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Fact vs. Forum: Choose your admissions consultant via due diligence rather than anonymous chatter

November 21 2011 By The MBA Exchange
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Strange that some MBA applicants still rely on anonymous online comments when making one of the first and biggest decisions impacting their business school success — the vetting and selection of an admissions consultant.

Sure, there’s an initial sense of comfort and camaraderie when chatting with apparent peers who, like you, seem to be struggling with the anxiety and ambiguity of applying to b-school. But who is really behind screen names like PoBoy27, Lucy Tunes and TechnoTom2 so eagerly volunteering their “wisdom” on popular forums?

Are they successful past applicants who actually worked with a specific consulting firm and graciously want to share their experience? Are they competing applicants trying to confuse rivals with misinformation? Are they consulting firms posing as applicants in an effort to undermine other firms? The only certainty is that you don’t know who they are or why they’re commenting. So, reaching conclusions and making choices based solely on random chatter is more than risky. It’s dangerous.

If you want to determine whether a given consulting firm is The One for you, then go directly to the source, ask all of your toughest question, make “apples-to-apples” comparisons between firms, and only then commit. Reach this decision like you would any financial investment — after thorough, objective due diligence:

1. Contact the head of the consulting firm for a 1-on-1 dialogue. Is he or she professional, credentialed and passionate?
2. Consider their published service description. Does it fit your specific needs and priorities at a competitive price?
3. Require the backgrounds of all potential lead consultants with whom you could be paired. Which possible match adds the most value and instills confidence?
4. Get personalized, preliminary feedback on your background and potential. What do they think of your chances for admissions success at your targeted schools?
5. Verify the firm’s promises and published claims about performance and satisfaction via credible independent sources like professional associations, CPA reports, and identified past clients. Trust only sources that you can confirm as legitimate.

This is your future we’re talking about. The stakes are much too high to rely on “whispers in the dark.” So, turn on the lights, get the facts, and make a truly informed decision for yourself.