If you’re applying or reapplying to business school, you’ve likely considered working with an MBA admissions consultant. But you may be wondering what you can expect from their services, and if they are worth the cost.
Before exploring the benefits—and limitations—of working with an MBA application advisor, let’s get one thing out of the way right from the beginning: no one needs to work with a consultant.
Every year, candidates are accepted into competitive MBA programs, including schools like Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton, without professional help.
However, applying on your own is unlikely to maximize your chances of success. And with your future career prospects in the balance, many applicants want to do whatever it takes to develop a strong, competitive application. Hiring an MBA admissions consultant can be the first step toward achieving this goal.
What are the misconceptions about consultants?
While an admissions consultant can maximize your chance of acceptance, they can’t take someone with almost no chance of acceptance and get them into a top MBA program.
If an applicant has bad grades, bad test scores, poor quality work experience, and unrealistic career goals, a consultant will not be able to help them.
This is not to say that you have to be a “perfect” applicant. At Menlo Coaching, we have worked successfully with candidates who were unemployed or had low GPAs or GMATs, and even some with criminal convictions. But in every one of these cases, the applicant also had numerous positive factors to counterbalance the negative factors.
Similarly, consultants don’t have access to secret advice, even if they served on an admissions committee. Don’t expect to hear about “that one weird trick that admissions committees love!”
If a consultant pitches themself in this way, it should raise alarm bells. Buyer beware!
What do admissions consultants offer?
If your profile meets the baseline qualifications for top MBA programs, a good advisor can be the difference between acceptance and rejection.
A skilled MBA admissions advisor might turn an application with a 20% chance into one with a 50% chance, or one with a 40% chance into one with an 80% chance.
MBA advisors are able to increase chances in this way because they are specialists—experts in MBA admissions. Think about it this way: why do people hire business consultants? Or investment bankers? Or personal accountants? Shouldn’t any businessperson already know a little bit about strategy, negotiation, and accounting?
The reason people choose to enlist these kinds of professionals is because the job or task at hand is complicated and needs to be done right.
There’s no reason you couldn’t file your own taxes, but if you want to save all the time it would take to bring yourself up to date on the tax code—and if you want to save as much money as possible while avoiding an audit—you will see that hiring an accountant is a wise course of action.