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Current Student
Joined: 17 Mar 2010
Posts: 36
Followers: 1

Kudos [?]: 11 [3] , given: 6

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BOOKMARKED
I found 'Essay Snark' (essaysnark.blogspot.com) to be the best consultant that I worked with. I have been following the blog (or blahg) from a long time. On reading his blog, I found that he has profound knowledge in the MBA admissions process and essay reviews. I purchased their Kellogg strategy guide as a starting point for Kellogg essays. I think that is a great resource and helps you structure your essays. Also he offered personalized advice even before I was a paid customer with him.

I took a comprehensive service from a "reputed" admissions consultant. After my consultant gave a green signal, I just sent my essays to ES for a sanity check before submission. ES literally ripped apart my essays -- in a good way though (that's what we expect from a consultant right?). He offered a page of constructive feedback on the essays and also in-line comments on the essays. After reading his comments there were many areas in my essays where I thought sshtt I should have caught this error or inconsistency (or even my admission consultant should have). Generally ES only offers one set of reviews. After his comments, I made significant changes in my essays and he was kind enough to do a second, third round reviews. He also reviewed my resume for free.

Extremely satisfied with ES, I also took his help with two other schools. I also ended up rewriting an essay completely and making significant changes to essays based on his comments (keep in mind the consultant that I worked with for these schools told these were "good-to-go"). After reading the comments/feedback from ES I was pretty sure that had I submitted the essays sent to ES for review, I would have received a direct ding.

I don't have any admits in hand right now, so will update you guys on how that goes. At least, I feel that I was able to put my best foot forward.

ES is an anonymous blogger/consultant. I never had any issue, though. His turnaround times were excellent. There were couple of instances where he stayed around late to review my essays.

PM me if you have any questions.
_________________

My MBA journey : mbafanatic.blogspot.com

Joined: 08 Oct 2011
Posts: 61
Followers: 3

Kudos [?]: 15 [3] , given: 0

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Expert's post
I don't normally respond to reviews online, but in this case I feel it is necessary. Yes, I did email this client and asked him to remove his post, because it contained information that was either untrue or misleading.

Namely:

1. The idea that I would supply him with his career goals. I would never do this, as it is unethical. We coach people to get the best out of them (read any of our verified reviews and you will see this is a staple), we guide them towards their passion as those make for authentic and powerful essays, and we make sure that the goals they do arrive at are vetted and appropriate for the pursuit of an MBA. However, we do not create content. It was important for me to respond and say that I would never violate this ethical responsibility. Further...

2. The goal creation process was successful, as evidenced by the fact that this individual received an invitation to interview at Columbia. We prepare people for the interview process, but how they perform is up to them. He obviously did not perform well and as a result, he was not offered admission. The fact that this particular individual got the interview to Columbia was, to my mind, a huge win and something I remain proud of.

I'm not hiding behind an anonymous user name, so feel free to PM me or email me for any additional information. I'm sorry that I had to respond as I know it is a little bit lame when consultants get involved in the proceedings, but the risk of remaining cool and above the fray is totally offset by the risk of having our reputation for ethical work compromised.

Respectfully,
Current Student
Joined: 12 Oct 2011
Posts: 36
Schools: HBS '15 (M)
GMAT 1: 760 Q49 V45
GPA: 3.94
Followers: 6

Kudos [?]: 47 [3] , given: 0

3
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After enjoying a relaxing holiday break where I could finally stop worrying about b-school admissions, I thought I’d share my experience with the admissions consultants with whom I interacted during my application process.

As background, I am an American with work experience in consulting and private equity. I applied to HBS, Stanford, and Kellogg, and was accepted at my top choice, HBS. I got dinged at Stanford and withdrew my app from Kellogg once I found out I got into HBS, so not sure if I would have been accepted there or not.

I’m sure some people here are wondering whether admissions consultants are worth their high fees in the first place. I was initially dubious as to the value of admissions consultants, as I assumed I could choose the “right” schools and write reasonable essays on my own. And since I was coming from a fairly traditional background (“a dime a dozen” in the words of Sandy Kreisberg over at Poets and Quants!), I didn’t think I’d need help “packaging” myself in my apps. But I figured I’d check them out just in case, and am glad I did.

I setup preliminary interviews with several consultants. Here are my thoughts:

Alex @ MBA Apply: his best quality is he’s a straight shooter – no BS. Some people may not react well to his bluntness, but if you’re the type of candidate who needs a kick-in-the-pants to get moving on your apps, he could be a good choice. Appreciated his preliminary thoughts on my profile, but ultimately didn’t choose him because I connected better with other consultants.

they were my least favorite. Instead of a phone call consultation, they wrote me this super-long email evaluating my profile and explaining their service offering. Despite its length, their evaluation of my profile was void of much content, and in some instances didn’t make a lot of sense. For example, they said my extracurricular activities were an “addressable vulnerability in my current profile,” and that they could “help [me] identify the gaps and present meaningful leadership roles that require only minimal time and won’t appear expedient.” First of all, my EC involvement is one of the strongest portions of my profile. Second, I find it difficult to imagine any new EC I could sign-up for literally 4 months before R1 applications are due that would enable me to secure “meaningful leadership roles” but “would not appear expedient.” Long story short, it was clear that they had a template email that they dropped my profile into without giving it much thought.

my preliminary consultation was with Angela Guido, who then referred me to Akiba Smith-Francis. Angela was great, but our conversation was fairly cursory (that is not a criticism – that was by design). My conversation with Akiba was great – she was extremely articulate and clearly understood the nuances of the various schools I was considering. She’s also a published author, which says something of her writing talents. mbaMission was my second choice, and I’m sure they would have done a great job had I chosen to work with them.

I ultimately chose to work with Adam Hoff from Amerasia. I’ll go into more detail below, but it was a fantastic experience overall. In terms of preliminary consultation, Adam differentiated himself by demonstrating a clear understanding of the unique aspects of various programs (btw, this is actually more important than I realized), brainstorming unique and interesting ways to tell my story (despite my very traditional background), and building a strong connection with me that led me to believe we’d work well together. So I pulled the trigger on a 12-hour package with Amerasia.

Like I said, I had a fantastic experience working with Adam, and would definitely work with him again. Here are some key highlights:

Knowledge of the schools: One thing I came to appreciate throughout the process was how much Adam knew about the different programs. My original plan was to write fairly similar essays for each program, but Adam taught me the unique nuances between each program that I’d never pick up on my own. In some cases I used different stories as a result, while in other cases I simply told the same story through a different lens in order to highlight a slightly different aspect of my personality/professional background. This is a key part of the application process that I didn’t think much about beforehand and would encourage all of you to consider.

Idea generation: I thought Adam did a wonderful job of helping me craft my “story” so that it best conveyed my prior accomplishments, yet also set the stage for what I wanted to accomplish both during and after b-school. He helped me brainstorm strong essay ideas that revealed unique aspects of my personality while also being sure to demonstrate strong evidence of professional achievement. Because schools keep reducing the number of essays/word counts, making each essay really count becomes even more difficult, so I really appreciated Adam’s skill in this area.

Technical writing skill: first of all, let me be clear that Adam will not (a) tell you what you should write about or (b) actually write anything for you. If that’s what you want, look elsewhere. But I would caution you that doing so is not only unethical, but adcoms are also very adept at identifying false or manipulated applications. Anyway, Adam is an incredible writer. A lawyer by training, he is very skilled at structuring essays and communicating through writing. His input was extremely valuable in helping me convey the ideas I wanted to convey through my essays. In other words, the idea was always in my head – he just helped me write it in the best way possible. He’s also great at picking up grammatical errors, odd syntax, etc., although as a native English speaker this wasn’t a huge issue for me.

Response time: I have read on the forum that many applicants have issues with their consultant’s response time. Adam was always great in this regard – he always got back to me within 2 business days, and usually within 12-24 hours. He keeps somewhat odd hours – usually working really late at night – but I typically had a response back from him the next morning after I sent him an email.

Motivation: I didn’t really need his help to push me to turn in my next draft of essays, etc. But he was great at really pushing me to make my essays the best they could possibly be. He wouldn’t stop after 1, 2, or 3 iterations – we worked the essays as much as they needed to be worked until they were done. Let’s just say I was sick of reading them by the end of the process! That said, he also always let me know when it was done … meaning, he’d tell me to stop editing it! You can drive yourself crazy by endlessly editing those stupid things, so getting his explicit stamp of approval that it was ready to submit was very reassuring.

Working relationship: an added bonus of working with Adam is that he’s a fun guy! We talked about sports, family, and other random topics throughout the process. Not only did this help Adam get to know me better (which enabled him to provide more value advice), but it also helped make what is a very stressful process slightly less stressful. I feel like he and I are friends now, even though we’ve never met in person.

Final note: while I loved working with Adam, we didn’t always agree on everything, and there were times I elected not to take his advice – I knew my application was ultimately my responsibility.

Earlier I mentioned that I was initially dubious of the value admissions consultants can provide. I hope this review illustrates that I completely changed my mind on that after working with Adam. There is no way my applications would have been as good (or even nearly as good) without his help. If you’re considering using a consultant, I highly recommend Amerasia, and Adam Hoff in particular.
Current Student
Status: I will not be denied. Or waitlisted.
Joined: 20 Mar 2011
Posts: 80
Location: India
Concentration: Strategy, Entrepreneurship
Schools: Tuck '15 (M)
GMAT 1: 770 Q49 V46
GMAT 2: Q V
GPA: 3.5
WE: Consulting (Computer Software)
Followers: 8

Kudos [?]: 64 [3] , given: 13

3
KUDOS
**This is a long and in-depth review**

Let's face it - US business schools, especially the elite ones that you and I aspire to be a part of, have some extremely stringent acceptance criteria with an almost blackbox-like process to boot.

Before admissions consultants became mainstream (mainly thanks to the penetration of the Internet), applying to business schools was a lonely, nerve-wracking activity - especially if you were from an over-represented demographic like India or China. Nerve-wracking because you had no idea of what constituted a good or bad response to an essay question, or how to go about structuring it; Lonely because at the most, you had a couple of friends who had even heard about the schools you were applying to, and even then, they wouldn't have enough in-depth knowledge to help you write compelling essays.

I began researching MBA programs in 2005. At the time, the only ‘consultants’ I had were Montauk (‘How To Get Into The Top MBA Programs’) and Strunk Jr and White (‘The Element Of Style'). By 2011, when I began the application process, I decided that in addition to my due diligence (attending events, chatting with alumni, professors, etc) I could use the expertise and perspective of a non-Indian who was on the pulse of the admissions process – someone who could look at my essays from the perspective of the admissions committee and help me paint a clear picture of myself. And thus began my hunt for the ‘Best’ admissions consultant.

After two months of initial consults with 10 different admissions consulting firms – Clear Admit, The MBA Exchange, Accepted.com, Stacy Blackman Consulting, Forster-Thomas, MBA Crystal Ball, MBAApply, VeritasPrep, MBAMission, and Amerasia – I finally decided to work with Paul Lanzillotti at Amerasia. Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t pick Paul because he painted the rosiest picture during the initial consults; he didn’t. I picked him because we connected, and we connected well. My reasoning was simple – I need to not only be comfortable sharing details of my personal and professional life with my consultant, I needed someone who would push me, probe further for details, and not pull any punches when critiquing my essays. I saw all this in Paul, and over the course of our engagement, my gut instinct was proven right.

This is not to say that Paul and I didn’t disagree on anything – in fact, we frequently disagreed. But therein lay the beauty; every disagreement would result in us coming up with something far better than what we started with. We had different perspectives, and kept hammering at each sentence in each essay till we were both satisfied with it. Sometimes, simply flipping the order of sentences in a paragraph would work miracles. Sometimes, we’d scratch everything and head back to the drawing board. Some essays were born ready (took a couple of edits to finish) whereas others had to be sculpted and refined multiple times (more than 8 edits).

Paul’s knowledge of various schools is extensive; more importantly, he has a skill for converting life experiences into strong essays – and this is where I knew I was getting my money’s worth. There were experiences that I did not think much about, but were potential essay responses in his perspective – today, some of those have actually made their way into my essays for multiple schools.

Additionally, Paul was always available on call or mail, and would respond within a few hours at the most. He was upfront about delays (if any), and made sure that I had his undivided attention when on a call.

Ultimately, we worked together for 4 schools, and I was waitlisted at 2 of them. Since two of the schools were R3, Paul honoured his R3 guarantee and helped me craft 2 R1 apps this year. Additionally, I retook the GMAT and took extra courses to boost my GPA. The result? I applied to 4 schools and have been invited to interview at all, and so far, accepted at Tuck (and looking forward to the rest).

So is Paul/Amerasia the best consultant/company?
I can’t say; that’s like asking whether HBS or Stanford is the best business school – its really down to personal choice. Yes, he was the best consultant for me. Ultimately, its your application, and your hard-earned money that will be spent on a consultant, and you need to take a well-thought out decision based on the initial consults. I did my research and chose Paul, and did not once regret it.

My experience with Paul was extremely good, and I would gladly recommend that you consider his services when scouting for an admissions consultant.

Cheers,
MBAWanderlust

PS – I’d be happy to have this review verified by moderators.
Current Student
Joined: 05 Apr 2010
Posts: 99
Followers: 9

Kudos [?]: 36 [2] , given: 3

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transatlantiker wrote:
Has anyone of you worked with Alex, MBA Exchange, ClearAdmit or MBA Mission and could give me some feedback (via PM if you don't want to post here)?

My background is IB and I'm targetting some of the Top 10 schools (R1). Have already done quite a lot of work on my own but want to maximise my chances of getting into a top program.

Thanks a lot.

As I didn't have someone with top b-school experience to have review my essays, I hired Alex to be my essay reviewer. His turnaround time and commentary have been exemplary. I have interviews currently lined up with INSEAD, which was the only school I applied to. But I know that based on what I had written previously, I wouldn't have made it this far. He had to snap me out of a rut and he was good at that and knew exactly what the school was looking for and how I fit in to their profile. One thing on top of that was, aside from grammar and structure, the writing was entirely mine. All my ideas and thoughts - which are extremely key when it comes to the interview later because they need to be a coherent story. He had to jolt me a few times and there were several painful wholesale rewrites, but they were very important in developing my story, and he coached me through the whole process. Good luck with your applications!
_________________

Here are a collection of what I thought were my more helpful posts:

PM me and let me know if these helped!

Last edited by HankScorpio on 09 Nov 2010, 19:12, edited 1 time in total.
Intern
Joined: 16 Mar 2011
Posts: 6
Schools: Kellogg (Accepted), Wharton (Interviewed)
WE 1: Manager in Valuation/IB
Followers: 0

Kudos [?]: 3 [2] , given: 0

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Moderator's warning: User's first post. lower credibility.

Edited to add: I've been a long-time reader of this forum but didn't feel compelled to post until now. My review is legit. Feel free to PM me for more details. =)

-----------------------

I think an admissions consultant is invaluable in the MBA application process. First, my background. I'm 31, with 8 years of experience in finance, female, 3.7 GPA from a public university, and 720 GMAT. I'm looking to transition out of finance and into entrepreneurship.

In round 1, I applied to Harvard, Stanford, and Chicago without a consultant. I got dinged from H/S and interviewed at Chicago.

For the interview prep, I contacted Stacy Blackman Consulting, Sandy, and Amerasia. Sandy was booked up; I spoke to a woman at Stacy Blackman and Adam at Amerasia. The woman at Stacy Blackman was nice but I didn't feel we connected. When I spoke to Adam, he gave me pointers on Booth and didn't pressure me to sign up for his services. This was really nice, 'cause I had a million things going on and couldn't make a decision anyway.

Adam's pointers on Booth were spot on. Unfortunately, due to my crazy work schedule, I didn't adequately prepare for my interview (I worked until 3 AM the night before my interview). I didn't have time to get excited about the school and went into my interview with a lackluster attitude. Needless to say, I wasn't admitted.

In round 2, I hired Adam for his essay and interview services. I applied to Wharton and Kellogg, schools that he noted were friendlier to older applicants. Here's how the essay writing process went: I turned in a first draft for Wharton, he (very nicely and bluntly) told me it had to be completely re-worked. My essays painted me as unfocused, and my reasons for transitioning from finance to entrepreneurship weren't well-supported. It took about 3-4 drafts before I got it right. My essays pre-Adam and post-Adam were dramatically different; my friends commented that my post-Adam essays drastically improved. Here's what I consider to be Adam's biggest strengths in essay prep:

- He's very good at helping you organize your story and painting you in the best light. He knows immediately when something sounds wishy-washy and will help you re-work it. He understands the strongest aspect of your application and will help you highlight this.
- He provides solid advice on how to attack each essay, what to avoid, what to focus on, etc.
- Lastly, Adam is great to work with. His upbeat attitude and follow-up emails helped me stay on track during the grueling process.

On Monday, I found out I was admitted to Kellogg. I also received an interview invite from Wharton, with decision still pending. My only regret during this process is not hiring Adam earlier in round 1. I am so grateful to Adam, not only for his help in essay-writing and interview prep, but also for being a cheerleader, a great motivator, and for keeping me focused when I was being pulled in so many different directions. For anyone considering a consultant, I strongly recommend Adam.

Last edited by orangemba on 17 Mar 2011, 13:58, edited 1 time in total.
Senior Manager
Status: Current Student
Joined: 14 Oct 2009
Posts: 370
Schools: Chicago Booth 2013, Ross, Duke , Kellogg , Stanford, Haas
Followers: 13

Kudos [?]: 101 [2] , given: 53

2
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m7 wrote:
No, I did not have a bad experience and hopefully I won't, with the help of fellows here. Just read some bad reviews, some good reviews and then (in the same blog) accusations that certain good ones are fake... So I do not know what to believe and just asking for honest opinions (bashing someone for the sole reason of not getting into top school is NOT an honest post.)

I think the moderators of this forum are doing a good job of labeling the posts that come from people who have not yet proven themselves as trustworthy, contributing members. That's not to say they are fake, it's just a heads up to take the review with a grain of salt. I will add to that I think any review, even those from long-time trusted members, should be taken with a grain of salt, because one person's experience may not be the same for all. Most of the companies offer a free consultation, try calling a few and see which ones you feel comfortable with.
_________________
Manager
Status: Berkeley Haas 2013
Joined: 23 Jul 2009
Posts: 192
Followers: 1

Kudos [?]: 32 [2] , given: 16

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One more ....

mbastudio

Pluses-
Great book, helpful blogs, decent edits, 2 day return, to the point (no BS), great interview prep (Wharton), great guy to talk to for advise.

Minuses-
Paying for profiling may not be much value if you buy the book and do it yourself; not as flexible in editing terms and number of edits as other companies(my experience only), little pricey compared to other so called "boutique shops", not much ideas about stories or better way of putting things together (felt like mine was only pure edits)

Overall comment - I think you should do your profiling on your own and save on full package cost. Chose the 3 X edit package per school for edits (similar pricing to PE - maybe Avi will fit your needs better). Definitely worth every penny for interview prep (though I was dinged after W interview )

Intern
Joined: 27 Aug 2010
Posts: 4
Followers: 0

Kudos [?]: 2 [2] , given: 0

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Hi,

I am recommending the services from Natalie and accepted. com. I get to know Natalie through this community and it has been a truly grateful, pleaseant experience to work with such seasoned professionals. She have helped me to get into one of the top 10 MBA in the nation and I truly appreciate for her caring atttiude, energy and professional serivices that she have prepared me in this journey.

Natalie basically tansformed me from a raw material into a presentable statue. My background is Ivy League, medium-ranked GPA, 720 GMAT, 2+ yrs I-bankng experience in New York. However, Natalie not only help me edit the essays but also teaches me how to strcuture the essays into a presentable format. I truly appreciate her help.

Manager
Joined: 27 Jun 2010
Posts: 130
Followers: 1

Kudos [?]: 6 [2] , given: 0

2
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I have been looking for an admissions consultant for a while and from what I read on the GC and else where, I scheduled two calls, one with MBAMission - Jeremy and other one with Amerasia - Paul.
MBAMission. I had a 30 minute discussion with Jeremy where he basically commented on my profile, what could have been my strengths and weaknesses and he answered my questions. Then he asked me to send him one of my applications past year and we scheduled another call where he went through my old application, pointed out the week parts of my essays and potential improvement areas.
I like talking to Jeremy but if he told me that if I hire them I would working with another consultant from the company.

Amerasia: Before the talk, Paul had answered a lot of PM's from GC and he had given good advices / comments. So I decided to have a call with him too. before the call I send him one of my old applications and our call was similar to the one with MBAMission. Paul gave his comments on all of 4 essays on that application, and again pointed out the potential improvements in each of them. We had scheduled the call for 30 mins. but it took almost an hour and he answered all of my questions in detail. After the call he sent me a bunch of documents like sample essays , school guides, interview guides etc.

I am slightly inclined towards Amerasia (it is slightly cheaper and I felt very comfortable talking with Paul, I am not sure if I'll feel the same with the consultant MBAMission assigns me) currently but still not sure which one to go with. But based on my initial calls but guys seem great..
Joined: 26 Dec 2008
Posts: 2444
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Followers: 77

Kudos [?]: 541 [2] , given: 0

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blahblahGMAT wrote:
Av has an excellent point.. Try the 1~2 school package.. There are two advantages.

1. You will know how the admission consultant works..
2. You might be able to save some  by doing the others by yourself, using the information and research from the 2 schools you've applied to.. They pretty much ask similar information.

To be honest, that's what I encourage all my clients to do.

Signing up for a bunch of schools upfront (i.e. 4-6 schools) is a bit scary. As a consultant, I don't like it because it reveals expectations that the client may be seeing the consultant as a surrogate. Or a co-dependency problem. To me, I see admissions consulting simply as a resource - and not a surrogate for the applicant.

As a client, you should sign up 1-2 schools at a time -- and chances are, you won't need more than that. While the essays aren't exactly the same from one school to the next, most people are able to intelligently adapt essay drafts from one school to another. An applicant doesn't need a consultant on every school they are applying to.

My competitors can sell the 4+ school packages all they want (more power to them), but in my experience over the past 8 years, I really never saw the need for clients to sign up for more than 3 schools at most (and if there's additional help on the 4th or 5th school, it's literally piecemeal stuff that could be billed hourly). Again, most clients are happy with just 1-2 on a comprehensive basis.

Now, you may ask why I would convey something that on the surface would be against my own interest - but it's not. Quite the opposite. My reasoning actually makes a lot of business sense, but I won't say why because I don't want my competitors to follow suit
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Intern
Joined: 18 Apr 2011
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Kudos [?]: 12 [2] , given: 1

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Hi All,

If anyone wants mor einformation on Sandy (in addition to what Redjam has posted), please free to PM me
Personally I would give Sandy 3 or 3.5 at the most - he is good but he sure does have his negatives.
Intern
Joined: 23 Mar 2011
Posts: 1
Followers: 0

Kudos [?]: 2 [2] , given: 29

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Some moderators remove posts at their will and without explanation. Interesting....So sharing is not always possible here. I know this first hand. I posted my opinions about Sandy, Stacy, Amerasia and some other consultants and all was removed. Perhaps consultants have some saying in this? Very interesting.....
So what is the purpose of these forums exactly? Are we here for sugar coating, fake praises in a controlled environment or for an exchange of our honest opinions in order to help each other? We communicate through PMs anyway but new members do not have the advantage of reading genuine posts here.

Try the "beatthegmat" and see the difference.
Founder
Affiliations: AS - Gold, UA - Silver, HH-Diamond
Joined: 04 Dec 2002
Posts: 12770
Location: United States (WA)
GMAT 1: 750 Q49 V42
GPA: 3.5
WE: Information Technology (Hospitality and Tourism)
Followers: 2659

Kudos [?]: 12758 [2] , given: 3844

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Expert's post
m7 wrote:
Some moderators remove posts at their will and without explanation. Interesting....So sharing is not always possible here. I know this first hand. I posted my opinions about Sandy, Stacy, Amerasia and some other consultants and all was removed. Perhaps consultants have some saying in this? Very interesting.....
So what is the purpose of these forums exactly? Are we here for sugar coating, fake praises in a controlled environment or for an exchange of our honest opinions in order to help each other? We communicate through PMs anyway but new members do not have the advantage of reading genuine posts here.

Try the "beatthegmat" and see the difference.

I am the evil one who has been secretly removing your posts and leading thousands of unsuspecting gmat club members to their peril!

This is off-topic but I feel it needs to be resolved. I thought we have covered this, but allow me to elaborate:
You have not actually used an admissions consultant to post a legit review and that was not made clear in several of your comments (I had to read through a potpourri of your posts to figure that out). All of your posts have been saved by the way and preserved for the posterity in a moderator-only-access forum where we move questionable posts like these. I have issued a warning to you then and explained the reasons behind it. I am issuing the second now (this will suspend your account).

I have no intention of removing any posts or fanning the flames one way or another - everyone one should read reviews and use their head. There are plenty of useless positive reviews around the internet. This is not the purpose of this thread. I have not started GMAT Club in 2002 to be policing threads and to try to twist the truth. I know it may look otherwise sometimes, but I have a life.
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Founder
Affiliations: AS - Gold, UA - Silver, HH-Diamond
Joined: 04 Dec 2002
Posts: 12770
Location: United States (WA)
GMAT 1: 750 Q49 V42
GPA: 3.5
WE: Information Technology (Hospitality and Tourism)
Followers: 2659

Kudos [?]: 12758 [2] , given: 3844

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Expert's post
Gryphon wrote:
BB,

Would you be willing to disclose whether consultants have to pay a fee to pitch their services on your site?

GMATClub is one of the best resources out there for MBA aspirants and admissions consultants are becoming a more pervasive element of the MBA landscape. For those of us that aren't bankers/management consultants, the costs associated with these MBA consultants are not insignificant. It's somewhat disconcerting that merely because some of us can't afford to use a consultant we may not gain entry into a program while somebody of greater means, but not necessarily a better candidate will get that spot because they could afford a professional editor. I guess that's life though. It seems like everybody with an HBS MBA is in the admissions consulting business. In the end, MBA consulting is a rather inefficient, opaque market and I'd be interested in knowing whether the consulting companies that are prevalent on the site pay a fee to be here? If so, would that represent a potential conflict of interest? Some of us can only afford it for 1-2 schools and we want to make an informed decision to give ourselves the best shot.

As it relates to M7, I didn't memorize each of his posts, but I don't recall M7 ever asserting that he had previously used any of the consultants and had a poor experience. If memory serves me correct, M7 disclosed his experiences with different consultants based on the free diagnostic sessions that they offer. M7 was particularly pointed in his comments with respect to Stacy Blackman by telling her to address problems in her organization rather than make apologies. Ultimately, I don't think that M7 was ever disingenous or misrepresented himself as someone who had actually employed a consultant's services. That said, you've got the posts and I don't so I'm open to being told that I'm wrong and M7 misrepresented himself, but I don't think that he did.

Thanks.

Thank you for bringing this up. Allow me to happily clarify. I can assure you that not a single post has been removed or that anything has been changed to benefit anyone. I hope you realize that GMAT Club has been around for 8 years and it would be quite a waste of all that effort? I guess think of google who would start inflating the organic search results of paid search sponsors - they would ruin their reputation and nobody would use google anymore. I don't think Google would want to do it and neither would I - the benefit is simply too immediate and too small to warrant such shortsighted and greedy move.

Historically GMAT Club has had a very strict policy back in the day when any time a new consultant other than approved (Accepted, Veritas, and MBA Apply) would show up, they would be removed/banned/etc. I don't know why or how it evolved but that's what several of the moderators felt was right and I was happy to support this.

We have since opened up the Ask Admissions Consultant forums to ALL admissions consultants. We do not charge anyone to post/participate. That seemed to make the most sense and has benefited the community, though it has made the "Ask Admissions Consultants" forum a bit of a zoo.

We do have some real estate on the site to advertise and we offer that space to vendors including Google. It is not performance based, it is just placement and if a vendor wants to have exposure, they can get it. If 500 people sign up or 1, there is no differences. This allows us to fund projects and keep the development going and pays for several people's time including my own but if you take into consideration how much time I have spent/invested and keep investing and how much I got paid back, my hourly rate is extremely low, hence I have a real job.

As to the posts of M7, see it reproduced below. Here is specifically what was posted and I don't think that was posted in the spirit of GMAT Club or in the spirit of helpfulness. I frankly thought this person has had a very negative experience with her but in reality, he/she never have even used her services. I felt this was an unfair post and added no value compared to the hate it contained - do you disagree? I think one way do this post would be to quote/provide sources and perhaps links to reviews (maybe fix 4 spelling errors) - that would be a fantastic post. I contacted M7 and upon the exchange, removed that post. (I have contacted a number of other users who have posted/reviewed consultants with clarifying questions or asking to add more color to their experience. Sometimes to validate their extra positive review or sometimes to understand if a certain consultant had poor practices. This was the only time I ever removed anyone's post in this thread outside of spam, which by the way, we do not delete, just move to a hidden forum).

m7 wrote:
Stacy or Sandy? Neither, based on my encounters. Stay away from both.
P.S. Stacy, instead of replying to countless negative feedbacks on different sites with "wow, I am upset, why, I am good!", go and make serious changes in your firm, bad reputaiton follows your name everywhere. Then you can show that you really care as you claim and you would not have to write looong replies here trying to reconvince past (very unhappy) clients and convince potential ones.

Now, if you feel that I have inaccurately represented Stacy's services, do a search on GMAT Club, there are plenty of posts of various degrees (positive and negative). Here is one. I think that's a legit post and i have no plans to do anything with it. Just for the background, I have a very involved full time job (I don't live off GMAT Club) and a family which keep me very busy. I don't have time to mess around with a guy who has nothing else to do but complain and be ridiculous. However, I will spend time to keep GMAT Club free of trolls and elitists that I have seen on another forum in 2002 when I started the GMAT Club. PM me if you have any detailed questions - I am not a fan of mass-CC emails.
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I consider using professional experience in my application process: just like in case of GMAT or TOEFL essays, I want to learn best practices for structure/tone. After reading this topic thread my consideration is:

- consultants are not standardized products such as iphone (xbox, snickers bar etc), therefore each of us will have a totally different experience working with them. Therefore client reviews are good, but it makes sense to schedule a trial session and get your own impression. You'll work with a person, not with a gadget, so chemisty matters!

- many companies sell their own admission books. It makes a lot of sense to read those to grasp an idea whether this company services fit you. Start from there - for USD 20-40 you get a first-hand impression about the author/company + some admission hints.

- do you prework! If you're GMAT is 600 and you target Wharton (or you chose a name from Top-20) and your consultant did not address that issue during the trial interview... 'Houston, we've got a problem'! I mentioned a stupid example, but you've got an idea. A good consultant shall provide some insights that you did not even consider before the call!

Last edited by AN225 on 10 Jun 2011, 13:47, edited 1 time in total.
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Just finished up my MBA at Ross, so this review may be a little dated, but I thought I'd chip in with an opinion on MBA Exchange since it seems there are few opinions on here.

I worked directly with Dan, the founder of MBAEx and applied to 4 schools. I have a very non-traditional background (owned a painting company, and worked for a small niche IT firm). Had a 3.4 GPA from a Big Ten school, and a 730 GMAT. To say that I wasn't exactly lighting the world on fire with my resume is probably a pretty accurate statement.

My experience with MBAEx was truly fantastic. I'm not saying I wouldn't have gotten in without their help, but I am positive they substantially increased my chances of acceptance. From helping me accurately gauge to what schools to apply, to helping me craft my personal story throughout my essays, Dan was extremely helpful. I applied to 4 Top 10-15 schools, and decided to attend Michigan. I was extremely happy with my experience and would give MBA Exchange, and Dan specifically the highest of recommendations. I still maintain close contact with Dan, and he always answers emails or phone calls within 24 hours, and often much sooner. He was always there for me during the process to answer questions and concerns, and I am confident he will continue to be a close contact for years to come.

Please PM me or email me if you have any specific questions.

PS - Ross was awesome, and I couldn't have been happier with my final school choice.
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I want to echo Newton's comments above. I used EssaySnark for a free essay review. He (or she?) was very helpful - gave me excellent insights and also in depth analysis on what was right and what wasn't. Do note that a) there are no guarantees of each essay that is submitted getting reviewed and b) all essays are critiqued on the public blog, important information hidden of course.

Further, I have remained in touch with essaysnark over email for a few follow up questions around how to engage his services. He has been by far the MOST flexible person and someone I would have absolutely loved to work with. Alas, have already submitted all my applications for R1 and am unsure if I will be submitting anything in Round 2. Flexibility is evidenced in timelines of delivery, nature of engagement, enough details about what's inlcuded/what's not and then a LOT of follow up questions between us.

All in all, I have my money bet on EssaySnark as a more affordable, yet highly qualified admissions consultant. He is not a full consultant though, in the sense no phone calls. Only essay reviews although EXTREMELY well detailed - you would not need a phone call in that way.

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MBAapply.com Alex Chu's review
----
I just received a school decision so I can contribute to the forum by sharing my feedback on working with MBAapply.com guru Alex Chu.
A year ago, when I started an MBA saga, I was reading all available materials on the MBA program and the application process. Thus I came across Alex’s book "The MBA Field Guide" that literary covers all aspects of MBA application (by depth/quality of material I can only compare it with Rhyme’s guides). Later on I read his posts on the forum and came across his video advices on who to blow an interview http://mbaapply.com/interviewdonts.htm, so Alex appeared on my radar. Once I dealt with the GMAT, I looked for a consultant to help shape my essays (I had plenty of ideas/material, but vague understanding of the structure/selling points).

So, why Alex?
Uprightness/Integrity
First, I read this thread, shortlisted some names and then asked for free profile evaluation with four or five other companies. I was looking for an expert who can assist rather than milk me. Thus I immideately dropped all the companies offering crazy sliding schemes (pay for eight - get ten etc) – IMHO that makes no sense! If you are looking for specific experience and opportunities, you probably can shorlist three-four schools MAXIMUM! If your school list is more than four names, you are going after a diploma, not after knowledge/experience. Also, gone were the companies that work with fixed hours allocation as I had no idea how much time I would actually spend. I also deselected all canned evaluation replies. That is not serious: the cost of consulting is USD 2-3-xk and in many cases the only 'test' option for us to judge consultants is a profile evaluation. With such approach, I narrowed down my list to Alex and Avi Gordon (who wrote an excellent book on building your profile). Since Avi was on vacation and I really liked Alex's replies, I started with Alex.

Individual approach
Probably the only canned stuff I received from Alex was questionnaire. Apart from it Alex’s replies were up to MY points, customized and written in my language (in his explanations he would refer to realities of Europe where I live, not those of California where he lives)

Quality and patience
It probably took AT LEAST A DOZEN of iterations to get right my goal essay (I could not shape my ideas well enough). Alex patiently checked my corrections and reverted with advices. Note he won’t write stuff for you, but will explain what you need to think about, what will be better selling points and why. Response time was like 12 hours or sometimes even 2-3hr (Alex, do you have a life?

Fun
Alex has a very smart and often funny way of communicating, so you won’t be bored with "one size fits all" vague advices (‘be yourself’). In addition to application questions, I asked him on a lot of other related topics (job prospects etc) and received EXCELLENT advices that answered my points and also triggered some thinking.

Things to consider:
I worked with Alex via email. I don’t know whether it is his policy, but eventually I understand it is probably better than Skype – I have all valuable info stored in my mailbox and can access it anytime.

Unlike other consultants who advertise they will load you with schedules and be pushy, Alex won’t be kicking your a… (or maybe I was too fast working weeks before deadlines). IMHO, that is a personal choice – I think MBA students are adults who can manage their lives and don’t need a babysitter reminding ‘’it’s time to drink your glass of milk and submit that Harvard application’.

Results: INSEAD - accepted (prepared essays, CV with Alex; interviews - myself). Ross - interviewed and waiting (all prepared myself using experience working with Alex).
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Forum Moderator - This is my first post. Please contact me if you need to verify anything. Please don’t label it with anything less than its true value.

Edit: Verified; long time & legit member
-BB

I am a longtime GMATclub user – well, a passive user. Today, I decided to take my first step in giving an honest feedback plus some suggestions to other GMATClubber because there are things that nobody is seriously talking about.

+ Contact potential admission consultant – I contacted Amerasia, Veritas, and Stacy Blackmann.
+ Prepare a list of questions that you want to cover on your very first call (or initial consultation). Usually, this call is free of charge. You can ask as many “relevant and pressing” questions as you desire. But refrain from obvious questions such as "what are my chances". Come on!! Seriously@#$@#$
+ Be clear on which colleges you are applying to. Some consultants are familiar with the colleges so they can give more pointers on your research. For example, only Adam ( from Amerasia Consulting) asked me to look into some categorically similar colleges in Europe while others just engaged in conversation.
+ Be clear on the payment and promotion.
+ Discuss your weakness upfront. No shame in showing your vulnerability. Acceptance of your weakness is a door to surprising opportunities. Trust me on this!!
+ Discuss your profile in brief ( such as GMAT, past attempts, current role, future goal, etc) and get a quick feedback on the list of colleges you are planning to apply to.
+ Many consultants will ask you to fill the detailed questionnaire. Do so only if you feel that you need to send across your message clearly. Not required if you have not decided on the consultant.

Result : After much research and deliberation, I went with Amerasia Consulting. I got interview calls from most of my selected colleges, and have been admitted to few of them. But finally, I confirmed my place in HKUST. HKUST was my second choice. My first choice was INSEAD, but I didn't get an interview call. Oh! Well…

Bottomline You can take help of admission consultant for smoothing the rough edges. And if you decide to do that, I can personally vouch for Amerasia Consulting.

If anyone has any questions, shoot pm me.

PS : While looking for a good admission consultant, I narrowed my list to Amerasia Consulting and Stacy Blackman. Stacy seemed to be very pricey, which I was not able to afford anyway. And Stacy company works in group, but I prefer one person looking at my essays. So my rejection of Stacy , by no means, states anything other than my preference. And I was not really impressed with Veritas. Period.

Last edited by bb on 10 Feb 2012, 09:34, edited 3 times in total.
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