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Should you hire an MBA Admissions Consultant?

Posted on Aug 26, 2016

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Are you interested in applying for an MBA this fall? Are you going back and forth on whether you need professional help to get to your dream program?

There are many factors to consider when making this decision, and also a set of expectations that you need to manage in terms of what you will and will not get from working with an admissions consultancy. Here are a few ways counselors can best help you:

1. Find the right fit. There are many different types of MBA programs (full time, part time, online, executive), as well as many different characteristics and specializations that distinctly define these programs. Given the smorgasbord of choices that lie ahead, and the amount of time and money you will be spending on not just the application process, but in the program itself, this is probably the most critical point at which you require guidance. A high-quality admissions consultant will be able to guide your program selection process, and help you find your specific fit with a particular program, so that if admitted, you end up thriving and getting the most out of it.

2. Build your story arc. The number one requirement across the board is authenticity in your application. For instance, Jeff Carbone, Associate Director of Admissions at MIT Sloan said in an interview with ReachIvy , “We want to learn as much as we can about you throughout the application and interview process. Be authentic and tell us about your experience and interests.” A strong admissions consultant will be able to guide your introspection, and brainstorm with you to find common themes and the most impactful stories to articulate in your application. This is particularly important for candidates with a nontraditional background. That is, you are not from a mainstream banking or consulting background, or you have held multiple jobs across industries and functions.

3. Address specific areas of your application. Were you dinged from your dream schools when you applied the previous year? Are you interested in getting an extra set of eyes on your resume? Are you looking for help with cracking your interview? Are you looking to build a compelling case to receive financial aid? A knowledgeable and insightful admissions consultant would be able to get granular on the specific elements of your application where you need help the most. For instance, if you were dinged the previous year, they would help you assess where you specifically went wrong, so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes. Another example is cracking the interview – you need to be able to corroborate the story your written application and recommendations tell when you walk into your interview. You need to be able to do so with humility, and confidence at the same time. An experienced admissions consultant will help you find this balance

It is important to note that an admissions consultant will not be able to:

  • Write your applications and/or recommendations for you. This not only goes against the ethical grain of the admissions process, but it would also misrepresent who you are and your application would not be authentic. Most importantly, admissions committees have read thousands of applications over the years, and they most likely know when you are faking it. It is important to stay true to yourself in the application, whether or not you decide to use a consultant.
  • Able to guarantee admission. A creditable admissions consultant will never guarantee admission to a school. This is important to understand and internalize. They can share their track records of successful admits  with you, but guaranteeing admission would be a phony offering on their end, and an unrealistic expectation on yours.

Given the cost and opportunity cost of investing in an MBA, the incremental cost of hiring an admissions consultant is often worth it to make sure that you: (a) apply to the right programs, (b) are able to articulate the most impactful version of yourself, and (c) are able to identify and address specific, weaker elements of your application.

ReachIvy  sincerely hopes that this article serves as a critical tool to increase your knowledge base. For study abroad consultation  or career counselling  with ReachIvy, Submit a Query now! Also, review our resources  to access our free premium content.

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