If you are considering a Masters degree in business or management – whether you are still enrolled at a university and nearing graduation or whether you have had your Bachelors degree for a while – one of the best ways to collect information about prospective programmes and campuses is by meeting a representative of the graduate school itself.

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You should find that B-schools actively recruiting students make every effort to be as accessible to potential students as possible. This may take the form of a group webinar, a private phone call, or a face-to-face meeting right on the campus or during a school presentation in your region. You can collect information on several B-schools at one time by visiting graduate school fairs or events such as the Access Masters Tour when it travels near you. Plus, the Access Schools platform allows a unique opportunity to have online meetings with Masters and MBA programme admissions officers.

Type of graduate school meeting

Most B-school websites have an abundance of information regarding their Masters programmes, from admission guidelines and fees to actual course listings. After all, this is the university’s chance to make a first impression on you. But a two-way conversation with a school representative is really valuable in finding out important details and getting answers to questions not discussed on the website. In this case, you have a number of options.

Universities make every effort to maintain an informative online presence, so in addition to their website, where you can often find a live chat option, look for them on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or other social media platforms. You may find the school very responsive to messaging through these sites, and they might be able to answer your question immediately or give you direct contact information for the person that can. EMLYON Business School (France), just like many other, host periodic webinars, which are free to join and often personalised to the particular degree or industry where your interest lies.

If your need is more suited to a face-to-face meeting, check to see if your university has representatives that will attend an education fair, school presentation, or a social event near you. This is a great chance to talk to several B-schools at one time. You might find that universities’ websites, such as Jönköping University (Sweden), maintains an active calendar listing opportunities where you can meet their representatives in person.

If the actual campus is accessible to you, counselors or advisers will typically make themselves available to you for a prearranged meeting. Don’t plan an on-campus visit, however, without first making an appointment with a specific representative who will get you the information you need. Some campus tours only schedule you with a student representative who may not be able to answer the in-depth questions you have.

Regardless of the format of the meeting, there are some basic, but helpful, tips you can follow to make the most out of your introduction. Follow these, and you should be able to make a thorough, informed assessment of the university to guide your decision making.

Before the meeting

Your meeting with the B-school representative is your opportunity to put your best foot forward for someone that may have direct influence on the admissions process. So before your meeting, study the programmes you are considering, especially all the information on their website, and be prepared to demonstrate that knowledge to the representative.

Research the university and list your questions
Make a thorough list of your questions in advance. This demonstrates your interest and keeps either of you from wasting any time on unnecessary follow-up questions. First, though, make sure you study up on the B-school’s website so you don’t ask questions that can easily be answered there.

Clarify your motivation
Try to determine why it is that you are considering a particular programme and/or a particular university. Be prepared to present clear motivation about the chosen field of study and your desired career to the school representatives. This is often easier said than done, so it is a good idea, as part of your preparation, to make a list of factors that are the most important to you. In this way, you will be more confident in discussing your motivation for selecting the type and location of your studies, something many graduate school representatives may ask you about. In addition, this will help you develop a list of questions and establish a baseline you can use for comparison with other graduate schools.

CV/resume and presentation materials
Prepare materials in advance that present you as a candidate, most importantly an up-to-date and error-free CV/resume. If the meeting is online, send that information to the representative via email far enough ahead of time to allow him/her time to review it. If the meeting is in person, be ready to hand to the representative a clean, crisp copy. If you attend a career or education fair, bring multiple copies of this information to have at the ready. Some education event organisers enable you to upload your CV/resume on their platform in advance where graduate school admissions directors can access it at their convenience.

Check out: The Graduate School Search and Selection Process

During the meeting

Respect the rules
Once you have set a virtual or in-person meeting with a school representative, all the basic rules of cordial meeting habits apply. Be punctual. Respect the representative’s schedule and know when time is up. Dress and behave appropriately and as befits a Masters applicant and the code of your selected field of study, such as business, management, or finance. Some education events can recommend a dress code.

Check out: How to Impress an Admissions Director

If the meeting is online, find a distraction-free place and time to conduct the conversation, even if there is no audio or video. Some webinars will welcome you to voice your questions even if there is a live chat option. Make sure you can mute the microphone of your device to avoid disturbing the event.

Make a good impression
Above all, be courteous and respectful, and remember the old cliché, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

After the meeting

Follow up
If you still have questions after the meeting, or if new issues come to bear, reach out to the representative again for answers. Most want their candidates to be as informed as possible when they make their final decision.

Say thank you
If an adviser gives you one-on-one attention, a great idea is to send a thank-you note or email to him/her, whether or not you are still considering the university for your studies. And if they write to you or email you, be prompt to respond. You are beginning a lifetime of making positive professional relationships, and courtesy and responsiveness are important traits to practise.

Stay open
Don’t neglect emails from universities that you did not have a chance to meet. There was a reason they contacted you. They certainly like something in your CV/resume or profile, so stay curious and be open to all opportunities as you research the most appropriate graduate programme and school. The variety of Masters degree programmes available make your decision a bit overwhelming at times, but this is a decision with life-long implications, so choose carefully.