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"Best" admission consulting companies?

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New post Updated on: 14 Sep 2012, 14:14
Hi..anybody has experience with ClearAdmit? Haven't seen any comments regarding that company in this thread..

I am personally working with them for one school package (super expensive $3500...) and unfortunately I dont think my consultant is giving me enough attention. We even omitted the deep brainstorming/outlining session about the essay (as stated in service agreement) and I was simply asked to start drafting right away. Right now I have drafts of half of the essays pretty much done (according to the consultant), but even my friend who have zero experience in MBA admission thought I should further polish them : (

I wonder anybody else has experience with this firm? Now as R1 deadline approaching, I am worried about the outcome. I dont know if I should solicit help from other consultants.

Originally posted by crunchykapo on 14 Sep 2012, 09:19.
Last edited by crunchykapo on 14 Sep 2012, 14:14, edited 1 time in total.
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New post 14 Sep 2012, 10:21
crunchykapo wrote:
Hi..anybody has experience with ClearAdmit? Haven't seen any comments regarding that company in this thread..

I am personally working with them for one school package (super expensive $3500...) and unfortunately I dont think my consultant is giving me enough attention. We even omitted the deep brainstorming/outlining session about the essay and I was simply asked to start draft it. Right now I have drafts of one essay pretty much done (According to the consultant), but even my friend who have zero experience in MBA admission thought I should further polish the essay : (

I wonder anybody else has experience with this firm? Now as R1 deadline approaching, I am worried about the outcome. I dont know if I should solicit help from other consultants.



If you don't need essay strategy then why didn't you use the hourly service?
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New post 14 Sep 2012, 10:39
vatsas wrote:
crunchykapo wrote:
Hi..anybody has experience with ClearAdmit? Haven't seen any comments regarding that company in this thread..

I am personally working with them for one school package (super expensive $3500...) and unfortunately I dont think my consultant is giving me enough attention. We even omitted the deep brainstorming/outlining session about the essay and I was simply asked to start draft it. Right now I have drafts of one essay pretty much done (According to the consultant), but even my friend who have zero experience in MBA admission thought I should further polish the essay : (

I wonder anybody else has experience with this firm? Now as R1 deadline approaching, I am worried about the outcome. I dont know if I should solicit help from other consultants.



If you don't need essay strategy then why didn't you use the hourly service?



I need the essay strategy so that's why I purchased the whole school package - I dont even need service on school selection/GMAT PREP..

but we never got chance to brainstorming together about the essay, even though I requested a phone call to discuss the outline and the phone usually ends within like 10-15 min...with not much accomplished...I believe this shouldn't be the case of a deep essay brainstorming session.
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New post 19 Sep 2012, 22:18

!
Moderator's Warning: - User with low number of posts. High potential for a non-genuine review. If you're the poster, the warning can be removed if you can provide proof of service to the moderator.

As the years pass, it seems like the application task becomes more and more difficult. Therefore, when I considered how to build the strongest application possible, I turned to Aringo. Very quickly I understood that I had made the right decision. The professionalism in advising, the ability to highlight the uniqueness of each candidate, and the unwillingness to compromise on the smallest details brought the longed for results. I was accepted to Wharton!
My consultant's amazing investment and fast responsiveness to all my requests and questions, and the most professional escort throughout the entire application process, made my dream possible.
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New post 21 Sep 2012, 08:30
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Yeah, I actually used Stratus Prep for my applications. I went through all the different free consults also (Stacy Blackman, Sandy K, Clear Admit, etc.) Stratus stood out to me initially because I'd be working with their founder, Shawn, who was actually a graduate of HBS (my top stretch school). I'd heard about him from a friend of mine, and read a couple of articles he'd written about getting into HBS in Fortune and Forbes, and since that was my dream school, it seemed like the best bet. It was definitely a financial investment, but Shawn helped me come up with an incredible strategy for my app that I don't think I would have pieced together on my own, and really helped me differentiate myself in the applicant pool (white male in finance---just about the toughest demographic these days). He did numerous rounds of extensive edits and comments that made the difference. Also, my job in finance (when I was applying) was super stressful and I worked ~14hr days consistently, and Shawn was helpful with scheduling meetings early morning, late evenings and weekends and was really responsive via emai -- To me, that was huge bc I needed someone as invested in the process as I was. Oh and his interview prep was really helpful too. His mock interview was really challenging, but was good prep for the actual HBS Adcom, which was helpful because HBS was a super challenging interview. I'm getting started at HBS this semester, so everything worked out for me. I've recommended him to my friends too. We joke around and call him "the HBS Whisperer." Haha. Hope that helps.
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New post 02 Oct 2012, 12:43
I'd love to interview some people about their experiences with different admissions companies. Good or bad. PM me if interested!
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New post 03 Oct 2012, 15:29
I went with Betsy Massar at Master Admissions. Had a phenomenal experience working with her on a few essays over the past month. Prior to signing up, I talked to several popular consultants but just didn’t seem to click with them. At the last minute I saw a good review about Betsy on this forum and we hit it off right away during the free consultation phone call.

I’m a non-traditional applicant, but she was really able to turn the technical parts of my job and my personal and professional stories into great b-school that made for great anecdotes in the essays (and even brought out my sense of humor in them too). The essays really turned into multi-dimensional stories instead of an essay that went simply from point A to B.

I see that several reviews from folks who had issues with turnaround times for their essays with other consultants. Betsy promises to turn things around within 2 business days; however, it was almost always much, much faster. Although she is a fantastic writing coach, her true value came in pointing out what part of ‘my story’ was unique and relevant to writing these essays.

She offers a free 30-minute consultation and then together you design a package that fits your specific needs. I used her for my essays, but not resume or interview prep (though I may ask her to help with some interview prep in the future). We designed an hourly package, but I will say she is very generous with her time. When I had basic questions (all via email) she didn’t start the clock – only when editing essays. So the back and forth brainstorming and discussions were free (although they were invaluable to me).

Also, if you go with Master Admissions the only person you’ll work with is Betsy. I didn’t like how you didn’t quite know who you were going to work with if I had gone with another company. Check out her LinkedIn profile/resume for her resume. Harvard MBA, Goldman Sachs, lived in Hong Kong, Stanford writing coach, etc. Though I’m not sure how, she also seems to know key folks at a lot of the top tier schools. I’ll have to ask her about that.

We’ll see what schools I get into, but I’m very happy with where my essays are at.

PM me if you have questions.
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New post Updated on: 03 Oct 2012, 23:08
sorry...delete this post...
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Originally posted by machichi on 03 Oct 2012, 17:43.
Last edited by machichi on 03 Oct 2012, 23:08, edited 1 time in total.
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New post 03 Oct 2012, 22:56
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I have been hearing lots of questions trying to figure out which consultants are the best. In my opinion there isn't any simple answer, but to help people make more informed decisions, I want to ask people who have USED consultant services to fill out this survey. Should take about 10 minutes! The focus is on what kind of client you are and whether they were the right fit.

Survey for Clients

In any event, share with friends so we can make this data really useful!
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New post 04 Oct 2012, 02:45
machichi wrote:
I have been hearing lots of questions trying to figure out which consultants are the best. In my opinion there isn't any simple answer, but to help people make more informed decisions, I want to ask people who have USED consultant services to fill out this survey. Should take about 10 minutes! The focus is on what kind of client you are and whether they were the right fit.

Survey for Clients

In any event, share with friends so we can make this data really useful!


I took this survey and was extremely delighted to see the high quality questions, and the pleasing design. I dont know how useful the data will be coming out of this, especially as I didn't see checks in place that ensure only REAL people fill this survey (eg: email address should be mandatory, although not disclosed, alongwith gmatclub/beatthegmat username information). I know my suggestion doesn't completely eliminate fake posters, and may even eliminate some who are true clients, but there should be a mechanism to check for valid entries.

Nonetheless, kudos to your effort - very well done. I am in the process of writing an 'article' on my experiences with consultants. I will post that soon, especially as the next few weeks are much freer as we all wait for interview invites :) cheers!
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New post 04 Oct 2012, 09:04
str1der wrote:
I took this survey and was extremely delighted to see the high quality questions, and the pleasing design. I dont know how useful the data will be coming out of this, especially as I didn't see checks in place that ensure only REAL people fill this survey (eg: email address should be mandatory, although not disclosed, alongwith gmatclub/beatthegmat username information). I know my suggestion doesn't completely eliminate fake posters, and may even eliminate some who are true clients, but there should be a mechanism to check for valid entries.

Nonetheless, kudos to your effort - very well done. I am in the process of writing an 'article' on my experiences with consultants. I will post that soon, especially as the next few weeks are much freer as we all wait for interview invites :) cheers!


Str1der--Thanks for your thoughts and ideas. I have gone back and forth about how to validate entries. I asked for people to indicate WHO they used so I could at least validate that that person truly worked there. I could easily go in and make the email address mandatory, but people might use an alternate email from the one they used for services. I'll add gmatclub/beatthegmat username since I could always follow up with people then.

Any other thoughts on validating the information will not go on deaf hears. Please share your ideas!

This is an experiment that I hope yields great results. If not, I may scheme for another way to get data. :)
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New post 08 Oct 2012, 21:30
machichi wrote:
str1der wrote:
I took this survey and was extremely delighted to see the high quality questions, and the pleasing design. I dont know how useful the data will be coming out of this, especially as I didn't see checks in place that ensure only REAL people fill this survey (eg: email address should be mandatory, although not disclosed, alongwith gmatclub/beatthegmat username information). I know my suggestion doesn't completely eliminate fake posters, and may even eliminate some who are true clients, but there should be a mechanism to check for valid entries.

Nonetheless, kudos to your effort - very well done. I am in the process of writing an 'article' on my experiences with consultants. I will post that soon, especially as the next few weeks are much freer as we all wait for interview invites :) cheers!


Str1der--Thanks for your thoughts and ideas. I have gone back and forth about how to validate entries. I asked for people to indicate WHO they used so I could at least validate that that person truly worked there. I could easily go in and make the email address mandatory, but people might use an alternate email from the one they used for services. I'll add gmatclub/beatthegmat username since I could always follow up with people then.

Any other thoughts on validating the information will not go on deaf hears. Please share your ideas!

This is an experiment that I hope yields great results. If not, I may scheme for another way to get data. :)


Good to hear your thoughts and I hope this effort yields results. I am posting a review on my experience with an admissions consultant below, and he's the same one I entered in the survey. So you have atleast 1 verified response :)
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New post 08 Oct 2012, 21:57
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Review - Elite Essays (http://elite-essays.com/)

Consultant - Bryan Shih

Background - The dilemma to engage or not to engage a consultant has haunted me for long. My endeavours last year to gain admission to a top MBA program did not bear fruit, and although I don't have any credible data to say that things will be otherwise this year, I feel I am in a much better shape than last year as far as my essays go. I of course worked on improving those aspects of my application that I had to work on, namely retaking the GMAT, strong progression at work etc.

And the sole reason my essays are in a better shape is Bryan Shih. Bryan runs Elite Essays, a niche admissions consulting firm which, believe it or not, is not known at all on GmatClub or BeatTheGmat etc. Strange right? I thought so too. There are a few fly-by-night operators out there in the admissions consulting world, so I of course was skeptical to even seek a free session with Bryan as I didn't have any reviews on him from any forum. Boy, I was wrong!

Free Consultation Call - The call was the best I have ever had with any admissions consultant, and I have spoken to more than I can imagine. Why do I say so? The key differentiation was Bryan's caring and warm attitude which set a comfort zone between us right from the word go. As the famous dialogue from the movie 'Jerry Maguire' goes, he had me at Hello - well not literally of course :) Bryan has a different approach to the free consultation - he reads through your resume, and also your essays if you have them ready, and gives you an overall feedback on a) your candidature in general, b) your essay themes, and c) asks you questions to determine what aspects you could improve upon. As most other members here would agree, free consultation calls seldom go beyond the usual resume screening, gmat score, and a sales pitch on services and fees.

We had a 40 minute call, and by the end of it I had an instinct that I should work with Bryan. I work in executive search i.e. assessing business leaders for leadership hiring needs at our client organizations. Hence, I chose to rely on my instinct as I deploy that on a daily basis at work, and spoke further with Bryan on how we could work together. He of course happily introduced me to a couple of his Indian clients, who had very good reviews of him.

Engagement - Bryan felt my essays were written well and that I had a decent flair for writing. Plus, he felt I had it figured out to some extent as to what I need to write etc. So he agreed to my suggestion that we work on an hourly model, focussing more on editing than the whole admissions consulting package. I engaged Bryan for the 3 session Lighthouse service (http://elite-essays.com/blog/3-session- ... se-service) which I found to be extremely cost effective. For those who read my blog, I had posted recently on whether you should engage a consultant or a consultant as an editor, and also on the whole cost effectiveness angle - especially for Indian clients like me who are disadvantageously placed currency wise. Bryan and his service offering matched my requirements excellently.

Review -
1. His edits were excellent - he ensured all word limits were met while not compromising any premises or themes
2. He is very ETHICAL - if he felt I was not writing or giving him the material that I should, he made it clear that he was not going to write it and that I need to do so. (before I lose my credibility, that happened only once and was more of a communication gap from my side than anything else. Anyone expecting to work with a consultant who will write for you, should probably take a reality check on their ethical standards. Shockingly, many Indian consultants do this for you - PLEASE do not fall for that trap!)
3. Fast turnarounds - very responsive in communication and always exceeded, if not met, proposed timelines
4. The best thing I liked about our engagement was his professional, yet personal touch. Very humourous person, writes to you as if you are a friend and not a client, and gives you a sense that he is truly aligned to your long term success than the short term one of just churning our good essays
5. Improvement: Honestly, nothing really. My engagement with him was very fulfillling. There was a small lapse one time, where the same sentence got repeated twice in the edit he sent back to me, but I wouldn't hold it against him at all - that was the closest he came to decreasing my satisfaction level, if at all

Overall - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - I am sure he will provide excellent value if you engage him full fledgedly as a consultant and not just for editing. Further, he is a journalism Grad from Berkeley and went to japan on a full scholarship. So he is very comfortable with international students, and I am sure Japanese students will benefit very well by working with him.

Disclaimer: I am taking out time to write such a lengthy review because I genuinely feel that those who deserve praise should be given praise adequately. Bryan is one such individual. He is not as widely recognized as other consultants here, so my review is also geared towards helping other GmatClub members gain access to, in my opinion, a high quality consultant and an excellent human being. In the interest of full disclosure - a) I engaged him on an hourly basis for editing my essays and NOT for a full consultation, and b) I have NOT yet received any interview invites, given where we are in the app cycle.
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New post 05 Nov 2012, 20:46
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I'd like to recommend Alice van Harten with Menlo Coaching. She has taught professional writing at Stanford and is very good at letting applicants speak with their own voice in their essays and not pander to what popular opinion seems to think that Admissions Committees want to hear. She'll go through with you and evaluate your stories and help you pick the best one to answer the question.

In terms of working with her, Alice is also very reliable and responsive. She offers 10-12 hour packages, but she is not a "clock-watcher." She also offers very reasonable rates compared to many other admissions consulting companies out there. Alice is fully invested in her candidates and demonstrates utmost care in crafting the best application possible.

Alice has a D. Phil from Cambridge and also used to work at Bain (and also received offers from BCG & McKinsey), so she's no slouch in the business department either.

There are many excellent admissions consultants out there, and I know everyone's experience can be different. But I just wanted to throw in Menlo Coaching in this thread as I haven't seen it mentioned before.

Feel free to PM me with any questions.
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New post 15 Nov 2012, 00:40
Continuing what Ward said about ALice - I think she is excellent as well.

I haven't yet fully engaged her, but she and Bryan (mentioned above) were the two individuals who provided a highly detailed free consultation which felt more engaging than any others I have had. With Alice, my construct was very different. Instead of the usual consultation, she and I did a mock interview of sorts as I had already submitted R1 applications. This shows her flexibility to help, as doing an interview involves a lot of time from the consultants side (25 min. interview I think), but more importantly, she gave me extremely useful advice for the interview based on how I answered questions, which were invaluable. Her going out of her way to genuinely help me instead of saying ok I did the interview, now for the feedback you gotta pay me $$$ was much appreciated, in addition to her flexibility to really do an interview instead of the usual, and sometimes boring, free consultation call.

I think she will be a very effective critic and will point out the right stuff in my applications - she did so during our interview and I felt she picked on the right things. Knows her stuff very well. What I also found intriguing was that she's British. What that meant to me was that I was getting 'international feedback' of sorts - eg: she said I speak a bit too fast - no one has ever given me that feedback in India, not even people from the US. Also, she graduated from Cambridge and has worked at Bain for a few years - hence, knows her stuff in terms of career goals and making them sound plausible, well enough as well.

As I mentioned before, I havent engaged her fully. I highly recommend you setup a 30 min call with her and figure out if you'd take a chance with her. I hope I don't have to do R2 apps, but if I do, she'd probably be someone I'd look at for advice.

Hope this is helpful.
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New post 01 Dec 2012, 18:38
Hi, has anyone worked with or heard of someone's experience with Deborah Knox (Insight Admissions)? thanks
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New post Updated on: 03 Dec 2012, 19:58
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parach wrote:
Hi, has anyone worked with or heard of someone's experience with Deborah Knox (Insight Admissions)? thanks


I spoke to her, but didn't engage her. I found her quite knowledgable and experienced. And she gave me some good tips during our initial consultation. She's also written a few articles on poetsandquants.

Personality wise, I just felt I gelled with someone else better, but I know she was on my short list for someone to hire. Also, she only does hourly billing, and I was worried that would get too expensive.

Originally posted by Ward2012 on 03 Dec 2012, 12:18.
Last edited by Ward2012 on 03 Dec 2012, 19:58, edited 1 time in total.
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New post 03 Dec 2012, 19:56
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I wanted to post my review with Adam from AmeriAsia Consulting. I had actually hired Adam a year ago to help me with an essay for a Masters in Finance program. I thought his writing was excellent which is why I decided to hire him for my Columbia application.

Also I know this is my first post so it may not look like I have a lot of credibility. However I can provide copies of my receipts from Adam and AmeriAsia for proof if you'd like. Please feel free to PM me.

Overall there were strengths and weaknesses to Adam's help but I would not recommend him to anybody looking for a consultant.

I'll start with the PROS:
- his writing his excellent, one of the best writers I've come across in a long time
- his response time to emails and questions are extremely quick. He's turned around emails and essays for me within 24-48 hours as promised. However I did apply early (I started in the summer) which may have helped since not too many people had hired consultants yet.

Now the CON:
- the biggest con was him helping me position my career goals essay. He asked me what my passion was and we ended up going from there. At first I found it difficult to tie into my work experience and educational background but I trusted his expertise and I felt that this is where it fell apart. I was invited to an interview with Columbia but was dinged because I just had a hard time coming across as convincing that the career goal we had crafted would be a feasible choice post-MBA. I know it is my fault for not sounding 100% convincing to the interviewer that I'm able to do what I claim to do in my career goals essay but I really thought Adam should have steered me in a different direction. In fact I even brought up the idea that we were going in a wrong direction early on while we were working on the essay but I think because we had already invested so much time he didn't want to change directions.

I ended up hiring two other consultants for two other schools. One was a former admissions director for Cornell so that was a no-brainer...I hired her for Cornell R1. The third was a guy that helped get my friend into Wharton. He actually helped me craft a career goals essay that I felt was much more in tune with Business School applications. I'm still waiting to hear back from both schools. Both of them have their own pluses and minuses as well but I can get into that in another post.

Also, if you're looking to hire an admissions consultant, the best advice I can give you is to work your ass off on the essays first and then send it to a bunch of different consultants to get quotes on how much it would cost to review and edit your essays. I made the early mistake of paying $2900 for a single school package with AmeriAsia. I used what I learned from that application package to write my essays for my other schools and I sent it to those consultants to get a quote. The one for Cornell came back at $960 and the one for Wharton was $1000. There's really no need to use the consultants for anything else besides the essays (well maybe the interview but you can get the questions off the Clear Admit Wiki).

I'm done rambling for now. Cliff notes:
- I wouldn't recommend AmeriAsia other than to help you with your writing
- Work on your essays first and do your research. Save yourself money and don't pay for the "1-school" package. Just send them your essays and ask for a quote. Remember that they're competing for your business too.
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New post 04 Dec 2012, 02:15
Thanks for sharing your experience in details, sneakoner. Keen to hear about your experience with the other two consultants when you're ready to share.
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New post 04 Dec 2012, 06:08
2
Adam actually sent me an email asking me to take down my post. I'm not trying to slander or defame him or his company - I'm simply sharing my own experiences with the whole process. He'll probably be posting the work he did on my essays to defend him and his company with before and after samples. He does the good work when it comes to editing and writing - like I said earlier he's one of the best writers I've seen. However, I just felt that a better consultant would have marketed me in a better light by tying my career goals more in line with my work experience and educational background.

The following are lessons I learned from hiring consultants:

1. Don't buy the 1-school package (or 2- or 3- school). The weight of the application comes from the essays. Even if you do buy the full-package most of the work the consultant does will be with the essays. I thought they were going to help me with the Extracurricular Activity Section but according to consultants the admissions committee views the Extracurricular Activity Section as a laundry list of items and doesn't put to much weight on it.

2. Don't be afraid to negotiate for better prices. I was scared in the beginning, thinking if I tried to haggle then the consultant may spend less time and effort on my app.

3. Do most of the work yourself first. Don't leave it to the hands of the consultant, no matter how good they are they won't be able to help you if you're not well prepared. Write as much of the Essays and Resume as possible and then send it out to a bunch of different consultants asking for how much work they think you need.

4. Don't fall for the old "my client list is filling up fast - I need you to sign up ASAP". Sign up for a consultant when you feel ready. Even if their client list does fill up, there are a ton of others out there that are just as competent. I fell into this trap early on.

5. Ask consultants for before and after samples of their work to get an idea of how in-depth their editing is. Some will completely re-vamp your work while others will just do small edits here and there.

6. I honestly think the most important essay is the Career Goals. Do everything you can to make sure your goal is in line with your background and that everything makes sense. I seriously wonder if anyone ever got dinged because they didn't fail hard enough in their failure essay or if their personal accomplishment wasn't grand enough. But I'm pretty sure if your goal doesn't make sense then you're out of luck.
GMAT Club Bot
Re: "Best" admission consulting companies?   [#permalink] 04 Dec 2012, 06:08

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