Admission Consultants

Hi all,

I'm applying to some M7 programs this year and am considering using an admissions consultant. I've narrowed it down to two consultants: Stacy Blackman and Amerasia. Does anyone have any experience with either? I'd really like to get some honest feedback on both.

One thing I noticed is that Amerasia only seems to have reviews on gmatclub, and I am wondering why it doesnt have reviews elsewhere like Stacy Blackman. Candid feedback appreciated. Really interested in things like responsiveness, insights.

Thanks!

 
solb22:
I'd go with Sandy K if you can afford it. Hands down the best. And he doesn't charge per hour. Be careful with per hour consultants. Less incentives to be productive and you don't know what you're paying for

Evidence to support this claim? I find Sandy, and his ridiculous "predicting your odds" series on P&Q, to be obnoxious.

 
Best Response
cinnamontoastcrunch:
solb22:
I'd go with Sandy K if you can afford it. Hands down the best. And he doesn't charge per hour. Be careful with per hour consultants. Less incentives to be productive and you don't know what you're paying for

Evidence to support this claim? I find Sandy, and his ridiculous "predicting your odds" series on P&Q, to be obnoxious.

People find him obnoxious because he's blunt and brutally honest in his assessment of candidates' chances. This stands in sharp contrast to what other admissions consultants do, and as a reasult a lot of people get turned off by him. I personally find the honesty refreshing. If you read through the poets and quants series, his analysis of the applicants' chances are spot-on. I would love to see a follow-up series where they actually reveal which schools these people got into. I'm guessing sandy's prediction success rate will be around 90%.

As I said before, I corresponded with sandy via e-mail regarding my chances. He told me in no uncertain terms that HSW are out and that booth/sloan/columbia are possible if I raise my gmat and do something outside of work that stands out. He basically said, "look you're an asian guy in trading at a company almost no one has heard of. HSW is not gonna happen for you." I actually liked his candor in that regard.

Stacy Blackman is truly awful. I used one of their consultants the first time I applied. Ok essay revisions but nothing that my friends could not have done. Very little insight and after I got dinged I sent my consultant an e-mail asking for her thoughts on what happened and how I can improve when I re-apply. Absolutely no response whatsoever. I thought that was remarkably unprofessional given the money I spent on the service. Jeremy Shinewald of MBA Mission was pretty bad as well. I talked to him for about an hour for an initial consultation; the guy is a slick talker but no substance whatsoever. He's sort of the Barack Obama of admissions consulting.

The business as a whole has a very perverse incentive structure. You pay a pretty hefty sum ($2500/school for most services, discounted rate per school if you do multiple apps), the amount gets paid all at once, and there is no chance of any sort of partial refund if you don't get in anywhere. Essentially what this does is ensure that consultants are given little incentive to be honest with applicants and to work their butt off for them. The structure is similar to pro baseball in this aspect, where you see players get ridiculous guaranteed money, only to flop due to complacency.

 

I used his service and found it exceptional. I got into HBS. As far as any other evidence-not sure what you really want but from the consensus I've seen online he's the best in the business.

I'd use him for your one dream school if you're worried about price. If you really don't find his series informative and funny on poets and quants, I don't know if you're gonna like working with him. But don't let your fear of having your essays torn apart stop you from hiring him.

Either way-good luck

 

I agree that Stacy Blackman's service isn't worthwhile. I was not impressed when I did my initial consultation with them.

I did one with Sandy as well, and I can handle his brutal honesty; it's his pompous attitude that I can't handle. I think if you want someone that won't bs you, Alex Chu is a good choice.

On the point that consultants are cheerleaders that will unrealistically tell you that you have a shot at school XYZ...they will work with you on any school of your choosing, but it shouldn't take an admissions consultant to tell someone that he/she doesn't have a shot at H/S/W with a 2.9 and a 670. Gotta give them something to work with. At the same time, they should have an incentive to be honest with candidates because their reputation and track record is at stake...perhaps that's why they encourage people to apply to a safety school in their top 3 so they can save face.

I think admissions consultants' value is in their ability to babysit an applicant and hold his/her hand through every step of the process. Some people like/need that, others don't.

Disclosure: I'm not working with a consultant on my apps.

 

I researched a whole slew of admissions consultants before choosing one. I had a free consultations (either email, phone, or both) with HBS Guru (Sandy), Veritas, Clear Admit, Inside MBA Admissions, Stacy Blackman, MBA Mission, Paul Bodine, and MBA Exchange.

I am an nontraditional candidate and I have some unique work experience. I am also a good writer (I had to write a ton in a past job), but I had no idea what b-schools were looking for in the application. From forum browsing, I could tell that my work experience and GMAT made me a strong candidate, but I used the admissions consultant feedback sessions to find out which schools I should target and what strategy I should use when applying.

Interestingly, most consultants (except for one) generally gave me the same advice and feedback based on my story, GMAT, undergrad GPA, and work experience. They each reinforced what I had found in my own research and told me how they would help me polish my applications. Here is what I thought of each:

HBS Guru: Blunt feedback and gave me my chances of admission to the top schools. He was very nice to me on the phone and I liked much of his advice. He thought I had decent chances to the top schools but a couple things (like my age) could hold me back. However, I decided not to go with him because he told me that with my background I should say I want to go into consulting (which would be a lie) because it made the most sense. MC isn't something I want to do and I have a personal problem with being dishonest to get into a school. Maybe I am foolish, but if I have to lie to get in I would rather not go - also I don't "need" an MBA, I just think it will help.

Inside MBA Admissions: Seems like a good firm. Nothing special though. Cheaper than most.

Stacy Blackman: This was the outlier. The consultant was severely unfriendly. From the very first minute of the conversation she seemed to have an axe to grind. Maybe someone from my industry rubbed her wrong previously, but I have no idea. She also basically told me that I had nothing to offer a top school and was wondering why I was even bothering to apply to HBS/Wharton/CBS/etc. Honestly, I was shocked during the conversation because you would think I ran over her dog or something. I thought about emailing Stacy herself to complain, but I decided that I don't care if her company destroys itself.

MBA Mission: Jeremy was very friendly and we got along well because we were/are both writers. Gave me blunt feedback on my candidacy and odds of admissions. I chose not to go with them because they are truly a bunch of writers. They help you tell the story. That's not what I needed. I can write well, but I need strategic guidance to bring out the best of me in the application. I would recommend this company to those that aren't good storytellers but know what admissions strategy they want to use.

Paul Bodine: I had read his book and had high expectations - he delivered. I like this guy and I think he knows what he is talking about. He is lesser known and only selects a handful of clients. He was easily one of my top choices.

MBA Exchange: These guys seems good as well. The email feedback was really useful. However, they allow for a phone consultation. For me, this was a deal-breaker.

Veritas: Big player with lots of consultants. They have decent backgrounds and seem to know what they are talking about. They also occasionally offer discounts.

Clear Admit: This is the company I ended up going with. I paid much more money but they seemed to have the whole package: Experience in admissions departments at top schools, full-time consultants, industry experts, honest feedback, consultants value integrity and honesty, and friendly customer service. This was not an easy decision, and I ended up paying a few thousand more dollars. I feel it has been worth it as I got the best.

Here was my order of preference for admissions consultants taking into account quality, price, service, etc.:

1) Clear Admit (Excellence in every category, but you pay $ for it) 2) Veritas or Paul Bodine (Good overall) 3) MBA Mission (Good for those who need writing help) 4) HBS Guru, Inside MBA Admissions, MBA Exchange (Depends on your situation/perspective) 5) Stacy Blackman (you couldn't pay me to use)

Hope this helps.

 

Who did you work with at ClearAdmit, was your application successful? I had a great call with the consulting company but am concerned that there are so few reviews online.

ClearAdmit was the most optimistic about my admissions chances, which while nice to hear, raised a red flag.

 

HG14 - thanks for sharing your thoughts, this is very helpful. It sounds like we have similar backgrounds (consulting), and as a career switcher, i'm interested to hear what your thoughts are in terms of discussing this in your applications. If you don't mind sharing a little more about your background and the strategy you ended up employing, i for one would definitely appreciate it.

 

Spalding,

I may not have made it clear, but I don't come from consulting. I have a background in both the military and in the private sector. My strategy was to be completely honest in my goals. Since I am fully sponsored, I stated how I will take the business I am working in to the next level. I described a realistic progression in the business - including eventually becoming the CEO. I briefly explained my passion for the industry. I also highlighted my past leadership experiences - especially in the military.

I don't want to give too much of my history away because I am willing to bet that I am the only applicant with my particular background.

 

After reading the posts in this thread, I'd like to say that I am truly sorry that you have not been happy with your interactions with my company. We have had a phenomenal track record for over a decade, with a very high percentage of clients receiving merit scholarships that make the service pay for itself - and then some. We also strive to treat each and every client with respect and truly enjoy the process of helping clients be successful.

Brady4MVP: As I had mentioned to you in an earlier thread as well, I was surprised to hear the summary of your experience: "OK revisions and very little insight." We have so many layers of support that I wonder why you did not let us know that you were not receiving quality feedback. Even now, after the fact, I would certainly be interested in understanding more about why this did not work for you. As a former client, you have my direct email and I encourage you now, just as I did when you began with us, to be in touch. It sounds from your post that you were not aware of our policies or resources, and since you did not contact me personally, I am summarizing here. Every client has a client liaison, a flight tester, and my direct line if there are ever issues. You can always ask for a second or third read, and a fresh perspective from a new person on the team. You should always feel free to reach out to any of these resources should you not feel 100% comfortable with your service and you will indeed proactively hear from your client liaison and me in this regard. We also offer an option to cancel once you start and we do offer a refund if you are not successful. I do stand behind our service and would certainly always be receptive to direct feedback should you wish to speak offline and discuss details.

HG14 and CinnamonToastCrunch: the two individuals who did not work with us, but did not enjoy the phone consultation, I am sorry. We spend many, many hours every week offering advice online, over the phone and in person - for free. I have a ton of respect for my team and enjoy them all as human beings. I am surprised that anyone would find them to be abrasive or rude, and am having a hard time imagining who you could have spoken with or what could have happened. It is always our intention to help, not offend, and I apologize on behalf of my team.

There is a reason why Stacy Blackman Consulting has stayed strong while so many other companies have come and gone every year. I'd like to note that of almost every company discussed here, Stacy Blackman has been around the longest. While I literally have thousands of satisfied and successful clients, it's truly painful for me to hear when there are individuals who walk away unsatisfied. That is my personal failure and I do everything that I can to avoid it. This is why I encourage direct communication during the process; it's the only way we can ever be in a position to fix whatever is not working with a particular client.

 

I followed up with Stacy Blackman herself (not the consultant I talked to) after seeing that she cared enough to respond to my posted comments. Even though my first impression last year wasn't a good one, I think others may have much better experiences based on my most recent interactions. I recommend that people check out the consultants they are considering for themselves, using their free evaluations, before making a decision. What worked for me, and who I "clicked with," will not resonate with everyone. So long story short, I wanted to give some props to Stacy for trying to address any past issues both on this forum and with me.

 
aq25:
Hi all,

I'm applying to some MBA business schools ">M7 programs this year and am considering using an admissions consultant. I've narrowed it down to two consultants: Stacy Blackman and Amerasia. Does anyone have any experience with either? I'd really like to get some honest feedback on both.

One thing I noticed is that Amerasia only seems to have reviews on gmatclub, and I am wondering why it doesnt have reviews elsewhere like Stacy Blackman. Candid feedback appreciated. Really interested in things like responsiveness, insights.

Thanks!

Hello aq25, I am an admissions consultant, and I run Master Admissions, a boutique firm. I was asked by Andy from WSO to start a thread here a few months ago because I have a lot of experience in the investment industry-- it's called Q& A with Betsy Massar of Master Admissions. I don't have a marketing staff, so I am not as widely known as some of my peers, but I would be honored if you take a look my information and my responses as a member of the WSO community. I am also happy to talk with you on the phone about services or about the admissions industry as well, which is mostly, but not entirely, composed of ethical people who really want to help prospective candidates get into the very best school possible.

Like my peers, I'll give you a free consultation, as a number of other monkeys here know. I prefer to do it on the phone, so I can get a sense of who you are and whether we might click. Fit with any consultant, as well as with a business school, is paramount.

I have a few reviews on GMAT club -- but I haven't "worked" it over there. I think the system now requires that consultants pay for a thread over there -- so bear that in mind.

I recommend everyone do what others on this board have recommended -- check out the person who is going to be working directly with you. That will be your closest relationship, and it has to work for you, as it is your investment.

As for fees -- well, it really depends on how you want to do it. Most firms have hourly pricing, and you can pace that way if you want. Others have essay-by-essay pricing, which may work for you too. It's really all about ROI for you in terms of both money and time.

Any way, I do what I do because I love it. I do what I can to help someone feel great about the process, as unsettling as it can be. I'm here at WSO for similar reasons. I also want to dispel myths about the process where I can and give you resources so you don't have to speculate so much about the do's and don'ts.

I do answer PM's, and am happy to help those who don't want to show all their cards to the whole web. Fair enough. In exchange, I hope you will at least ask one of your questions on my thread, so everyone else can benefit from your query.

So as we progress forward to the first-round deadlines -- 79 days until HBS! -- let me know if I can help.

Good luck to everyone who is applying!

Betsy

Betsy Massar Come see me at my Q&A thread http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-w-betsy-massar-of-master-admissions Ask away!
 
pr0ficient:
I used Adam at Amerasia. I thought he was worth every penny.

You should schedule an initial consultation with both, see who impresses you the most and then make a decision.

Shoot me a PM if you have any specific questions about Adam/Amerasia. I'd be happy to chat with you about it.

I was planning on a consulting from alex from amerasia .Please can you comment how good are they ? s it worth $2100 per school and the time they give you and whether they help you get in ?

 

Here comes Devil's Advocate. Why do you need a consultant? If you have piss poor writing skills, I would hire an essay editor. I think the best bang for your buck (read: spending zero) is to make friends with current MBA students or alumni from your target schools and run your story by them. Fine tune your story based on their feedback and you'll be fine. Sorry to voice my opinion, but I think admission consultants are not worth the high price point, especially since their services are basically available for free elsewhere.

Caveat: Got into a few schools without them and had a horrible gmat score.

 

I've been lurking for a while and I'm obviously not an active member, so not what you're looking for. I was skeptical of consultants for a while. In the end, I decided to use one because I'm a non-traditional applicant without many friends who are currently in MBA programs. I decided I wanted a smart, neutral (my friends and family are smart but not neutral) sounding board who would look at my essays.

I worked with a guy at Clear Admit who was immensely helpful on this front. I've been admitted to one MBA business schools ">M7 so far and am waiting on others. I might have been admitted anyway--I had a good GMAT and interesting work experience, I think--but I think this guy steered me away from some of my less-brilliant impulses. Feel free to message me for more details.

 
Bubbs:

I've been lurking for a while and I'm obviously not an active member, so not what you're looking for. I was skeptical of consultants for a while. In the end, I decided to use one because I'm a non-traditional applicant without many friends who are currently in MBA programs. I decided I wanted a smart, neutral (my friends and family are smart but not neutral) sounding board who would look at my essays.

I worked with a guy at Clear Admit who was immensely helpful on this front. I've been admitted to one MBA business schools ">M7 so far and am waiting on others. I might have been admitted anyway--I had a good GMAT and interesting work experience, I think--but I think this guy steered me away from some of my less-brilliant impulses. Feel free to message me for more details.

Strong post count to thread ratio.

 

I found mine helpful (sbc) but not as much as I would have hoped..as someone that was somewhat last minute and kissing the deadline, it was difficult to get things to them, read, and turned around within 2 business days which was key for me.

Where they were helpful: - I recited my story, my consultant picked out what's good/unique to share and what to keep my mouth shut about - structural overview of essays, e.g. 'you don't get into the meat of it right away, if you had 5000 of these you'd skip, so spill the beans early and expand on it as you go'. - picking which schools they'd help with, telling me to analyze the essays topics and only get help on non-recycled essay content. (e.g. if 2 schools had 'why mba why now', don't get help with both, pick one with a different topic) - reality check: I was told flat out I'd be lucky to get into 2 of the schools I initially selected, I was told to pick 1 of them and otherwise downshift slightly. I appreciated this over a "yeah, you can do it, pay me even if you're not in" attitude.

Not helpful: - editing and corrections. There were typos and errors in some corrections which is amazing for the $300 an hr i'm spending and the "hour" sbc spent proofing my 500 words. (I doubt they spent more than 15 minutes on it given half of the feedback was an obvious template copy/paste - I received little to any insight as to how adcom reads essays/what they want to hear/etc.

 

I bought the 3-school package with mbamission which I don't believe is worth $6k in retrospect. Of course, things are always easier to see in retrospect but I would really regret if I don't get in to any school and did not use one. For me, I was terrible in writing so needed a lot of help and didn't have someone that I want to consistently bug and feel that they are obligated to help me. If you are confident with your writing skill and have a few friends that can proof read your story and make sure the story is telling what you want, then I don't think you need the full package.

With what I know now, I would recommend people to buy 2-3 hours of service and have someone review them. Once you start, you will know there are a lot components beyond the essay part. You may also consider some full-package review service, like the one from mba admission advisory ~$500, you basically send them the entire application once you are done and they will review the whole thing as the adcom. I think every application can benefit, more or less, by having someone in the industry scan through it once.

To be honest, the application fee itself is $250 so what is another few hundred bucks. Even if you think the consultant can only help you go from 70% chance to 72%, I would say do it so you won't regret. Bottom line is you need to choose between what you will regret most. If you don't get in and wasted an additional $1k, you will be pissed. But you will regret even more if you did not get in and didn't use any consulting service. If you do get in, you will be happy regardless. Look it up, people always regret inaction.

Disclaimer: I applied to 4 MBA business schools ">M7 schools and got into 2 (including 1 that I did not use any consulting service). The first school, the consultant's alma mater, took the longest and most edits and I didn't get in. So I guess I cannot really tell how much it helped....

 

I've written a very long post on this topic before, so I'm not going to rehash my points here. Just a few basic things.

  1. I agree with TwoThrones. The service is most valuable for those who badly need help writing essays or you are a rockstar with tons of cash to burn and have no problem paying for a consultant.

  2. Although essays are certainly important, their importance have been grossly overstated by consultants. To use a military history analogy, by the time you start writing MBA essays, you are at the Battle of the Bulge in late 1944. Yes, there is important work to be done, but the war is almost over.

  3. Proponents argue that since MBA is so expensive, you might as well spend $5K on a consultant since if you don't get in you will regret it. I think this is a very lazy argument. First, $5K cash is not a trivial amount for the vast majority of applicants. Second, that argument only has merit if one can somehow quantify the probability of getting in by using the service. Admissions consulting is one of the very few service businesses where the customer has no RELIABLE RELEVANT data that shows to what extent the consultant will add value to his application.

Overall, admissions consulting is a pseudo-scam, and I advise most of my buddies to stay away from them.

 

Not going to comment on whether a consultant is necessary or not - that's for you to decide. But did want to give a +1 to Betsy from Master Admissions. Had a friend who used her and got into all the schools they applied for. She's also made some quality posts on WSO if you want to check her out before you buy. (See: http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-w-betsy-massar-of-mas…)

Currently: future neurologist, current psychotherapist Previously: investor relations (top consulting firm), M&A consulting (Big 4), M&A banking (MM)
 

I have to agree with mbavsmfin. I've already paid $3500 for a one-school package. I already got dinged from that school. I compared my essays to another person who got an invite. And the quality of the essays were substantially different. These consultants have a simply conflict of interest. You pay them hourly, so they're going to do what consultants in any industry are known to do, embed problems into their solutions to get repeat business.

What's useful from them is possibly the initial exercises for you to run through your entire life to see what major themes might lead you to short-term and long-term goals that tie to your upbringing and work experience.

What I should've done before walking into essays was literally go through every single work project I've ever done. Think about what tasks I did, what impact I had, functions/people I worked with, context to how the project came about, all of my involvement with soft/hard skills. And then some reflection on the experience, like whether it was difficult, a failure, or someone annoying on the team, or I rallied people, and whatever the experience was. You need to know all that well even for interviews, so it should be done before essays are written. And there are tons of free literature from a few reputable companies, like MBAMission and Stacy Blackman. Admissionado actually has a release of 50 sample essays. Also, MBAMission sells a book for $20 or so with tips for the entire process. Exhaust these things first. You're still going to have to learn the process even if you have a consultant, so why pay someone else to do the work that you're going to be doing anyways.

I initially spent the money because I was short on time and thought it was going to help, but my consultant really had no clue what she was doing, even though she's gone it for 8+ years and has pretty legit professional credentials. We never went over brainstorming I worked on earlier with my work experience nor did an exercise to dig deep into work. She basically directed the process of my essay writing. When I had concerns and didn't like something, she pushed it to the side and didn't give me the help I needed. Whenever I objected to stuff, which was mainly over the phone, it became a debate and yes, I essentially was paying for it with my hard-earned money. She wouldn't have a problem arguing with me since she's getting paid.

To reduce the cost, you really got to do as much as you can yourself first. If you need help with the initial life map or brainstorming, see what exercises a company like MBAMission has when you pay hourly. That'll be maybe 2-3 hours of time you buy, and that's it. Then as someone else said, use them to brainstorm ideas, but do the writing and proof reading yourself and with someone else who's gone through the process. Use a consultant with proven track record (plenty of reviews online) when you reach what you feel are final versions of your essays.

If anyone is curious to who I used, PM me.

 

Thanks for the input. If I hire a consultant, it would be only for one school. I suppose I can do the trick myself afterwards. Main reason is that they have seen 100s of essays and resumes (what to include and what not), and specifically not to shoot myself in the foot anywhere.

Does anybody (know somebody who) hired Fortuna Admissions? They are expensive, but their consultants all seem be former (associate) gatekeepers at top schools.

 

wanted to add my two cent to the discussion............I worked with a consultant and bought a two school package for $5700. Unfortunately, I didn't even get an invite to the two schools that I used a consultant for. However, I got 5 interviews from top 10 programs in which I didn't use a consultant. I am not sure how to account for this irony. As it has already been pointed our in earlier posts, in hindsight, I wouldn't have paid $5700 and instead saved that money to travel to schools for interview.

I worked with a company called Clear Admit, and WOULD NOT RECOMMEND it to anyone. The consultant I worked with was good, but she left the company part way through R1 2014 and I had to discuss my situation with Clear Admit head honcho and needless to say he was uncooperative, rude, and unflexible in assigning me a new consultant.

I strongly feel that writing essays is a long term process, and any candidate should write the essays over few months so that he/she can 'sleep on it'. As for proof reading etc., a candidate can always hire an english major from a nearby university as that is what I did for my other essays.

I feel that if someone's profile is strong he/she will get an interview no matter what, on the other hand, if someon's profile is not the greatest he/she will not get an interview invite no matter who the consultant is. Biggest thing is to be self-aware of your profile, and pick a set of schools that are within your profile and reach schools.

 

I notice that a lot of people got dinged at the schools they used admission consultants for, while getting admits at other schools (on par). Is it possible that there is a trend that AdComs notice somebody is using an admission consultant and therefore look upon your application less favorably?

 

I don't think that is the case. The reason that happens sometimes is the process has some unpredictability to it, so one may get into 2 or 3 of their top choices but get dinged from another one. I think consultants are helpful if you find the right one. At first I hired one of the bigger, well known names and while service was good at first it died out toward the end. I ended up working with Scott at Personal MBA Coach and had a great experience. He can be tough at times and push you to your limit, but in the end it worked out for me as I got into HBS with his help. Scott is definitely worth looking into as the support is great; this is what he does and he loves it, really taking an interest in your app and it makes a difference.

 

If these admissions consulting places really wanted to put there money where their mouth's are then they would offer a feature where you get money back if you don't get in. I wouldn't even ask for a full refund, but something like a few 1-2k back depending on what package you purchase. It would make the buyer feel a little bit better and would also making the admissions consulting firm a little more responsible.

 

Wanted to share some quick insight from my own process looking at Admissions Consultants. Be very careful looking over their T&CS. I found that one firm had a very aggressive indemnification clause that essentially barred anyone from writing a negative review. If you pare this clause with the fact that they will not offer refunds if you do not get into the programs you want then you end up with a situation where they have no real incentive to see that you are successful. I thought this to be a giant red flag and decided to stay away.

 

Many people don't understand that "admission consultant" is actually a person instead of a company. I wouldn't choose consultant service by just looking at company's review, unless that company has only one consultant. When you do free chat/evaluation with particular admission company, make sure you are talking to the person that will guide you through the entire process, instead of famed founder who may get hundreds to HSW but barely look at ur package after you paid.

Also, don't assume you can do less work by using consultant. Even before u pay, you need to research a lot about admission process so you can judge whether particular consultant is legit. For instance, if you know your background is a stretch to NYU by preliminary research but your consultant says he can get u to Wharton, don't be fooled. My consultant honestly told me my chance to HBS is less than 5% (he was right).

So my suggest is to do your research first and talk to all consulting companies that offer free evaluation session. Ask difficult questions and claims and see if they challenge you using factual information. You should be able to figure out who is better at doing jobs and who is better at sales.

 

BE CAREFUL with both GMAT prep and admission consultants.

This being said I bought about 3 hours a la carte at MBAMission and it was VERY worth it. I was fairly pessimistic applying as I had a bad gmat score and was actually unemployed at the time. The consultant to me to raise my standards and advised me to apply to top 20 only. I got in 2 out of 5 (including my top choice) and waitlisted at a M7!

Suggestions: -Get a la carte and DO NOT have them edit your essay (my consultant skimmed with a time limit of 15 mins for content changes). Get editing done by friends, colleagues, undergrad career centers, etc. -Use them as a sounding board for schools, essay structures, and ideas. -Make sure they are willing to go the extra mile and are client oriented. The consultant I used did WAY more than 3 hours of work and even after applying she spot-checked my interview follow-up emails, helped me with selection, kept me up to date on what she heard in the admin grapevine, send me lists of questions asked at each school for interviews, etc.

 

I did not use anyone, but I think Sandy Kreisberg and Alex Chu are pretty solid because they're very knowledgeable and brutally honest.

MBA admissions consulting is a pseudo-scam in many ways. It's a service industry where pretty much every provider charges a similar rate, there is no way to figure out who really adds more value than the others, the consultants use data points without any context to sell their services (one of our clients got into HBS with a 580 GMAT!!!), and there is very little evidence that they meaningfully increased one's chances of admission.

Having said that, if you have money to throw around and just want to pay for the "insurance" or are a non-native English speaker with poor writing skills, I could see why you would want to hire one.