Chris is a co-founder of MBA Prep School and co-author of How to Get an MBA, the essential guide to earning an acceptance letter from the world’s best business schools. He is a member of the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC).
Chris has 20+ years experience in top tier management consulting as a partner, managing director, and executive vice president. More recently, he has been focused on helping fund and grow promising early stage companies in the online learning and media publishing space.
Chris holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Honors) in Finance and Information Systems from The University of New South Wales where he graduated with First Class Honors and was awarded the University Medal.
Chris enjoys hiking with his wife, sons, and their Labrador, or sharing a good glass of Australian red wine.
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Below are reflections from just some of Chris’ recent clients:
Accepted to Harvard Business School
I had interviewed a number of different MBA consultants to help with my application and ultimately decided on Chris and MBA Prep School. When we spoke, he came across as knowledgeable, experienced, and I thought our personalities would mesh well. Upon interviewing consultants, I actually think I undervalued this last characteristic, which for me proved to be most constructive in my process.
In addition to all of the prepared modules, videos, and frameworks that he had on his site to help me fill out my application, I found Chris to be most valuable in helping me to think through the purpose behind my application/candidacy, which I felt in the end. For those who have not applied before, the business school application process can be wrenching not only from a time standpoint, but even more so from an introspection perspective. At least for me, it was the first time in my life where I really spent a ton of time thinking through whether this was something I wanted to commit a lot of time and money to doing. Through the written modules and our weekly conversations, Chris pushed me to dig deep into what mattered most to me, what I truly wanted to be when I grew up, and what experiences I’d had in my life that shaped who I was. It was in doing so that I was best equipped to reinforce my decision to apply and also fill out the best application possible.
After completing this extensive brainstorming marathon, Chris was helpful in picking out what he thought were the best stories and helping me to concatenate them into a cohesive story that formed the basis for my application and subsequent interview. In connection with this, he was able to help me identify the key parts of my story to reinforce during each phase of the process. I have no doubt that my application and candidacy was meaningfully better having worked with Chris and am very grateful for his counsel.
Accepted to Stanford, MIT, and Tuck
If you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work with Chris Aitken during your MBA application process, I unequivocally and wholeheartedly recommend you do so. Working with Chris was one of the most transformational experiences I’ve gone through thus far in my life. Not only did our time together end in my eventual acceptance to my dream school, Stanford, but also I’ve emerged the other end more confident, more directed in my career, and better equipped to take full advantage of the opportunities that will be available to me when I matriculate this fall.
I reached out to Chris in February as a hopeful Round 1 applicant. At that point, I had yet to take the GMAT and was only a few years out of college. I was also well aware that, as someone with no GMAT score to benchmark from, vaguely defined career goals, limited work experience, and relatively lackluster post-college extracurricular activities, my dream of attending Stanford rightfully seemed preposterous. And that is exactly what many other consultants told me.
But not Chris. While he was always realistic about my chances and never gave me false hope, when I told him I believed I could achieve this, at no point did he doubt or discourage me. Even come July when I started questioning my candidacy, Chris supported me not with lofty words, but with practical, insightful advice that helped me grow and gain the confidence I needed to continue forward.
Chris is the kind of consultant who truly cares about the individuals he works with. Yes, he has all the qualities that may seem obvious to look for — he never worries about the amount of time you spend working together, turns around strategic guidance and essay suggestions inconceivably fast, and truly knows how to help you craft your best application while remaining true to your unique voice and story. But Chris is so much more than just a consultant. He is a true friend who continues to give me guidance long after my Stanford deposit has been submitted. He sends me articles that he thinks I will find interesting, invites me to lunch when I’m in town, and continues to give his insightful perspective into my career choices. He is truly invested in the outcome of my life, and not just my applications. I feel fortunate to have him in my corner.
For those of you just beginning the MBA application process, I am jealous of the transformational journey you have ahead. I sincerely believe that Chris Aitken and the MBA Prep School team are the best possible people to take that journey with. They not only helped me reach my MBA goals, but also helped me unlock my true potential. I am forever grateful for their support and cannot recommend them enough.
Accepted to Stanford, London Business School, and Yale
Chris is a fantastic and marvelous guy. We had lengthy discussions on how to frame the answers and he never really bothered about the time we spent.
In this process, he ensured that we come up with the best answers. He worked well beyond his role of an advisor and a consultant and helped me more as a friend and a well-wisher.
Chris also prepared me well for the interviews and ensured that I gave strong responses. In addition, his coaching was insightful and effective. It was great working with him and I really enjoyed the interaction.
I applied in the third round deadline, yet due to Chris’ strong inputs, I was able to make it to my dream school. I would not hesitate to say that the credit for my admissions to Stanford GSB, Yale SOM and London Business School goes to him.
Accepted to Wharton with Scholarship
I was introduced to Chris by a friend, and spoke to him and several other consultants are various firms before making a final decision on who to work with. Part of why I chose Chris was his balanced (in my view) take on the strengths and weaknesses of my candidacy in our initial call. Compared to other consultants who dwelled on the positives, I appreciated Chris’s attention to the gaps in my application, and his focus on how to address them. To be honest, I didn’t leave that first call feeling completely optimistic about the whole process, but on reflection I decided that’s what I was looking for from a consultant – someone to challenge and push me, and therefore help improve my application in ways I wouldn’t be able to do on my own.
I was late to the Round 1 process (Chris and I first spoke in August), and Chris helped me figure out a sensible number of schools to apply to (3). In retrospect, having seen other friends’ experiences, I’m very happy I didn’t push to submit more, and equally happy that I made sure to get apps in to all of my “top” choices within the same round. The videos / materials / worksheets developed by MBA Prep School were also a real benefit early in the process. After our initial call, it was clear that I had a long way to go in creating a coherent “story” to tell across applications; the brainstorming and ideation exercises provided by MBA Prep School really helped me to bring forward the strongest elements in my background to deploy across schools and essays.
All that said, I think the personal dynamics really make or break this kind of relationship, and this is where Chris really shone. He certainly passes the “good guy” test, and – as I had judged from our initial call – was consistently supportive and easy to work with, while always challenging and looking to improve the final product. Most importantly, I never once felt like I had anything less than Chris’s full attention and commitment to my application – I might as well have been the only project he was working on. This was especially important given the short timeline we were working with – and frankly, time management was another primary reason I had engaged a consultant in the first place. Chris helped develop a clear timeline to manage the process of getting 3 strong applications submitted, and he pushed me the whole way to accomplish that goal.
This process is tough. Working with Chris helped me internalize that, and realize that all you can do is put yourself in the best position to succeed and then roll the dice. Chris helped me put my best foot forward in all my applications – and even so, there were some surprises and disappointments. In the end, I got into one of my three top schools; and I also got a generous scholarship. I’m happy with my outcome, and grateful to Chris Aitken and MBA Prep School for helping me get there!
Accepted to INSEAD, Oxford, HEC Paris, and SDA Bocconi with multiple scholarships
I knew the second that I hung up from my 30-minute free consultation with Chris Aitken that I would be comparing every future consultation to his.
As a bit of a nontraditional candidate – slightly older, atypical work experience, broad range of targeted domestic and international schools – I had decided that enlisting the help of an admissions consultant would allow me to market my unique story more effectively than I could do alone.
In that initial call, Chris highlighted his extraordinary sense of perception by drilling down to the essence of my story (culled from the limited questionnaire I had completed) while offering a multitude of compelling ways to position my candidacy. He also tempered his words with a healthy dose of reality, reminding me that my profile also presented a few pinch points that would need to be addressed. Energized by the possibilities and encouraged by the direct and honest approach, I knew even before completing a round robin of free consultations that hiring Chris would be key in facilitating and complementing my admissions journey.
Four offers (and a scholarship) on four applications later, “facilitating” and “complementing” don’t even begin to describe the experience of working with Chris.
First, Chris employed an extremely successful process of self-reflection and contemplation that enabled me to think critically about who I am as a person before even completing a school selection, much less starting an application. Upon completion, I found that I was both intellectually and emotionally prepared to begin the application process, and I cannot understate the importance of the latter.
Second, and perhaps of most value, Chris placed a high premium on my ability to truly internalize my future goals, both short and long term: defining, redefining, and understanding the process to achieve them. I was continually challenged to conduct industry research and connect with the recognized leaders in my field in order to synthesize and realize my future trajectory, and can now say that I now have more clarity about the path before me than ever before.
Finally, Chris is totally and completely thorough – I once joked that he was worth his fee simply because, as an American, he called attention to my oversight in formatting an essay into A4 for one of my European schools. Nonetheless, in each of my four applications, Chris ensured that I took real pride in the final product; I never once clicked “submit” without feeling that there was nothing more that could have been done to make an application better. It was unbelievably liberating to know that even if my applications ultimately proved unsuccessful that I would find comfort in having submitted such polished work.
Ultimately, my time with Chris was a transformative and life-affirming journey of self-reflection. I am truly appreciative of his time, talent, and investment in my success, and I eagerly look forward to begin the next chapter of my life in a top MBA program with the confidence of purpose that Chris instilled in me.
Accepted to MIT and Haas
Chris Aitken is the real deal. I applied to four schools, was accepted into two, and ultimately selected MIT Sloan because of the school’s strength in technology and entrepreneurship. A year ago, the mere thought of getting accepted into a “Top 5” was a pipe dream and yet here I am. Chris was absolutely instrumental in my application process – no doubt I wouldn’t have had such success without his coaching.
I was referred to Chris through my work colleague who had been worked with him and was accepted into a couple of top business schools the previous year. Before enlisting with Team Chris, I held a few introductory calls with other b-school consultants. From my initial calls, it was evident that Chris had just the right amount of realism and idealism. I felt that this approach really fit me. I never liked hearing that I could “do anything” but also didn’t appreciate people who saw me as anything less.
I started working with Chris in August and since I intended on applying Round 1, I was already fairly late to the process. For folks with busy work schedules, hiring Chris is a must. The cost of a great consultant/coach such as Chris more than outweighs the amount of time saved trying to figure everything out on your own. Although I was late to the process, Chris created a work plan for me and led me through the vast online resources at MBA Prep School. We did a ton of brainstorming and planning upfront, which paid off big time down the road. Chris challenged me to think critically about my story and helped me put my best foot forward for each application. Although I have a fairly traditional background (banking/PE), he helped me discover many “hidden gems” that I didn’t even know existed. Throughout the entire process, Chris was very engaged, hands-on, and detail-oriented. Chris genuinely cared to see through my success.
The application process is brutal and time-consuming but with the right coaching and advice, it can be strangely insightful. In many ways, the process acts as a professional “life check.” Looking back, I would say the numerous hours of conversations I’ve had with Chris helped me truly understand what I wanted to do with my career. I consider Chris to be a good friend and life coach. I’ve been fortunate to work with him and would absolutely recommend his coaching.
Accepted to Wharton, Chicago and Columbia
I want to write a quick note recommending Chris Aitken at MBA Prep School.
Though I hired him only on an hourly basis, I found his advice to be very impactful and have very high bang-for-the-buck. He did a great job pushing me to articulate my rationale for why MBA and to get more specific about what attracts me to a specific school, while providing thoughtful suggestions. These were the weak points of my application and he rightfully identified them and worked with me to close the gaps.
Chris took the time to understood my goals and worked closely with me on all of my essays. He went above and beyond: he got on the phone and spent extra time with me when he didn’t have to to make sure my essays were of high quality, and performed miraculous edits on a super-tight 24-hour deadline. He was also direct and honest. My first drafts were terrible and Chris wasn’t afraid to call that out and push me to improve them.
I applied R2 to HBS (long shot based on my age), Columbia, Booth, and Wharton and got interviews at the latter three and was accepted to all three! All in all, a very good working experience that put me on a path to good admissions outcomes.
As a separate point, I am a reapplicant. I used another admissions consultant from a major firm last time around and I can easily say that my experience with Chris was far superior even though I spent significantly less time working with him.
Accepted to Chicago, Columbia, INSEAD, and Oxford
A good consultant is highly adept at helping with editing essays. A great one is so much more – he is a mentor, a coach, an agony aunt, and a friend.
I can say, without reservation, that Chris is a fantastic admissions consultant. I would recommend him without reservation. With his help, I was overjoyed to get admitted to a top 5 school. But even if my application process had been unsuccessful, I would still recommend him.
Firstly – Chris genuinely interested in *you*. I interviewed 7 other admissions consultants before selecting Chris. Unlike others that simply delivered a ‘templatized’ pitch, Chris had done his homework into my background, and seemed genuinely interested in learning more about who I was on our call. This is critical because the more interested a consultant is in digging deep into your specific story, the better his ability and desire help you craft a unique message.
Secondly – Chris is approachable and balanced. Through the process, Chris helped draw out not only my strengths, but also my weaknesses. Because he’s just such a “good guy” it’s really easy to open up to him. This is absolutely crucial in developing an authentic, self-aware application.
Thirdly – Chris pushes you – hard. Applying to business school can be a physically exhausting and emotionally draining process. While Chris sympathizes with this, he doesn’t let you off easy. He pushes you to go through every aspect the MBA Prep School process (which in itself is great, by the way) and constantly drives you to conduct deeper research to better understand yourself and develop more specific messages.
Fourthly – Chris is aware and nuanced in his approach. A small but telling example – every time Chris came across a blog/article that he thought could help me – he’d email me its link. Another example – some admissions consultants conveniently told me that all of the schools were “pretty much the same”. Chris believed the exact opposite and drove me to understand the unique flavor of each school. Additionally, I’m an Indian applicant – and Chris, well, isn’t Indian. But his general awareness and ability to learn quickly was so high that this didn’t matter – indeed he served as an excellent bridge between my Indian mind-set and the culture of each of my target schools. In an environment where you’re constantly trying to differentiate yourself from peers with similar backgrounds, while simultaneously trying to demonstrate fit with your target schools, these little things go a long way.
Finally, and most importantly – Chris is highly committed and always exceeds expectations. Despite my hectic international travel schedule, Chris always figured out a convenient time for us to speak. Most importantly, I never felt like I could not reach out to him because I was using ‘too much’ of his time. Quite the opposite – he pushed me to engage with him constantly and we spoke as often as I felt necessary. His turnaround time for feedback was consistently quick – responding to multiple essays within 12 hours. As admissions deadlines approached, I expected his availability to reduce drastically given the pressures of juggling with several clients simultaneously. This did not happen. I don’t know how he managed to do so, but he always made time for me. Chris never compromises in helping me put my best foot forward, even if it meant going beyond what was ‘contracted’. When things unexpectedly get tough, you want somebody that you can rely on in your corner no matter what. Chris is that person.
The obvious outcome of my interaction with Chris was that I was able to get into a ‘dream business school’. But on reflection, I realize this engagement has had a more lasting impact – through it I learned a lot about myself. This will not only help me through business school, but life as a whole.
Thank you Chris!
Accepted to Tuck and Kellogg
It was an absolute pleasure to work with Chris, and I would highly recommend his services to anyone considering the MBA application process. His availability, domain knowledge, and creativity really are unparalleled, and I’m confident that I would not be attending business school this fall without his help. His dedication and commitment to my process stood out when compared to other consultants, and that was only after the initial call.
Even during an accelerated process, in which I was anxious to start writing essay drafts, Chris helped me to focus on building a foundation by interrogating me about achievements, awards, leadership traits, character traits, personal stories, and points of differentiation. He stressed the importance of process / structure despite a short timeframe, which enabled us to methodically build two applications with extra time to spare before first round deadlines. Chris was able to pull out the important points in my story and organize them into a succinct, logical, and holistic view of my candidacy in a way that I could have never done by myself. MBA Prep School has developed some terrific content, exercises, and online courses that helped me understand what’s really important to admissions departments and how I could best position myself for success. Chris leverages easy-to-use online software applications (Dropbox, join.me, Google Docs), which make for an efficient, collaborative working relationship.
Chris and I worked extremely well together. He’s got a terrific attitude and sense of humor that makes late night essay editing as enjoyable as it can be. His insights were truly valuable when it came to essay drafting and proofing, often enabling me to see the importance of what I thought to be minor points. I can only imagine what my essays would have looked like without his assistance. He truly does care about everyone’s application and end result, and this was clear when I noticed him making edits or logging into drafts at 3 am ET after I had updated an essay or finished a task. Even with a busy schedule, he always set aside more than enough time to focus on my application. Chris is a work horse who can operate at an extremely high level with strict attention to detail at any time of day / night.
Now, I consider Chris to be a friend and someone I hope any applicant has the pleasure of working with. Chris is worth every penny and he truly is the best in the business – you won’t regret working with him whether you’re applying to one school or six. Based on some of the feedback I’ve heard about other MBA consultants, it’s a no-brainer to work with Chris. Just give him a call, you’ll understand why quickly.
Accepted to Cambridge and Waitlisted at Stanford
Being an Indian candidate comes with its challenges and at the same time not everyone out there can help non-US/Europe candidates bring the best out in their applications. But after working with Chris and MBA Prep School I would recommend them to anyone who is serious about putting in a strong application to a top b-school.
Worked with Chris throughout my application process. Unlike a lot of other consultants out there MBA Prep School offers a very personalized experience, I talked with Chris many times over the phone as well in addition to normal editing. Despite the massive time difference he was always available and post editing the difference was there to see.
I did not have the best GMAT out there but with his help and planning I managed to get a Top European Program. The MBA Prep School online process is simple and anyone can use it without hassle. 24 hour turn around usually meant your edited documents were back in less than 24 hours. Chris knew the specific needs of individual B-school essays and that made all the difference. He knows individual B-school cultures inside out and brings that out in your application, without which a strong candidate too doesn’t stand a chance at the best B-schools.
I used MBA Prep School’s mock interview service as well and I have to say the mock interview was tougher than my actual interview. No aspect of my application or essays was left untouched and Chris made sure the interview experience was akin to the actual culture of the B-school.
Accepted to Columbia
I interviewed several consultants and would recommend any MBA applicant to do the same. Ultimately the rapport and personal fit between you and the consultant is most important as you will spend a lot of time working together and will need to be comfortable opening up about your strengths and weaknesses.
I immediately appreciated Chris’ fair, honest, feedback. He was comfortable being critical and asked a lot from me, but was always diplomatic when bearing bad news. For example, he convinced me to write the GMAT a second time, and rewrite essays numerous times.
I found the introspection necessary for strong essays difficult, but Chris asked the right questions to find great stories, recognize new value in my experiences, while rightly convincing me to disregard others. His advice was substantive, constructive, personalized, and actionable from day one.
It was also very important to me that Chris was always available to help, whether calling me from the airport after I sent him a stressed out email or pulling late nights as I put final pieces together last minute.
In addition to Chris’ consulting, the structure that MBA Prep School’s online platform provides was key to my success. They have effectively compartmentalized self reflection, and turned the application into a step-by-step process that is much more approachable then staring at a blank screen.
Also, Chris was able to leverage the expertise of the rest of his team for their school specific experience, and varied creative writing styles to help me get into my dream school.
Chris truly went above and beyond what I expected from a consultant, acting as a friend and mentor who was truly invested in my success. The value Chris provided far outweighed the cost. Because of Chris’ help I will be attending my dream school, Columbia Business School, next fall. But more than that, conversations with Chris helped me identify and solidify my long-term goals such that I am confident that I will get the most out of my MBA experience.
Accepted to Columbia
Working with Chris has been a fun and rewarding journey. I was admitted to my first choice program (Columbia) and never felt as excited about pursuing an MBA as I do today. Thanks to Chris, I have a clear vision of where I am heading and what I need to do to get there and I just can’t wait to get started.
I chose Chris over other consultants because his “initial assessment” felt like a well-thought-out analysis as opposed to a sales pitch. He had clearly thought about my case, before our call, and demonstrated that he understood my needs by correctly identifying the key strengths and weaknesses of my MBA candidacy.
I knew I had made the best choice from the very beginning. We spent the first couple of months working on MBA Prep-School’s structured program consisting of lectures and introspective exercises. During this time, we built a repertoire of stories, experiences, strengths, weaknesses, skills, and character traits that formed the basis of my applications. Right away, Chris proved to be sharp and to have a deep inside knowledge of all top MBA programs. He knows what matters most to them and helped me identify the stories from my life that best represent the core values of my target schools. Most importantly, this work shed light on the weak points of my candidacy, giving us the opportunity to address them.
Unsatisfied with my leadership and community service experience, he encouraged me to take action and launch my own community-driven initiative. As I fired ideas at him, Chris kept pushing me to aim higher, acting as a life coach in addition to an admission consultant and going well beyond the call of duty. In the end, I led a project that turned out to be an incredibly rewarding experience and made a great story in my applications.
When I was struggling to define my career objectives, he insisted I conduct as many informational interviews as possible and even shared his own network to help. No matter how many people I spoke to, he kept pushing me to talk to more, until we were both satisfied with my ability to elaborate on the details of my career plans. In fact, Chris helped me build a career action plan that I truly believe in and that really excites me!
Chris made sure that I knew my schools, in and out. This is so important and can easily be the differentiating factor in an application. Again, no matter how much research I did, how many students I talked to, or how many events I attended, Chris always asked for more. He didn’t settle for anything short of my best, and kept pushing until I got there. At the end of the process, not only did I know my schools, but they knew me!
All of the efforts described above made writing essays and preparing for interviews a fairly straightforward process. The general content and outlines of the essays followed naturally from our work. While Chris helped me find the best words and formulate my ideas concisely and eloquently, he never wrote the essay (or even parts of it) for me. At first, I wished he did more hard editing and writing, but by the end of my first essay, I was extremely grateful that he hadn’t. My final essay felt like my own and I believed in it, word for word. Having a coherent story that I genuinely believed in proved invaluable. By the time my interview came around, I was so confident about the story I was telling that I gained control of the interview and could steer it any direction I wanted!
Chris placed no bounds on the number of drafts or revisions. We went through multiple iterations of my essays and didn’t stop until I had produced my very best. Further, you need not worry about time management. Chris will make sure you stay on track and submit quality work by your chosen deadlines.
I would like to conclude by saying that Chris is a great guy and a pleasure to work with. He showed genuine interest in my stories and career aspirations. He was always willing to put in extra time when I needed it or asked for it. He was available for me during the weekends, including Sundays. Over time, he became more of a friend than a consultant.
I strongly recommend Chris to anyone serious about getting in a top MBA program.
Accepted to Columbia Business School
I only applied to one school, Columbia Business School, because I wanted to stay in NYC. On hindsight I should have applied early decision, but I was only ready to apply in December. Given that it was either Columbia or nada, and I had no prior experience in the application process, I was somewhat freaking out in early december, not knowing if my application was adequate.
In came Chris. I hired him based on other online reviews. Although I only hired him on an hourly basis (since it was already pretty late in the process), in a relatively short period of time, he gave me many great pointers in revising my essays and resume, to really tailor it to what top business schools are looking for. This was what I missing – I had most of the material, but did not know how to package it the right way. I was able to submit my application with much more confidence, and during the interview process Chris also was extremely helpful, with selecting the interviewer and preparing for the interview itself.
I got much more than I expected from my time working with Chris. Besides the MBA application, he gave me some very valuable career advice, on how to prepare myself for the career switch I want to make, even before school starts. Chris is an outstanding consultant, a very dedicated and caring professional who by the end of the process became also a friend.