Amidst her busy second semester of first year MBA schedule, Maureen Keegan, a Darden ’16 and MBASchooled regular contributor took some time to shed some light on the Admitted Students Day Weekend and what incoming MBA students should think about when attending these events.
After a week of 70+ degree temperatures, I think it’s safe to say spring has arrived in Charlottesville. For business school applicants, spring often means hearing back about Round 2 admissions decisions and attending admitted student events. Admitted student events are a great opportunity to experience the school again (and under less stress if your last visit was for an interview), to meet prospective future classmates, and to see if it’s the best fit for you. For those of you trying to decide whether to attend admit weekends or which ones to attend, I wanted to give you a sense of what to expect and how to make the most of attending these events.
I had already decided on Darden when I attend their Round 1 admit event, Day@Darden, but walked away from it thinking that if I hadn’t already been sold, I definitely would have been afterwards. We had to opportunity to experience Darden’s famous case method in a discussion led by (the now former) Dean Bruner, to hear from first years and second years about the recruiting process, to listen to faculty talk about what makes Darden different from their experience, to experience Charlottesville and to meet our potential future classmates. I am still friends with many people I met that day and even share an apartment with one of them!
Darden also holds a much bigger admitted student event in April called Darden Days. One of the things I enjoyed most about the event was how the entire school seemed to participate in it. We attended two Darden Thursday night traditions (that I’ve talked about in an earlier article) – Cold Call and TNDC, got to spend time talking to FYs (now SYs) in various affinity clubs, prepped in “learning teams” to do a mock case, and attend sessions on recruiting and life in Charlottesville. There was also a huge barbecue on Friday night that it seemed like all of Darden, including the incoming Dean, was at. On Saturday, there were optional activities to get to know Charlottesville – hiking, winery tours, a visit to a brewery, a trip to Monticello and some other events I know I’m forgetting. A lot of people who attended Day@Darden came back for Darden Days, so it was great to reconnect them and meet new friends.
Having only attended Darden’s events, I talked to two of my classmates who attend multiple events to get a sense of how the experience differed for them and what advice they had for future MBA students deciding which program they want to attend.
The biggest insight I took from talking to them is that admitted student events tend to reflect the differences in the various schools, so it’s a good chance to get to know the school’s culture and student body better. Based on his experiences at two different weekends, current Darden FY Matt Breen said “the general activities were the same, but the feel of the events was very different based on the school.”
Both Matt and Yin He, another Darden FY, highlighted meeting potential classmates as the most valuable aspect of their experience at different admitted student weekends. Not only is meeting potential classmates a great way to get a feel for the student body, but it’s also nice to have people to chat with over the summer and familiar faces to see in the halls when classes start. Yin also took time to speak with current FYs at the programs she was interested in to get a broader perspective on the programs and how they would help her get where she wanted to go.
From talking to Matt and Yin, the advice I have for those of you attending multiple admitted student days is to go with an open mind and be ready to reflect on the experiences afterwards. Matt told me he came to Darden Days intending to go to another school and after the event, and especially meeting his future classmates, his mind was changed. Similarly, Yin found that despite some of the initial criteria she had set in her school search, such as being in a city, that Darden was the place where she could get what she needed to bring herself to the next level of her career. It is important to be honest with yourself as you go through the process and think about what’s best for you.
One of the biggest things I’ve learned during my business school experience so far is that it is a very personal experience. Everyone brings something unique and is looking to get something different out of it. Make sure you know what it is that you’re looking for and use admitted student days as a way to ensure that you’ve found the right school for you. And remember to congratulate yourself – you’ve worked hard to get to this point and even though you’re facing a tough decision, no matter what you choose will lead to an incredible experience.
PS – If you’re unable to attend admitted student events, don’t worry! Most schools have tons of resources for admitted students that can provide you with information on anything and everything you might need to know!