There are many factors that go into deciding whether to apply to a specific school, one of which is the physical place where you’ll be spending 1-2 years. 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.
Factors to consider about a business school’s campus:
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.
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.
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.
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.