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.
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