A friend e-mailed me recently asking me what resources I used to apply to business school. Did I hire a consultant? Was it worth it? Where do I feel like I could have used extra help?
The three main resources I used to apply were the Forté Foundation MBALaunch program, the mbaMission Boot Camp, and an admissions consultant. I didn’t plan on using all three from the jump, but I found each one incredibly valuable.
But let’s focus on the most expensive of the three — admissions consulting.
One Quick Note…
Participating in the Forté program gave me access to a ton of great information; opportunities to connect with mentors, admissions consultants, and admissions officers; and great discounts from their partners (like mbaMission). I am a huge fan of all the benefits that come from MBA prep programs! So worthwhile.
Why Did I Hire a Consultant?
Once I started working on my applications, I realized that to me, the whole admissions process was a black box. I needed someone who had experience with admissions and who could tell me what to expect and what the applicant pool might look like so I could get a sense of what my chances were and figure out how to position myself.
Then I realized once I started working with my consultant that I also needed someone to ask me the right questions. My consultant worked in entertainment before attending NYU Stern, and she tested my application story and career goals until they were specific and believable. The essay editing was hugely helpful as well, getting me to focus on what makes a good MBA essay (actions and impact), instead of just a good story.
But It’s So Expensive! (Was It Worth It?)
Oh my goodness, it IS expensive. The TL;DR here is that I think it was absolutely worth it, especially given the return I got from scholarship offers. I should also mention that I had family support to pay for consulting, which definitely upped the number of services I could buy.
I definitely had sticker shock the first time I looked into prices for consulting packages. I went with Admissionado because the cost of their Junior Deluxe plan was more palatable to me than the other packages I was finding online. I also ended up getting their resume package (MORE than worth it in my opinion — I highly recommend) and getting some extra help for interviews. I went all in, y’all.
Could I Have Used Extra Help?
I feel like I got all the help I needed through the resources I used, but I did have to pay for that help. But what if I hadn’t used a consultant?
With the benefit of hindsight, I know that I would have needed to mine my personal and professional networks for people who know what MBA admissions are all about and who could help me with my overarching story, career goals, and essays.
For story, I’d want someone to point out flaws in the logic that linked my experience, the MBA, and my career goals. For career goals, I’d want someone to poke holes in the feasibility of my career plan and test me on companies I’m considering and news from that field. For essays, I’d want people to help me highlight my impact and make sure that my essays communicate my personality and values.
I would still have applied to Forté, and I probably would still have done the mbaMission boot camp, if I had known about it. I think one-on-one attention is really valuable, so I probably would have gotten some consulting at hourly rates.
To me, the challenge of not using a consultant is getting similar intensive, high-quality access to people who know what’s up. I don’t think that getting a consultant is the answer for everyone, so if you’re not into it, I totally recommend applying to a prep program and cultivating a community of friends of fellow applicants to support you and give feedback on your application!
Image courtesy of Showtime Networks.