April 09, 2015

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I took a very rigorous approach in choosing the consultant I wanted to work with. I emailed most all the top firms, and few individual consultants that came recommended from my network or online reviews. In closing, I probably held about 8 informational interviews. I was fairly ready to go with another consultant, but my last call was with Angela, and I couldn’t be more grateful that was the case.

It’s easy to get sold on some other consultancies. I spoke to former admissions committee members at GSB and Wharton, and although I don’t doubt they are extremely competent, the value in an admissions consultant is derived less from their past experience and more from their ability to understand where you’ve come from, where you are now, where you want to go, and how to weave all that together in a personalized brand and story – in short, an ability to connect with you. Luckily, Angela is one of the best story tellers out there.

After five minutes of speaking to Angela it was clear that she was a foot more empathetic, understanding, and interested in my background and story than the other’s I had spoken to. But what most impressed me was the rigor with which she questioned my goals, my strategy, and my motives. You will speak to plenty of “yes people” during this process who tell you how great your profile is and how they can definitely get you into some top programs. Angela was clearly more interested in me as a candidate than having my business, as evidenced by the honest and direct manner with which Angela evaluated my application. This inspired me to work harder, have a greater understanding of myself, and not settle for an essay I wrote that was “good enough.” I can only speak for my experience with Angela, but I suspect she pushes, challenges, and is more direct with her clients than others, which is something I wanted. I suspect there are many admissions consultants who will let an average or good idea slip through to the final application – Angela is not one of those people.

After giving Angela an idea of my story and strategy for the applications, Angela made some crucial tweaks, additions, and omissions that were necessary to get the best information across with the limited word count we are all constricted to. As a disclaimer, none of these accredited firms are going to write your essays for you – that’s not how it works, or how it should work. As expected, these essays were written by me. But Angela’s thought process, guidance, insight, and challenging line of questioning pushed all my stories in a better, or different, direction that didn’t resemble my original drafts – in content, polish, effectiveness, and tone. One specific example stands out which highlights how connected Angela is to her client’s work. We had gone through about four drafts of an essay for a school that was one of my top choices. Although it was a relevant and insightful story, that may well have been good enough, Angela told me we had to scrap it and start over with a new idea. At first I was concerned that we were changing directions with three weeks until the deadline, but upon reflection I agreed - the essay just wasn’t great, and wasn’t going to ever be great because the experience I was writing about just didn’t mean that much to me. To this day I am grateful that Angela pushed me from “good to great,” as the next draft was infinitely more personal and relevant, and I was accepted into the school for which the essay was written.

Overall, I was very pleased with the results. I consider myself a “unique” candidate, as I worked a very different job right out of undergrad (it wasn’t even in the business field) and I had a GPA that was well below the average for all the schools I applied to (although I was a business major). A 730 on the GMAT probably helped my chances, but I definitely needed help in bringing my story together. I basically applied to all schools in the M7 except for MIT, Columbia, and Wharton, and then Stern as well. I got into Kellogg and Stern, and will be attending Kellogg in the fall.

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