Hi again Amit,
I think that the decision whether to use admission consulting services is very individual. I personally believe that it is quite possible to prepare a decent app without any help from admission consultants. Let me explain why.
As far as I understand, consultants can offer you help in two areas:
1. To create a holistic perception of your candidature (the thing usually called 'positioning').
2. To help you edit your essays so that they not only were grammatically and stylistically correct, but also communicated the right message - the very story that is the part of your positioning.
But in fact (1) is completely defined by your life values and professional goals - so all you need is to systematise the results of our self-reflection and soul-searching. In other words, if you understand yourself well and are conscious about what you want in life, you will certainly create a believable and consistent positioning.
(2) can also be achieved without any professional help. It's not that hard - you only have to make sure that your story a) is indeed a good story - the one interesting to read b) corresponds to the image you're aiming to create. I know that sometimes it's hard to be objective about your own work - but you may read your essays to your friends or people whose judgement you trust. They not necessary have to be gurus of essay-writing themselves - sensible readers could be of much greater help here.
The adcom see thousands of our essays, and they in most cases are able to distinguish whether your writing is genuinely yours. And I also think that in the end, they would prefer an app that is perhaps flawed, but sincere, to a very polished but artificial.
As for me - I'm by no means a great writer
, but I never used consultants or prep service at all. My essays had mistakes (and, naturally, I spotted them only after the apps were submitted
), but I still got interview invites from both my R1 schools.
But again, all this is only my personal opinion. The admission consultants exist for a reason; and there would not have been so many of them if they had not been at least a little helpful