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Admissions Tip: Considering the Campus

Continuing our series of admissions tips geared towards those individuals who are just beginning to think about their MBA applications, we wanted to offer some advice on factors to consider with respect to a school’s facilities and location. Whether speaking with current students or touring the campus for yourself, it’s helpful to approach these information-gathering experiences with as clear a sense of what matters to you as possible.

Here are a few broad categories to consider:

1. Facilities

Are state-of-the-art classrooms and impressive new architecture a priority for you? Would you prefer a school that is headquartered in a single building to one spread over a larger campus? What about wireless access and use of technology in teaching? If any of these factors are of significant importance and could tip the balance between schools on your list of target programs, you’ll want to do this sort of research up front.

Last year, Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management moved into a lavish new $250-million Global Hub that was designed to drive collaboration. Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB), which debuted its own new Knight Management Center in 2011, also recently built a brand-new residency building for first-year students. And Yale School of Management (SOM) unveiled its 240,000-square-foot Evans Hall in 2014, injecting new vitality into that campus. Meanwhile, impressive new facilities for both Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and London Business School recently opened. And Columbia Business School late last year began excavation of the site of its glittery new home on Columbia’s Manhattanville campus, which is slated to open in 2021.

If you decide to visit your target schools’ campuses yourself, we’d recommend that you take pictures or write up your thoughts after the fact while your impression is still fresh in your mind.

2. Surroundings

In addition to the campus itself, you’ll want to allow yourself some time to ask about and explore the larger city, town or rural location.  Where do students live, eat and socialize? What is the cost of living? How do they get from place to place (parking or public transit may be an issue)? Are you interested in an active night life, or a wholesome place to raise a family? While considerations of academics and post-graduation career prospects generally take priority, you will be spending two years of your life in business school, and these more subtle factors can often tip the balance in favor of a certain program when all other elements are more or less equal.

3. Atmosphere

Along with the campus and its location comes a certain culture or climate.  Are students generally competitive or collaborative? Do students tend to socialize before or after class, or do they go their separate ways? How closely knit are learning teams, sections, clusters and cohorts, and what are the relationships among them?  How strong are the bonds among classmates, and the ties between past and present students? This questions point to the often elusive issue of “fit.” The pervasive atmosphere that informs interactions among your peers will undoubtedly make a significant impact on your business school experience, so it’s important to get a sense of this by speaking with current students and/or visiting the school.

To learn more about your ideal business schools, be sure to check out the Clear Admit School Guides. These guides offer detailed information about the leading business schools and include a section that specifically describes the school’s campus as well as its integration in the surrounding community. These guides are available for immediate download.

Posted in: Admissions Tips, Decision Tips, Feature Small, Planning Tips, Research Tips

Schools: Berkeley / Haas, Columbia, London Business School, Northwestern / Kellogg, Stanford GSB, Yale SOM

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