Should I Hire an MBA Admissions Consultant? Three Non-Obvious Reasons the Answer May Be Yes
In past articles, we’ve discussed how MBA admissions consultants charge for their services and the questions to ask when you’re interviewing MBA admissions consultants. It dawned on us, however, that we’ve never really shared our perspective on why you should hire an MBA admissions consultant in the first place. So, if you’re pondering the question, ‘should I hire an MBA admissions consultant?’, this article is for you.
You might guess that our answer to ‘should I hire an MBA admissions consultant?’ would be yes, given that it is our business. You’re correct that we do wholeheartedly believe in the value proposition of the services we offer. However, the reasons why extend beyond the obvious. Yes, data shows that our clients increase their chances of success with the MBA application process. And, yes, it’s nice to have a knowledgeable sounding board for all your application-related questions. But we think some of the most compelling reasons investing in the services of a boutique admissions consulting firm like ours are more nuanced.
#1 – Looking Good on Paper Isn’t Enough
It may be counterintuitive, but some of the most challenging ‘cases’ we encounter are clients who have ‘MBA feeder’ employers on their resumes and exceed the average statistics (GMAT/GRE and GPA) for their target programs.
The reasons why are twofold. The first has to do with competition – while it’s fierce for all applicants, it’s even fiercer for those from overrepresented sectors like banking, consulting, etc. To stand out from equally talented and ambitious peers, these candidates must differentiate themselves in a meaningful way and that’s TOUGH.
The second reason is a generalization but often true, in our experience. Sometimes applicants from ‘feeder’ industries have always just assumed that going back to business school is in their plans so haven’t fully reflected on why the degree makes sense for them. As you can probably guess from the many places this question shows up, having a compelling answer to ‘why MBA’ is so critical to a successful application. We find that not having passion-led, realistic yet ambitious career goals that require an MBA can be a blind spot for otherwise incredibly marketable applicants.
A good MBA admissions consultant has had a lot of practice drawing out the uniqueness in each applicant (even if that applicant swears up and down that they aren’t all that interesting!) and helping them develop career goals that will resonate with admissions committees.
#2 – The Scholarship Game is Real
In recent years, we’ve observed a material increase in the amount of scholarship dollars top MBA programs are offering to admits. In most cases, they are doing this to increase the chances that the highest caliber applicants will choose to attend their program.
As our founder Melody Jones shared here, two of the keys to attracting these scholarship offers is showing your leadership potential and presenting a nuanced argument as to why ‘program X’ is a great fit for you (and vice versa). Schools don’t want to waste their scholarship offers on candidates who don’t appear genuinely interested in their program. They save these precious dollars for people who are likely to enroll and who are poised to make the greatest impact on their program.
So how does the topic at hand, ‘should I hire an MBA admissions consultant?’, factor into this discussion? A good consultant can help you highlight the aspects of your profile that not only appeal to schools when it comes to admissions decisions but also when it comes to scholarship decisions. While we don’t have the data to accurately assess whether working with an admissions consultant increases your chances of a scholarship, we do feel it’s possible.
#3 – An Admissions Consultant’s Value Can Extend Beyond Matriculation
We mentioned earlier that a good consultant can help you develop post-MBA career goals that will resonate with the admissions committees. Not only is this true, but we would argue that giving appropriate reflection to this part of your application upfront will pay dividends beyond gaining admission to your target programs.
Part of the work we do with clients is to help them really think about what matters to them in a career, what they are passionate about and why, and where they dream of ending up at the pinnacle of their working life. This makes for a unique and authentic ‘story’ in applications but it also provides purpose and direction once you get to campus. Many people are shocked to find out how soon into their first year of business school internship recruiting begins – if you land on campus with no idea what industries and functions you want to explore, you will end up either super stressed out or having missed out on some great opportunities.
A Few Closing Thoughts…
At the end of the day, when you’re considering ‘should I hire an MBA admissions consultant?’ and perhaps having sticker shock at the cost of doing so, we would encourage you to put into context a) the cost of an MBA, b) the salary increase you’ll enjoy after graduation, c) the professional options that open up to you via the MBA and d) what it costs you if you wing it and don’t end up getting into your dream school. When combined with the reasons outlined above, we hope you’ll agree that working with an MBA admissions consultant is a valuable investment. If you’d like to learn more about how we work with clients and see whether we’re a fit for you, click here to request an initial consultation.