Over the course of last semester, I was fortunate enough to meet a handful of prospective students and take them out to lunch at a couple of our many neighborhood haunts. In case you didn’t know, having lunch is just one of the easy ways you can interact with current students on your visit. While you can also go on a tour, attend a class, and sign-up for coffee chats, the lunches are excellent due to their casual environments and small group sizes, which in my experience have always led to enjoyable conversation among everyone.
On my visit as a prospective student, I managed to participate in the tour, class, and coffee chat all in one afternoon (I probably could have squeezed in the lunch too but admittedly didn’t know its value at the time). I found the experience as a whole incredibly informative and highly useful when writing my admissions essays, but in general, for any school, I also think that being in a given environment can offer some powerful insights—say, an inexplicable sense of belonging or, more simply, a personal feeling of fit—which can be helpful in guiding your choices later down the road (or before you put in the time and effort to apply!).
ATTENDING A CLASS
I remember my visit relatively clearly. Shortly after arriving at the admissions office, a few other prospective students and I were escorted to a class by an MBA1. There are a number of classes that you can choose from based on your interests and schedule (and availability—don’t forget to sign up ahead of time online!). Having never taken an economics class before and wishing to sample the core curriculum, I chose to attend a Firms & Markets class taught by the amiable and dedicated Professor Larry White. For those with more exposure to the traditional topics (or not!), I would certainly recommend trying to get into a class that really piques your interest, as Stern’s breadth of courses is truly remarkable. (Note that the schedule of available classes to visit will be available in the Fall!)
PARTICIPATING IN A COFFEE CHAT
After the class visit, a few MBA2 Graduate Ambassadors escorted us downstairs to the Sosnoff Lounge to grab cups of coffee and then out to the lobby where we could converse among the usual goings-on of MBA life. This was perhaps my favorite part of my visit, as I loved being around the movement and sounds of students gathering together to work or chat, and I easily pictured myself in their place. Meanwhile, the other prospectives and I had the opportunity to hear these MBA2s share their backstories and to ask them any questions we wanted. In particular, I remember connecting with one student who had a nontraditional background like myself, and I found my sense of belonging vindicated as he continued to share with me the opportunities Stern had allowed someone with his background to find and take.
TAKING A TOUR
My visit concluded with a tour of the building. This part continued to be informative, as two of the Graduate Ambassadors not only took us through the various study areas scattered throughout the building but also continued to answer our questions and chat with us about student life and the valuable learning experiences they were having. For example, one spoke highly of her Stern Signature Project, an experiential course where she was able to work closely with her professor and a small group of classmates to tackle a real-world issue. The other highlighted his fall internship with NBC, which was made possible not only because he was attending school in New York but because a fellow Sternie who had interviewed for the position had no qualms about sharing the job lead with him as well.
In sum, if it’s possible for you to visit the school ahead of applying, I definitely recommend you do. Interacting with current students is the best way to get a sense of the community you’re trying to enter, and you never know who you’re going to meet along the way—the Graduate Ambassador I connected with gave me a lot of inspiration for my essays that I might not have had otherwise, Professor White became my genuinely affable Firms & Markets professor when I arrived in the Fall, and the then-MBA1 who escorted me to that class ended up being an MBA2 who would give me incredible advice during the throes of the investment banking recruitment process.
So come down to 44 West 4th Street in the Fall, and see if Stern might be a great fit for you!