Part 1: Admissions Consultant: do you need one and how to pick the right one?

Like most consulting services, Admissions Consulting is expensive. More importantly, however, a poor decision on your part on whether to engage an Admissions Consultant or not can cost you time, effort and money.

Rather than giving you a biased answer (since we are an Admissions Consulting firm), we will lay out the pros and cons of hiring an Admissions Consultant. Subsequently, we will tell you when it makes most sense to hire one. Additionally, we will also help you create a checklist to hire the right consultant!

 

Let’s start with the cons:

  1. $$$: It costs you a lot of money. And, for what exactly? To write essays about YOUR profile!
  2. You might lost your original voice in your essays
  3. You might have creative differences with your consultant, which if not managed properly could lead to a lot of friction.
  4. At the end of the day, you are the one taking all the risk, so why should you pay a consultant?

 

Now, the pros:

  1. You gain access to strong research: If you lack an understanding (rather an in-depth understanding!!) about MULTIPLE  business schools, you have the following options:
  1. You can speak to a friend/acquaintance to gain an understanding about business schools you are interested in applying. (it is likely that they would at know at most about 1-2 business schools)
  2. You can visit the schools you are interested in applying (this is time consuming and expensive)

 

We stress on MULTIPLE BUSINESS SCHOOLS here because in an admissions cycle an applicant usually applies to 5-7 business schools.

  1. You get a leg-up in the competition: Given the intense competition (especially for Indian and Chinese applicants) it is useful to gain an upper hand by having someone who knows the process by your side.

 

  1. It can help you save time, effort and money:
  • Saves time: If you are pressed on time, then you are better off working within an expert, who can streamline the process for you, help you apply to targeted programs and help you get maximum return on your invested time.
  • Unbiased opinion: There are 1000s of business schools and it is likely that you would be considering at least 15-20 business school options. Every business school that you will speak with (alumni or admissions team) you are likely to get “padded response”. For eg. if you ask them to assess your chances of your admissions, their likely response is that you should “consider applying”. It is not as if they are deliberately misleading you, they simply don’t have enough information about you to give you a targeted answer. If you do end up working with an admissions consultant (at least a good one!), they can narrow down your school choices and help you save a lot of time, effort and money.

 

Our verdict:

  • Do not hire an admissions consultant if you are well versed with different business schools you are going to apply to; you know about the changing trends at a business school (for eg. Cambridge is shifting its MBA offering to tech oriented roles; a few years back Wharton was big on impact investing; Stanford was big on clean-tech) and you know how to position your profile in a (FEASIBLE!) manner to beat the competition (who are likely to be hiring Consultants).