Updated: May 6, 2021
You’ve made the decision to apply to business school. Now what? Researching all the different schools can be a task in and of itself.
Which school is right for you?
What programs are offered?
There are so many things to consider including curriculum, cost, time commitment, networking/recruiting opportunities, travel involved, etc.
Getting into a top-tier business school is no easy task. Competition is steep, the application process can be daunting, and you will invest many hours into completing applications for schools that can be looking for completely different things.
Hiring an MBA admissions consultant could be the answer you have been looking for. But with so many companies and consultants out there, how do you select the right one? What can an MBA admissions consultant do for you?
First of all, you need to identify your priorities. Take a look at your strengths and weaknesses and determine what aspects of the application process you will need the most help with.
Are you struggling with finding the right business school for you?
Perhaps you tend to freeze up during interviews and you would like to focus on interview prep. Or maybe you are fantastic when meeting people face to face but your writing skills are subpar so you would like to focus on essay writing.
Maybe you are just so overwhelmed by the entire application process that you want help with it all!
And that is ok!
That is why MBA admissions consultants exist. Their job is to realize your potential and make you shine bright in a sea of candidates.
When considering hiring an MBA application consulting firm, you need to do your research. Most consulting firms will be more than happy to have an initial conversation with you free of charge.
This is your opportunity to figure out if this firm and/or consultant is right for you. You should be asking questions regarding their experience and expertise.
Have they evaluated MBA candidates as part of an admissions committee?
Do they know what adcoms are searching for in candidates and what red flags can pop up?
What schools have they worked with in the past?
Consider these tips when speaking with an MBA admissions consultant:
Know Your Potential
Be sure to communicate clearly your expectations as well as your strengths and weaknesses. If you are not seeing eye to eye with the consultant during the initial meeting, there is no point moving forward (or paying for a service you might not be happy with).
Don’t Get Hung Up On Price
While hiring an MBA application consultant can be expensive, look at the value they are providing. This goes back to asking those pressing questions about experience and success rate.
Maybe you can save a few hundred dollars going with another firm, but what kind of service are you getting?
Most Importantly, Trust Yourself When Making This Decision
You know yourself better than anyone and you know the type of person you can work with. If you speak to a consultant and are not getting good vibes, it is probably a sign that you should interview some other MBA application consulting firms.
Are MBA Admissions Consultants Worth It?
Many admissions consultants have worked in admissions for top-tier business schools or are former MBA students who have been through the process.
They are experts at helping applicants discover their personal narratives, gearing essays towards each school, interview preparation, and navigating the application process.
They have helpful resources for GMAT and GRE preparation. There are many MBA admissions consulting companies ranging from large, visible firms to more boutique, one-on-one style businesses.
Bigger companies may have more contacts and/or resources but may come with a heftier price tag. A boutique consulting company may be less expensive but could potentially give you more personalized attention and a faster turnaround than a larger firm with more clients.
You need to determine what is most important to you when hiring someone to assist in such an important process.
A good MBA admissions consultant should be prompt, attentive, accessible, and responsive. They will help you manage the stress of applying to business school while helping you to deliver the best MBA application possible.
The competition is fierce for most top-tier MBA programs and a good consultant will know how to navigate the process while turning you into a stand-out candidate. Many of the top-tier business schools have thousands of applications every year.
Your MBA admissions consultant should address whatever fears and concerns you have about being competitive and not getting lost in the crowd. Most importantly, they should believe in you and your potential!
If you are concerned about your competitiveness for a particular school, it is probably a good idea to hire an admissions consultant. Their services could prove to be invaluable in the grand scheme of things.
While it may be a hefty out-of-pocket expense, the benefits could be endless. You would be doing yourself a disservice to give up on your dream of applying to a top-tier MBA program simply because you lack the confidence to try.
Questions to Ask an MBA Consultant
During the initial meeting with an MBA consulting firm or individual consultant, you really want to get a good feel for what types of services they are providing and how they will customize those services to fit your needs.
There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to the MBA application process. Every candidate is different and every business school is different. Coming into the process with clear goals and direct communication will make finding a college admissions consultant that much easier.
Know what it is that you are looking for in a consultant and don’t settle for less. If you know someone who has used a consultant in the past, it would be a good idea to speak with them and see if they have any recommendations.
Asking the right questions can help you determine the right fit for your MBA admissions goals.
When you are speaking with an MBA admissions consultant, consider asking them the following questions:
1. What is your usual turnaround time?
It is not unusual for consultants (especially with bigger, more visible consulting firms) to have multiple clients at once.
2. Will your application be a primary focus for them?
3. What happens if I don’t get into the schools of my choice?
Some consultants will offer free services like rejection analysis if you did not get into your target schools.
4. How many clients have you taken on this year and how many do you currently have?
5. What are your results with the schools I am trying to get into?
6. Have you helped clients like me in the past?
You may have extenuating circumstances such as a low GMAT score, spotty work history, or a subpar undergrad GPA. Be honest and ask what the consultant has done in those situations.
7. How flexible are you with your hours and how much time will you devote to my package?
They should be willing to work around your schedule and put in as many hours as it takes to help you complete the application process.
Flexibility is key to providing good service.
8. What differentiates you from other candidates and what is your area of expertise?
9. How do you select the clients you would like to work with?
Yes, you are hiring a consultant to work for you. However, there are many circumstances when a consultant will turn down the job.
It is important for the consultant and the client to “click” and have a good working relationship. You need to feel comfortable asking questions and expressing concerns. The consultant needs to be able to elicit certain information from you and believe in your potential.
How would we work together and communicate?
Most often you will be working with your consultant via phone, email, and video chat. If you prefer face-to-face interaction, make sure the consultant is nearby and is willing to meet up with you.
Once you hire an MBA admissions consultant, the questions should not stop there! You are paying for this service and it is up to you to make the most of it! Do not be afraid to ask pressing questions along the way and communicate any and all concerns.
Clear, direct, and open communication with your admissions counselors is the key to success during this process.
What MBA Admissions Look For
Every school is different. While this is probably not the answer you are looking for, it is the truth. Every MBA program has different goals, priorities, curriculums, professors, diverse student bodies, rankings, alumni networks, etc.
Adcoms for each school know exactly what they are looking for in MBA candidates. They also know what to look for as far as potential red flags throughout applications.
Some business schools pride themselves on their academics (some are very quantitative, some focus on a particular subject area, some are more generalized).
Others focus on diversity (male to female ratio, number of international students, career-related diversity). Some are looking to orchestrate the perfect MBA class while others are simply trying to fill seats.
While there is no “perfect” MBA candidate, there are certain big-ticket items that admissions committees like to see when evaluating applicants. Self-confidence and self-awareness are personality traits that are very appealing to adcoms.
If you are self-aware, you understand your strengths and areas where you need improvement. You are not afraid to “know what you don’t know” and utilize others in those instances.
If you are self-confident, you are knowledgeable without being a “know-it-all” and you are able to talk about your accomplishments while being humble. Adcoms are drawn to authentic individuals that can prove they are making an impact.
Perhaps you have started a non-profit to honor a loved one that has passed or volunteered countless hours tutoring underprivileged children. Maybe you have recently gone on a spiritual journey or dedicated nights and weekends to learning a new language.
What makes you unique?
What really matters to you and how has this shaped you along the way?
Generally speaking, the most competitive business schools look for the following things in their applicants:
Accomplishments and/or Career Progression
Personality (are you a wall-flower or a go-getter?)
Ability to handle difficult situations/pressure
What can you bring to the table as an MBA student?
One of the most important things in the admissions process is to let your personality shine through. The Real You.
Not what you think the admissions team wants to see. No one likes getting into a situation where they think they are getting one thing and it turns out they are getting something completely different. Admissions committees do not like to be deceived and they are very good at weeding out candidates that are not genuine.
MBA admissions consultants typically understand the wants and needs of the most competitive business schools. If they are not familiar with a school’s admissions process, chances are they know someone who can assist.
While MBA programs are generally looking for similar traits in their applicants, there can be a wide variance as to what the school needs at that particular moment. Class profiles change from year to year. The curriculum can change leading to a shift in the student profile.
For example, a school may have initially been known for its finance program but, due to a shift in the healthcare industry, more healthcare workers have been entering the program thereby causing the school to add more healthcare-focused electives.
Now there is a shift in the class profile and demographics. Business school admissions consultants stay on top of these trends and can make suggestions on the right business school for you.
Not only can they help you find the right school to fit your needs, but they will work diligently to help you align your goals with that of the school.
MBA Acceptance Rate
According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), applications for MBA programs are on the rise, even when factoring in the COVID-19 pandemic. They believe that the economic uncertainty has driven more people to pursue an advanced business degree.
The GMAC notes that business schools have been more flexible with their strategies, extending deadlines and boosting acceptance rates. In fact, MBA acceptance rates in the U.S. were higher than in any other region including Europe and Asia.
This is an interesting trend but important if you are currently trying to get into business school. Does that mean MBA programs are being more lenient or lowering their standards by accepting students they normally wouldn’t have?
Absolutely not. It just means they are adapting to the pandemic just like the rest of society.
This isn’t to say that getting into b-school has lost its competitive nature. While schools are perhaps being more flexible, the increased number of applicants makes it even more important to have your application stand out from the crowd.
Take a look at the following chart to see some of the top-rated MBA acceptance rates:
The entire MBA admissions process from start to finish can be very overwhelming. There are so many different programs and, when you are investing this much time and money into obtaining an advanced degree, it is imperative that you find the right fit for you.
Earning an MBA can propel your career to new heights and take you places you never thought you could go.
It all begins with the MBA application.