|All Reviews > Chris Aitken > Chris Aitken Reviews|
Joined: Dec 30, 2017
780 Q51 V47
I highly recommend hiring Chris to help you through the grueling MBA application process. My only regret is not reaching out to him earlier to help me optimize my entire application.
I only reached out to Chris after getting an interview at my top choice. With a week to spare, I shot him an email asking to set up a mock interview. Even though he’s a very busy guy, he squeezed me in on a Saturday afternoon. Chris was a consummate professional: he was thoroughly prepared for our interview, as he had already read through my application very closely and done a bit of brainstorming on how I could answer certain questions. As for the mock interview itself – my first attempt at an interview like that – it did not go well. But Chris walked through each type of question with me and helped me articulate better examples to paint a consistent picture of who I am as a candidate. Furthermore, he gave me some additional background on the interview process and the different ways each school approaches it. After my hour with Chris, I felt like I had a much better grasp of the process and how to frame my experiences. I also immediately regretted not reaching out to him earlier for the broader application process.
I ultimately was accepted to my top choice school. If you’re serious about getting into an elite business school, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not reaching out to Chris for a consultation. I’m very confident that without his help, I would’ve had a much lower probability of success.
Joined: Feb 07, 2017
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I was one of the biggest skeptics of MBA consultants when I started down my MBA journey. Not only was I (a then public sector employee) shocked by the consultant fee, but I also got very little out of MBA consultations. In these consultations, I felt like I was not getting an honest assessment of my candidacy.
I only seriously thought about hiring a consultant after I had a call with Chris. For the consultation, Chris started by asking pointed questions to understand my background, school identification process and career goals. The questions were challenging and, as a result, helped me better understand exactly where I was in my MBA journey. Chris also gave me an honest and insightful assessment of my candidacy. Admittingly, it was not what I wanted to hear, instead it was exactly what I needed to hear.
I knew I wanted to work with Chris after this call, but had to convince myself whether I would be crazy to spend thousands of dollars for help with my application. Looking back now with acceptance and a scholarship offer from my top school, the only crazy thing was how much I agonized over one of the best decisions I made in all of last year. I owe 100% of this success to my collaboration with Chris.
Working with Chris was the most fulfilling, challenging and enjoyable collaboration I have been a party to. Similar to other consultants, Chris created a project platform to track our progress and utilized an array of different materials and videos. What makes Chris different from the rest is his ability to read and understand you, which is a product of his genuine interest in you as a person. Of course, he wants you to get into your top school. More importantly, he cares for you as friend and wants you to succeed in your life goals. Because he is so invested in you he matches, if not exceeds, the effort you put into your applications. For instance, Chris stayed up past midnight for three straight days to help me get an application done and helped me work through a break up that happened 3 days before my interview.
When I got my first interview, Chris was the first person I emailed and a few minutes later he called to congratulate me. I never felt like I was working with a consultant because Chris became a dear friend and my go to person throughout my applications. I miss collaborating with him on a regular basis, but still regularly connect with him whether through an email with interesting tid bits or an update in my MBA journey.
To end, here are my three pieces of advice for you:
1. If you get the chance to work with Chris, then DO IT!
2. If you are 100% sure you want an MBA but would not be ready to have a consultation yet because it was hard to fill out all the information on the form, then FILL IT OUT as best you can and start working with Chris! I wish I had started earlier in my process.
3. If you are worried about the fee, then DON’T! This investment is pennies compared to the cost of business school and the reward of scholarships can be huge.
Cheers and good luck!
690 Q46 V38
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I knew the second that I hung up from my 30-minute free consultation with Chris Aitken that I would be comparing every future consultation to his.
As a bit of a nontraditional candidate – slightly older, atypical work experience, broad range of targeted domestic and international schools – I had decided that enlisting the help of an admissions consultant would allow me to market my unique story more effectively than I could do alone.
In that initial call, Chris highlighted his extraordinary sense of perception by drilling down to the essence of my story (culled from the limited questionnaire I had completed) while offering a multitude of compelling ways to position my candidacy. He also tempered his words with a healthy dose of reality, reminding me that my profile also presented a few pinch points that would need to be addressed. Energized by the possibilities and encouraged by the direct and honest approach, I knew even before completing a round robin of free consultations that hiring Chris would be key in facilitating and complementing my admissions journey.
Four offers (and a scholarship) on four applications later, “facilitating” and “complementing” don’t even begin to describe the experience of working with Chris.
First, Chris employed an extremely successful process of self-reflection and contemplation that enabled me to think critically about who I am as a person before even completing a school selection, much less starting an application. Upon completion, I found that I was both intellectually and emotionally prepared to begin the application process, and I cannot understate the importance of the latter.
Second, and perhaps of most value, Chris placed a high premium on my ability to truly internalize my future goals, both short and long term: defining, redefining, and understanding the process to achieve them. I was continually challenged to conduct industry research and connect with the recognized leaders in my field in order to synthesize and realize my future trajectory, and can now say that I now have more clarity about the path before me than ever before.
Finally, Chris is totally and completely thorough – I once joked that he was worth his fee simply because, as an American, he called attention to my oversight in formatting an essay into A4 for one of my European schools. Nonetheless, in each of my four applications, Chris ensured that I took real pride in the final product; I never once clicked “submit” without feeling that there was nothing more that could have been done to make an application better. It was unbelievably liberating to know that even if my applications ultimately proved unsuccessful that I would find comfort in having submitted such polished work.
Ultimately, my time with Chris was a transformative and life-affirming journey of self-reflection. I am truly appreciative of his time, talent, and investment in my success, and I eagerly look forward to begin the next chapter of my life in a top MBA program with the confidence of purpose that Chris instilled in me.
Joined: Feb 04, 2014
780 Q50 V48
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If you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work with Chris Aitken during your MBA application process, I unequivocally and wholeheartedly recommend you do so. Working with Chris was one of the most transformational experiences I've gone through thus far in my life. Not only did our time together end in my eventual acceptance to my dream school, Stanford, but also I've emerged the other end more confident, more directed in my career, and better equipped to take full advantage of the opportunities that will be available to me when I matriculate this fall.
I reached out to Chris in February as a hopeful Round 1 applicant. At that point, I had yet to take the GMAT and was only a few years out of college. I was also well aware that, as someone with no GMAT score to benchmark from, vaguely defined career goals, limited work experience, and relatively lackluster post-college extracurricular activities, my dream of attending Stanford rightfully seemed preposterous. And that is exactly what many other consultants told me.
But not Chris. While he was always realistic about my chances and never gave me false hope, when I told him I believed I could achieve this, at no point did he doubt or discourage me. Even come July when I started questioning my candidacy, Chris supported me not with lofty words, but with practical, insightful advice that helped me grow and gain the confidence I needed to continue forward.
Chris is the kind of consultant who truly cares about the individuals he works with. Yes, he has all the qualities that may seem obvious to look for -- he never worries about the amount of time you spend working together, turns around strategic guidance and essay suggestions inconceivably fast, and truly knows how to help you craft your best application while remaining true to your unique voice and story. But Chris is so much more than just a consultant. He is a true friend who continues to give me guidance long after my Stanford deposit has been submitted. He sends me articles that he thinks I will find interesting, invites me to lunch when I'm in town, and continues to give his insightful perspective into my career choices. He is truly invested in the outcome of my life, and not just my applications. I feel fortunate to have him in my corner.
For those of you just beginning the MBA application process, I am jealous of the transformational journey you have ahead. I sincerely believe that Chris Aitken and the MBA Prep School team are the best possible people to take that journey with. They not only helped me reach my MBA goals, but also helped me unlock my true potential. I am forever grateful for their support and cannot recommend them enough.
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Nothing but good vibes and kudos for Chris Aitken. I applied to 4 schools, was accepted into 2, and ultimately selected MIT Sloan because of the school’s strength in tech and entrepreneurship. A year ago, the mere thought of getting accepted into a “Top 5” was a pipe dream and yet here I am. Chris was absolutely instrumental in my application process – no doubt I wouldn’t have had such success without his coaching.
I was referred to Chris through my work colleague who had been worked with him and was accepted into a couple of top business schools the previous year. Before enlisting with Team Chris, I held a few introductory calls with other b-school consultants. From my initial calls, it was evident that Chris had just the right amount of realism and idealism. I felt that this approach really fit me. I never liked hearing that I could “do anything” but also didn’t appreciate people who saw me as anything less.
I started working with Chris in August 2014 and since I intended on applying Round 1, I was already fairly late to the process. For folks with busy work schedules, hiring Chris is a must. The cost of a great consultant / coach such as Chris more than outweighs the amount of time saved trying to figure everything out on your own. Although I was late to the process, Chris created a work plan for me and led me through the vast online resources at MBA Prep. We did a ton of brainstorming and planning upfront, which paid off big time down the road. Chris challenged me to think critically about my story and helped me put my best foot forward for each application. Although I have a fairly traditional background (banking/PE), he helped me discover many “hidden gems” that I didn’t even know existed. Throughout the entire process, Chris was very engaged, hands-on, and detail-oriented. Chris genuinely cared to see through my success.
The application process is brutal and time-consuming but with the right coaching and advice, it can be strangely insightful. In many ways, the process acts as a professional “life check.” Looking back, I would say the numerous hours of conversations I’ve had with Chris helped me truly understand what I wanted to do with my career. I consider Chris to be a good friend and life coach. I’ve been fortunate to work with him and would absolutely recommend his coaching.
A good consultant is highly adept at helping with editing essays. A great one is so much more – he is a mentor, a coach, and a friend.
I can say, without reservation, that Chris is a fantastic admissions consultant. I would recommend him without reservation. With his help, I was overjoyed to get admitted to a top 5 school. But even if my application process had been unsuccessful, I would still recommend him.
Firstly – Chris genuinely interested in *you*. I interviewed 7 other admissions consultants before selecting Chris. Unlike others that simply delivered a ‘templatized’ pitch, Chris had done his homework into my background, and seemed genuinely interested in learning more about who I was on our call. This is critical because the more interested a consultant is in digging deep into your specific story, the better his ability and desire help you craft a unique message.
Secondly – Chris is approachable and balanced. Through the process, Chris helped draw out not only my strengths, but also my weaknesses. Because he’s just such a “good guy” it’s really easy to open up to him. This is absolutely crucial in developing an authentic, self-aware application.
Thirdly – Chris pushes you – hard. Applying to business school can be a physically exhausting and emotionally draining process. While Chris sympathizes with this, he doesn’t let you off easy. He pushes you to go through every aspect the MBAPrepSchool process (which in itself is great, by the way) and constantly drives you to conduct deeper research to better understand yourself and develop more specific messages.
Fourthly – Chris is aware and nuanced in his approach. A small but telling example – every time Chris came across a blog / article that he thought could help me – he’d email me its link. Another example - some admissions consultants conveniently told me that all of the schools were “pretty much the same”. Chris believed the exact opposite and drove me to understand the unique flavor of each school. Additionally, I’m an Indian applicant – and Chris, well, isn’t Indian. But his general awareness and ability to learn quickly was so high that this didn’t matter – indeed he served as an excellent bridge between my Indian mind-set and the culture of each of my US target schools. In an environment where you’re constantly trying to differentiate yourself from peers with similar backgrounds, while simultaneously trying to demonstrate fit with your target schools, these little things go a long way.
Finally, and most importantly – Chris is highly committed and always exceeds expectations. Despite my hectic international travel schedule, Chris always figured out a convenient time for us to speak. Most importantly, I never felt like I could not reach out to him because I was using ‘too much’ of his time. Quite the opposite – he pushed me to engage with him constantly and we spoke as often as I felt necessary. His turnaround time for feedback was consistently quick – responding to multiple essays within 12 hours. As admissions deadlines approached, I expected his availability to reduce drastically given the pressures of juggling with several clients simultaneously. This did not happen. I don’t know how he managed to do so, but he always made time for me. Chris never compromises in helping me put my best foot forward, even if it meant going beyond what was ‘contracted’. When things unexpectedly get tough, you want somebody that you can rely on in your corner no matter what. Chris is that person.
The obvious outcome of my interaction with Chris was that I was able to get into a ‘dream business school’. But on reflection, I realize this engagement has had a more lasting impact – through it I learned a lot about myself. This will not only help me through business school, but life as a whole!
Thank you Chris!
740 Q49 V42
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I interviewed several consultants and would recommend any MBA applicant to do the same. Ultimately the rapport and personal fit between you and the consultant is most important as you will spend a lot of time working together and will need to be comfortable opening up about your strengths and weaknesses.
I immediately appreciated Chris’ fair, honest feedback. He was comfortable being critical and asked a lot from me, but was always diplomatic when bearing bad news. For example, he convinced me to write the GMAT a second time, and rewrite essays numerous times.
I found the introspection necessary for strong essays difficult, but Chris asked the right questions to find great stories, recognize new value in my experiences, while rightly convincing me to disregard others. His advice was substantive, constructive, personalized, and actionable from day one.
It was also very important to me that Chris was always available to help, whether calling me from the airport after I sent him a stressed out email or pulling late nights as I put final pieces together last minute.
In addition to Chris’ consulting, the structure that MBA Prep School’s online platform provides was key to my success. They have effectively compartmentalized self-reflection, and turned the application into a step-by-step process that is much more approachable then staring at a blank word-doc.
Also, Chris was able to leverage the expertise of the rest of his team for their school specific experience, and varied creative writing styles to help me get into my dream school. Additionally, Chris opened his own personal network to help answer career focused questions I had.
Chris truly went above and beyond what I expected from a consultant, acting as a friend and mentor who was truly invested in my success. The value Chris provided far outweighed the cost. Because of Chris’ help I will be attending Columbia Business School, but more than that, conversations with Chris helped me identify and solidify my long-term goals such that I am confident that I will get the most out of my MBA experience.
Chris is a fantastic and marvelous guy. We had lengthy discussions on how to frame the answers and he never really bothered about the time we spent. In this process, he ensured that we come up with the best answers. He worked well beyond his role of an advisor and a consultant and helped me more as a friend and a well-wisher. Chris also prepared me well for the interviews and ensured that I give strong responses. In addition, his coaching was insightful and effective. It was great working with him and I really enjoyed the interaction. I applied in the third round deadline, yet due to Chris’s strong inputs, I was able to make it to my dream school. I would not hesitate to say that the credit for my admissions to Stanford, Yale and London Business School goes to him.
Joined: Apr 07, 2013
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I was introduced to Chris by a friend, and spoke to him and several other consultants are various firms before making a final decision on who to work with. Part of why I chose Chris was his balanced (in my view) take on the strengths and weaknesses of my candidacy in our initial call. Compared to other consultants who dwelled on the positives, I appreciated Chris’s attention to the gaps in my application, and his focus on how to address them. To be honest, I didn’t leave that first call feeling completely optimistic about the whole process, but on reflection I decided that’s what I was looking for from a consultant – someone to challenge and push me, and therefore help improve my application in ways I wouldn’t be able to do on my own.
I was late to the Round 1 process (Chris and I first spoke in August), and Chris helped me figure out a sensible number of schools to apply to (3). In retrospect, having seen other friends’ experiences, I’m very happy I didn’t push to submit more, and equally happy that I made sure to get apps in to all of my “top” choices within the same round. The videos / materials / worksheets developed by MBA Prep School were also a real benefit early in the process.
After our initial call, it was clear that I had a long way to go in creating a coherent “story” to tell across applications; the brainstorming and ideation exercises provided by MBA Prep School really helped me to bring forward the strongest elements in my background to deploy across schools and essays.
All that said, I think the personal dynamics really make or break this kind of relationship, and this is where Chris really shone. He certainly passes the “good guy” test, and – as I had judged from our initial call – was consistently supportive and easy to work with, while always challenging and looking to improve the final product. Most importantly, I never once felt like I had anything less than Chris’s full attention and commitment to my application – I might as well have been the only project he was working on. This was especially important given the short timeline we were working with – and frankly, time management was another primary reason I had engaged a consultant in the first place.
Chris helped develop a clear timeline to manage the process of getting 3 strong applications submitted, and he pushed me the whole way to accomplish that goal.
This process is tough. Working with Chris helped me internalize that, and realize that all you can do is put yourself in the best position to succeed and then roll the dice. Chris helped me put my best foot forward in all my applications – and even so, there were some surprises and disappointments. In the end, I got into one of my three top schools; and I also got a generous scholarship. I’m happy with my outcome, and grateful to Chris Aitken and MBA Prep School for helping me get there!
Joined: Feb 17, 2010
760 Q49 V46
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I want to strongly recommend Chris Aitken at MBA Prep School. Though I hired him only on an hourly basis, I found his advice to be very impactful and have very high bang-for-the-buck. He did a great job pushing me to articulate my rationale for why MBA and to get more specific about what attracts me to a specific school, while providing thoughtful suggestions. These were the weak points of my application and he zeroed in on them and worked with me to close the gaps. Though I was just an hourly client, Chris took the time to understood my background and goals and worked closely with me on all of my essays. He went above and beyond: he got on the phone and spent extra time with me when he didn't have to to make sure my essays were of high quality, and performed miraculous edits on a super-tight 24-hour deadline in the thick of R2 applications. He was also direct and honest. My first drafts were terrible and Chris wasn't afraid to call that out and push me to improve them.
I got into all but one school that I applied to (Wharton, Columbia, and Booth), including my top choice school. The only place I was rejected from was HBS and that was a real long shot because of my age and profile.
As a separate point, I am a reapplicant. I used another admissions consultant from a major well-reviewed firm last time around and I can unequivocally say that my experience with Chris was far superior vis-a-vis both quality of service and admissions outcomes, even though I spent significantly less time working with him.