Tips for Visiting Darden

These are some tips for prospective students preparing to visit Darden. Given the unique teaching method at Darden, the class visit will probably be the most important part of your trip to Charlottesville. If you still need to register for a class visit, there are instructions on the Darden admissions webpage.

The following tips are based on my own experience visiting Darden and my experience hosting perspective students (about 5 students to date).

Use your student host as a resource – You will be paired with a first year student host for your class visit. Since most student hosts applied to several schools and were accepted to multiple MBA programs, they can provide some advice on how to choose between schools. Don’t be shy about asking your host which other MBA programs they considered and why they choose Darden. Some of us have really great stories on why we came to Darden.

Class visits are non-evaluative – As a student host, I can confirm that your class visit is not evaluative. Of course, if a prospective student does something completely outrageous (use your imagination), word could get back to admissions. But I’ve never heard of this happening. Having non-evaluative class visits allows prospective students to more naturally and openly engage with Darden students.

Participate in the section norms – Each Darden section has its own way of introducing guests. In my section we ask guests to introduce themselves (name, job, where you live) and tell an embarrassing story. Another section asks guests to select a piece of paper from a cup and then answer the question on the slip. Whatever the section tradition, participating will give you a flavor for Darden.

Class discussion is not a good indicator of student aptitude – Before coming to class, students work through the case individually and then with their learning team. The purpose of the class discussion is to validate individual analysis and resolve any confusion on the concepts. Students generally come to class with less than a 100% understanding of the case, as it is generally more efficient to tackle 80-90% of case issues in learning team and then rely on the class discussion to reach the 100% level. Therefore it’s expected that many students will come to class with questions on the case and concepts; this is efficiency not aptitude.

Be cautious about participating in case discussion – Learning how to productively participate in the case method takes time. Over the last three months, my section has evolved in how we discuss cases and some individuals have entirely changed the way they engage in the class discussion. If you have a question or something to add to the case, it’s probably safer to bring it up with your host after class.

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