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Senior Manager
Status: Happy to join ROSS!
Joined: 29 Sep 2010
Posts: 276
Concentration: General Management, Strategy
Schools: Ross '14 (M)
Followers: 20

Kudos [?]: 126 [2] , given: 48

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15 Dec 2011, 11:02
2
KUDOS
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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Joined: 02 Feb 2012
Posts: 1
Followers: 0

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

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10 Feb 2012, 00:20
2
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1
This post was
BOOKMARKED

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, 10:34, edited 3 times in total.
verification
Senior Manager
Joined: 25 May 2011
Posts: 388
Location: United States (CA)
Concentration: Strategy, Finance
GMAT 1: 710 Q49 V37
GPA: 3
WE: Consulting (Consulting)
Followers: 6

Kudos [?]: 41 [2] , given: 6

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10 Feb 2012, 21:45
2
KUDOS
While I have thought about posting here for a while, I wanted to go through some of the process before I wrote a review on my process.

I applied last year without the help of a consultant. I had thought about using one, but I was cheap and did not want to fork over the cash. I have a lot of friends that have gone through the process or are good writers, but none of them were critical on my essays. At the end I applied to 9 schools last year. 3 R1, 3 R2, and 3 R3. I went 0-6 in R1 and R2. For R3 I took a bit more genuine approach to my essays and did not get any reviews. I was actually waitlisted at Duke. The other 2 schools never reviewed my application as my recommender failed to submit recommendations before their cutoff.

This year, I was a re-applicant. I decided after investing over 2K in application fees alone last year, an investment in an AC was worth it. If not for all the schools I was going to apply to, at least the first few to get some structure with my essays and applications and to understand where I went wrong last year.

The best advice I can give is contact as many companies as you can. Inquire about all their services a la carte, packages and get to know the people that will be working with you. I did that and searching various boards, threads, and google I ended up using indusminds (www.indusminds.com).

I choose them for a variety of reasons, but the few things that I liked is they were honest with me. They let me go in the direction I wanted, but ensured my direction made sense for an overall story. They helped me link essays together in ways I never thought and made sure my package was complete. I only planned on using them for the first 4 schools that I had a package with but ended up using them for all 7 I submitted applications to.

This year I am 1 for 3 with one waitlist. I also have an interview at another school and am still waiting on 2 more schools. Last year, I only got one interview invite, this year I am on track to be invited to interview at all my school except for possibly one. I cannot recommend them enough.

If you have any questions about the application process, the re-application process, the searching for admissions consultants, or indusminds (www.indusminds.com) shoot me a PM.

Good luck to everyone applying this year and those that are using this thread for insight for future years.

Last edited by rgupta83 on 09 Mar 2012, 11:42, edited 1 time in total.
Manager
Joined: 27 Jan 2011
Posts: 198
Followers: 4

Kudos [?]: 13 [2] , given: 6

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20 Jun 2012, 23:08
2
KUDOS
Master Admissions 'guru' Betsy Massar (http://www.masteradmissions.com/home/Iv ... ulting.php) is one of the best things that can happen to you during this extremely excruciating B-school applications Marathon. Let me clarify one thing upfront:Betsy is not going to write your essays for you. But she will make you think hard about your goals, your aspirations and make you understand yourself much better. She will ask you so many insightful questions that while digging deep inside for those answers you will discover yourself and your story, your essays will start gaining a concrete shape and an authentic voice.
I had never thought that applying to a B-school could be such an enlightening process but Betsy makes sure that every bit of interaction with her is an enriching experience. Every one I talked to, had told me that essays are the toughest part of B-school application. But with Betsy, the tough part never showed up. She has a magical way in which work seems fun and before you realize the end product is ready to go, in its best form. Her way of working would keep me charged as her questions, and suggestions would go beyond a mere B-school candidacy and delve more into a self-realization process where we try to find who we are and what we want from life.
I had never expected my application essays to turn out so exquisite. Betsy made sure that I was at par with the quality of essays demanded by the top B-schools. Time was never an issue as no matter how many other candidates she is working with, you will feel you are the only one. Though she promises a 2-Business day turn-around, I would get responses in matter of few hours. While other admission consultants who charge by the hour are very strict about their time, Betsy's hours are very flexible and do stretch much beyond the stipulated time. As a candidate from India, interview at an American B-school was another hurdle I needed to get over. Betsy connected me to Cathy a former Haas Admissions Committee member who prepared me through rigorous mock interview sessions and helped me gain confidence to face the interview.
Also, Betsy has authored “Admitted” which is a great book detailing all the steps of the admissions process starting from the first thought of why MBA.
As I embark upon my MBA journey at Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley, I realize that working with Betsy was the smartest and the most life-changing decision I could have ever taken. Thanks Betsy for helping me getting into an elite school like Haas.
Manager
Joined: 19 Jan 2012
Posts: 73
Schools: Johnson '14 (M)
GMAT 1: 710 Q49 V39
Followers: 1

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

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21 Jun 2012, 08:53
2
KUDOS
So I decided to use a consultant for a few reasons; I had very unusual work experience, a poor GPA, and time constraints (didn't take the GMAT until middle of October). All of this worked against me in a few different ways. I had not discovered GMATCLUB and basically just googled it and started calling people. I did informational interviews with Veritas (seemed competent, but nothing stood out), MBAMission (could not have been more turned off by their services--I ended the phone call early it was so bad), MBAExchange (it was honestly hard to get any serious answers out of them and I didn't like their pushy advertising) and ClearAdmit.

I ended up choosing Stacey at ClearAdmit for a few reasons. The first was it felt like she was the only one listening and actually thinking about my profile, and ways to enhance and frame it, during the informational interview and I felt comfortable talking with her. The other was that I felt her insight having served on the Tuck AdCom would be valuable, especially with Tuck being my #1 choice. I will also say that while I had a mixed experience, and at times was frustrated/disappointed, if I were to do it over again (given the same choices) I would still hire a consultant and still hire her. After having been on the board for some time now I had actually contacted Alex Chu and gotten some interesting information and was planning on using him for a ding analysis and probably at least one application in the next cycle (fortunately I got in off the WL so no more apps!). I also freely admit that I was probably a tough client and could have used someone who did more "hand-holding" to use a phrase from earlier in the thread. She definitely had a lot of clients and a packed schedule, so it was tough at times if I forgot a question in a draft, or just wanted a simple clarification or a quick question answered it could be 2-3 days until the next response. I am definitely someone who prefers to communicate over the internet/e-mail and yet at times, I felt like I needed to talk to her on the phone, and it was very difficult, if not impossible to do so.

I have kind of laid out my main criticisms already but I am going to use the same format from an earlier post that I liked.

1. Initial Consultation (5/5) - I was surprised at how poor of a job most of the other companies did when it came to initial consultations. You are getting ready to plop down 2k+ you would think that they would be paying attention and formulating some real answers. I suppose they probably get a lot of tire-kickers but I was offended by MBAMission's absolute indifference and really liked how Stacey handled the call. She sold her service without being pushy, was reasonably upfront about the challenges that I faced and talked to me for another 20-30 minutes a few days after my initial consultation to answer some follow up questions.

2. Input on Content and Knowledge of School (4/5) - Her knowledge of Tuck was one of the main reasons I hired her and I felt like this really shone through in my two my Tuck essays in particular (my career goals and interview are what sunk my ship imo). She also seemed very knowledgeable about Fuqua (one of the other schools we worked on) and to a lesser degree Yale (the final school we officially worked on together). I also felt like she did a good job of vetting essay ideas and telling me which ones to scrap and which to pursue--which happened a few times--as well as the rest of the editing process.

3. Overall Strategy - I don't want to give a numerical score for this one because I honestly am just not sure. I feel like she tried her best and that a lot of the blame here falls on myself for really just not knowing what to do about my career goals and not knowing enough about the different industries. At the same time, I feel like she could have done more to push me into figuring things out or telling me "this is generic" which, in retrospect, I think some of my career goals essays were. I think eventually we probably reached a limit in terms of the number of reviews she could do with her schedule and the time constraints of impending deadlines. Again I would reiterate that this is just as much my fault as hers, but looking back I think we did a good job of telling 'my story' but that my career goals were the clear weakness in my application. I think this was further complicated by the fact that I have an odd work history, one which adcoms would know nothing about, so I had to devote a lot of time to fleshing out what I had done and how this was relevant to my career goals. I am not sure if this was a mistake or not (one friend has told me he thinks it was a waste of time to spend so much word space explaining what I do and why that is relevant) but it definitely made things trickier and probably contributed to some of my 'career goals' malaise. I think on the whole it was a tough assignment and, I don't know, I hate to be too critical but you can draw from it what you want.

Final Rating (3.5/5) - I did not get into any of the schools we worked on together. In fact, I did not even get so much as interview invitation from the schools we worked on directly but I also know that had I not worked with her on those applications that my application to Johnson would not have been good enough. I even made a decision (risky, perhaps) to switch to a new long-term career goal for my Johnson application but if I hadn't worked with her I wouldn't have known how to frame it, and how to organize my essays. I can definitely say that I would not have gotten in without a consultant, even though I did not actually use a consultant for that application. This is getting long and I am running late so going to have to wrap it up. I think there are some things that she could have done better but on the whole it was an expensive, but necessary part of the application process for me. I have tried to be fair here and hope I haven't come off as too critical because I liked her and did think that for the most part she was trying hard and offered valuable input but also wanted to include some fair criticism.

Let me know if I can answer anymore questions for anyone or if the mods need to verify anything.
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Joined: 15 Jul 2012
Posts: 7
Followers: 1

Kudos [?]: 4 [2] , given: 0

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23 Jul 2012, 01:07
2
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1
This post was
BOOKMARKED
Edit: Moderator Note: Review has been verified.

I recently applied for INSEAD R2. Still waiting for my results. Four days before submitting, I realized I didn’t know anyone who could review my essays. Looking on the internet, I found Laura Freedman, an MBA admissions consultant from Access Education in Singapore (try google). I was a bit nervous spending money on a consultant so close to the deadline. I’m really glad I decided to go ahead and get her help.

An INSEADer herself and an active alum in Singapore, Laura understands the INSEAD culture extremely well and has personal insights into how ADCOM could react to the content of my essays. She took time to understand my background, my interests, my career till date and my post-MBA plans. She prompted questions to bring out contents from both my personal and professional life to achieve a consistency in the essays. She pointed out important stories I hadn’t even thought to include. She really helped me take the essays to the next level in a very short time.

Her consulting experience in a tier 1 consulting firm gives her an amazing ability to understand different businesses across different functions. In general, she is very aware of what challenges different businesses face at different levels, and really understood my own career challenges. She also really understood my Indian cultural background and my experience adapting to life in Australia, helping me highlight important aspects I had ignored. On top of this, her editing skills were outstanding.

The best thing was that when I called Laura on the morning of the submission date to clarify one of the essays, she was very helpful to give appropriate time and attention even though she had prior engagements. She added whole lot of value overall, and I really enjoyed working with her too.

I highly recommend people to engage with Laura very early in the application process. She had a lot of great practical advice on my career and is one of those rare consultants who grows into the application along with the candidate. My application would have been much stronger had I engaged with Laura early in the process

Last edited by bagdbmba on 26 Feb 2014, 10:44, edited 3 times in total.
Senior Manager
Joined: 02 Feb 2009
Posts: 374
Concentration: General Management, Strategy
GMAT 1: 690 Q48 V35
GMAT 2: 730 Q49 V42
Followers: 47

Kudos [?]: 157 [2] , given: 27

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08 Oct 2012, 22:57
2
KUDOS
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.
_________________

Latest Blog Entry:
09-05-13 Its been too long ... Updates & the Tuck Loan

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Joined: 03 Dec 2012
Posts: 18
Followers: 0

Kudos [?]: 12 [2] , given: 1

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03 Dec 2012, 20:56
2
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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.

- 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. Intern Joined: 06 Dec 2012 Posts: 2 Followers: 0 Kudos [?]: 2 [2] , given: 0 Re: "Best" admission consulting companies? [#permalink] ### Show Tags 06 Dec 2012, 22:46 2 This post received KUDOS Adam and Sneakoner - You are both right. Adam, your client did not like your work (except for essay) this would not keep me from selecting you. Clients would prefer real feedback over fake complimentary fluff; you were fair in your response. Sneakoner, you are right to post your opinion on Adam. We all know its an opinion, no need to remove your post. You didn't get in, so clearly, you are not happy. I am looking for a top notch essay editing service. An in depth analysis and Real edits, not just fluff and margin comments - any advice? FYI to readers I used Veritas Prep for resume editing...STAY AWAY My review was mediocre at best, no good content, not even State School quality feedback, PISS POOR customer service. It was probably worth$20 at best. I could have gotten my dad to do the review. Farrrrrrrr from high-quality, I don't think my resume is competitive at all for B school.

Last edited by rookie313 on 06 Dec 2012, 23:12, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: 30 May 2012
Posts: 9
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Kudos [?]: 9 [2] , given: 0

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25 Jan 2013, 07:59
2
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GMAT Club - This may be a little long, but I hope my unique experience, process for selection, and feedback is helpful to those choosing an admissions consultant.

After months and countless hours scouring the site for tips and feedback, I've decided to add something of substance of my own. Namely, my experience with admissions consultants. About a year ago, as I was preparing (and deciding) to apply to b-school, I began by identifying schools that made sense for me. While I (in no means) work in what many b-school admissions boards would consider a "prestigious" job/field, I am well compensated - better than I'll likely be immediately out of b-school - and therefore agonized at the "cost/benefit analysis" of going. After speaking with many, many people in my target industry, I decided to try to take the plunge, but I could really identify only about 4 or 5 schools that seemed "worth it," both in the short run and the long run.

I was pretty familiar with those schools and the stringent admissions process, but upon further research, I realized I had a problem. My GMAT was good but under the median for each, my GPA was WELL under the median for each, I went to a mid-tier state school, and although I had extracurricular activities, I was downplaying their importance. Most importantly, while I had an idea of my future career path and "story," I was having a difficult time articulating it to myself. That's when it dawned on me - perhaps I should look into getting an admissions consultant. I soon realized admissions consultants weren't cheap, but I decided that if one made sense for me, I'd go with the entire 4 (or 5) school package. Ideally, I was hoping to find TWO separate consultants to take advantage of two different viewpoints on everything. I would just work with them on different schools.

I immediately set about "interviewing" various consultants (i.e. taking advantage of their "free" hour consultation). Prior to the interview, I sent them a lengthy profile of myself so they'd be adequately prepared, and asked them questions about my chances at the top schools, how to frame my background, strengths/weaknesses, what their process was, and some other general things to get a good feel for who I may be working with. After interviewing 15 or 16 (literally) consulting firms, including MBA Mission, ClearAdmit, Stacy Blackman Consulting, MBA Prep Advantage, MBA Prep School, etc.... etc...., I wasn't feeling great. Each interview was pretty similar, and while I liked a few of the consultants, they weren't convincing me the money was worth it. Desperate and trying to whittle it down to two, I stumbled on Amerasia and Paul Lanzilotti on the GMAT Club website, and decided it was worth one more hour of my time to chat with Paul.

That decision helped me get into one of the top schools in the world.

Even on our INITIAL phone call, Paul was much different than every other consultant I'd spoken with. I could tell he had taken the time to read my bio, and came with ideas on how to shape my story. Our first phone call ran 90 minutes, with Paul asking me to elaborate on the bio I'd sent him and then him spilling out ideas for my story, even how to apply themes to various essays. I was frantically taking notes the whole time, even though I realized within the first 10 minutes that I had to hire him. Most importantly to me, we clicked fairly easily. Paul was not only clearly knowledgeable about the admissions process and extremely creative and resourceful in that he already had essay/story ideas (and was sharing them with me on our "free" call), but he was laid-back, casual, and much frank/honest than the other consultants I'd spoken with.

I told Paul even before we hung up the phone that he was hired, but due to my extremely, extremely analytical approach to this process, I still had to re-visit my "admissions consultant spreadsheet," and decide whether to go with Paul on the whole package or hire another consultant as well. I ended up sticking to my guns, and decided to work with Paul on two of the top schools, and another admissions consultant I'd previously interviewed on the two others.

Over the course of the next few months, Paul and I built a very comfortable relationship, working for hours weekly (Paul never complained about our two hour phone calls) on crafting my "story" and essay ideas based on my background. Within a few weeks, we were already shooting essay drafts back and forth for editing, and had knocked out my target school within a month or so. I was quickly beginning to realize the difference between Paul and the other consultant I'd decided to work with - I genuinely felt Paul WANTED me to get into these schools as bad as I wanted to and more importantly, he was going to tell me how to do it. While my other consultant had a fantastic system/structure in place for identifying references, crafting essay ideas, and identifying my own strengths and weaknesses, among other things, I was starting to wonder whether I had paid for the "system" itself or his advice. I had paid for an admissions consultant for a reason - I needed input! Ideas! A definitive opinion now and then! With Paul this was never an issue - he always let me "drive" the process (it was my application after all), but he was a wealth of ideas, opinions, and expertise along the way.

The bottom line for me in selecting an admissions consultant and working with an admissions consultant had always been "Who can help get me into the school?" In my case, Paul fit the bill.

After working feverishly with Paul last summer, I was ready for Round 1 applications. I can't tell you how pretty I thought those essays looked. Paul had helped me shape my background into some fantastic essays, and most importantly, he helped me realize how to not only ARTICULATE my story, but how to tailor it to the schools for which I was applying. Lo and behold, I received an acceptance to my school of choice Round 1. I had swung for the fences, both with the schools I applied for and with my decision to work with a consultant, and it had paid off.

Looking back, I can't say that I REALLY regret hiring two admissions consultants, although if I had to go through the process again, there's no doubt in my mind I'd hire Paul and only Paul. When I called him, ecstatic, after my first acceptance letter, he was more excited than I was. After we hung up, he texted me, "This is why I do what I do." I think that sums up Paul pretty well.

I've taken the time to write this (way too) lengthy summary and feedback on my experience because last year at this time, I was clueless. Apprehensive. I was pouring over threads like this one trying to figure out the best way to approach my applications. Moreover, I'm taking the time to write this because of the extra effort and time Paul spent with me, and because I'm that confident that my GMAT Club peers reading this will have a fantastic experience with him.

Good luck with applications!
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02 Mar 2013, 22:15
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sneakoner wrote:
So a note to all those reading this - if your sole goal is to get into business school and you have no idea what your career goals are, make sure you tie them into your work experience and background. Unfortunately I learned this the hard way, even after shelling out close to $3000 to AmeriAsia for their comprehensive package and following their advice. I really think a larger piece of advice would be to not let anybody else tell you what your goals are. Doesn't matter if they are an admissions consultant, your best friend or the dean of Harvard Business School. Only you can know what you want to do with your life. If your sole goal is getting into business school you probably should be re-evaluating why you want to go to school in the first place. B-school is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. Yes any school in the Top 15 will open lots of doors but if you don't know what you want to do it is going to be very difficult to figure out which school is right for you. Schools don't care if undergrads are trying to "find themselves" but business school are looking for motivated people who are actively pursuing a career goal. That doesn't mean you can't change your mind or do something different once you get to school but you will have a tough time getting into a top program if you are wishy-washy on your long-term goals. Intern Joined: 10 Aug 2012 Posts: 4 Followers: 0 Kudos [?]: 3 [2] , given: 0 Re: "Best" admission consulting companies? [#permalink] ### Show Tags 15 Mar 2013, 09:23 2 This post received KUDOS I admittedly did not read through the 22 page feed but my$.02 is that a fantastic admissions consultant is a current student at your target school. After I got to HBS and now "see behind the curtain" on a daily basis I have a much better feel for what admissions is/was looking for. Not to mention  - there are a TON of my classmates who would take 1/10th of what full time consultants charge. Tap your networks and talk to students!
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10 Jan 2014, 04:53
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One-line Post deleted - unsubstantiated and vague attack on a consultant without background
_________________

My journey V46 and 750 -> http://gmatclub.com/forum/my-journey-to-46-on-verbal-750overall-171722.html#p1367876

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22 Apr 2010, 14:32
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I have experience with Sandy and ClearAdmit. If any of you need feedback on my experiences, please contact me directly. You can see my profile on some of my other posts.
I'm done with my B-school journey and would love to help other potentials.
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23 Apr 2010, 07:02
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AlexMBAApply does great work and Alex is a funny dude (Check out the stuff in his sub-forum, I guarantee you will not only become a better MBA applicant by reading it but also at least have a few laughters). Yes he is very blunt and he basically told me my app material was a big pile of crap but I read over his criticisms and used it to really figure out what exact I needed to do. You asked for opinions and if you don't like what you are going to hear then why ask in the first place? I only used him for his hourly services but that was all I needed based on my circumstances.

Precisionessay also does great work. Jon and Raj are 2 of nicest and smartest professionals I have come across. They can work over your entire set of essays for one school in a very efficient (both time and money wise) way. Depend on whether you need just a couple passes on your essays or you need some really intense brain-stormings for your essays, I guarantee they will find a way to work with you. They even threw in some great insights on interviews when I informed them of my upcoming invites.
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30 Apr 2010, 09:07
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I have worked with Sameer of MBACrystalBall dot com. If one is at the beginning of his/her MBA journey, then the MBA Crystal Ball report is really cool cost effective tool to build a basic framework of the plan. Sameer is very clinical and prompt. My relationship with Sameer just did not stop after he sent the report to me. We have been in touch very regularly. I ve got more than my money's worth. An MBA from one of the leading institutions in the world, Sameer is a been-there-done-that kinda guy who can give you a really good perspective and analysis . And I can say one thing for sure, this guy is passionate about what he does. I hope our relationship grows onto become more than just a client-consultant's. Cheers !!!
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04 May 2010, 12:57
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Spoke to Dan an MBA Exchange today and definitely had a good first impression. Obviously, any consultant will tell you what you want to hear in that situation but their resources sound impressive and I got a better impression from speaking to him than from initial conversations with some of the other big consulting firms.
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24 May 2010, 07:09
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Does anyone know something about the quality of Manhattan Review admission consulting services? They have a pretty competitive prices ($1900 for one school). Also, please do let me know if someone worked with Tom Kania and what was your impression. MBA Admissions Consultant Joined: 25 Jan 2010 Posts: 982 Followers: 60 Kudos [?]: 215 [1] , given: 220 Re: "Best" admission consulting companies? [#permalink] ### Show Tags 06 Jun 2010, 12:56 1 This post received KUDOS Expert's post Hi zisis: To be honest, the incremental benefit gained from being face-to-face usually does not outweigh the benefits gained from finding the right fit with a consultanat - whether in London or Los Angeles. Most the work is going to be conducted over the phone and email because it needs to be done this way. Editing is a tracking process and revisions need to be handled on an incremental basis where hand-offs and changes need to documented to maximize efficiency. For example, I have had several clients meet me face to face in LA. After the first few sessions, they realize it is not a beneficial as they expected. I like to record my sessions via phone and they miss that. Additionally, I like to pull up information on schools via the web and that is often missing, if we meet at the client site. Additionally, when documenting notes during our call, I open up my laptop and edit, but most who meet in person seem to want to review print outs and physically highlight with a magic marker. While it is the client's preference, it is old school and slows the process down. This is why most elect to abandon the face-to-face, after a few sessions. I hope this helps shed some light on the situation. Respectfully, Paul Lanzillotti zisis wrote: obv there some good consultants out there but for a weird reason I am a face to face fan..... as i m currently based in london, any recommendations? _________________ Paul Lanzillotti | Founder| About | mba@amerasiaconsulting.com | 877.866.9251 Schedule a Consultation | Twitter | Blog Download "How To Apply" Guides | INSEAD | Columbia | Harvard | Wharton Senior Manager Joined: 12 Apr 2010 Posts: 446 Followers: 11 Kudos [?]: 104 [1] , given: 157 Re: "Best" admission consulting companies? [#permalink] ### Show Tags 22 Nov 2010, 09:08 1 This post received KUDOS Appreciate your insights BUT here's the thing. Paul or whoever that emailed me, sounded very uncaring in his/her emails. Let me tell you my profile is above average and I say that with decency. He was busy but atleast he could have told me the process which he didn't. Precision Essay were the complete opposite they showed intrest in me as an applicant and I am not a great fan of them as they had their faults but I wasn't perfect either and the point is if you are applying to an MBA you have to adjust. I maybe totally wrong regarding Paul, and i don't intend to be. I don't review as I don't like to judge others services. But I just felt its better to speak up rather than keep quiet given the huge number of aspirants that come here. Just my thoughts, don't jump to conclusion on any consultants, take small steps rather than committing at once. Regards. sanv wrote: MBA Consultant Comparison - Precision Essay vs. Amerasia I am using two different consultants this season, both Full package - 1 school. I don't recommend doing this, I was on a time crunch and couldn't decide which I wanted to go with. Precision Essay cost a lot less and since it would basically be the same price for 1 full package from each company as it would for 1 full and 1 smaller package just from Amerasia, I went with 1 full each and figured that way if I wanted to add another school later, I would know which one I preferred. I am still in the application process and have not received decisions from either of these schools yet, but wanted to share my experience now in case it helps someone else who is deciding. I evaluated each on the following criteria: Knowledge of Specifc School Themes: Precision: C Amerasia: A Amerasia knew the insights of the school and what they were looking for, I don't think Precision even knew what the essay questions were if I didn't tell them Learning about me to bring out best aspects: Precision: B Amerasia: A- I had to keep reminding Precision of my weaknesses and plead for help in addressing them. Amerasia told me what they were and already had advice for me on the intial consultation call Content of Edits Precision: B+ Amerasia: A Amerasia read and edited with whole picture in mind, Precision did well in bringing more clarity out of me, but the themes I wanted to portray somehow kept getting lost. It was a bit frustrating, they would blanketly cut out sections, then later say I need more detail. Also found a typo after submitting my essay! My fault, I should have proofread better, but I later discovered this made it through 2 versions of their edits, how could they have missed that? Also lots of typos in their responses to me, not a big deal, but hard to take seriously. Turn-around time for edits Precision: A+ Amerasia: A Precision would sometimes send revisions back the same day and was very sensitive to my deadline. Yet to experience either very positive or very negative from Amerasia as far as response time, seems about right, and my deadline for this one is not as urgent, so pretty good to start. Overall Value for money Precision: C Amerasia: A I don't feel I got the full value of Precision's Deluxe package. Part of this is my fault, I did not give them much lead time before my application was due, but I was also not familiar with the process and how much time I needed. I gave them my deadline and I feel as a consultant they really should have told me you will only have time to get to the essays and a Junior package would be fine. But instead they sold me on the Deluxe, claiming it was necessary for the first one, yet I only got one resume edit (he recommended I lengthen it to two pages...huh?), no time for recommender advice, no evaluation of my application as a whole etc. all which are supposed to be included in the Deluxe. The time I needed to get the full value just wasn't there and I wish they would have been honest about that. I would consider Precision again only if I needed help with essay revisions, but as a consultant helping to shape my overall application, I would look elsewhere. Amerasia is absolutely worth the money in my opinion, plus I see they are offering 15% off now in the GMAT Club marketplace...the decision is a no brainer. I also really like their fee structure, how you pay a lower price up front and only pay the extra$300 if you are extended an interview invite. At least that way you are not paying up front for a service you might not need if you do not get invited. I am just getting started with them but already feel good about it. Hope this comparison helps to decide, good luck everyone!

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