After getting a good score at GMAT (740) and other aspects of my applications sorted - GPA 3.6/4.0 and a good portfolio of extra-curricular/charitable activities - I thought that the admission to top schools was in the bag. I soon realized that the biggest hurdle, however, was the application essays.
Not taking any chances, I decided to get help of an admissions consultant. After an extensive research I decided to go with http://ivymbaconsulting.com/
– a boutique consulting that impressed primarily because they were different from all others; they were:
1) exclusive - each consultant works only with a couple of candidates at a time
2) transparent - They had the admission statistics posted on their site (http://ivymbaconsulting.com/success-stories/our-success-rate
When the brainstorming sessions started, I realized how important it is to have somebody who knows the process, and has been through a top-school him/herself, to listen you out, and select the ‘most-likely-to-hit-the-mark’ stories of your life. My biggest surprise came, when one of their consultants reviewed my first attempt at the INSEAD essays; I thought I had written a great first set of essays, but Marina, the admission consultant, told me that it is not the way b-school essays are written. With limited word limit, the essays are not an exercise in creative writing but are a confined space for showcasing the ‘right story’ in the most succinct style. She provided feedback and reviews till the essays were perfected - sometimes taking up to five iterations - after which they were submitted to the Ivy Board - panel of experts who review the whole application to judge if it brings out a coherent and a compelling story for the admission committee. Then we incorporated their feedback as well; one of my essays was totally scratched, because they believed it could hurt my case!
The result after much iteration was a set of well-written, precisely worded and interesting to read essays, which really portrayed ‘my’ story. I am still proud of my essays and they gave me confidence for interviews and assessment day which ensued. I then had great help on how to interview. Itai, the interview consultant, a top-b-school grad and a director at a Telecom company, really explained how an interviewer thinks. The sessions with him really changed the way I approach my interviews - all types of interviews.
Eli, of the ivy team, advised me during the whole process, gave me confidence even when I thought I would miss deadlines and was always a phone call away for my silly doubts and queries. He is now advising me on how to approach scholarships at IMD (my chosen b-school.)
All in all, I feel like I didn’t have a consultant but a whole team behind me to help me get to my schools of choice. The amount of time and support that I received from http://ivymbaconsulting.com/
has just been phenomenal, and one of the best investments I ever made.