How to Maximize the Experience: The MBA Tour and the MBA Fair

Many applicants look at MBA fairs and don’t see the value. After all… who really enjoys hotel convention centers? But given the importance of networking with your target MBA programs, it is important to learn as much as possible about a school in a way that goes beyond reading the course catalog and looking at the school’s website. MBA fairs and multi-school events can be a great way to network with business schools, which will enrich your essays and application materials. And they’ll often be held in a city near you.

Where can I find MBA Fairs?

Several organizations run quality MBA fairs and tours. The event that attracts the highest number of top schools is the CentreCourt MBA Festival run by Poets&Quants. Recent events have hosted admissions directors from top MBA programs such as MIT Sloan, Darden, Kellogg, Yale SOM, Ross, IESE, and others. John Byrne, who organizes these events, always manages to find great event spaces in addition to recruiting top schools, making CentreCourt events a very enjoyable experience.

Another common MBA fair is the QS World Top MBA Tour. The QS World Top MBA Tour is near-ubiquitous, but one should be forewarned that the MBA programs attending are often lower ranked. For example, at their flagship event in New York 2019, the list of schools attending included University of Alabama, Georgia State, and UC Irvine. If these are your target schools, this event can be valuable to you, but if you are targeting higher ranked schools you should check the list of participating schools carefully before you book your tickets.

The third organization worth mentioning is Access MBA. The quality of the schools in attendance varies from city to city, so MBA candidates should take this one on a case-by-case basis.

Finally, for women, there are the Forté Forums, which bring together students, alumnae and admissions officers from top schools to teach you about the value of an MBA program. If one of these upcoming events is near you, then you owe it to yourself to attend.

Forte Foundation MBA forum event

In addition to these organizations, there are also multi-school events which are organized directly by the MBA programs themselves without for-profit sponsors. These can be found on the events pages of individual universities and business schools (which is also a way to find single-school information sessions, too).

What are the Advantages of Attending MBA Fairs?

There are a number of good reasons to attend MBA Fairs.

CentreCourt MBA Fair registration badge

When I attended CentreCourt, I visited some schools and not others. Every school that scanned my badge sent an email telling me “David, we were so happy to meet you at CentreCourt!” On the other hand, every school that didn’t scan my badge sent a note to say “David, we were so sorry to have missed you at CentreCourt.” They register your interest in the school’s database and they will not forget, so make sure you stop by every school you’re interested in pursuing.

What Are the Disadvantages of MBA Fairs?

If you plan on attending MBA fairs, you should be aware of some of the drawbacks of the format.

How to Maximize the Value of MBA Fairs