Dear Prep Professor — I’ve heard that 1/3 or more of MBA applicants to top 10 schools are using MBA admissions consultants. Is hiring an admissions consultant for the application process prudent? Will it really make a difference?
I am in my sixth season as an admissions consultant; so I am very familiar with the question you have posed.
At backyard BBQs or cocktail parties when a new acquaintance finds out what I do for a living, it is quite common for them to ask me a similar question to the one you’ve posed. Once my inquisitor gets over the initial shock that a profession exists to help people with their business school applications, they often ask me whether or not I think prospective MBAs actually benefit from hiring an admissions consultant. At that point, I finish the last bite of my char-grilled hot dog or take a final sip of pinot noir and set about justifying my profession. Here is what I tell them:
Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall
An experienced admissions consultant will help you to identify the qualities you possess and the experiences you’ve had that an MBA admissions committee will value. Through diligent research you will develop a sense about what the schools you are applying to are looking for. In my experience, however, applicants often struggle to identify their strengths and positive qualities from the inside looking out. An admissions consultant then is like the magic mirror in Snow White. Even if you are not the “fairest of them all,” your consultant will help you to see the strengths you do possess more vividly. If you recall, the mirror in that fairytale was honest to a fault, so, by the way, is an effective admissions consultant.
The MBA Application as a Medium of Communication
Once the consultant has helped you to pinpoint relevant strengths, your challenge becomes communicating those strengths via your MBA applications. While there are some similarities between a college application and an MBA application, there are just as many differences. An experienced consultant has expertise teaching his or her clients how to use the written MBA application as an effective medium of communication. He or she knows the opportunities and limitations of this unique mode of expression. Without guidance, many applicants fail to use the MBA application to its fullest potential. Doing so, is the secret to closing the gap between being qualified and being accepted. A consultant will provide guidance and feedback through the application process to ensure that you take advantage of every opportunity and create an outstanding application.
Appearance vs. Reality
Finally, the best MBA admissions consultants don’t make their clients appear to be more competitive, their clients are, in fact, more competitive candidates by the time the applications are complete. The client is more self-aware, has a convincing career plan, has persuasive reasons for why they are seeking an MBA, and can explain why they are applying to each school. Preparing MBA applicants to to succeed through thoughtful guidance and constant feedback is the ultimate value-add of an admissions consultant.
Thank you for your question! While it is clear that I believe in the value of working one-on-one with an admissions consultant, I also understand that not everyone has the budget or inclination to work with a private coach. Going-it-alone and succeeding is definitely a rewarding feeling. Then again, even the most courageous “do-it-yourselfer” needs blueprints and tools to get the job done.
MBA Prep School uses the latest online learning technology to emulate the experience of working with an admissions consultant for a fraction of the price of hiring a private coach. I encourage you to check out our suite of on-demand admissions consulting videos and power-tools for building a winning MBA Application.