VIDEO: Choosing an MBA Admissions Consultant

Here is the same video for viewers in China who don’t have access to Youtube. 这个短片会为您提供有价值的信息,帮您铺平MBA的申请之路

Q. How should I select an MBA Admissions Consultant.
A. The Proof is in the Pudding.

The easiest way to verify that you are working with a good admissions consultant is to ask to see past examples of their work. Yes I know this is an abomination to many….after all the consultants are the ones with MBAs, not you….and why wouldn’t they also be great editors and writers? After all they did get into business school right?
Well ask for first draft and final draft essays anyway. Don’t feel bad. If they refuse to supply those writing samples….move on. If you are spending big money on editing services it should be top notch.

I’ve often reflected on the irony of being in the business of professional services while admittedly being really bad at sales. My sales strategy amounts to providing clients with: radical honestly on calls and concrete examples of my work (you can view a sample of it here).

Ok enough ranting. Read on for more tips below.

When approaching individual admissions consultants or firms here are a few things to consider and ask about.

Is this the admission consultant’s full-time job or are they part-time/moonlighting?

There is a difference in the amount of experience and knowledge a full-time vs a part-time consultant will have acquired over time.

fxMBAConsulting: Yes this is my full-time job. (Since one of my clients keeps asking me what my real job is :) Yes, this is also my real job where I spend half my time getting to know highly successful people and the other half of my time writing. I have a Bluetooth headset, an MBA from Sloan and a BS in Psychology from La Sorbonne and love the work I do. My busiest season is from June to January 15th. If you’re the type of person who plans ahead, I offer a 25% discount on all services purchased from January 16th through May 31st. Just email for details.

What is the firm’s hiring process for new consultants. Some firms hire anyone who can edit and has an MBA other firms have a lengthy training and evaluation process. If you don’t see a full bio of YOUR consultant on the firm’s website – it is likely that the firm has a high turnover of consultants and may hire a lot of untrained moonlighters.

fxMBAConsulting: Well fxmbaconsulting = Leah Derus. I might take on some additional senior consultants someday but for the time being the only person you will work with here is me. I’ve been doing MBA Applications since I was an MBA student at Sloan in 2009. I’ve also trained with two of the largest firms in the space. So I’m intimately familiar with best practices in the industry. Check out my bio here

What percentage of the fee (you the client pay) goes to the consultant, and what percentage goes to the firm? Typically if you work with a firm the consultant will actually earn 25-50% of the fee. Expect to get what you are paying the consultant, not the firm for. Someone who earns 25% will deliver on 25% of the cost to you etc.

fxMBAConsulting: I earn and deliver on 100% of my fee.

Did the consultant listen to me? Did the consultant demonstrate insight into who I am and how I am positioned? Did the consultant offer concrete suggestions on how I might approach an essay or modify my resume etc.?

Who will be editing my essays. Some firms hire non-MBA editors to do the work and the MBA Consultant just gives the final ok.

fxMBAConsulting: I personally comment, edit and create the final draft – not only for essays but for short-answers and recommendations as well.

When speaking with a consultant during a free evaluation call.

Was the consultant honest and direct with me about my chances at certain programs or did they avoid the question? (Obviously the firm makes more money the more schools you apply to…)

fxMBAConsulting: The philosophy at some admissions firms is that their job is not to get their clients into business school, their job is to help their client accomplish their goal. To them: Client’s Goal = Applying. So it should be the client who decides where he/she applies. That’s all well and good…but it obviously begs the question: If the client knew everything there was to know about MBA admissions and was able to evaluate himself/herself objectively – WHY WOULD HE/SHE BE USING A CONSULTANT???
By definition there is asymmetry of information when it comes to clients and consultants. The consultant is like a doctor who has seen numerous cases and approaches each patient using inductive reasoning (see my post on Inductive vs Deductive reasoning). Whereas the client is emotionally invested in his/her life and therefore cannot evaluate his/her chances with as much perspective. When a client is told that a school is a ‘reach’, at best he heeds the advice, but rarely does he truely believe it.
My working philosophy is that candidates need STRONG advice and guidance when it comes to school selection. Ultimately if a guy/gal wants to apply to a top MBA program (with a very weak profile) it’s their time, money, choice. If I work with that candidate we will submit the best application humanly possible – but not before I’ve told him/her in the most direct way ‘I think School X is a huge reach for you. School X typically would shy away from the fact that you A, B, C. You should consider these schools as safety options….’ In fact when I finish free consultation calls with people they often mention how honest I’ve been with them. Raw honesty is hard to swallow but going into the lengthy MBA application process with delusions is far more damaging.

Finally don’t get hung up on where a particular consultant went to school. I know – you want to get into Tuck and your consultant went to Booth – how could he possibly help you get in?
Well no consultant will ‘get you in’ anywhere. You get you in. But a good consultant will facilitate that process and tip the odds in your favor because a good consultant is 1/3 writer, 1/3 career counselor and 1/3 psychologist. He or she will make you see yourself in a new light and will help you to strategically craft your personal story into a stellar set of stories=essays.

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