Male MBA student working on a laptop, smiling.

Five tips on how to pick the right business school when a campus visit is not possible

28 January 2022

The article at a glance

Comparing business schools is hard in the current climate and visiting your chosen campus in person is not always possible. Here we share some tips to help you explore the MBA programme of your choice from afar, as well as visualise your lived experience on campus and the study journey ahead when you apply.

Comparing business schools is hard in the current climate and visiting your chosen campus in person is not always possible. Here we share some tips to help you explore the MBA programme of your choice from afar, as well as visualise your lived experience on campus and the study journey ahead when you apply.

Take a virtual tour

In the new virtual world that we are navigating, business schools have updated or created new virtual tours on the campus experience. A virtual tour allows you to safely visit campus from a distance. Discover the campus for yourself using these online tools, see what it would be like to walk into the lecture halls and the business school cafeteria. If you were in accommodation, what your walk to the school be like, could you grab a coffee on the way in?

In Cambridge the range of accommodation is mostly centrally located and as many of the Cambridge Colleges are situated next to the River Cam, many of our students walk or even cycle along the beautiful riverside on their way each morning.

Many students and alumni take the time to document their experiences through their own videos. For example, Cambridge MBA alumnus Nathan Ramadhan who talks about his favourite spots of the city and the feel of living in Cambridge.

Attend online events

Attending virtual online events is another way to get a feel for a place and more importantly, to chat to current students and staff or faculty in person. From careers fairs to discussion panels, Q&A sessions to even one-to-one meet ups, online MBA events are a great way to meet and ask your questions direct, interact with admissions teams and meet alumni and faculty at the same time.

One candidate in 2021 said, “In addition to my online research I was able to attend a Find Out Friday event with MBA Admissions, combined with some individual Zoom meetings with current students and CJBS faculty. These experiences led me to designate Cambridge as my top choice MBA programme and only application.”

Another candidate said, “Given the current environment due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), I have really appreciated the open day webinars and other online opportunities to hear from staff and students regarding the programme, since I have been unable to meet anyone in person.”

Sample lectures are also a great way to get a feel for the range and content in the curriculum.

Cambridge Judge faculty have covered subjects such as organisation culture, digital disruption or hybrid working in our virtual open days. Interaction with faculty online allows attendees to use the interactive tools on the platforms and the chat boxes to contribute to the discussion, as well as taking part in the network after the lecture.

Talk with professors and do detailed research about the curriculum

Many of the MBA programmes will have similar core courses, so it pays to get some further insight into the elements and details across the curriculum.

Look into the electives and Concentrations of your chosen programme and really ask yourself, are they what you need to develop your skillset and chosen career path?

You can also look at the live consulting projects and examine the experiential nature of these opportunities across the MBA programme. Faculty are often happy to be approached with specific questions about the case content or the research elements of a particular course or Concentration. The Cambridge MBA Admissions team are also happy to answer questions about the course content and the range of practical projects that are on offer across the year.

We also capture in more detail information about Global Consulting Projects in these videos and in these case studies.

Current student Ollie Wynne-Griffith met faculty member Kamiar Mohaddes, at his MBA admissions interview and found him very engaging. When the interview finished, he reflected, “If this is who will teach me, that’s very exciting.”

Connect with alumni and current students

As well as attending online events where you can meet and chat to alumni and students from your chosen school, you may also wish to reach out to individuals that could give you real insight about the programme and the experience on campus overall.

Both students and alumni regularly share their experience and insights in a host of online articles, podcasts, and student blogs – often sharing more personal insights than the brochures alone can illustrate. For example, Cambridge MBA stories showcase a range of MBA student activities from treks to competitions and our video showcase also introduces you to a host of career and MBA stories and student experiences.

If you search for alumni on LinkedIn, keep your enquiry very specific or ask for further signposting or connections. Basic questions about admissions or the programme can be answered from our website or an event.

Your interactions with alumni and current students should be professional and not onerous.

Look at their social media channels

Social media accounts offer a valuable insight into the culture and values of the school and its community. Following accounts signals your interest, as well as giving you a better sense of the core values of the school, its brand and culture. The social and extra-curricular experience is an important part of a full-time programme and social posting can give you a sense of what opportunities and experiences might lie across the year ahead. Students are sometimes involved in social media takeovers, where they take over the account for a day or during a specific event like a conference, the authentic voice and personal journey is shared quite openly with a broad audience. Similarly, videos posted by current students on YouTube or TikTok offer a unique insight into day-to-day life on campus, from the weather to the best coffee stops in your new city!

Thanks to the digital resources available, gathering knowledge has never been easier nor more convenient in the new post-pandemic world. So, seek out virtual opportunities to interact and engage with your school of choice as much as you can.

This article was published on

28 January 2022.