MBA Admissions Advice: Admissions Consulting


Before I seriously considered applying to business schools, I honestly had no idea the amount of applicants that used the services of admissions consultants. It’s reported that at least 1/3 of applicants to top 10 programs admitted to using some form of consulting. When I saw the costs of how much these services cost, I was even more surprised. But I guess, to achieve your goals, you have to be willing to do whatever (or pay whatever) it takes to get there. The more I start to mentally prepare myself for everything I have to do to apply to each of my target schools, the more I realize just how helpful these consultants probably are. If only I had access to an unlimited supply of money to pay them. I have already taken advantage of several free profile evaluations and plan to do so again once I narrow down my school selection and take the GMAT, but I am still unsure whether hiring an admissions consultant is extremely necessary for me at this point. While I can definitely see the pros, especially because I am a young applicant and the guidance would be extremely helpful, I feel like the first time around, I should try it out on my own and if I am unsuccessful, reevaluate my mistakes for next year and then decide if a consultant is necessary.

This brings me to my next two questions: (1) What type of prospective applicants hire admissions consultants and (2) What is the ROI? From the sources I have read, I can never really pin point the background of the applicants who hire outside help. Are they perfectionists that won’t be satisfied unless they get into H/S/W? Are they moderately unqualified applicants that need help crafting the perfect essays and resume to hide a marginal GPA and/or GMAT score? Or maybe they represent the norm of business school applicants that just need a little bit of guidance? And then what is the over/under on the number of prospective applicants that actually get into the program they want or any program at all?

I’m sure individual consulting services discuss all of these questions with serious inquiries about their rate of success, but if these stats are published anywhere, I would love to read them. I feel like every consultant will say an applicant needs some form of help, I mean why they not say that, but who actually needs to use them and does it actually make that much more of a difference?

How many of you have or plan to use an admissions consultant this year? I would love to hear your thoughts.


Posted on June 4, 2014, in MBA Admissions Advice and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Although I think I’m a decent enough writer, I definitely felt that a consultant would help me narrow down the schools and help formulate an attack strategy. What image of yourself are you going to portray to the adcoms? How do you get the most out of your achievements in a strong, coherent way?

    I mean if you have people around you who can be objective and help you with this, that’s great! But I know I don’t. I also wanted some guaranteed expertise who is able to tell me facts that I don’t have to constantly second guess. So yeah, I just paid for a consultant. I haven’t started working on my applications yet but I’m quite impressed with them so far. Yeah, it’s a huge chunk of money, but I figure if it gets me into the school of my dreams, it will be a small investment to make.

    • I completely agree with your train of thought and will probably use one as well at some point. I also don’t have a good network of people around me that could replace the knowledge a consultant can offer.

  2. Hey I posted the reviews of the different firms. I HIGHLY recommend AT LEAST doing the 30 minute consult. It provided a lot of visibility and helpful analysis to my situation.

  3. First of all, good luck with your journey.

    I think it depends on how confident a writer you are. Also if you are good at being introspective and are incredibly self-aware, that helps a lot.

    I didn’t use one. My essays probably did not hurt me but also didn’t sell my story as best as they should have and I still got into one of my top choices. My problem was not having a good network of people to review my essays. If you spend enough time reaching out to current students / alums, you should be able to cultivate enough of a network to avoid an admissions consultant.

    • Domotron,

      Thank you!!

      I feel like I am a pretty good writer but like you, I don’t have alot of people around me that will be able to review my essay and be as critical as I would like. I will see how things go once I start writing, and then will decide if a consultant is necessary. Appreciate the feedback.

      I definitely need to start reaching out to current students and alum more for sure. Thanks for the tip. My to do list is just growing and growing lol.

  4. I will be going to an admission consultant for sure! I don’t really have any friends or a network that can help me out with my essays and my profile . I am on the hunt for some good, inexpensive consultants at moment ( Some of the rates make me cringe). Like MBAreapplicant84 says, the 30 minute free consultation gives you a lot of insight into the sort of service you can expect. I’ll send across a list of people i’ve have a 30 minute consultation with!

  5. Main benefit is providing feedback on your essays and applications to help them be the best they can. If you struggle to write a compelling story and have no friends that can help; they are an option, if you have money. I personally went for friends, a couple of books on how to write business school essays. Then to say thanks got my mates out for a couple of drinks to say thanks.

  6. I agree with GrantMeAdmission, I know a lot of people that have gotten in to HSW and other top schools without using a consultant, but you definitely need to build a good network of people that can help you along the way. That being said, if you are going to use a consultant, make sure you do your due diligence. Not all consultants are created equal. Most firms will do a free 30 minute session. Use that time to get a good feel for the firm/consultant, their process, their level of involvement, and make sure that you are not just going to pass you off to a junior consultant that you have never met.

  7. I think if you one can afford it, then using them minimizes risks which is very important in the application process. At the same time it reduces time spent on preparing essays and so on. I think if you don’t afford to use full time services at least you should try to use it for your essays. I will think about it after the gmat.

  8. I will be trying some out (and posting the results and impressions), but I have a lot of friends that have gotten into HSW without them. Apparently if you do your homework and have a good network that can provide a keen eye for your application, you should be okay.

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