Decision to Hire Angela
When I first decided to apply to MBA programs, I had no idea how competitive I was, where I had a shot of getting in, or how high I should reach. While I had good stats (3.9 GPA from a top 20 liberal arts school, 760 GMAT), I worked in accounting for 3 years and I didn’t know how to differentiate myself from the other good applicants who were applying. I didn’t feel like I had a particularly interesting story. I was intrigued by the idea of hiring a consultant but, frankly, couldn’t fathom spending that much money only one year before I would be taking out upwards of 150K in student loans.
When I got an email from mbaMission inviting me to have a free 30-minute consult live in my city, I figured I had nothing to lose. I went in thinking that if a consultant would simply save me time – tell me things I could find online, save me calls to admissions offices, etc – edit my essays, and set a schedule for me, I would skip it. But if hiring one would actually increase my chances of getting in in ways that I could never do myself, then I would consider it.
In my 30-minute consult, Angela assessed my competitiveness at all the schools I was considering, helped me with my resume, told me I didn’t need to take the GMAT again (despite getting 70% Quant and 67% IR scores) and helped me with my “story” – my reason for going to business school and my post-MBA goals. I remember leaving that 30 minutes consult feeling already like she’d added incredible value to the process. I no longer had to stress about whether or not I should retake the GMAT or figuring out what schools I should apply to.
I realized that if I thought an MBA was worth the cost of tuition and opportunity cost of not working, it was definitely worth another $3.75K to have a consultant help me with one school. After all, applying to one school would mean perfecting my resume, my “story,” and, if I picked the right school, I’d probably be able to use the essays for other schools. So I decided to use Angela for one school.
My next dilemma was which schools to choose. I had decided to apply to Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton as reaches, Booth and Kellogg as fit schools, and Fuqua as a safety. And I couldn’t figure out which one hire Angela for. If I chose Harvard to increase my chances of getting in, I figured I could still end up rejected everywhere. If I chose a fit school, then I thought my chances at HBS/Stanford went out the window. If I was only going to get into my safety, then I thought it was worth using a consultant to see if I could get scholarship money. In the end, I decided if it was worth using her for one school, it was worth using her for all of the schools. And that $8K when compared to the cost of an MBA was a drop in the bucket, especially if I could get a scholarship that would make the consultant more than pay for itself.
Hiring Angela was the best investment I’ve ever made. I ended up with full tuition scholarships to Booth and Fuqua, a partial scholarship to Wharton, and admission into HBS. I’m not at all saying that I don’t deserve admission or scholarships at these schools, but I can say without a doubt that I would not have been this successful in my applications if I had not hired her.
One of the biggest values that Angela brought to the admissions process was making me realize how strong of a candidate I was. When I first spoke with her, I thought I was a weak candidate and that Booth/Kellogg would be a reach. I wasn’t even thinking of applying to HBS/Stanford. But Angela recognized aspects of my candidacy that made me exceptional and pushed me to be as successful as I could.
She knew what I needed to highlight in my applications. At the beginning of our work together, Angela and I had a long brainstorm session in which she got to know ALL of my stories, personal, professional, and from undergrad. Because of this, whenever we started working on a new essay, Angela was able to pull from my life stories to know how I should best answer the question. Throughout the process, I was amazed at the extent to which Angela was able to tie together stories from my life that I would not have pieced together. She was able to find themes that portrayed parts of me I hadn’t identified. For someone who believes she has lived a very normal life, I didn’t think I could put together an inspiring essay. But Angela got to know me well enough to find the things about me that would make me shine in the eyes of the adcoms.
As I wrote the essays, Angela pushed me to do what she knew I was capable of. We went through 12 versions of some essays. In the first versions, she would often tell me to scratch it and start over. While I’m a perfectionist and a hard worker, Angela pushed me farther than I could have pushed myself. She often asked for more insight into what I was thinking, what my motivation was, and what I learned in a way that helped me discover things about myself that I never would have learned without her. Also important to note is that my essays (and the rest of my application) were entirely my work. She asked questions and pushed me to success, but didn’t make direct edits or in any way embellish the truth. Still, looking at the end product, I couldn’t have written the essays on my own.
When it came to interviews, Angela delivered a workshop for all her clients with a really novel and refreshing approach to interviews. Then for each individual school interview, she helped me feel thoroughly prepared. She not only helped me come up with answers to specific questions during mock interviews but more importantly, taught me a methodology for how to answer questions, so I would never be stumped. She built up my confidence, which is perhaps the most important part of an interview. She even sent me a youtube video of an interview with a movie star so I could learn by example how to show in an interview that I’m human without apologizing. She taught me how to highlight my strengths without sounding full of myself. These are lessons I will take with me and apply to future job interviews, and I have even begun coaching my colleagues based on what I have learned from Angela.
One of the most incredible things about working with Angela is that I always felt like I was her only client. One of my hesitations in hiring a consultant was the fear that they would give the same advice to everyone. Angela’s advice was completely tailored to me. She also responded to my emails sometimes instantly. Even when on her holiday vacation, she responded within a couple hours to any and every question I had. She could not have been more devoted or available.
Coming from an industry where we track the time spent on each client, I was also nervous that if I got a package, the consultant would cut corners and try to spend as little time with me as possible. But on the contrary, Angela went above and beyond to give her time and energy. She pushed me to write more drafts of essays. After I was accepted to schools, she initiated a call with me to discuss my thoughts and offer advice on where I should accept. After I visited schools for their accepted students events, she reached out to me to hear how they went. I truly feel like Angela cared about my success and in finding the best fit for me almost as much as I did. She was there every step of the way.
For me, as a type A perfectionist, working with Angela also considerably reduced the amount of stress and anxiety I felt during this whole process, largely because instead of worrying over details, I trusted Angela. While I had been freaking out over whether to retake the GMAT, Angela said no, so I didn’t give it another thought. There are countless questions that you will have during the application process, any of which could cause considerable doubt and anxiety. Working with Angela took all of that away. If she said to use story A instead of story B I said okay and moved on instead of second guessing myself. Angela’s fees were worth it if only because working with her during this year-long period made my life a lot easier.
I can’t express enough how valuable Angela was in this process. My friends can attest to this as I can’t count the number of times I said to them “I don’t know what I’d do without Angela.” I’ve raved so much about her to everyone I know that my friends have already referred their friends and colleagues to her.
So if I had to give those of you applying to business school one piece of advice, I would say hire a consultant, and hire Angela. The value you will get far outweighs the cost.
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