I’m an East Asian male working in finance – an over-represented group in business school. Before reaching out to Melissa and mbaMission, I talked to another consulting company and was basically told that I have little chance at the top 10 given my background. While I always appreciate frank advice, I felt extremely disappointed and somewhat upset at the quick judgement since I knew people with similar background who’d made it.
The MBA process was long and stressful so it’s important for me to work with someone who’s honest but who’d have faith in me. During the initial call, Melissa showed just that. She was direct in acknowledging some potential weak spots. But rather than delving into them, Melissa pointed out other parts of my background that are unique and focused the conversation on what I could do to stand out more, starting with making my resume more result-oriented. Immediately I felt she was already on my “team”. Her positivity and problem solving (instead of problem identifying) approach made me feel a lot better going into and throughout the process. Through the ups and downs of the application season, her supports and encouraging words never failed to build up my self-confidence.
In total, we had over 200 email exchanges, and Melissa was always super-fast with her response. The two areas Melissa helped me the most with were with my essays and interview preparation.
First, Melissa understood very well the Adcom’s perspectives and helped me become more confident in bringing out my personality. I had heard the advice “be yourself” countless times; but that’s easier said than done. For example, when telling my stories, I would keep out some character-revealing details thinking they might sound too “geeky” and unimpressive. But Melissa’s enthusiasm with those stories made me realize they are more unique and interesting than I’d thought. That’s another great thing about working with Melissa. With her approach, the application process really became a self-discovery journey. I came out of this process more self-aware and comfortable with who I am than I’d ever been.
Second, Melissa was fantastic at helping me transform my long-winded essay drafts into concise and engaging ones. When I thought there was no way to cut the word count without hurting the content, she did so time and again. On the other hand, when supporting details were lacking, she asked pointed questions and helped me identify relevant examples from my experience that I’d overlooked.
I applied to four top-10 schools, got interview invites from all four, and was admitted to two, one of which is in the top-5. None of those achievements would have been possible without having Melissa as my coach, my project manager, and a supportive friend throughout this process.
Was this review helpful to you?
Despite being a relatively new addition to the application process, admissions consultants are a fact of MBA applications at this point. Depending on which statistics you believe, something like one in four applicants uses a consultant, and by some estimates this figure may be even higher. Over at Which MBA, we even covered this subject recently.
Often times the discussion over admissions consultants is reduced to whether or not they’re worthwhile at all. We tend to think the answer is more nuanced. In this article, we’ll go over when an MBA admissions consultant is likely to help your application and when it may be best to save that cash for something else.
Applications are a huge undertaking. There’s a lot to consider and keep track of, so a consultant can organize much of this work for you, making it easier to focus on the parts of the application process you need to ace. Gathering recommendations, crafting essays, preparing the GMAT—it can be a lot to juggle, especially if you’re working a full-time job, which many of our GMAT Tutor students are doing.
Takeaway: If you already have a lot on your plate and are struggling to keep track of all the moving parts of the MBA application process, a consultant may help.
Another potential benefit of consultants is their function as sounding boards. Finding a friend to proof your essays isn’t out of the realm of possibility, but even if you’re lucky enough to have someone willing to go through round and round of revisions, make sure their perspective is the one you need. There’s a key difference between a friendly reader doing you a favor and a professional who knows how to make your application stand out.
Takeaway: Ask not what your friends can do for you, but how well they can do it.
On the flip-side, a consultant will never know you as well as a long-time friend or partner. They often have a very short runway as far as developing a relationship with you, which means they are less likely to spot when you are being dishonest with yourself or forgetting about key strengths. While their outside perspective is useful for objectivity, if you don’t know your core motivations for an MBA and why that makes you a strong applicant, you may end up with a less-compelling (albeit well-polished) application.
A consultant can craft how to demonstrate specific skills or a career trajectory, but they aren’t going be able to define your moral compass, your beliefs, or the aspiration behind your decision to apply. Many MBAs see this rigorous self-knowledge as key to their acceptance to the right program.
Takeaway: Ask yourself what kind of insider knowledge you need more—what schools are looking for or what you bring to the table.
You knew this was coming
There’s no getting around it: using a consultant is a gray area. But however you make the decision, it’s paramount that you understand your convictions and intrinsic motivations for an MBA.
If the advantages of a consultant seem like they will augment what you already know you want out of the process, great. And if the risk of losing yourself or your peculiar edge seems too high to accept, it’s also reasonable to go it alone.
previous How being like Beyoncé can make you a better MBA applicant next MBA Admissions | How Much Does GPA Matter?