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Free Consultation with Admission Consultants

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Free Consultation with Admission Consultants [#permalink]

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New post 14 Aug 2017, 18:11
I am looking to hire an admission consultant, and I have had six "free consultation" calls with six different companies thus far.

During each call, I asked for a rough range of schools I should apply to (i.e., schools that are not way out of my league) based on the initial assessment of my profile (GMAT, GPA, Resume, etc.)
Four out of six consultants said that I could basically apply to any top schools and that I should really focus on top 5 schools. In other words, no programs (not even H/S/W) are way out of league for me.
On the other hand, two out of six consultants crushed me saying that I would need a lot of help to get into top 10 programs and that I shouldn't even apply to H/S/W.

The responses I received were so different that I thought about potential reasons for such a gap.
I have a feeling that the first group of consultants were sugarcoating my application strength in order to get my hopes up and make themselves more attractive.
And perhaps the latter group of individuals, interestingly both the owner of the company, are concerned about the company's success rate (both companies disclose their success rates on their websites) and thus were steering me towards the schools with higher chances.

I think both of the above reasons contributed to such a gap, and I am not sure if I can rely on the opinions from one group or the other.

And I wanted to ask whether anyone else had such an experience during the "free consultation" calls with admission consultants.
If so, which group (the optimistic ones or the pessimistic ones) did you end up working with? Also, towards which side was the actual result closer to?

Even if the feedbacks you initially received were consistent among the different consultants, was the end result pretty comparable to the initial assessment?
If you could share your initial assessment and the actual results, that would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much in advance!

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Re: Free Consultation with Admission Consultants [#permalink]

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New post 15 Aug 2017, 20:35
Hi Cchang,
I was in your shoes at this exact time last year and based on the success of my eventual outcome, I want to briefly share my story with you and hopefully guide you in the right direction. For reference, I am a current first year at Duke Fuqua.

After taking the GMAT in June and doing relatively well, I really began to think about the schools I wanted to apply to. Over the next 2 months, I went to MBA Fairs in NYC and spoke with a number of consultants - both boutique and mass market (Veritas, Stacy Blackmon, etc.). I wasn't 100% sold on the concept of using an admissions consultant because the price, to me, seemed exorbitant. I had a number of free 30 minute phone conversations with consultants, and often times the information they gave me was vague, but leaning towards optimistic. Some said I had a good shot at 10-20 schools without going into much detail and some said I would need to improve my GMAT slightly for a chance at M7, but it never got much more beyond that. You are correct - some firms will tell you that your chances at extremely low to keep their success rate high, and others tell you that your chances are higher than normal to get you excited and hopefully book more business.

Fast forward to August, and I'm struggling with my application to my dream school (at the time), UCLA. It quickly became clear to me that I was taking a big risk in going at it alone, and decided to call one of the consultants I had met on one of my NYC fairs, Scott Edinburgh - or otherwise known as the Personal MBA Coach. I had spoken with Scott for about 10-15 minutes at one of the fairs and one of the things that stood out to me the most was how well he listened to me and tried to understand my story, despite the line of people behind me waiting for his time. When I called him after 2 months, he remembered me immediately and we set up a time for a one hour phone talk to discuss my schools, my story, and my reasons for wanting to go business school. On the call, I went into great detail about my life and he gave me suggestions about which schools he thought fit my profile, my personality, and the goals I wanted to achieve post-MBA (investment management/finance)

We came up with 3 target schools for R1 - Duke, UCLA, and Texas. "Safety" schools were Vanderbilt and USC. I made a personal decision to wait on potential "reach" schools until the results of R1 came back. From the get-go, Scott was honest and kept me accountable for getting my work done on time. When I was kicking the can on my resume edits, he sent me a blunt e-mail to "get it together." He placed my chances at the target schools at above 50%, although he thought my GMAT was a touch low for UCLA (700). We discussed re-taking the GMAT in R2 to try and score a 730+, but decided to stick to R1, since I come from an over-represented group and it's generally best to apply R1 such circumstances.

The results of R1? 5/5 in acceptances with significant scholarship money at both of my safeties. Scott was incredible throughout the entire process and was spot on in predicting which schools I had the best chances at and would fit in to both socially and academically. We decided to roll the dice in R2 with a couple of M7 (Wharton and Columbia), but Scott cautioned that while the chances weren't zero, he thought it would be difficult for me to gain acceptance. So, when I didn't get an interview from either, I wasn't too disappointed. In retrospect, some of the other consultants I spoke with during the summer liked my chances at Columbia, but Scott was correct in saying my chances were not great. Scott had been blunt and honest with me and pushed me to work as hard as I possibly could - essays almost always went 7-8 drafts before the final and he made sure I was well prepped for my interviews in R1. Not to mention all of the 2am e-mails I sent him as I was having an existential crisis during this entire process! Not only was he my consultant, but my psychologist as well :)

So, to recap, his initial assessment of my profile was that I had a good chance at my top choices (UCLA and Duke), but would struggle to gain acceptance from the M7 based on my GMAT score. As you can see, he was spot on. I can't begin to tell how you thrilled I was with the results and actually linked Scott with a close friend of mine who had used Veritas in R1 and had gotten zero interviews...with Scotts help in R2, he gained acceptance to 2 top-20 schools. I'm having an amazing time in my first week at Duke - he was instrumental in helping me make a choice between UCLA and Duke and brought me peace of mind with my ultimate decision.

My advice to you would be to send Scott an email and have a discussion with him. Unlike the mass market firms which juggle you between consultants, Scott is the only person you will be working with. He IS the Personal MBA Coach. I would say his style is one of cautious optimism - he's not afraid to be forthright with his opinions and will most certainly push you to produce the best work possible. I gave 110% of what I had, and I wouldn't have been able to do it without Scotts help, expertise, and moral support

If you have any more questions about Scott, or the admissions consultants in general, I would be more than happy to chat, just send me a private message and we can take it offline. I love helping others achieve their BSchool dreams like I did, so don't hesitate to reach out! I know how difficult the process can be :|

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Re: Free Consultation with Admission Consultants [#permalink]

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New post 17 Aug 2017, 18:02
Wow - thank you so much for such a detailed and helpful response!

It really feels good to know that someone else was in my position before and that he/she has matriculated at a top program.
I will make sure to reach out to Scott.

Also, thank you for offering to help with any other questions along the way. I will PM you if I need any additional guidance.

Thanks!!!

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Re: Free Consultation with Admission Consultants   [#permalink] 17 Aug 2017, 18:02
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