Picking An MBA Admissions Counsultant

Picking An MBA Admissions Counsultant

15 December, 2017

 

Good admissions consultants can provide significant value. Many are former admissions officers to top MBA programs, professional writers, and/or professionals from your career of choice. Given this experience, they’re able to provide a variety of services including resume review, essay brainstorming and editing, interview prep, and more. But all that being said, do you really need one?

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Admissions consulting has grown considerably in popularity over the past 20 years; in fact, today, approximately 50% of applicants that enroll into top 10 business schools use one to some degree. Why has this become such a significant trend? And should you consider using a consultant as well?

Read on to find answers to some of your questions about the industry.

1. What do admissions consultants do? (and should I use one?)

Acceptance rates at top 10 business schools hovered below 15% in 2016, so it’s no surprise that applicants are looking for every edge to get admitted. Just as a taking a GMAT course or hiring a tutor has become the norm for all serious candidates, admissions consulting has moved into the mainstream as well.

Good admissions consultants can provide significant value. Many are former admissions officers to top MBA programs, professional writers, and/or professionals from your career of choice. Given this experience, they’re able to provide a variety of services including resume review, essay brainstorming and editing, interview prep, and more. But all that being said, do you really need one?

Not every applicant really “needs” a consultant. Consultants do, however, provide significant benefits. Professionals from competitive backgrounds like consulting or banking are able to learn strategies that will help them stand out from their peers. Similarly, candidates from non-traditional backgrounds (like the military or non-profits) can learn to tell their story in ways that will resonate with the admissions committees.

While a consultant won’t (and shouldn’t) do the work for an applicant, they do help guide clients towards applications that more accurately reflect their individual potential. Taking into account the significant benefits of getting into a top program, this has become an investment that many have decided is worth making.

2. How do I find the right consultant for me?

Today’s business school applicants typically find their consultants through either word of mouth or the internet (P&Q, GMATClub, Google). Unfortunately, there are some serious issues with these methods.

When using your friend’s recommendation – how do you know that your friend got into HBS because of his or her consultant, as opposed to despite that consultant? What makes you think that because the person was a good fit for your friend, that they’re a good fit for you?

The internet is even more problematic. Nearly every one of the thousands of consultant reviews on GMATClub are 5-stars; how can you differentiate the good from the bad to find the right fit for you?

While it can be difficult to navigate the varied options in admissions consulting, there are a few things you can keep in mind:

  1. Work with a reputable firm. Boutique and large firms both qualify, but make sure that they deal with a significant client load every season and have been in business for at least five years. If they’re making guarantees of acceptance or offering stats that seem too good to be true, that’s because they probably are; in that case, you should stay away.
  2. When considering consultants between firms, choose the consultant not the firm. Many people fall in love with the marketing of a specific firm, when the reality is that, particularly among the larger players, they all offer similar services. Your consultant will be doing all the work with you, so don’t fall into the trap of letting the firm dictate whom you work with.
  3.  Ask smart questions. You usually get a free intro conversation – don’t spend the whole time talking about your profile. Get deep into their qualifications and why they think they’re a good fit based on your background. You should be interviewing them, not the other way around.

3. How much do admissions consultants cost, and what package should I choose?

There are generally two major forms of pricing: “comprehensive packages,” which are based on the number of schools the consultant is helping you with, and “hourly packages.” Comprehensive packages are by far the most common, and a one-school package generally costs between $3,000 and $4,000 USD. While this is certainly an investment, you get unlimited support for your chosen application. Depending on how much help you need, your hourly value can quickly become significantly better than hourly support, which will generally cost between $250 and $300 per hour.

While some applicants will be more price sensitive than others, AdmissionsMarket surveyed nearly 250 people that used consultants in 2016 and found that the most common packages we’re 3 school packages. Moreover, in measuring satisfaction, many MBA’s displayed buyer’s remorse when purchasing school packages of 4 or greater (they felt there were diminishing returns) as well as hourly packages of under 5 hours (the help felt a bit generic).

Ultimately what’s “right” for an applicant is a personal choice that you must make based on budget, expectations, and how much personalized attention you are hoping to receive.

To learn more about AdmissionsMarket and the supports we provide, and to check out more insights from our survey, click here.

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Admissions Market
AdmissionsMarket is the industry’s premier admissions consulting matchmaking service. We work hand-in-hand with MBA applicants to connect them to the best consultant for them, based on their...