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Admissions Consultants? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2008, 05:36
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Hi All,

Has anyone used the services of admissions consultants? I know that companies such as Veritas, Stacey Blackman and Clear Admit offer services such as school selection and essay editing.

If you have used an admissions consultant, what services would you recommend? How did your consultant help you in ways that a current student or alum could not help you?

Many thanks for any responses to this post!
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Re: Admissions Consultants? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2008, 10:22
Would like to find out more about this as well.. How much do they typically charge ?
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Re: Admissions Consultants? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2008, 11:14
There are many posts regarding this around the forum I believe, but I think most on this particular forum believe that all the resources you need to succeed are available on this website and around the web.

There are also some popular books that give a lot of great advice, which I am sure some others on here can tell you more about.

I personally believe that it's not unlike hiring a real estate lawyer to help you buy your first house, or an accountant to help you with your taxes. Yes, you can succeed in those scenarios without help, but hiring someone who knows the process, the ins-and-outs, and what the AdComs are looking for can make the difference. Their editing services, and advice can help you substantially if you are open to it.

Just make sure you use a service with many positive reviews around the web, and do you due diligence. Also, and most importantly, make sure that you keep your essays your own. Don't hire anyone who is going to write your essays for you!

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Re: Admissions Consultants? [#permalink] New post 09 Jun 2008, 17:49
This seems to be a popular topic every few months. In general I would say the vast majority of us on here arent necessarily against consultants but dont see the cost benefit of them. They cost thousands of dollars and I have heard far more complaints than compliments about them. The top consultants seem to cost the most and I have heard many people say that you never get the services you pay for...they use their reputation to get lots of business but often have more than they can handle. This will probably be even more true next year, if applications are way up the experienced guys will be stretched thin. Top companies will be pawning folks off on new consultants with no track record.

There are a couple great books you can read that will give you a lot of top notch advice.
"Great Application Essays for Business School" by Paul Bodine (does profile evals on this site)
and the bible for many applicants: "How To Get Into the Top MBA Programs" by Paul Montauk

Spend enough time here, interacting with current students, and those two books...and you will become very well versed in the application process. I know a lot of people on here helped review essays for each other last year. Chances are if you are an active member of this site some of this years applicants/class of 2010 folks will be willing to help you with their schools. I wont say everyone will get helped but if you become a significant part of the community a lot of us feel the need to pay forward the help we got from folks on this site with all sorts of things.

As for the accounting comparison...personally, I believed I could do the application process on my own without hurting my chances. Where as my taxes, if I screw that up I could end up getting arrested for tax evasion. Its not impossible, its just time consuming. I am firmly of the opinion that if you get in by using a consultant you could have gotten in on your own.
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Re: Admissions Consultants? [#permalink] New post 10 Jun 2008, 04:38
I agree with the guys here and I'd like to add some.
Reading lots of mba blogs of students and applicants to the universities to plan to apply to is very beneficial.

As far as consultants go, they can be hit-or-miss. I havent paid for any but I've gotten evaluation of my profile from several of them on different forums and many times they givecompletely different advice. One consultant said I should apply to schools in the 15th to 25th range and that top 10 would be tough. Another said I'll be quite competitive at a top 10 school and should reach out to Wharton. One consultant told me to emphasize my finance experience while another told me tech sector (I'm a career changer).

If you do decide to use a consultant, dont eat up everything they say, do your homework like the guys before me said and make the final decision on everything yourself.
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Re: Admissions Consultants? [#permalink] New post 10 Jun 2008, 06:06
Heres my input into the same issue :-

First research prsopective schools, and decide where you would be applying. Start noting down why you would like to go to school x and not school y , and write the reasons down. Also research schools based on where you wish to work post MBA, and what field you would like to work in, and start finding schools based on those intrests. Recently there was a post on Invst Banking and Mgmt consulting . There would be similiar posts in the archive too which may come handy to your research. Apart from that vault and business week do give detailed data on the B School, but its paid.

Also MBA rankings are deceptive, and not all top ranked schools are the same. Its a common mistake, made by many candidates to send the same answer to different schools with just a find - replace change with the name of the school. Thats an error, because an essay must reflect your understanding about the schools culture, and how you fit into it. No two schools are identical.

Also if you have a friend who is a native English speaker, and a graduate in English language, he/she can do wonders to your application grammatical review. Also keep note of the fact that American English is different from British/ Indian English.

Reg the content feedback, if you have a friend who has graduated from the school you plan to apply to , and is willing to review your app and give you his input, that is good enough on verfying the content .

If you can manage both ,and you clearly know why your applying to a certain school, and have researched the past intake and spoken to current students and alumni about the school , in all probability you wont need a Consultant.

But , if you dont have access to the above, and are not confident about your writing skills, and need a third eye to review your application, and also get input into the universities that meet your profile, please go for a consultant, as applying for an MBA in Fall 2009 will be extremely competitive , and applications are probably the most important aspect of the MBA application. But dont expect anythting more than an essay edit from them. They will in no way write your essays, and even if someone volunteers to do that always remember that your AWA is read by some school adcom they may realise its not written by you. I read this on a chat by Yale ADCOM wit prospective students.
Although consultant services are extremely expensive, but there is enough choice out there to make, from Veritas, to Accepted.com, to Clearadmit , to stacy blackman to MBAadmission.com, the list goes on..... Try talking to a few of them, getting a feedback on your profile,and work with one you feel most comfortable with.

Keep away from consultants who promise scholarships, and guaranteed admits to top schools. In these competitive times, no one can offer a guarantee. If you get through its probably because you deserved to be there, and put in that effort, the consultant can do little to secure you an admission. Ive had a lot of friends in India who pay a few lakh rupees , and get duped, or the consultant very well suggests safe schools , so that he maintains a 100% success rate. Beware of them.

Thats my two cents on the processs. I was also in the same dilemma last month, spoke to a few friends, who have been through U elite/elite B Schools , and a lot of what I share has been suggested by them

Anyways you may find this blog useful on App Consultants :
http://gmatclub.blogs.com/blog/2005/01/ ... using.html

Last edited by bhatiagp on 10 Jun 2008, 08:41, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Admissions Consultants? [#permalink] New post 10 Jun 2008, 06:11
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As for the accounting comparison...personally, I believed I could do the application process on my own without hurting my chances. Where as my taxes, if I screw that up I could end up getting arrested for tax evasion. Its not impossible, its just time consuming. I am firmly of the opinion that if you get in by using a consultant you could have gotten in on your own.


Hahaha.. good point River. I guess nobody is going to get arrested for putting together an especially crappy app to Harvard..
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Re: Admissions Consultants? [#permalink] New post 10 Jun 2008, 06:34
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I was interested in Admissions Conslutants too. I did some research and kept seeing a prominent consultant's company name {Left blank to avoid defamation ;)}. So I looked into it more. Read through their website, and surprisingly, I found an error on their website. I sent feedback via their feedback form and received the following response:

Email response to me pointing out typo on website wrote:
Thank you for your inquiry to XXXXXXXXXXXXXX. And added appreciation for your candid criticism regarding the glaring typo on our website. Duly noted feedback that is now en route to our webmaster for correction.

Despite our having made what appears to be a fatal first impression, we are still glad to provide you with this preliminary evaluation of your business school candidacy.

There are several encouraging aspects to your profile:
-Your insurance and financial services experience will be respected by MBA admissions committees.

[Email continues, but I only pasted the first few paragraphs as the email went on to try to get me as a client anyway.]


MY RESPONSE:

Quote:
I appreciate your candid response to my submission. I know that should a top-10 graduate school choose to admit me to their program that I will be successful. Also, I know the statement I just made is no different from anyone else choosing to apply for admission to these schools. Lacking such confidence would surely come through in the application packet and result in denial. I respect the information and analysis you provided me, however, I must take it in stride realizing that the sales pitch must point out shortcomings and weaknesses in anyone's background in order to justify the expense of your service. I believe, in the end, I will hire an admissions consultant; however, I cannot hire your firm. I appreciate you acknowledging the errors on the website and that such errors are unacceptable. I cannot hire a company to help me polish my image to a top business school when that company cared so little for its own image as to allow the mistakes I found on the website.


This particluar company started at about $2k and went up to around $6k. Sure, if you get into the Ultra Elite, that's small change compared to your new lifetime earning potential, but SIX GRAND!!! WOW. I totally agree with the prior post "If you can get in with an admissions consultant, you can get in on your own." It might just take you longer working on your application packet. Then again, how many hours would you be willing to put in if you paid yourself $6,000 to do it!
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Re: Admissions Consultants? [#permalink] New post 10 Jun 2008, 08:50
Personally, I think that admissions consultants are probably not a good idea unless you're really short on time. I recently had a conversation with a consultant from one of the prominent agencies, and was quite... surprised by what I heard from this individual's mouth. Anyone who's curious can PM me for details.
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Re: Admissions Consultants? [#permalink] New post 10 Jun 2008, 13:14
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The cost benefit just doesnt seem to be there. If you are unhappy with their services then you are out a ton of money, and worse off usually than you started. I have heard its pretty common for them to try to push people into fitting a mold of what they think schools want, if this doesnt work out right your chances are sunk. Also, a lot of adcoms at talks said they can tell who received professional help, not help from a buddy/relative who majored in english but someone who knows the tricks of the trade so to speak. A lot of very qualified folks use consultants, I know a few former bankers who used them in the past because of time constraints mostly and the money wasnt all that big of an issue.

A few companies I know provide a money back guarantee...to do that you have to sign up for like 5 schools and it often costs in the 10-25k range for those "packages." From what I have heard they also try to push you into a range of schools like most of us would recommend...However, chances are you definitely will get into your safety school which you would be able to get into yourself with a little bit of effort since it is your safety. They arent going to give that promise unless you are reasonable about where you want to go. If you apply to only top 5 schools and would be lucky for a top 20 they arent going to sign you up.

One final thing to think about. A lot of these guys advertise they are grads from top 5 schools. So even though you are paying lots of money for this, its still should be relatively short money to an MBA grad from a top school...obviously very few are doing this fulltime unless they run the company so you arent going to be their #1 priority...their real job will be more important than any client. I wouldnt be willing to lose a 125k a year job with 25k in bonuses all to make pocket change on my side gig. Also, the people running the companies are probably going to cherry pick the best clients to maximize their personal reputation. A McKinsey guy probably knows 20 potential clients for a consultant while some kid from a small engineering firm likely wont refer anyone or result in a lot of lost business like is possible if McKinsey guy doesnt get into one of his top 3 choices. So who is going to get pawned off on the less capable consultant?
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Re: Admissions Consultants? [#permalink] New post 10 Jun 2008, 18:23
Thanks all for your responses! I think I will utilize my resources and avoid the admissions consultant route.
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Re: Admissions Consultants? [#permalink] New post 11 Jun 2008, 09:26
Despite my neurotic and obsessive MBA research, despite all the questions I’ve posted, I still feel like I’ve been able to synthesize all the information and advice in a way that will eventually come out in an original, true to self application (as original this stuff can be). It seems like with a consultant, they will evaluate your profile then try to cram you into the respective hole.
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Re: Admissions Consultants? [#permalink] New post 11 Jun 2008, 11:38
If only to provide a different perspective, I would say that admissions consultants can be a help for people from certain crowded and competitive backgrounds. I get the feeling that people who take help from consultants and fail are a more vocal group than those who take help and succeed. Those who succeed probably dont want to dilute their success by saying they took someone's help while people who dont get in take comfort that somehow they weren't responsible for the lack of success.

To a large degree, people who are successful with admissions consultants are those who are already very well educated on what it takes. They are able to ask challenging questions to the consultant and basically GET more out of him/her than someone who doesnt understand what it takes.

I conceptualized and wrote all my essays. All the same, it was very helpful for me to get constructive criticism from other club members and some professional reviewers. The expectation should be to get critical feedback from others, not a cure-all from some one else. With the right expectations and considerable effort on your part, an admission consultant is a reasonable investment of a few hundred dollars, so long as you arent spending thousands on this exercise.
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Re: Admissions Consultants? [#permalink] New post 11 Jun 2008, 11:40
How many Admissions consultants are out there that actually charge only a few hundred dollars?

ncprasad wrote:
If only to provide a different perspective, I would say that admissions consultants can be a help for people from certain crowded and competitive backgrounds. I get the feeling that people who take help from consultants and fail are a more vocal group than those who take help and succeed. Those who succeed probably dont want to dilute their success by saying they took someone's help while people who dont get in take comfort that somehow they weren't responsible for the lack of success.

To a large degree, people who are successful with admissions consultants are those who are already very well educated on what it takes. They are able to ask challenging questions to the consultant and basically GET more out of him/her than someone who doesnt understand what it takes.

I conceptualized and wrote all my essays. All the same, it was very helpful for me to get constructive criticism from other club members and some professional reviewers. The expectation should be to get critical feedback from others, not a cure-all from some one else. With the right expectations and considerable effort on your part, an admission consultant is a reasonable investment of a few hundred dollars, so long as you arent spending thousands on this exercise.
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Re: Admissions Consultants? [#permalink] New post 11 Jun 2008, 11:43
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rhyme, for one. And how about me? I will review your essays for a few bucks. :-D

If you want a great, commercial consultant, PM me. I prefer not to name names on this forum. If you PM me, I will still have to check with the person in question before I give out the name. Basically he charged me a total of $400 for 4 broad essay topics which was all I needed to apply to all my schools, give or take a few essays. Mind you - it was more strategic feedback than style/grammar correction or essay editing.

jallenmorris wrote:
How many Admissions consultants are out there that actually charge only a few hundred dollars?
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Re: Admissions Consultants? [#permalink] New post 12 Jun 2008, 06:08
haha, I'm sure you guys can bribe some of us GMATClub regulars with much less money to help you out a little. We are all becoming unemployed very soon :P
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Re: Admissions Consultants? [#permalink] New post 15 Jun 2008, 03:29
Hey jallenmorris,

Out of interest, what was the error you found on the website? Was it a simply typing error or reference error, or a serious mistake?
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Re: Admissions Consultants? [#permalink] New post 15 Jun 2008, 06:21
I went back trying to find the email I sent to them, but I think I just sent it via their website. I do not remember precisely what the error was, but I think it was something like a typo. It wasn't something I had to think about for a while to determine it was incorrect. It was obvious from just reading it that it was incorrect. In my opinion, a typo is a serious mistake. I wouldn't spend $1950 (their minimum) to hire them when they might overlook a typo.

BSchoolorBust wrote:
Hey jallenmorris,

Out of interest, what was the error you found on the website? Was it a simply typing error or reference error, or a serious mistake?

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Re: Admissions Consultants? [#permalink] New post 15 Jun 2008, 20:24
Thanks janllenmorris. I was thinking about getting an Admissions Consultant, but given the comments here I don't think I will now. Also, the price is simply ridiculous.

There is an essay editing service at The University of Melbourne (where I studied) and they charge A$50 (US$45 approx) an hour. I will most likely make use of this instead ... it's not a specialist MBA essay editing service though (just general editing service for grammar, flow, etc). I figure my essays for one school would take 3 hours to edit (at most!).
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Re: Admissions Consultants? [#permalink] New post 16 Jun 2008, 16:59
An issue that comes up quite regularly is the following: some applicants have gotten into schools that consultants told them would be almost impossible for them to get into. There are a couple of possible interpretations on this:

a) The consultant makes the evaluation based on a standard profile written by the applicant. Either the applicant fails to convey the factors that will make him a better candidate or the consultant fails to identify a competitive profile.

OR

b) The consultant wants the applicant to have better odds so that (s)he can market his services based on a great admissions rate. For eg: let's say you have a decent chance of getting into an Ultra Elite if you apply to 5-6 of them. The consultant advices you to apply to only 1 Ultra Elite and leads you to believe that it's a stretch (your odds are really bad). He advices you to balance your portfolio with (maybe) 1 Elite, 2 Trans Elites and 2 Near Elites. You get into the Trans Elite with a modest scholarship and are really greatful with the consultant for helping you become a better candidate. You have no way of knowing that those were probably your safety schools.

One way to get around this issue is getting references from his former customers, particularly those who got into Ultra Elites (because those are typically reach schools for most applicants). Ask how the consultant adviced them to craft their portfolio of schools, how he responded, whether he was supportive of an Ultra Elite heavy portfolio or not, etc.*

L.

* The above is about admission odds and recommended strategies for the typical "I-don't-have-a-very-clear-idea-of-what I-wanna-do" career changer and not about how a particular school may fit someone's goals.
Re: Admissions Consultants?   [#permalink] 16 Jun 2008, 16:59
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