The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to: No
I first knew about Admissionado (precision essay formerly) when I submitted a candidacy assessment on the beatthegmat forums almost a year ago. Jon's response was candid and honest. Others gave me gibberish consulting jargon (which I am full aware of as I am a consultant myself) or basically told me I got no realistic shot at my target school. I was not buying it.
I believed I got the qualifications for the schools I was targeting and I could get in them. But, I decided to enlist an admission consultant's help because:
1) I have an atypical experience/background (I like to think!) for the programs I was targeting.
2) I had way to much work on my plate that I knew I would push the admissions essays to the last minute.
3) I knew the program I wanted to get into, and I wanted to do everything that I could do to make that happen. Go big or go home.
I wanted the admission consultants will help get the best of out of my background into a strong application, push me to get the work done early, and, well, give me strong guidance through out the process.
Admissionado was the first that I talked to. Though, to ensure I have the right man for the job, I talked to 2-3 of the bigger-names admission consulting firms but they all seemed inflexible to me, or even discouraged my chances for the schools I want to apply to. I didn't feel comfortable with any of them. I was about to spend a lot of money from my savings to work with someone over few months, I wanted to make sure I feel comfortable with them.
Through the initial conversations, despite the over-use of the word 'dudes' or may be because of it, Admissionado really seemed flexible, understanding, and, well, real people. Furthermore, they gave me a good deal in understanding of my situation; I had recently taken a 70% pay-cut when I moved abroad to work with a start-up.
Then, I started working with Dave Harelick who, as his profile describes him, ".. oozes MIT…" and he truly does.
They start with a general detailed assessment or questionnaire. When I first looked at the initial profile questionnaire I was a skeptic. I didn't understand why I needed to do that, but I did it. After a phone discussion with Dave about them, he helped me by drafting an "action plan." Basically, the essentials of my story. And, it was then clear why I needed that. It simply helped me clear out my vision and story; throw away the garbage, the clutter, and the unnecessary. Now, that I am preparing for the interviews, that action plan is a gold-mine.
We then talked about my list of schools. I knew my top school - but honestly had no clear idea about other programs. Beyond my top choice, they all seemed the same more or less. So - he helped me shuffle through my list and helped me eliminate many schools that I was considering for the wrong reasons or were definitely not aligned w/ my goals. (examples of not convincing reasons: INSEAD: "well, it is nice to live in France for a while." Harvard: "well - I gotta apply to Harvard. Gotta give it a shot!")
And, then the drafting begun. I soon realized that .. nope, this process is not saving me time. I was working waayyy too much on this. But Dave's feedback was warranted - I could see the significant improvement of the essays. So, yes, I worked on the essays A LOT. As you can read in other reviews, the feedback you get is not simply "this is not good." Dave really gave me detailed (and sometimes lengthy) feedback about the story. And, he was honest and clear about it (but not rude!). If it was too corny, he would say so. If he thought it is not strong, he would say so. Not only that, he will exactly, and in details, tell you what you need to do with it to take it to the next step. Also, you would hear him say "SHOW ME" and don't "tell me" so many times, you would think he's directing a play. But, really it works. Adcoms read hundreds if not thousands of self-praising applications - only if you show them how this self praise is warranted does your application stand out.
Now I can say that the content is all mine. Yes, the essays have been fleshed out, edited, chopped up, put-together, and re-written several times. But, they are mine, and they are pretty epic (if I may say!)
And here is my biggest advice to any person working through this process: you have to work hard to convey your story - at least to your consultant. Your consultant does not know your life, was not there when the story took place. If you feel he's not getting your story - then email him about it in layman words. If that is not working, call him up. And, with Dave, or Admissionado, this is simple - they are responsive and all ears. They just need to really understand what the story is, and then they can help you phrase it and write it.
I have not gotten any admits, yet. But I have just received my interview invitation at the LGO program at MIT. For y'all out there who're thinking about Sloan or the LGO, you would understand that getting the interview for Sloan and/or the LGO is them asking you to come out and seal the deal - getting the interview is more than half the battle. Consultants are a rare breed at the LGO program. Nonetheless, I have 4 years of pure consulting. In-fact, I went from tech consulting to strategy/management consulting over the last year. Further more, I realized that I had a missing period and a missing word that I inflicted on the essays in last minute changes after Dave's last polish, I still got the interview - which means my essays were strong enough that missing words and punctuations didn't matter (still- don't miss too much with your essay after a consultant worked on it!) Now that I am preparing for the interviews, I had a first call with Dave to give me general outlines about the interview process - and we have mock-up interview lined up this week.
I feel that the flexibility of Admissionado gives every candidate the ability to tailor the service to exactly what they need within the Deluxe package - but you have to also set the expectations right and talk to your consultant about what you are finding hardest to put together.
If you want to get in Sloan - you won't find any one more knowledgeable or helpful consultant than Dave. Despite the endless hours I spent online researching the school and the program, he always managed to send me a link or two about Sloan that left me thinking "well - this is awesome. how did I miss it?!" He's still very active within the Alum network and up-to-date on the happenings of Sloan. He's always responsive to his email, and has no problem getting on the phone on short notices (given it is reasonable requests!) Even more, he did go a couple of times beyond the 'four drafts' of the process to edit further revisions. Other consultants had told me that they won't put in more than a set amount of hours in the total process - and that included phone calls. Oh - one more thing - turn around was always very good and as promised.
Again, if your dream school is MIT and you are curious whether to enlist an admission consultant or not, I advice you to talk to Dave - you will immediately see clear the immense value that Dave will add to your application in any capacity you decide to work with him on the application.
And, if you are looking for an admission consultants to actually work with you rather than try to fit you in one of the molds they created, then talk to Admissionado - you will be happy.
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