Costs Pack a Punch for B-school Applicants

B-school aspirants may need a fat wallet simply to apply to their list of business schools

Benjamin Franklin once said: "Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship." Business school applicants sometimes find themselves aboard this ship, slowly drowning with lots of small (and not-so-small) expenses.

From application and exam fees to consultation fees and costs incurred to make campus visits - some B-school aspirants spend a hefty amount even before they start their university life.

Exam fees are something everyone faces. Sitting the GMAT costs US$250, but any applicants take it twice. The GRE costs around $200 depending on the location, and TOEFL around $165.

Postal charges too are high, with applicants spending anywhere between $100 and $200 just to send their applications to universities internationally!

For some it could be just the expenses on exams and applications. For others, admissions consultants make a dent in their wallets. Take the example of David Marin (name changed), who posted recently on the site Poets and Quants.

He claims to have spent $6,850 even before stepping into a B-school. The reason? Shy and an introvert, he hired Stacy Blackman Consulting in Los Angeles, which offered him one-to-one sessions with a consultant who helped improve his confidence before starting b-school.

This would seem unbelievable to many, but for Marin it was an invaluable experience - he became more positive about entering unknown territory.

In fact, 20% of those applying to top MBA programs pay up to $5,000 for consultation services. There are admissions consultants offering a range of packages to help people get into their dream school: Stacy Blackman Consulting offers different hourly packages, with rates starting at $270 per hour to speak to a consultant.

Another popular admissions consultant, Veritas Prep, offers packages starting at $1,350 and going up to $6,400. The package includes GMAT coaching, application writing and private tutoring depending on the rates.

On Bloomberg BusinessWeek a person claims to have spent almost $5,000 altogether. The GMAT fee of $250, followed by application fees to the tune of $700, travel expenses of $2,500, more than $1,000 on admit weekends, around $100 on mailing expenses, and a lump sum on sending 'thank you' gifts to recommendation writers… all this even before entering the business school world.

On the other hand, for Anand Kumar at the Indian School of Business, expenses weren’t too much of a burden. All he paid for was his GMAT exam, and $60 for his application form for ISB.

But Romith Rao, currently pursuing an MSc Management at the London School of Economics, tells a different story. He applied to 10 universities, and wrote TOEFL and GRE - spending around $1,500 on applications, exams and postage costs.

So is it all worth it? Well, according to those enjoying life at their favourite b-school, it certainly was.

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