I find this an interesting question, and the answer is yes. There are suggestions that the fair model is obsolete bit I don’t agree. I attend every fair I can.I offer some advice here on how to use school events to your advantage, particularly 1:1 fairs. Let’s start with some questions you should ask.
- How do schools differentiate themselves? They offer a similar product, so what are they emphasising about their programs? Ask the representatives this question.
- Show me a person who did this program with a profile like mine, and where is he/she now? Unless your personal story is totally unique (we helped a circus performer get into a top school) I find this a reasonable question to get a sense of the career acceleration that is possible.
- Who is your ideal applicant? This question, if answered honestly, would give a good indication of the type of student body the school would like to attract.
- How is the curriculum changing to prepare professionals for big data/ AI? This will be a major topic in most future professions and the top programs are on the case.
- What is a day in the life of a student? This question can be read on school websites and blogs. However, they are not always representative so it’s good to hear someone from admissions define a typical day.
- Can I contact a present or past student? Obviously you can do this on your own via linkedin, but how else will you know the “inside story” and campus tips? If a school is unwilling to offer a contact I would be suspicious.
A last point is what the goals should be for you at the fair.
- Get insider admissions advice: Explain your profile and ask for tips how to position your application.
- Get a personal contact at the school. You will need a personal favor sooner or later (deadline extension, quick rule clarification, etc). With the business card of a staff member this should be not problem. Without it, very difficult.
- Get free and valuable interview training. Practice representing yourself within a structured and formal environment. I even recommend meeting with schools that are not on your short list for this experience.
- Identify schools that are willing to commit to your career growth. You will be able to feel if this is the case. If you find a school that you feel drawn to, this in many cases is a better indicator of your success there than rankings.
- Get clear GMAT/ testing instructions. There is much more to the story than what is stated on the website.
There are some very positive things about fairs, and that’s why I encourage candidates to go, and why I also attend them. My only criticism is the your personal data needs to be kept private, but that is true with anything these days, and does not invalidate the fair model. Use common sense. See you there!