Admissions Consultants: So Many Choices, So Little Time

You’ve decided that engaging a professional MBA admissions consultant is the right move for you. Capitalizing on the experience and expertise of an expert who has helped others like you achieve their goals adds to your comfort and confidence.

But, with so many MBA admissions consultants in the market, how do you know if and when you have the right one in your corner? Here are 3 key factors to consider in making your choice:

1. Arbitrary assignment vs. mutual matches
At some firms, the consultant who picks up the phone or replies to your email is the one "assigned" to work with you. No options. If you encounter this at a firm when discussing your MBA plans, don’t just walk away — RUN. They are placing their own interests ahead of yours.

You want, need and deserve a consultant who understands your candidacy and cares deeply about your success. The only way to ensure this is to have several options and to participate actively in the matching process to select the "right" one for you. So, the matching process should begin with a list of profiles that you can consider and compare. Then, there should be the opportunity for a 1-on-1 "chemistry chat" to confirm that you’re on the same page and will communicate well. Most importantly, the match needs to be mutual, with both parties excited about joining forces as partners for this journey.

And, finally, there should be an established process in place for you to quickly transition to a different, equally qualified and committed consultant just in case the match doesn’t work out. This means you should consider not just the one consultant who will be your lead, but also others on the team that could take over if necessary.

2. Admissions office experience vs. industry experience
Every MBA candidacy is different, with strengths and weaknesses that need to be considered when choosing an admissions consultant. If your academic background is a soft spot that needs special care in explaining and mitigating a sub-par GPA or GMAT, then you might be better served by working with a former admissions professional who grasps the nuances of transcripts and test scores. Or if your professional profile is fragmented or non-traditional, you could benefit more by engaging a consultant who has worked in that industry and knows the "language of business" in ways that can bolster your resume.

One size does not fit all. That’s why our 60-member consulting team features a broad range of admissions and industry backgrounds.

3. Full-time vs. part-time consultant
There are pro’s and con’s with each kind of consultant. That’s exactly why our team includes both.

Full-timers are immersed in this job, but must take on many more clients in order to earn a living. They eat, sleep and breathe "MBA admissions," but that can insulate them from current trends and happenings in the business world that impact b-school candidacies.

Part-timers have other interests and activities, and therefore manage a shorter, more select roster of admissions clients. Such consultants rely on their firm to keep them apprised of new developments in the MBA admissions arena, while their real-time awareness of the business marketplace can benefit their clients in differentiating a professional profile and framing powerful career goals.

In either case, full-time or part-time, you should expect and receive dedication, expertise and responsiveness with 24 hours, 7 days a week. That’s our policy and our practice at The MBA Exchange.

As you consider your options when evaluating potential consultants, the answers to those questions should help you narrow and prioritize the alternatives. Ultimately, though, you must trust your gut. The impressions that you have as a prospective client are usually the best indicators of how you’ll feel as an actual client of this consultant. As with any important decision, keep asking questions until you feel positive about your choice. Only then can you launch your MBA admissions campaign with mutual trust and high confidence.