awards exclusive scholarships to attendees.
  • The Economist's Virtual MBA Fair - Hosted by The Economist, this online MBA fair consists of webinars and info chat sessions that help potential MBA applicants learn how to get admitted to business school. Chat sessions give applicants a chance to discuss their candidacy in one-on-one chats with admissions reps. Other benefits of attending this virtual MBA fair include raffle prizes like application fee waivers, admissions consulting, and more.
  • Forte Forums - Designed specifically for women who are considering an MBA, Forte Forums are free events that take place in major cities. Forum attendees include business school representatives, current students, and alumni from top business schools in Europe and North America. Potential MBAs get to learn more about networking, careers, MBA admissions, and paying for graduate school. The biggest advantage is the opportunity to speak with various schools to find the right fit for academic and career goals.

    MBA Fair Tips for Attendees

    If you want to make the most of an MBA fair, you need to do more than just show up. Preparation really is the key to getting something out of the experience.

    The first thing that you should do is learn more about the business schools that will be attending the fair. Visit each school's website to get basic information about the school, like program offerings, class size, application deadlines, and class profiles (i.e., average test scores, average age of students, etc.). Obtaining this information will help you determine which schools interest you the most and will also help you with the next steps in the preparation process.

    A few other important things that you should do before attending an MBA fair include:

    • Make a list of business schools that interest you so that you know exactly which schools you want to talk to.
    • Make a list of what interests you about each school. For example, is there a particular program, internship opportunity, or study abroad experience that interests you? If so, make note of it so that you can learn more about it.
    • Prepare a list of intelligent questions for each school that interests you - make sure you don't waste time by asking questions that are already answered on the school's website.
    • It is a good idea to prepare one set of questions for admissions reps and another set of questions for current students or alumni. For example, you could ask admissions reps about financing opportunities and professional development opportunities specific to your career goals; you could ask students and alumni about student life outside the classroom and what its like to interact with the faculty.
    • Engage in a bit of self-reflection before you go so that you can explain why you want to pursue an MBA, why specific business schools interest you, what you can contribute to an MBA program, and what you plan to do with an MBA after graduation.
    • Prepare a resume and print off multiple copies so that you have it in case someone asks to see it.
    • Consider getting a business card that you can pass out to recruiters and admissions reps who might be interested in learning more about you.
    • Choose a professional outfit to wear to the event. Practice your handshake. And brush up on your networking skills so that you'll feel comfortable engaging with others in a professional setting.

    Alternatives to MBA Fairs

    An MBA fair is a great way to learn about your different options if you are still in the early stages of determining whether or not to pursue an MBA or deciding which business school might be right for you. But if you have already decided to get an MBA or if you know which school you want to apply to, you may want to consider alternatives to MBA fairs.

    One alternative is a campus visit. Campus visits are a great way to learn more about a business school, its facilities, and its students. If you work with the admissions office at the school, you might be able to be matched up with a current student or alumni who can candidly answer your questions about the school and the MBA experience. Conversations like this can really help you to gauge fit and determine if the program is right for you based on your individual academic needs and career goals.

    Another alternative to an MBA fair is an MBA info session. Many business schools host info sessions to help potential applicants learn more about the school's MBA program. These info sessions can vary by school but usually include an opportunity to speak with admissions representatives and current students. Attending an info session has other benefits as well. For example, so business schools will offer MBA application fee reductions to applicants who have attended one of their MBA info sessions.