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Canned or Fresh: Which Kind of MBA Application Do You Want?

October 10 2017 By The MBA Exchange
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How would you like the MBA admissions committee to perceive your candidacy as they analyze your business school application?

A. Canned, predictable and formulaic? OR….

B. Fresh, original and authentic?

Any serious applicant would prefer option “B”, right? That’s why astute MBA candidates should choose an admissions consulting firm whose philosophy, methodology and resources align with the desired impression.With that in mind, here are 6 key choices to make when you’re evaluating various firms:

1. Guidebooks for everyone OR a customized approach that confirms your fit?

Some consulting firms publish and promote guidebooks that provide all of the school-specific information that applicants need. The fallacy is that such books completely ignore the uniqueness of your background and goals. Every applicant who features this public data in his or her application looks the same to the adcom. Is that really what you want? Business schools always favor an applicant who features only those offerings that relate to his or her candidacy. That’s why The MBA Exchange teaches clients how to efficiently and effectively determine how to ascertain what to feature about each target school, based on their unique candidacy.

2. Database of old essays OR personalized guidance in developing your essays?
Some consulting firms offer “sample” essays produced by their past clients as foundation for new essays. Sounds tempting, doesn’t it? However, not only is this unethical but it can be harmful to a candidacy. Essay development starts with analysis of the underlying candidacy to ensure authenticity and impact. Our comprehensive admissions consultation begins with this “discovery” process as the foundation for essay development.

3. Transcripts of past interviews OR frameworks for handling every potential question?
Some consulting firms rely on past questions and answers to help their clients prepare for admissions interviews. This approach assumes that schools will ask identical questions in the future, and that the same answers are effective for all applicants. Wrong and wrong. The key to a successful interview is knowing how to handle any possible question in real time with confidence, substance and clarity. This requires a proven strategy rather than a cheat sheet. At The MBA Exchange, the interview preparation process features proprietary frameworks that clients can use to handle any possible question that an interviewer fires at them.

4. “Insider” relationships OR results-based understanding of adcom preferences?
Some consulting firms claim to be the trusted friends and confidants of current b-school admissions staff. Such consultants imply they have access to top-secret scorecards, checklists and algorithms being used to make admissions decisions. Bunk. Even admissions consultants who were former adcoms can’t know exactly how a given school is making decisions in any given round. The reality is that MBA programs have a dynamic process that considers each application in context of the entire cohort they are building. Each application is a “puzzle piece” viewed and compared with the other pieces. Only after working with thousands of applicants over many years can a consultant know — based on actual outcomes for a broad array of applicants — what it takes to maximize chances for success. With more ex-adcoms from more schools than any other firm, we know what we’re taking about!

5. “Fast & easy” OR thorough & thoughtful?
Some consulting firms emphasize how they make the application process faster and easier for their clients by providing canned information and pre-packaged content that applicants would otherwise have to produce on their own. However, this “outsourcing” approach assumes that the ultimate goal is completing an application in minimal time rather than actually gaining admission. As a serious applicant, you need a consultant who methodically guides you in discovering your unique strengths and confronting your vulnerabilities. Collaboration rather than outsourcing. Depth rather than speed. Excellence rather than convenience. That’s why The MBA Exchange encourages applicants to launch their campaigns as early as possible, starting with a free, expert evaluation.

6. Review at the end OR refinement during the campaign?

Some consulting firms wait until the application is finalized before having a second set of eyes review the essays. However, that’s too late. Even one significant change in an essay can cause inconsistency and imbalance with your other essays, resume, recommendations or short answers that could jeopardize the entire application. And there’s precious little time for corrections as the application deadlines approach. It’s far better to work with an admissions consultant who collaborates with an experienced editor in refining essays before presenting their suggested version to you. Higher quality, lower stress.

So, MBA applicants, please shop wisely when comparing admissions consulting firms. The stakes are far too high for you to choose one that falls short in any of these key criteria.