Do I Need to Hire an Admissions Counsultant for my MBA Application?
College admissions consulting is a big business and it’s growing every year. This multi-billion-dollar industry has one mission: get students into their dream schools. Consulting agencies exist for every level in higher education, even at the master’s level. If you’re in the market for an MBA, you might have come across consultants boasting high success rates, and wonder if it’s necessary to hire one yourself. Despite what these top-dollar consultants might tell you, an MBA admissions consultant is not a requirement to get in. Still, the question about whether an admissions consultant is necessary is entirely up to you. The value and efficacy of a consultant is highly subjective, so you have to decide if it’s worth it.
To make that decision, weigh the pros and cons of hiring an admissions consultant in relation to your goals, budget, and expectations.
- Finger on the pulse: Many consultancy firms employ and are founded by business professionals who attended the schools you dream about. Their educational background and professional expertise certainly proves that they have a keen understanding of the business world and what it takes to succeed. Having such an expert on your side can go a long way in getting accepted.
- Help you find the right school: It’s always a good idea to dream big, but if your dream schools are out of reach, you will be in for a lot of disappointment. A consultant can take an unbiased look at your résumé and test scores and determine how realistic your goals are. Remember, Harvard Business School is not the only school that offers excellent MBA programs!
- Ideal for “B students”: If your GMAT scores are lower than average, or if there are gaps in your résumé, a consultant can be an invaluable resource. Your consultant will help you work around these potential shortcomings in other parts of your application so that you can still have a chance of admission.
- Prepare your application: Once you have a list of schools to apply to, your consultant will work with you to make sure your applications are complete. They will help you identify and rectify any missing components from your application.
- Improve your essay: A consultant can help you determine the content of your essay, maintain tone and direction, and adhere to guidelines. An unbiased editor will make sure your essay is clear and compelling.
- Practice your interview: While there aren’t many in-person interviews happening right now due to COVID-19, it’s always a good idea to be prepared. Your consultant will help fine-tune your interview skills through practice and constructive feedback. Have a virtual interview scheduled? We can help with that too!
- Expensive: MBA consultant fees can be steep. Hourly rates can be as high as $400, and packages can cost in thousands. Of course, it’s important to remember that an MBA has a proven return on investment. Some MBA grads can make 30% more than they were making before earning their degree, with salaries far beyond the six-figure mark. Does that justify the cost of an admissions consultant? Possibly, but it’s up to you to decide. Salary increases don’t happen automatically, so make sure you can afford the fees right now.
- No guarantee: Just because your admissions consultant got into your dream program, that doesn’t always mean you will. Remember, your consultant is just consulting you. They are not involved in the admissions process at all. Now, if they had a direct line to the admissions officers and could tell them to admit you, that would probably be worth the money. That would also technically be illegal. Don’t succumb to the Varsity Blues or anything like it. Instead, accept that there is no guarantee that hiring a consultant will get you accepted.
- Unrealistic expectations: Once you accept this fact, your expectations won’t skyrocket. If you don’t reign in your expectations, the feelings of disappointment, confusion, or anger you might feel if rejected could be amplified. Positive thinking goes a long way, but make sure you’re being realistic.
- No evidence that it’s worth it: With so many variables in the admissions process, it is difficult to discern the true reason behind acceptances and rejections. So there’s no real way to pinpoint the use of a consultant as the reason for acceptance. And if you ask someone who hired a consultant, their feedback will probably depend on whether they got in or not.
- It could do more harm than good: MBA consulting has become such a big business that schools are taking notice. According to a survey conducted by The Economist, a significant proportion of admissions officers “fear that consultants make applications inauthentic.” What’s worse is that “62% admissions officers said they worried consultants helped students to lie on their applications.”
Takeaway: While they are not necessary to stand out as an applicant, admissions consultants can offer direction and advice to help your chances. However, there are no guarantees that you will be accepted if you do hire one. If you’ve crunched the numbers and the fees are something you can afford, then go for it! If writing that check will keep you up at night, then save the money. There are plenty of free resources online. Hey, you’re reading one right now! Check out our robust section of advice to help you navigate the MBA application process every step of the way.