Angela Guido is here with 5 questions to ask alumni and the admissions committee of your target school while networking with target MBA programs. MBA alumni and committees will be able to tell you all kinds of things that students can’t, so they are a great source of knowledge as you research schools (especially from a distance!).
But what questions should you ask alumni? And what questions do you ask MBA committee members to get the most revealing answers? All of that and more, in this week’s MBA Monday. Good luck in your applications!
Prefer to Read? Here’s the transcript:
Hi, I'm Angela Guido, welcome to MBA Monday. This is the place that cool people come to get smart answers to real MBA questions.
Getting to know your schools is a worthwhile, meaningful challenge as you seek to network with members of the school community. Ideally, you're going to get to know students, alumni and members of the admissions committee. Last week, I gave you five questions to ask current students while you're networking with your target programs. This week, I'm going to add a few additional questions that you might want to ask alumni or members of the admissions committee.
Questions To Ask Alumni Students
- Alumni question number one: how do you see the school and the community supporting your success throughout your career? If you think about it, the MBA is an investment for your entire career. It's not just valuable in those two years that you're there. It's much more valuable the further away you get from it and the more your network and the fact that you're associated with that program and everything that you learn there helps you continue to grow in your career. So understanding how the school and the alumni community have continued to contribute to the lives of alumni is a really important part of the calculation.
- The second question you might want to ask alumni is: how has the school prepared you to succeed? Or in other words, what concrete value did you take away from your MBA experience that has helped you be successful in your career? Take time to really get to know their perspective on the specific things that this MBA program added to their success as they've gone throughout their career post MBA.
- And then the third question that you should ask alumni is: given everything you know about this program and how it's helped you succeed in your career, why do you think I should choose this school over any other program? It'll be really interesting to hear an alumnus’s perspective on where they think their school is differentiated with other schools. They may not have a lot of interesting things to say, given that they only went to one program and they didn't go to any other programs, so they don't have a basis for comparison, but asking the question this way will force them to really hone in on what was the concrete differentiator for this program that made it meaningful in their career versus – theoretically – any other. So, you'll get some really interesting answers to this question.
Now, What Questions To Ask The MBA Committee Members?
OK, now that you've gotten to know alumni, here are three questions that you might want to ask members of the admissions committee who typically were not students at the school and have a very, very different basis for giving you advice as a current applicant.
- Question number one is: if you could give two pieces of advice to someone applying to this school from my industry, what would they be? You notice how this is theoretical. So you're not asking them to assess your candidacy or to give you very specific advice about yourself? Some admissions committee members might be happy to do that, but others might find that question intrusive or difficult or too demanding, so instead make it a bit more general. What advice would you give to someone coming from my background to find success in the process? They're going to have a lot of good advice for you. That will be very interesting to listen to.
- Question number two: what are the most important success criteria for admission? Again, it's a pretty general question and it's talking about the philosophy that this particular program has, in evaluating candidates. What you're going to find is that there are actually differences among the various programs. You will not hear the same answer from every school. And even though the generalities are the same, they're all looking for leaders. They're looking for people who are accomplished. They're looking for people who have a clear vision for their career and how the MBA fits into it. They will point to very different things that they're evaluating when they look at candidates. And this is going to give you some really useful insight that you can apply in your applications and also help you decide which schools line up best with how you like to be evaluated. That's actually quite a revealing indication of cultural fit when it comes right down to it.
- All right. The last question to ask members of the admissions committee is: what is the biggest mistake you see applicants make in their MBA application process? Again, it's a pretty general question. It's about their experience and it allows them to effervesce and talk about their job, something, of course – presumably – they really love.
That's all I have for today. Those are your questions. Go forth and prosper. This has been #MBAMonday. I'll see you next week.