Kicking the tires on admissions consultants? Read this.

Toldja we have more to say (see post 1 on this topic from yesterday – What (not) to look for in an admissions consultant). We appreciate how murky and opaque MBA admissions is. It’s really hard to judge different consultants when you’re going through their standard pre-sales process when they’re doing those free profile evaluations…

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($) What (not) to look for in an admissions consultant

In no particular order, some words of warning for those of you starting to consider engaging the services of an MBA admissions consultant this season. Be careful of: A consultant who tells you to make stuff up for your resume. We hear of this all too often and it gives us the heebie jeebies. Talk…

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A not-uncommon progression to bschool (conclusion)

Yesterday we started telling this tale of the BSer with an extended application process – in this case, a many-years extended.

To recap:

We first did a Comprehensive Profile Review for them back in Fall 2012. Then they disappeared on us for a full admissions season, until we were surprised to get a request for a Post-Mortem. Otherwise known as a Reject Analysis.

The rejected app we were asked to analyze was from that initial app season, back in 2012. This BSer was ready to give it a go again in 2014. On this particular app – to a very difficult school – they’d done a halfway decent job but there were some unforced errors. Things they could’ve done differently. Not sure it would’ve made a difference at this particular school, but still. Always a little sad for us to see that after it’s too late to be of help to them. (Hint hint. Getting help on your essays before the app has been rejected is the ideal order of things.)

We laid our full assessment out in black and white, explaining what that one school probably was reacting to in the negative decision they got, and also pointing out opportunities for better positioning if they were to try for any other school in the future.

Then they disappeared on us. Until about a year ago, when we got this:

Hi EssaySnark, thanks for the post-mortem feedback. I didn’t apply in the most recent application cycle. My updates are from 2012-13. I was waitlisted by Sloan for Round 1 and then rejected. I was accepted to Yale SOM and would have attended, but the school where I work suffered a crisis that compelled me to stay. I’d like to apply Round 1 to HBS, GSB, Sloan, and Haas and Round 2 to Tuck, SOM, and maybe Ross. Do you have any advice about this list? Thanks in advance!

Great set of schools, and of course it was super encouraging to see how much progress they’d made on their original attempts two years prior. We had a few back-and-forths with them, and then they signed up for our 8-Guide Bundle, a customizable assortment of our school guides, which we always think is a smart move from anyone who’s serious about this stuff. ;-)

And then, the summer went by, and Round 1 deadlines passed, and lo and behold, we started getting news of some progress being made! First there was word from this BSer that they were interviewing at a Great School in Round 1, and then come December, we heard that they were accepted there and one other! The final exchange from them was this:

Thanks for the congratulations! I’m still very excited. Of course you can post my story! EssaySnark has been such a great help to me. Please let me know anything I should do to help.

We did in fact ask for them to write up their own version of events but they went radio silent on us after pinging them several times, so we figured we’d do it ourselves, since we see a few worthwhile takeaways here:

1. Be prepared for this to take more than one year – it’s common for many people and there are vast and sundry reasons for that.

2. We always respect those who go it alone (that’s why so much of what we offer is through this self-service / do it yourself model) and this person had huge successes doing exactly that, with some strategic requests for our professional input along the way.

3. Timing is everything! And be flexible and open, since your priorities may change as you progress through the process. This person ended up accepted to totally different schools than they were originally considering when we first met them.

Love seeing successes like this.

And BSer, if you’re still around and feeling motivated to write up your own version of events with any other perspectives or insights or angles that we missed – we’d love to have it! Same goes for all those other people we’ve worked with over the years who still stalk this here blahg. If we’ve not yet posted your story we sure would love for the chance! You can reach out through our contact form or send whatever you’ve got to Team EssaySnark at gethelpnow at essaysnark dot com.

Here is a not-uncommon progression to bschool.

The journey to acceptance to the right MBA program for you will undoubtedly take awhile. You have to start with the GMAT, then figure out your schools, then map out your strategy, and put together all the apps, then sit back and wait till you get your answers…

And for some people, that process has to be repeated. It can add up to a lot of time. This is not atypical, and if you end up in that boat, don’t feel bad about it.

Often the jagged journey is just because you haven’t yet found the right fit of the best MBA program to who you are and what you want to do. Other times it’s because there’s room for improvement in the profile, and getting rejected is frequently the motivating factor that can help someone decide to finally make those improvements.

Sometimes people actually are successful in their apps – but getting into one program makes them realize that it’s not the program that they want to go to.

Another common issue? You’re trying before it’s time.

We have a story today about a BSer for whom most of this was true – someone who, with time, ended up in a most excellent place.

You are probably aware that many top MBA programs want to see significant work experience in order to be confident that you’re ready for the challenges and the rigors of the MBA curriculum. Not only do they want to make sure you’re not in over your head in the very difficult grad school environment, but they also want to ensure that everyone in the class is able to contribute to their peers. This comes from having some decent work experience, being out in the world in a professional capacity where you’ve done stuff.

Sometimes, when someone is too young, and not showing quite enough experience that’s compelling or notable, then the schools will reject for that reason alone.

This BSer first approached us for help on their apps way back in 2012 (writing that does make it seem like forever ago). They got our take on their situation with our Comprehensive Profile Review (a great place to begin for anyone, regardless of when you’re planning on applying). This person had a solid GMAT score, above-average academics from a very good university, and a smattering of interesting extracurriculars and community service to round out the profile. The only glitch? They were barely two years out of college, with not much of a work history to speak of yet, and a bit of a hodgepodge set of nontraditional jobs. Our profile write-up mostly told them how this was going to be a factor but, with the right set of essays, they possibly could have a shot, based on some strengths that we were seeing. One question they asked at the time was:

I’m applying to all schools in Round 2 because I’d like more experience in my new job first. Does this strategy make sense?

We responded that actually no, applying in Round 1 is very advantageous, particularly given the schools that they were targeting. Three months more experience in a new job is not really going to move the needle, in most cases. It shouldn’t matter TOO much if you’re a hot-to-trot candidate; the schools accept lots of Round 2ers, too. But for anyone who’s going for the best of the best, we really truly do encourage you to get those apps in for Round 1 if possible.

And then they disappeared on us.

No worries, it happens. Lots of Brave Supplicants come to us for that initial profile review and then we never hear from them again. We always hope that that means they were empowered to pursue their MBA dreams on their own and were able to be successful with that one dose of input.

In this case, the BSer in question did indeed resurface… a long time later.

Check back for Part 2 of the story to see how this one ended up.

Good Luck to all Round 2 candidates awaiting decisions this week!

($) essay critique: Stanford “What matters most?”

We’re not really in the right season for an essay critique – after all, how many of you have even thought about any of the schools’ essay prompts lately? Most people are celebrating (or reeling) from Round 2 acceptances that have or are about to come. There’s a scattered few here and there who ignore…

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Success Story! A military applicant who understands the importance of fit.

In our irregular series of guest posts from Successful BSers, we offer you this today from one who had some challenges – yet also had so much going for him, including grit and perseverance and some interesting tales to tell about his military service. We’ll let him explain it. When I first began the MBA…

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