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MBA Admissions Consulting: How to Choose an Advisor

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An experienced MBA admissions consulting partner can:

  • Markedly increase an applicant’s chances of MBA program acceptance and scholarship because admissions consulting firms know the applicant competition and have best practices extrapolated from volumes of past client results
  • Give an applicant the clarity and focus around their values and career aspirations to optimize success in recruiting job offers as an MBA student

How Can Prospective MBA Applicants Select the Right Advisor?

Many applicants to top business school programs hire an MBA admissions consultant for their applications. Applying to business school requires a substantial amount of time and effort, and many candidates share a strong desire to get accepted on their first try.

When evaluating MBA admissions consulting firms, we recommend applicants consider four criteria and related actions:

1. Reputation: Research across multiple review sites.
As just one measure of value, research to see what the reputation of the firm is across at least four different industry sites and assess the firm’s overall presence online.

2. Roster: Compare the teams of consultants, side-by-side.
Look at the team page of each of your shortlisted admissions consulting firms. What noticeable differences are there between the teams at each consulting firm?

3. Range: Evaluate the scope of services.
Ask about whether the “all-inclusive” model is truly unlimited by time, if there’s an applicant & consultant matchmaking process, and if there will be access to other resources at the firm. Like comparing consulting firm team pages side-by-side, we also recommend comparing the service pages across your shortlisted firms. Which service is the most thorough? How customized is the service when it comes to knowing you deeply so as to optimize your admissions chances?

4. Realism: Avoid firms that make too-good-to-be-true marketing claims.
Avoid firms who have false marketing claims such as “94% of our clients get admitted!” or “Our clients get into schools at a rate that is 3x higher…”, or promises of guaranteed admit success. These claims are often false, misleading, and opportunistic.

More about Researching MBA Admissions Consulting Firms

As you try to find an admissions consulting firm, consider these additional factors in your research. The firms with the strongest online presence are more accountable to deliver on their services because they have their brand on the line with each client they take on.

Reviews can reveal many aspects of the working style and dynamics of the firm, including access to experts, institutional knowledge, and the ability to benefit from a team beyond just one primary consultant. The main review databases for firms focused on MBA admissions advisory are MBA Insight and GMAT Club.

Diversify your sources. Unfortunately, there are firms that pay for placement, and sites may not show an advertiser disclosure. At least one small MBA admissions firm has its disgruntled clients waive their rights (e.g., a gag clause) to an online review. You may also wish to ask members of your network for recommendations but keep discretion in mind if you don’t want your employer to know about your plans yet.

More about the Roster: Experience Matters in MBA Admissions Consulting 

With former adcom members at several MBA admissions consulting firms, applicants can benefit from insider knowledge of how admissions teams choose who to admit and who to reject.

Here’s a snapshot of the number of former M7 MBA admissions officers now at top admissions firms, which have been verified by checking LinkedIn profiles.

Number of M7 MBA AdCom Harvard (HBS) AdCom Stanford (GSB) AdCom Total years of M7 AdCom Expertise
Stacy Blackman Consulting 27 6 3 141
MBA Mission 1 1 0 3
MBA Exchange 3 0 0 6
Personal MBA Coach 2 0 0 10
Stratus Prep 0 0 0 0
MBA Prep School 3 0 0 8
Menlo Coaching 0 0 0 0

When looking at the team pages of top admissions consulting firms, pick the firm whose team most assures you of quality, knowledge, and excellence. Some firms claim to have in-house MBA adcom expertise, but if you read closely, they are falsely concluding that graduating from an M7 MBA program is equivalent to having served on that business school’s admissions team.  Nothing could be further from the truth. Experience matters and you should make sure you’ll be working with true experts.

Clear Admit wishes you success in your MBA application journey and in finding an admissions consultant that works best for you!

Clear Admit
Clear Admit is the leading resource for top-tier MBA candidates.