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"Best" admission consulting companies?

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New post Updated on: 08 May 2018, 12:01
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See REAL & VERIFIED Reviews, by GMAT Club Members:
Reviews submitted to GMAT Club's Review Section require GMAT test report and/or school email addresses for validation. This is the highest review validation in the industry to ensure you're seeing credible information. The posts on the forum below don't require any validation; so we encourage you to view the GMAT Club's Review Section.

Best Admissions Consulting Companies - reviews and opinions by real GMAT Club Members.



:arrow: THIS DISCUSSION IS LOCKED. PLEASE SEE HERE 2014 DISCUSSION

We welcome any feedback from the members including constructive criticism/suggestions for improvement as well as positive comments. Take both positive and negative comments with a grain of salt. Please also read:

Reviews by Company


Accepted.com
Admissionado (formerly Precision Essay)
Amerasia
Aringo
Clear Admit
MBA Admit
MBA Apply
MBA Exchange
mbaMission
MBA Prep School
myEssayReview
Prep MBA
Sandy (HBS Guru)
Stacy BlackmanVeritas Prep


Multiple Consultant Reviews

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Suggestions for your posts:

1. Search for existing discussions before asking; you questions may have been answered a few times already
2. If you are posting a review/feedback, please post it in the format of (pros/cons/bottom line) or something along those lines
3. If you have used a consultant, please answer these 2 questions:
  • What elements should one consider when selecting and Admissions Consultnat
  • What worked for you and what did not?


Rules:

Having watched this thread over the last year, I would like to add some rules, which in reality is really just one rule:
1. Please do not rant!
2. Please be constructive whether you praise or you criticize and build your case - this will help others make better decisions and do a better research
3. Please put your rating on the performance of the consultant (out of 5)
4. Please indicate if you have actually used a consultant for your applications or you have only gone through an initial consultation or if you have had no contact at all



P.S. If you have any challenges with admissions consultants represented on the GMAT Club: Amerasia, Admissionado, Stacy Blackman, mbaMission, Accepted.com, Veritas Prep, Stratus Prep, Manhattan Review, MBA Prep School, MBA Admit, Aringo, myEssayReview, or Prep MBA please do let me know - we try to partner with the best and I will be happy to help resolve any miscommunication or disagreement that may have come up.

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Originally posted by bagdbmba on 19 Apr 2010, 09:40.
Last edited by kirstik on 08 May 2018, 12:01, edited 77 times in total.
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New post Updated on: 16 Apr 2011, 02:04
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I received some questions like what are the initial important questions that we should ask the consultants, i.e., how to make most out of the first FREE session with the consultant?
And when I initially went through this process I had the same questions but not very concrete answers, after experiencing and down talking with 12 + consultants now I think I am ready to put down my experience here to help other members who are just starting this process, it might save them some time :):

1. Do not try to have calls with all the consultants same day - Maximum of 2 calls per day - as you need to analyze the information you get and think about it for at least a day before deciding. After a day or so you will be in a better position to compare all the previous consultants to spoke with.

2. Some profile related basic questions for which everyone of us would like to get an answer from the consultant are:
- What do you think about my profile?
- What are my strengths and weaknesses?
- What schools you think I should apply to – looking at my current profile?
- What are areas you think I need an improvement and can I still do something to improve in those areas?
- Do you have experience working with students with my background?

3. Questions to determine the working style of consultant – For the companies that provide options to work with different consultants and you spoke to only one of them – your experience might vary and you might be able to find a worst and best consultant in the same company, so in case if u have bad experience with one, do not hesitate to ask for another consultant to talk with if you think you liked the firm in terms of package/pricing/feedback/reviews etc.

4. Find out if the consultant is going to do 3 -4 edits (though they advertize unlimited, they have an internal limit set for their consultants as a general guideline) or will they help you to get a perfect essay irrespective of number of edits? You do not want to work with someone who is always watching the clock even when you paid for a comprehensive package.

5. Are they going to help with school selection (Target / reach / safeties etc) and will set a MBA plan for you regardless of how many schools you work with them?

6. We generally tend to like people who are on time for the meetings and reply to your emails promptly – same applies to the consultant. If they think that it’s us only who are in need – and they are doing a favor – No – it’s their business. So even you can expect them to be punctual and professional.

7. Consultants must be prompt with deadlines – but depends on us the clients too – I would like a consultant who can help me complete my applications at least 10 days before the school deadline!

8. I would not be comfortable enrolling with a company who are not flexible with the package, if they are confident about the service they should be ok with adding more schools later with the same discount option.

9. Most important part is – You will understand with the way conversation goes – if the consultant starts with your weaknesses but till the end only tell you that your profile is very weak and you should think again and only target 15-20 rank school - Might be true – Might be he is very much to the point – But you don’t need that another person to add to your anxiety. As decision has already been made by you to apply – Now you need a person who can help you to strengthen your profile, structure the MBA game plan for you and bring out the best from you on paper in form of resumes and essays - You need someone who can criticize and edit your work but balance it out by his/her optimism and support. – specially in the later stages when the process becomes painful you not only need a knowledgeable consultant but as well as a good person.

I will come up with my next post – Worst Case Scenario - shortly!! ~~ Stay tuned :D
Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any more questions!!


As Always – If u like this post ~~ KUDOS ~~ is the way to let me know!!! :)

Originally posted by simmy818 on 14 Apr 2011, 10:01.
Last edited by simmy818 on 16 Apr 2011, 02:04, edited 2 times in total.
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New post Updated on: 30 Sep 2011, 06:32
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*****Sorry for the late UPDATE, I still feel this will be useful********-------------------------------
I had really bad experience with Veritas after 2 interactions with my consultant. I wanted my money back - and after SEVERAL calls they agreed but still didn't refund $300.00
Now I am working on my own. This tells me that - whatever research we do - at the end its your luck if you get a good consultant or not.

Also one of their consultants - wanted me to work with him/her seperately without going thru Veritas !! Can u believe that!!
---------------------------------

Hi,

I received several PM's from members and thought I will post this message here that I replied to them, but obviously taking out any personal info and consultants names etc... this is my experience and it is very subjective process, also I am keeping an open mind for the process and will get back to you after my experience - Good/Bad with Veritas..

I will try to be to the point here..But it will still be long .... hope it helps
I had my fixed criteria to choose which was not completely objective but subjective as well. Like, first after doing basic research I narrowed down 7 consultants;
Out of 7 - 1st consultant emailed me that for comprehensive package I should wait and email them back by May end / June.
If I am taking comprehensive package - I want to utilize maximum amount of time and wanted to finish working on Resume by May and also needed their feedback on strategy and visiting schools etc. So I dropped it.

Then I had 30 min phone consultation with the remianing 6 consultants.
While talking I knew if the person was intersted and really willing to help or just on the call to promote his/her consultancy. Obviously they are doing business but still there is some difference.
So I dropped - 2nd option because - I had a 30 min call with consultant and from the beginning of the call she was hesitant in providing me more info on my profile, and she was eager to finish the call even when it was only 15 min. For every question I asked her, she told me that she would need more information and cannot tell anything at this step. So right away I felt that this is a no go for me. But still I waited for my 2nd round of information.

After speaking with all 6 consultants though I narrowed down to 3 in my mind - I still emailed all 6 consultants with my 2 questions, 1 stupid but real question and other one relevant to their process.
2nd option** - consultants response was rude and derogatory. - Thats how I felt and so dropped that option right away.
3rd Consultant was very helpful but told me to get good score in Gmat and I can get u in Chicago booth/Kellogg - I dont want anyone to make any promises to me as I know this can be done - but no one can promise - also very costly - so dropped that one.
4th one - was pricey + had so many conditions in order to allow me to sign one school first and then other schools with the same discount. I didnt want conditions, as that made me doubt about their work quality.. so didnt want to enroll for 5 school package and then regret.. also in the initial call consultant provided me with more pessimistic answers, I know that no one can promise and I dont want any fake promises, but if the person whom I am going to work with is already so negative about my profile - where will I seek some support from ? - so dropped it.
-----Remaining 3 - Amerasia, StacyB and Veritas -- All were great - Shortlisted)
StacyB - was to the point and good /efficient/on time but pricey for me - I didnt feel like price for 1 school package was competitive enough for me. and didnt want to pay so much money for 5 schools.
Paul was really really helpful - but I had my own reasons .... for now - I am going to go with him in 2nd round of applications ...
Consultant from Veritas Prep - she called me first time, talked happily for 50 min on a 30 min promised time call, when I emailed her my question later, she was travelling, she emailed me right away that if she can reply to me after 1 day as she is on vacation.
After 1 day she emailed me saying she can call me to discuss my questions and she again did a 30 min call with me for free and answered all my questions.
Then I spoke to Veritas Prep rep about taking only 1 school package now and then adding later. Now, everyone can do it. They have not yet updated their website though. And I got 10% gmatclub discount - and he also is going to add the discount later for subsequent packages too.
I can change my consultants 2-3 times till the time I am not happy with my head consultant - just in case.
Provides 1 Head consultant and 1 specialist to work with for 1 school.. I liked that.... so going with it..

If u need the original post please PM me... as I omitted details here...

Hope this helps!!!!!!

If u like this post - Please click on Kudos :):)

Originally posted by simmy818 on 05 Apr 2011, 12:54.
Last edited by simmy818 on 30 Sep 2011, 06:32, edited 1 time in total.
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New post 18 May 2011, 12:10
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Dear Paul,

Thanks very much your comment. I must admit I was wondering how long it would be before you responded :-)

I was a client with your firm last year but have intentionally taken the precaution to not list out the schools I had signed you up for. Should you require more proof, I still have my receipt of payment to Amerasia from last year (along with a lot of email correspondence) and would be happy to send it to the forum moderator as proof.

Please understand that I have no intention of berating you or showing you (or your organisation) in any negative light. I also do not wish to seek a 'remedy' offline because for me the application process is over and I'm focusing on whats coming up.

I have merely shared my personal opinion for the benefit of other GClubbers and they are free to make their own decisions. In my case, the "turnaround time" was a real issue and I wanted to ensure that I shared that with the others so that they can be sure they know what they're getting themselves into.

Regards,
redjam

P.S. I still stand by my post and encourage fellow GClubbers to post their experiences - especially if they are contrary to my own.
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New post Updated on: 18 May 2011, 14:43
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Part 2 of my experience...

Amerasia

Pros
• Cheaper than other consultants especially on multiple school packages
• Polite and very welcoming in their approach

Cons
• Comparatively new to the market and for me that lack of experience showed when I compared them to the other consultants
• Not aggressive in terms of teasing out stories and coming up with new ideas
• Not prompt in their responses. Turnaround time ranged from 24 hrs – 5 days in my case


My own, TOTALLY UNSCIENTIFIC, Rating: 3/5


MBA Apply (Alex)

Pros
• Honest and genuine guy – he was really interested in helping me achieve my goal and didn’t once try to upsell or anything else like that. Quite funny with this comments too!
• Offered plenty of general opinion about schools and was happy to discuss options
• VERY prompt. For 99% of my essays, I got a 24hr turnaround. For shorter emails with single questions, it was even 2-3 hrs sometimes.
• VERY patient. I re-wrote one essay nearly 8 times and he didn’t once get agitated.

Cons
• I didn’t find the interview coaching as useful as Sandy’s and it was a bit expensive at $375 USD!
• Could have been more aggressive in terms of teasing out stories and suggesting ideas (note: Alex is really good but when compared to Sandy, he could do slightly better)


My own, TOTALLY UNSCIENTIFIC, Rating: 4/5


HBS Guru (Sandy)

Pros
• The grand-daddy of admissions consulting. Many many years of experience which really shows when you work with him
• Excellent at helping you create great stories and setting yourself apart
• His interview practise was absolutely fantastic and I’d HIGHLY recommend the individual package to anyone considering getting help – even if you don’t sign Sandy for the essay package just pay him for the interview one (around $300 USD I think)

Cons
• Very hard to work with - You’ve gotta be careful about not stepping on his toes at all times and have to follow his instructions to the letter (for example his aversion to attachments and specificity around email subjects). Plus because he's always in high demand, he's very picky and a tad bit egoistic (if I may say)
• You really have to fight for his time – if you slack off (u send your essays intermittently etc) then he’ll slack off too. I faced delays of upto 4 days sometimes which really made me wonder whether he’d even bothered to read my essays.
• Expensive - Each school is $2600 USD. No package discounts.
• Very characteristic writing style. If you gave me 5 essays I could pick out “Sandy’s work” within 2 min. And im sure that if I can do it, so can HBS/Stanford/Wharton. Not sure whether that’s a good thing or not. Personally, I used his help to get the story right and then altered that ‘trademark style’ to suit me.


My own, TOTALLY UNSCIENTIFIC, Rating: 4/5


My Advice: I'd pick between Alex or Sandy (depending on individual preferences). I'd take a 2 school package and pick those 2 schools who's essays overlapped the most with my other schools. I'd then take Sandy's interview prep in the end.


DISCLAIMER: The above is entirely my personal opinion and I’d be happy to hear from others who’ve had a different experience to mine. When I started my hunt for admissions consultants, I was hard pressed to find good articles where people talked about their personal experiences so I decided that after I’d gone through the process, I’d certainly write something up so that others could benefit. I hope you all find this useful.

If anyone’s still got any specific questions, feel free to PM me and I’ll try and get back to you as soon as possible.

Originally posted by redjam17 on 18 May 2011, 01:11.
Last edited by redjam17 on 18 May 2011, 14:43, edited 2 times in total.
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New post 18 May 2011, 22:28
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Elaborating from what Redjam posted on his forum - working with Sandy has its positives and negatives.

Positives

1) Sandy really helped me tease out my story. When I wrote the first draft of my essay - it was fairly generic and sort of just scratching the surface of what really happened. Sandy forced me to go back to the board and really nut out the details, which would have been hard without his input.

2) Sandy provides strategic advice on your essays – so he really helps you frame your essays in a way where it comes across as impactful. I wont’s say he stretches the truth but he helps you write it in a way that shows you in a positive light

3) At the beginning of my session – Sandy spent an hour with me on the phone where we talked about different aspects of my personal and professional life and we were able to come up with some quick themes to get me started straight away.

4) He provides copies of past successful essays and these are helpful when you are trying to draft your story up

Cons

1) I think one of Sandy’s biggest negatives is that although he provides strategic advice on your essay – this is on a per essay basis rather than on your entire application. Now what I mean by this is Sandy will look into your essay and come up with a way to spin your story – but after all your essays are done – he doesnt take your whole application away and read it in totality to ensure your stories/essays fit together as a whole and that there are no gaps in your application

2) Sandy has no time – and this is reflected in the quality of your edits. His edits of my essays could not have taken more than 5 or maximum 10 minutes. His turnaround time is 4 days – so every time you tweak your essays it will be 4-5 days before you hear back – in fact if Sandy responded within 3 days, I would feel extremely lucky. Point 2 ties into point 1 – because Sandy’s turn around time is long (probably due to too many clients), there was no way he has a view of your application in totality – so while our individual essays could be great, put together your story could be pretty lopsided.

3) In addition, as Redjam pointed out - Sandy has this very distinct style of writing that one can easily pick out. I know another student who worked with Sandy and have a copy of his essays and some of our transitions and conclusions are same. To be fair though, I don't think Sandy was trying to copy-paste stuff across but his signature style so distinct that its easy to recognize (and most likely for the adcom as well)

4) No attention to detail – final drafts are very unpolished. When you are 75% there he will pretty much ask you to buzz off and not email him that essay back – can be issue for perfectionists.

5) I am not going to go into how tough he is to work with as that is already widely discussed and documented – but what’s said is a 100% true.
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New post 13 May 2011, 10:29
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Got similar questions like below from other members about my experience with MBA Exchange initial chat, so I thought I will post the answers here ;) Edited version!

MBA EXCHANGE Feedback

(1) How did the meeting go for you?
Initial email exchanges were very prompt with Dan. But every email included the copy and paste of their testimonials and service they provide which looked like they are pushing their data on me.

(2) Do you know what they charge?
For 4 schools they quoted me $6700.00 Their quote varies for everyone.

(3) What is your opinion of them?
Initially I was very much impressed and liked the email conversation, but their advertized 97% admitted stuff .. No one can prove it right or wrong. Then I selected some consultant from their team I wanted to work with - and they denied. Then they provided me with a consultant who was only for 2 years with them (that too part time). And I didn't want to work with a consultant with so less experience.

(4) Anything about them you don't like?
- Not giving the information on their website - like other consultants.
- No free 1 hr or 30 min consultation
- After insisting so many times I got to speak with 1 consultant out of 4 that I requested and for only 15 min, and she exactly spoke for 14-15 min.
- Also it is 40 hrs for 4 school package, they might help more than that but if they can't you cannot go back asking why not, as 40 hr is included in their contract.


~~~ If u like this post Kudos is the way to let me know ~~~~
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New post 16 May 2011, 00:50
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Since I got inundated with PM’s asking about the consultants, I thought that it would be best if I wrote a post explaining my general thoughts about consultants and my experiences with the 3 I worked with. I’m happy to help anyone who’s got more specific questions – feel free to PM me and I’ll respond as soon as possible.

This post is Part 1 of a two part series. The other one to follow (as soon as I get the time to write it)

What, I think, admissions consultants are great for…
1) Help you get disciplined: A good analogy is like having a personal trainer at the gym. You can probably workout by yourself – by researching routines online and then executing them – but most people lack the discipline to do so and having a personal trainer solves that problem. In the same way, an admissions consultant can really get you running on your feet - you've paid them a ton of money and most people will want to get the most "bang for their buck".
2) Help you avoid grammatical or literary errors: This point may not be as applicable to those who already have a good grasp of the English language but for others, this point is particularly important. I must note that no consultant (as far as I know) is going to write your essays for you but they will certainly point out any grammatical errors that you might make.
3) Help you evolve your story: Due to their experience with hundreds of applicants a year, these guys have a lot of ideas in their heads and can really help you evolve your story and tease out new ideas. Admittedly, this part of the process varies from consultant to consultant (and I’ll share my thoughts on “the 3” in my next post) but by and large, the consultants can help you understand cultural nuances at particular schools and guide you in a certain direction.

What, I think, admissions consultants cannot do…
1) Can’t pick your schools for you: You simply have to do your research and decide on what schools are the best fit given your credentials and your aspirations. I know its hard to do and we all silently pray that there’s a magic bullet but really, your guess is as good as the most seasoned consultants’. I’d recommend that you look at class profiles, read about the schools and then pick around 6-8 schools: 2 difficult, 2 mid-range and 2 safety.
2) Can’t guarantee your admission into any school: Despite all the money involved, its impossible for any consultant to guarantee your admission into any institution. From my own experience, I used the consultants for 2 schools and didn’t end up getting into either of them.

In summary I’d like to say that if you fit the following 3 criteria’s, you probably do not need a consultant to help you out:
1) You’re disciplined
2) You’re writing skills are good
3) You’ve got friends who’ve gone through the MBA process (they can act like sounding boards and can help you evolve your story and tease out ideas)

In my case, I really suffered on the last point and knew absolutely no one who had gone through the process (plus I'm not based in the US which made things harder). That’s why I needed some outside help with this process.

Part 2 to follow soon…
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New post Updated on: 19 Mar 2011, 04:02
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Now that my journey is almost over for the business school applications, I would like to provide my perspective on admission consultants to prospective applicants. Maybe it will be of some help.

I was so impressed with the feedback from some GCers on couple of the consulting companies that have their own thread here, that I decided to interview both of them. I will not disclose their names here publicly as I am not here to promote or ruin their businesses. I am here to share my experience objectively, so you guys do not make some of the same mistakes that I made.

So I emailed one sample essay for edits to one company and scheduled the free hour consultation with the other. The essay edit was good, but the guy basically told me that I should apply to tier 2 schools given my GMAT (710) and my background (Tech Strategy Consulting). But I really liked how he went deep inside and edited most of the essay. The initial call with the second one was very impressive as he went over my profile, gave me some ideas etc and I was sold. I signed up for 3 school package with this consultant initially. Lot of money! I thought it was an investment, so I decided to take the hit. :shock:

I have to say, I really liked the first few weeks when he worked with me on a weekly basis. He gave some decent edits, and I liked some of his ideas. As soon as the busy season started, things changed. I understood that all consultants get busy during this time and I cut him slack initially. Here are some things that I did not like -

    Response to emails and phones drastically reduced
    Weekly meetings were re-scheduled or delayed most times
    Updates and edits would only be sent to me 30 minutes before the meeting time and I had to wait at least a week before I could get any response back from this consultant. Other companies offer 48 hour return, but I wasn't lucky here. This to me was the worst part

I however thought he was trying to help me (which he did as I really liked working with my consultant), so I decided to spend another 2k with him and bought another 2 schools. Things started getting down hill as I missed deadline for one of them and I was very very upset about that. I would still have to wait a week before I got the edits. This brought my momentum down significantly because I had to wait 6 more days to see what my consultant has to say or comment. Also, as time passed by, the quality of edits on other schools significantly decreased and I just was not happy about that. On one of these schools, I had application initiated interview. I called the consultant the day before the interview to get some basic advise. He gave me 15 minutes worth stuff on the phone and I was very happy to have talked and gotten some bullet points. Next thing I know is I get this 300 dollar bill for interview prep. I guess it was my fault not to understand that nothing is free (even after I had spent 5k with him). If I would have known, I would have used the whole 60 minutes worth for those 300 bucks. I did pay him though.

Cutting the story short, I ended up getting dinged on all of them. 0/3 :lol: They were top ten schools, but I thought I had a good shot. I did work on 3 schools (top 5, top 10, top 12) on my own without any help from consultants and I feel those essays were not as polished as the ones my consultant helped me . I got into 2 of them and got dinged on one with interview. It is just ironic IMO. :lol:

From my experience, I would say that though having consultant help on your side is important, you must not spend so much money on consultants without doing your own due diligence. Also, do not get sold on the first calls/free edits/marketing stuff. Be smart and set agreements before hand so you do not experience the same problems. Also, do not go by the first time posters here who probably are inflating their experiences with consultants.

Any specific questions on application process, PM me. And remember - do not let consultants tell you what you cannot do. One reason why the other guy did not get my business.

Good luck in your endeavors!

Originally posted by goldgoldandgold on 17 Mar 2011, 06:57.
Last edited by goldgoldandgold on 19 Mar 2011, 04:02, edited 1 time in total.
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New post 29 Mar 2011, 07:46
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Thought I would briefly share my consultant experience with the GC community:
• Last year I applied to only 1 school (outside of top 30). My stats were: 3.3 GPA/650 GMAT/4Yrs WE/Extensive EC. Result: Dinged w/o interview
• This year, I raised my GMAT to 700 and got a consultant through MBAmission. Result: Admitted to 4/8 Top-15 programs (possibly 5 depending on how the Wharton WL goes)
• My thoughts on why my consultant helped so much:
1. She knew where the land mines are in the application
2. Helped me NOT say stupid, arrogant, offensive, or other app-killing things. Believe it or not, this is SO VERY easy to do if you don't have proper guidance
3. Helped my story stand out and not be cliché.
4. Helped me recall stories that I had not even thought of using.
5. Assisted me in framing my stories in a concise and powerful way (She literally showed me how to take a 200 word paragraph and condense that down to about 30 words without losing any of the impact, incredible really).
6. Aided me in tying the entire application together (essays, resume, LOR's)
7. Provided this same kind of feedback to my recommenders (who thankfully took her advice)

Occasionally, the issue of the ethics of using a consultant to aid in the app process emerges. My thought is that if professional writers use professional editors, why would someone applying to b-school, not use the resource of a consultant? Baffling to me why more people don't use them (and why I didn't use one sooner!).
That said, those that are going to invest in a consultant need to know a couple things from the outset:

1. An admissions consultant will help you organize your "raw materials" into something eloquent and grand. However, if you don't have the "raw materials" such as leadership experience, relevant work experience, etc, the best consultant on the planet will not be able to help you get into your schools. If you find yourself in this category, my advice to you would be to postpone b-school apps and go get the leadership/work experience you need instead. Come back and apply when you have the "raw materials". You will be far better off in the long run.

2. DO NOT EXPECT them to do all the work for you. I applied to 8 schools. At an average of 4 essays for each school x on average about 7 drafts per essay = 200+ Drafts by the time everything is said and done. "but why not recycle the same essays for all schools?", you ask. In my opinion, one of the marks of a great consultant is that they perceive the subtle differences in the questions/ school culture and will help you re-frame the same (or different) stories to best answer the question and woo the adcom. If you are cutting and pasting, that is your first red flag. In short, having a consultant to help you will not lighten your work load in the app process, but it WILL make it way more efficient.

As far as recommending a specific company, I really can't comment on anyone other than the company I have used, MBAmission.com. I have been EXTREMELY pleased with their services, results and promptness in responding to all of my inquiries. I would highly recommend them to anyone who is serious about breaking into a top tier school.

Hope that helps, Good Luck!
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New post 17 Mar 2011, 10:51
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wmcrockett wrote:
A consultant will not turn a bad application into gold, but they can help you pull out your best stories and make sure you're portraying yourself in the best light possible. And as much as everyone here on GmatClub has been a help in the application process, it's great to have a personalized coach in your corner, who has insight into all the top programs and can be there for you when you need it.


I will add to this some general tips for working with a consultant:

First off, leave yourself plenty of time. Consultants are not miracle workers, if you wait until the very end not only will you be compromising quality on your own edits, but they will also have more clients to deal with also needing things quickly. The ones I worked with were great about getting things back quickly when it was crunch time, but when it was still early in the process I felt i got even more value and insight than I was expecting because they had the time to put forth additonal efforts, ie answering my questions through email, giving me general advice even on schools I wasn't working with them on.

Once you choose a consultant, sign up for 1 school only and at the lowest level you feel you need. I don't know about all, but the ones I worked with were willing to let me upgrade later for the same price it would've been if I selected the higher package to begin with. I did this the wrong way with Precision, signed up for the full package but really only had the time available to get use out of part of it. The interview prep later on was valuable though. Also as it got later in the application round, deals started popping up and both were willing to add additional schools for a much lower price than originally posted.

Don't take everything they say at face value, I was tempted to keep some of their revisions and phrases they used which really didn't fit me, in the end I used a blended combination of the two styles.
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New post 23 Mar 2011, 18:22
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m7 wrote:
The purpose of boards like this is to help each other with honest opinions about any subject. Many people use consultants so why so few replies?? I am looking for a good consultant also and really do not know what to do as I cant just rely on raving reviews on their own sites. I contacted few firms but of course they "are the best in the industry" and so on. Consultant's fee is not only a considerable investment, it will be detrimental if the wrong one is hired. Negative results plus waste of money, opportunity g o n e. Or ruined....
C'mon, people! Just few sentences-who did you use and what do you think-would be nice, to say the least. And pleeease, stop with this "I am not here to ruin anybodys busines"..You should be outspoken and warn others so please don't hesitate to name names, thats the purpose of this blog! Many of you went through the same hassle during your own research, so be a hero now, share with other humans! Please.


while i agree with what you're saying, i found your first post rude, especially since you haven't given anything to this community. nevertheless, i would like to help people like jb88 so i will share my experience.

i decided to check out admissions consultants late in the game for R1 - around the end of september. i really didn't think i would ever get a consultant since they're so expensive, but i was starting to panic with my essays as i was hitting a wall with them.

i contacted a few of the 1 person consultants, but they turned me down because it was so close to R1 deadlines, which definitely worried me. i got a free consultation from stacy blackman, which went ok. she gave me some good tips but i decided not to go with her cause i didn't really feel like we connected and i was a little worried about all the negative reviews of them online. also, i was really only looking for essay help. most consulting companies offer essay services "a la carte" which mainly entails spending an hour on the phone talking about 1 or 2 essays. i wanted to see the edits on paper and didn't want to pay someone by the hour.

once i realized that, i started to focus my search on essay editing companies (and with quick turnaround). most of these companies (including the services that SB offers) only edit for grammar while i wanted someone to edit my content and flow. i received a free essay edit from precision essay and found it very well done and even entertaining. i decided that night that i would get their services (based on their packages and turnaround). i ultimately got edits for 3 schools (2 edits for stanford and berkeley, 1 for kellogg), but used those essays for the other schools i applied to as well.

i found PE to be really helpful and extremely fast in getting back my essays. having a consultant also gave me mini-deadlines which helped a lot. i got A LOT done in a very short time period. i had gone through so many revisions with friends and family (but none with bschool experience) with my essays before getting a consultant, but i ended up changing some of them drastically afterwards. PE really knew how to help me structure my essays, how to better clarify and emphasize aspects, and how to focus them. also, they were always available to answer my questions. my essays really would not have reached the level they did without that help. well maybe if i had time to thoroughly go through those MBA application books, they would have, but i didn't start applying until late in the game.

in summary, if you're only looking for essay help on your apps and want to see your edits on paper and delivered quickly back to you, i would look into precision essay (ask for a free essay edit or read their thread in the admissions consultants thread). their prices, although high, are worth it because you pay by the school and not by the word count or hour. i personally only really knew 1 person who was familiar with the business school process, so working with a consultant really helped me. as you can see by my profile, i got into 3 of the 6 schools i applied to round 1, including kellogg, one of my top choices and where i'll be going in the fall.

feel free to PM me with more info. i looked into several consulting companies before i settled on PE, everyone from the big companies to the small, cheaper essay editing services.
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New post 20 Apr 2010, 09:00
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rao wrote:
Class2012 wrote:
Heard good things about Alex@mbaapply.com


yeah but I think one major problem is time. He has too many clients and you end up in compromising the quality of your essay.


Rao,

I don't have so many clients to know that you weren't a client of mine. I only know of one client who applied to Tepper, but he had a different GMAT score than you and was a repeat client.

I usually get back to clients with thorough feedback within 24-48 hours, and if it will take longer (which happens once in a while - but no more than 72 hours at most), I let them know in advance. And the feedback is thorough - perhaps a bit too thorough and blunt, which can be hard for some people.

Again, some people don't like my feedback - they may not agree with it, or they may not like to hear it (I can be blunt), so I understand if that can turn into resentment towards me.

You have no idea how many clients I have, nor are you in a position to judge my workload.

If you don't agree with my advice or opinions - say so. But to make unfounded statements about how I do business is unfair and insulting - as every year I turn away potential clients well before I've reached capacity. And even more - I've convinced potential clients NOT to apply at all if its in their best interest. Yes, I run a business as I'm not doing this out of the goodness of my own heart, but I run a "consulting firm" and not a "sales organization" if you know what I mean.

Good luck at Tepper.
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New post 17 Mar 2011, 09:31
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I worked with Amerasia for Booth and Kellogg this year and I honestly feel I would've been lost without using some kind of consultant (I also used Precision Essay for Duke in R1). It's not that I couldn't have done it on my own, it's that I'm a natural worrier and perfectionist, and without someone there to give me structure and monitor my progress, I was spinning my wheels for weeks without getting anywhere. I was so hung up about my GMAT not being good enough (58% in Quant!) that I felt helpless when it came to promoting my strengths. I spent weeks working on first drafts of essays and would scrap everything and still had nothing decent to show for it. I was running out of time and needed a kick in the butt to stop analyzing and start putting things together.

I was so impressed from the initial 1 hour call and felt he had enough school-specific knowledge to know what they were looking for. He addressed my concern over the GMAT score, and told me the only school on my list that was really strict about the quant percent being above 80 was Haas (only official ding so far, so looks like he was right) and eased my worries by saying the breakdown really doesn't matter all that much. Regarding GMAT, all they care about is whether you can handle the academics (and your high GPA proves this) and that your total score doesn't bring down their averages too much (and your GMAT is lower than their avg, but your GPA is higher so you're pretty much a wash). This made so much sense and made me feel confident about applying, it really made the difference for me.

Duke w/precsion essay was a mad dash, my fault for not leaving enough time. I had plenty of time for R2 and chose to go with Amerasia for Booth. He spent about a week reviewing my profile, resume, notes from our call etc and put together a document outlying my strengths and weaknesses in each area as it relates to Booth's core values. He read my essay drafts in detail and pointed out things that left a bit of confusion about my story and gave suggestions on what I could say to really make it powerful. With the powerpoint essay, he reviewed a few different intial ideas and gave his opinion on which was the best. Knowing he works with lots of clients and hearing him say something like "that's a really unique approach, I've never seen anyone do that before" gave me confidence to run with it, because I knew it would not be like so many others (like my second idea was)

I chose to go with a smaller essay only package with Amerasia for Kellogg as well after I was impressed by their work on Booth. I did feel this one was a bit more rushed, but I didn't make the decision to add this one until the very end. Overall very impressed and glad I went with them, I got into Booth with scholarship (something I thought impossible with a 58% Q from a quant heavy school) and used some of the same ideas in other school essays (got into Ross with the same concepts)

If you have any specific questions or want advice on the consultant process, feel free to PM me!
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New post 31 Mar 2011, 09:01
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I did work with Bill at Stacy Blackman - excellent experience. Also worked with Sherri, Amy and Lisa for different aspects of the app (flight test etc) All excellent. Will send more info in PM.

OK just received PM to add more info to help others. So - adding this on now:

I really was happy with my experience so will try to give a more detailed overview here. I have worked with two firms in the past and so I have some persoective. My experience with Stacy Blackman was great. I was burnt from prior experiences so when I signed up I wanted to work with two consultants not one. Which is what I did - I actually purchased 2 different packages and worked with two consultants who were pretty different from each other but both very strong (Bill as mentioned above and also Sherri). Both had a lot of experience, adcomm experience, and really took time with me. During the time close to deadlines I felt like I was in constant communication with them. they have something called a flight test which I thought was really helpful. A totally separate consultant reviewed my entire file and gave feedback in a different way from an admissions committee perspective. I had a client liaison named Amy who was very nice and helpful though I have to admit I did not use her as much as I could have (that was my choice). She did review a couple of essays near the end, but by then everything was prettty complete so not a ton of feedback.

I felt very supported and I knew I was in good hands. I have been admitted to USC and LBS and my dream reach school Wharton. That is half of my schools. I was reapplying to Wharton and also HBS and Haas. I did not get into HBS or Haas.

The feedback was very timely, response times were good. I felt that they were detail oriented as well as helped with my strategy up front. We did some things that were very different from my approach first time around and it paid off. I was very overwhelmed in the beginning and Bill especially had a way of breaking it down and making things simpler and more digestable. I also used the online center for reference - it was a nice tool.

Finally, my interview prep was awesome. I cannot tell you how much of a difference that made for me. They definoitely knew what the schools were looking for and gave me great prep sessions.

Kind of all over the map here but just trying to think of details to add...I think that's it - hope it helps. If you have specifc questions I can answer but you might want to PM me so I am sure to see it.
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New post 28 Apr 2011, 06:56
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I've been getting a lot of questions from folks on admission consultants.. and how to evaluate them.. if A is better than B.. etc... I figured I should write up a post on how I evaluated them and provide some of the newbies with advice.

please feel free to add anything more info

1. Availability - During your initial consult you will get a feel for this.. Are they so busy that you have to wait more than a week.. do they only have 1 slot in that week etc... If they appear super busy then chances are they are super busy. Don't wait last minute though to start your app.. Another indication here is if they are actually reading your material during the call.. I expect them to have already read your stuff before the call.

2. Cost - Don't just look at the price, compare with the services offered. Be sure they offer the stuff that you need. Do you need only essays, think about other things like recommendations, interview, brainstorming, picking schools etc.. Also ask them how many times will they meet with you.. Some folks are particular like 3 consultations.. others are more flexible.

3. Knowledge of School -Ask questions about the school you are interested in.. Dont just ask if you have a shot ? .. Maybe ask why they believe you have a good shot.. or what are your strengths and weaknesses to get into school X ?


4. Knowledge of candidate background - Some of you may disagree here, but I found this very helpful when the consultant was an engineer with my background. This helps a lot with essays and brainstorming. Another important thing I've noticed is that, when I wrote something technical in my essay, he not just recognized that this is too technical, but he understood what it meant and converted it into relevant and understandable language. All this saves time on your end and helps with the schedule.

5. Schedule - Probably the most important. Acceptance of your timeline by the consultant. can he/she meet your schedule ? Can they deliver on date X ..Dont just look at the last milestone.. make sure you discuss the individual milestones and write it out together.. Add 1~2 weeks on top of that as a buffer.. This might occur if you add some more edits and changes.

6. Reviews on GMAT Club- Very helpful and pretty accurate.. read them see what people have said. Do this first before you start scheduling your calls.

Finally take notes when you talk with them, just like any interviewer would. Do they address all your concerns ? I think a lot of ppl will tell you that the free consultation is an extremely good indication of how they will be throughout your app process.. so if for any reason you are not happy during your first free call, either send them an email and say you want to talk about x again.. or just move to the next one.



There you go.. some of my thoughts.. please feel free to add anything I may have missed .. Again this is from my personal experience and is just to offer you some guidance.

Good Luck !!
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New post 19 May 2011, 12:00
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BB,

Would you be willing to disclose whether consultants have to pay a fee to pitch their services on your site?

GMATClub is one of the best resources out there for MBA aspirants and admissions consultants are becoming a more pervasive element of the MBA landscape. For those of us that aren't bankers/management consultants, the costs associated with these MBA consultants are not insignificant. It's somewhat disconcerting that merely because some of us can't afford to use a consultant we may not gain entry into a program while somebody of greater means, but not necessarily a better candidate will get that spot because they could afford a professional editor. I guess that's life though. It seems like everybody with an HBS MBA is in the admissions consulting business. In the end, MBA consulting is a rather inefficient, opaque market and I'd be interested in knowing whether the consulting companies that are prevalent on the site pay a fee to be here? If so, would that represent a potential conflict of interest? Some of us can only afford it for 1-2 schools and we want to make an informed decision to give ourselves the best shot.

As it relates to M7, I didn't memorize each of his posts, but I don't recall M7 ever asserting that he had previously used any of the consultants and had a poor experience. If memory serves me correct, M7 disclosed his experiences with different consultants based on the free diagnostic sessions that they offer. M7 was particularly pointed in his comments with respect to Stacy Blackman by telling her to address problems in her organization rather than make apologies. Ultimately, I don't think that M7 was ever disingenous or misrepresented himself as someone who had actually employed a consultant's services. That said, you've got the posts and I don't so I'm open to being told that I'm wrong and M7 misrepresented himself, but I don't think that he did.

Thanks.
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New post 18 Dec 2012, 21:03
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Now that the app season is over for me (I got into Tuck!), I think it's only fair that I a) say a big thank you to all those who helped me reach my goal, and b) pay it forward to the GmatClub community by providing my views which should be of help to them.

Full Disclosure: I did NOT engage anyone for the hefty full admissions consulting options. Both because I couldn't afford it and also because I felt I had a clear idea of school selection, didn't need help on recos, was a reapplicant etc. The post below is thus divided into three sub sections: a) Initial Consultation Calls b) Editing Help for Essays c) Interview Prep

a) Initial Consultation Calls

Admissionado - What can I say? Out of all the 'Big Consulting Companies' - funny how that's getting translated here like a BCG, Bain, McKinsey :) - they were my absolute favourite. The people employed by Admissionado are FANTASTIC. Especially Lauren who I feel is a terrific salesperson (amazing at follow ups, very friendly) and will probably be a long term friend to most who use the company's services. I have been engaged with them since last year in a way, when they did a free essay review of mine for my Tuck app last year. That feedback really helped me this year, and they were kind enough to do a free consultation call for me this year despite already having helped me with a free essay edit.

In the end, due to budget constraints, I didn't work with them. However, there are enough reviews on this forum that can testify for their quality, and in general I felt they were solid and nice people whom I would have loved to work with .Shout out to Lauren and Jon. They infuse some level of humour in their reverts, the usage of slang (dude!) is welcome, I just wish they used less CAPS in their text - In India, that is perceived as shouting and really pisses people off. Ah well, I am 50% American already so I got why they were using the Caps :)

Fortuna Admissions - Now this is a new, and unique, service offering. Some of the most high profile admissions director and the founder of the MBA Tour join forces to provide you a never before experience. Excellent concept on paper and unparalleled insight if, for example, you work on your Chicago Booth app with Rose - ex Head of Admissions for the school. I only spoke to Matt, and he was kind to speak with me for an hour. The call was very different from the typical calls I had done until now. Matt is very very knowledgable, and his demeanor is focussed on asking questions/answering queries as if he were the adcom at a school. Eg: in my discussion, he asked me my goals, why I wanted to do what I wanted to do, why switch even though career was going great guns, rationale behind school selection. Post this he said, I get what you are saying, but if I was Rod Garcia at MIT, and I looked at your app versus what the school stands for, I don't see a fit and hence maybe MIT wasn't the best place to apply (probably right, no interview from them :) ). Again, only had a one hour call with Matt and didnt use services, but I got a very positive vibe. Add to this that Matt is a very warm person who genuinely wished me the best for results at Tuck, Kellogg etc., and I guess they become a serious contender for any service firm you would want to contract.

PS - There are other firms I spoke to - could literally write a book now. I think I did these 'free' calls with almost anyone who is offering admissions consulting service. I will post (unclearadmit.tumblr.com) a very lengthy and detailed review of ALL the firms I spoke to and my perspective on the whole engaging an admissions consultant theory soon.


b) Editing Help for Essays

Only used one person for this, although had never heard of him before. In my current role, assessing people is a key competency and I got a very strong vibe from Bryan and felt compelled to work with him. My detailed review on him is here (best-admission-consulting-companies-92923-340.html#p1129498) and if you visit his website you'll see his clients having been accepted to Stanford, HBS, Tuck (Me!), etc. already. Very down to earth, humble, helpful person to work with. An example of his kindness: Although I only did an hourly engagement, he was kind enough to prep me (more mentally than otherwise) for my Tuck interview, speaking to me for 30 mins., without any semblance of asking for money/additional fee. And its not like I worked with him on a 15 hour deal or a full admissions package - so you'll understand what I mean. Highly recommend him for editing services - As a non native, I found tremendous value.

c) Interview Prep

This is a good example of how the GmatClub is a helpful community. I read a review on Alice here and contacted her. Incidentally, the day we were to speak, I got an interview invite from Tuck. So I used the 30 minutes (turned out to be one hour) to do a mock interview with her. She was very accomodating and helpful - I don't think anyone offers a free mock interview in their initial consultation. Her insights were just fabulous and I firmly believe my Tuck interview may not have gone off as well as it did if I hadn't spoken to her. I haven't used her for editing services, but I would recommend you speak with her nonetheless and make that decision. As she was an effective interviewer, I would be bullish on her. More detailed review here: best-admission-consulting-companies-92923-340.html#p1143809
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New post 18 May 2011, 23:03
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kudos to redjam and sapphiral for posting their experiences. After reading them, I have no doubt in my mind that these are genuine. There are a lot of fake posts out there - shameless plugs for one consulting firm or the other.

After a lot of research (which basically means trying to read about people' experiences on the internet; in my view just having a free session is hardly going to prepare you to expect what is coming) I have signed up for a consultant and will be working with one. I will post my experience once the dust settles and the whole process is over.

People - if you use a consultant then please do post your experience here for what it really was. Don't reveal the schools etc if you don't feel comfortable but do share. Frankly, the cost of hiring a consultant is not insubstantial and there is very little information out there to even know what one is getting into after having parted with $ right up front.

Please share.
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New post 19 May 2011, 20:42
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Gryphon wrote:
BB,

Would you be willing to disclose whether consultants have to pay a fee to pitch their services on your site?

GMATClub is one of the best resources out there for MBA aspirants and admissions consultants are becoming a more pervasive element of the MBA landscape. For those of us that aren't bankers/management consultants, the costs associated with these MBA consultants are not insignificant. It's somewhat disconcerting that merely because some of us can't afford to use a consultant we may not gain entry into a program while somebody of greater means, but not necessarily a better candidate will get that spot because they could afford a professional editor. I guess that's life though. It seems like everybody with an HBS MBA is in the admissions consulting business. In the end, MBA consulting is a rather inefficient, opaque market and I'd be interested in knowing whether the consulting companies that are prevalent on the site pay a fee to be here? If so, would that represent a potential conflict of interest? Some of us can only afford it for 1-2 schools and we want to make an informed decision to give ourselves the best shot.

As it relates to M7, I didn't memorize each of his posts, but I don't recall M7 ever asserting that he had previously used any of the consultants and had a poor experience. If memory serves me correct, M7 disclosed his experiences with different consultants based on the free diagnostic sessions that they offer. M7 was particularly pointed in his comments with respect to Stacy Blackman by telling her to address problems in her organization rather than make apologies. Ultimately, I don't think that M7 was ever disingenous or misrepresented himself as someone who had actually employed a consultant's services. That said, you've got the posts and I don't so I'm open to being told that I'm wrong and M7 misrepresented himself, but I don't think that he did.

Thanks.


Thank you for bringing this up. Allow me to happily clarify. I can assure you that not a single post has been removed or that anything has been changed to benefit anyone. I hope you realize that GMAT Club has been around for 8 years and it would be quite a waste of all that effort? I guess think of google who would start inflating the organic search results of paid search sponsors - they would ruin their reputation and nobody would use google anymore. I don't think Google would want to do it and neither would I - the benefit is simply too immediate and too small to warrant such shortsighted and greedy move.

Historically GMAT Club has had a very strict policy back in the day when any time a new consultant other than approved (Accepted, Veritas, and MBA Apply) would show up, they would be removed/banned/etc. I don't know why or how it evolved but that's what several of the moderators felt was right and I was happy to support this.

We have since opened up the Ask Admissions Consultant forums to ALL admissions consultants. We do not charge anyone to post/participate. That seemed to make the most sense and has benefited the community, though it has made the "Ask Admissions Consultants" forum a bit of a zoo.

We do have some real estate on the site to advertise and we offer that space to vendors including Google. It is not performance based, it is just placement and if a vendor wants to have exposure, they can get it. If 500 people sign up or 1, there is no differences. This allows us to fund projects and keep the development going and pays for several people's time including my own but if you take into consideration how much time I have spent/invested and keep investing and how much I got paid back, my hourly rate is extremely low, hence I have a real job.

As to the posts of M7, see it reproduced below. Here is specifically what was posted and I don't think that was posted in the spirit of GMAT Club or in the spirit of helpfulness. I frankly thought this person has had a very negative experience with her but in reality, he/she never have even used her services. I felt this was an unfair post and added no value compared to the hate it contained - do you disagree? I think one way do this post would be to quote/provide sources and perhaps links to reviews (maybe fix 4 spelling errors) - that would be a fantastic post. I contacted M7 and upon the exchange, removed that post. (I have contacted a number of other users who have posted/reviewed consultants with clarifying questions or asking to add more color to their experience. Sometimes to validate their extra positive review or sometimes to understand if a certain consultant had poor practices. This was the only time I ever removed anyone's post in this thread outside of spam, which by the way, we do not delete, just move to a hidden forum).

m7 wrote:
Stacy or Sandy? Neither, based on my encounters. Stay away from both.
P.S. Stacy, instead of replying to countless negative feedbacks on different sites with "wow, I am upset, why, I am good!", go and make serious changes in your firm, bad reputaiton follows your name everywhere. Then you can show that you really care as you claim and you would not have to write looong replies here trying to reconvince past (very unhappy) clients and convince potential ones.


Now, if you feel that I have inaccurately represented Stacy's services, do a search on GMAT Club, there are plenty of posts of various degrees (positive and negative). Here is one. I think that's a legit post and i have no plans to do anything with it. Just for the background, I have a very involved full time job (I don't live off GMAT Club) and a family which keep me very busy. I don't have time to mess around with a guy who has nothing else to do but complain and be ridiculous. However, I will spend time to keep GMAT Club free of trolls and elitists that I have seen on another forum in 2002 when I started the GMAT Club. PM me if you have any detailed questions - I am not a fan of mass-CC emails.
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Re: "Best" admission consulting companies?   [#permalink] 19 May 2011, 20:42

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"Best" admission consulting companies?

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