Often, we hear from candidates who are just beginning their business school research and have questions about the MBA experience, application components, and submitting their applications. Many applicants who are entirely new to the process of MBA admissions might be wondering, What do MBA admissions consultants do? And do I need one?
If this sounds like you, we want to provide an explanation of the kinds of services MBA admissions consultants offer their clients. Hopefully, this information will facilitate your decision on whether hiring such a consultant would be right for you.
What is the general idea behind MBA admissions consulting?
Let us provide some context. Imagine you are interested in a high-level position at a prestigious, top-tier company you know very little about. While doing your preliminary research on the company, you find that its application process is very rigorous and includes several components that are completely new to you, such as writing about yourself and your past experiences in depth, demonstrating your professional mastery, and detailing what has led you to want this job in particular. You surmise that given the demands of your busy schedule, you might need several weeks (or even months) to put together an application that properly captures who you are and gives you the best chance of being considered for the job. And to complicate matters further, you realize that you are competing for this coveted position against thousands of other applicants—many of whom seem to be more qualified than you.
What would you do?
A. Quickly submit an application sight unseen by anyone other than you
B. Thoughtfully prepare an application with the help of a trusted advisor, mentor, or former leader at the company
Option B seems far more likely to yield a favorable outcome, right? We think so, too.
With any important decision or move in your life, we believe that getting a second opinion (ideally from a trusted advisor or mentor) is generally always a good idea to help inform your decision-making process and fine-tune the execution of your next steps.
For applicants to the world’s top-15 MBA programs, the stakes are high. Gaining admission to a premier business school will lay the foundation for the rest of an applicant’s life, ensure a quick return on investment, and foster future business success. Each year, thousands of candidates compete for just a few hundred spots in each MBA program’s incoming class, and they all know they need to stand out among the applicant pool. If you think this sounds like an uber-competitive process, it is.
MBA admissions consultants exist for this very reason: to advise MBA hopefuls through the application process and help ensure that the application they ultimately submit is the most compelling version possible.
But what does that process look like? We will explain that next.
What do MBA admissions consultants actually do for their clients?
On a day-to-day basis, MBA admissions consultants collaborate with their clients on the various components of the MBA application process, helping them brainstorm, execute, and polish their application materials. These tasks include the following:
- Pre-application Coaching: As you approach your business school applications and prepare for this incredibly important step in your life, having a long-term plan in mind and benchmarks to achieve is crucial. An admissions consultant can help you navigate this stage of the admissions process so that when the time comes to differentiate yourself, you will have a host of professional, community, and personal achievement stories from which to draw.
- Assessing Your MBA Profile: You can take several significant steps at the beginning of the application process that will help you develop your profile and improve your candidacy. An MBA admissions professional can advise you on these steps and other important issues, such as taking or retaking the GMAT/GRE, enrolling in math and/or finance courses, selecting a volunteer organization to join, planning campus visits, and connecting with students and alumni to learn specifics about the different programs. By proactively targeting any weaknesses in your candidacy and complementing your strengths, you can strengthen your profile.
- Choosing MBA Programs: An MBA admissions consultant can help you identify the business schools at which you will be competitive and explain the attributes and strengths of the top programs so you can pinpoint the best fit for you and your goals.
- Brainstorming Ideas for Your Personal Statements and Essays: Through one-on-one idea-generation sessions, an MBA admissions consultant can assist you in identifying interesting and inspirational stories from your past and guide you in how best to incorporate these unique personal anecdotes into the larger context of your application, developing compelling and comprehensive statements that will highlight your notable attributes. Sometimes, as a result of this process, your admissions consultant will get to know you almost better than you know yourself. Having an outside observer is a huge benefit at this stage because the advisor can see strengths in what you might have perceived as weakness or help you reframe a weakness into a story of growth.
- Providing High-Level Edits on Your Written Materials: An MBA admissions consultant can pose questions and offer suggestions designed to increase the detail, color, and flow of your writing, while respecting each program’s word limits. The goal is to refine your ideas, focusing on sentence structure, grammar, and style, while maintaining your distinct voice. In addition to critiquing and providing guidance on your application essays, a consultant can offer feedback on the following pieces:
- Resume and Short Answers: Your resume and responses to your target school’s short-answer questions are also critical parts of your application. An admissions consultant can ensure that these elements are detailed, well developed, and results oriented, thereby bolstering your overall chances for success and allowing you to capitalize on every opportunity to make a good impression on the admissions committee.
- Letters of Recommendation: Selecting and managing the individuals who will write your letters of recommendation takes thought and skill. An admissions consultant will give you the tools to identify and guide the recommenders whose letters will both complement and supplement your application and grab the attention of the admissions committees.
- Unconventional Essays: A skilled MBA admissions consultant will even assist you in creating and managing the new wave of alternative “essays” that business schools are increasingly requesting, such as videos and PowerPoint presentations.
- Interview Preparation: Your MBA admissions consultant will ensure that you are thoroughly prepared for your admissions interviews by conducting a “mock” (simulation) interview with you in advance and offering feedback on key points to position you for success.
- Waitlist Guidance: If you have been placed on a school’s waitlist, an experienced MBA admissions consultant can explain ways of improving your candidacy in the interim and of properly communicating any improvements/updates to the admissions committee.
- “Ding” Review: If you have unfortunately been rejected at your target program, an MBA admissions consultant can examine all aspects of the application you submitted—including your test scores, resume, essays, transcript, short-answer responses, reference letters, and any other related materials—and provide written feedback that highlights your strengths and weaknesses and recommends ways to improve your candidacy for your next application.
- Post-acceptance Counseling: Determining which business school to ultimately enroll in is sometimes an agonizing process. An MBA admissions consultant can provide objective advice and sober second thought to help you make this choice that will affect the rest of your life.
Depending on the admissions firm and the individual consultant, these advisory sessions can be conducted virtually (over the phone, via email, or using telemeeting software) or in person around the globe.
MBA admissions consultants typically pride themselves on their mastery of all things related to MBA admissions, but not all consultants hail from the same background. Whether they have served on a business school admissions board, attended a leading MBA program, or dedicated their lives to counseling students and professionals, these advisors come from a variety of personal and professional backgrounds and can claim different forms of expertise.
Do I need to hire an MBA admissions consultant?
Naturally, you might be wondering whether hiring a consultant is the best decision for your MBA application journey. The truth is that not everyone needs the support of an admissions consultant to get into business school. However, there are a few reasons you might want to hire a consultant like the experts at mbaMission. In the following video, we provide a brief overview of some key considerations to keep in mind when deciding whether to hire an MBA admissions consultant.
You might benefit from working with an MBA admissions consultant if any of the following statements applies to you:
- You are an incredibly driven person who always strives to do your best at anything and everything you do, and you recognize that earning an MBA is an important step in your career. Working with someone who knows the admissions process inside and out can ensure you are putting your best foot forward in your applications.
- You have not written anything substantial for some time and worry that you might struggle to identify and tell your strongest stories. An experienced admissions consultant can help you sort through your personal and professional stories to discover the right ones to share with the admissions committees.
- You are overwhelmed by the complexity of the MBA admissions process and could use some help with efficiency, organization, and timeliness. An expert admissions consultant who has already guided hundreds of applicants successfully through this process can really help as you navigate it yourself.
- You need help overcoming cultural or language barriers. The right consultant can help make your essays clearer and more understandable to the admissions readers without putting words in your mouth or changing your stories in a way that is not true to who you are.
- You feel your application could benefit from a “second look” by an expert. We believe that no one should submit an application that has not been reviewed by a second set of eyes. An experienced MBA admissions consultant, especially one who lives and breathes business school admissions the way the full-time consultants at mbaMission do, knows exactly what admissions committees look for and can really give you an advantage over the competition.
So, you certainly do not need to hire an admissions consultant to get into an elite business school, but a professional MBA admissions consultant would be able to give you the insight to craft your most compelling application.
How much does hiring an MBA admissions consultant cost?
As in any industry, the costs of services offered in MBA admissions consulting range all along the spectrum.
In this blog post, we detail all of mbaMission’s services, what you can expect from each, and the associated cost so you can better understand the commitment involved and what you get for your investment. (Of course, not all MBA admissions consulting firms are created equally, so we strongly encourage you to shop around and do your research to determine which firm is truly best for you!)
Can I speak with an MBA admissions consultant to get a feel for the process?
Yes! If you think hiring an MBA admissions consultant might be right for you, we invite you to sign up for a free 30-minute consultation so you can speak directly to one of our MBA admissions experts about your candidacy. And if you are curious about what a free consultation with an admissions advisor is like, you can read our blog post on the subject to learn more.
We hope this post was helpful to you in your efforts to learn more about MBA admissions consulting firms and what they offer. If you have any questions about our company, our team, or our process, please reach out to us anytime