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7 key choices when comparing MBA admissions consulting firms

October 17 2017 By The MBA Exchange
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Applicants can feel overwhelmed when exploring resources for a business school admissions campaign. A Google search using keywords “MBA admissions consulting firm” produces a staggering 62,000 results!

The firm you select will directly influence the pace, quality and outcome of your campaign. So, before you finalize a decision, ask yourself: “Do I want a firm that features…

1. Generic school guidebooks OR customized 1-on-1 guidance?
Some admissions consulting firms have online stores that distribute free or inexpensive school-specific guidebooks promising “all the information that applicants need.” Spoiler alert: every applicant who uses such mass-produced data in his or her essays looks identical to the adcoms. Is that really what you want? Generic guidebooks ignore the uniqueness of each candidate’s background and goals. Business schools favor an application that features the classes, clubs, events, etc., that reflect the individual’s past, present and future. That’s why The MBA Exchange teaches our clients how to feature what’s most relevant and authentic for their applications to each target school.2. Responses within “X business days” OR within 24 hours, 7 days a week?
Most MBA applicants have demanding jobs that consume their lives Monday through Friday. So, evenings, weekends and holidays often provide the only opportunity to work on admissions campaigns and communicate with admissions consultants. If you ask a question on a Friday night, waiting until Monday morning for an answer is simply not acceptable. So, be sure to consider “responsiveness” as a key differentiator when comparing admissions consulting firms.

3. A few consultants from a few schools VS. multiple consultants from numerous schools?
If you’re applying to more than one business school, you can benefit from the collective experience of a firm that has several former adcoms and/or MBA graduates from every school on your target list. This breadth of knowledge enables your lead consultant to confer with a variety of colleagues throughout your admissions campaign. With over 70 excellent advisors from all top-15 ranked schools, The MBA Exchange has unbeatable background and credentials.

4. Former MBA students OR former MBA admissions officers?
Not every applicant is best served by having an ex-adcom as his or her lead consultant. In many cases, working with an MBA graduate who comes from your industry or your culture is more valuable. However, engaging a firm that includes former admissions officers on its team is valuable to every client of that firm. At The MBA Exchange, we proudly feature 14 former ex-adcoms on our roster. They provide valuable insights about schools that help refine our service model for all clients.

5. Overstated consultant profiles OR accurate, honest profiles?
When describing the background of their consultants, some firms can be tempted to exaggerate certain aspects – such as whether the advisor is a “full-time employee” devoted 100% to MBA admissions consulting. A firm that misstates the background of its own consultants raises doubts about its integrity and professionalism. We encourage serious applicants to double check such claims by reviewing the LinkedIn profile of a proposed consultant before agreeing to a match with him or her.

6. Overloaded client rosters OR single-digit client rosters?
The total number of clients supported by a consultant helps determine the level of attention and responsiveness you can expect during your campaign. Some firms assign 20 or more clients to each of their consultants! However, if a client roster exceeds, say, 8-9 applicants your entire campaign could be jeopardized by delayed replies from an overworked advisor. Be sure to confirm in advance, with the firm and the individual consultant, how many total clients will be on his or her roster during your campaign. At The MBA Exchange, our standard is single-digit client rosters.

7. Unproven admissions success OR CPA-verified admissions success?

Consulting firms that lack third-party verification of their results sometimes disparage other firms that have such proof. Whether this unprofessional behavior is motivated by jealousy, embarrassment or sub-par performance is anyone’s guess. In any case, working with an admissions consulting firm that has independently documented admissions success is a wise choice. The MBA Exchange is the first and only major firm to offer results verified by an independent, Certified Public Accounting (CPA) firm.

MBA applicants should shop with care and caution when comparing various admissions consulting firms. The stakes are much too high to choose one that falls short in any of the key criteria. So, invest your dollars and your future wisely. A great way to get started is with a free, expert evaluation of your candidacy.