Here’s a story.
About a year and a half ago, in June 2012, EssaySnark was contacted by a certain Brave Supplicant. He said he was applying to bschool, and that a friend of his who we’d helped the prior year had recommended us. We’re always eager to help buddies of our previous success stories and we engaged in a dialog with this BSer person. Originally he claimed that he wanted to pay for some services, but that never materialized. No problem, we’re fine with helping the DIYer, it’s part of our mission. We went back and forth via email a few times and then he submitted some essays for a freebie review. We read those and offered some comments on them via Twitter:
Wow – BSer who sent 3 Wharton essays in 1 doc for free RV on Thurs – nice job! Essay 1 is best 1st draft we've seen this season. 2=also good
— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) August 3, 2012
Yeah, those were pretty sweet remarks, weren’t they? We figured he was going to be in good shape – despite the fact that he was quite a bit older than average at the top schools. We also tweeted this about this guy:
35 is pretty old for HBS. Nothing is impossible but… it's almost 10 yrs > average. Just sayin'
— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) August 2, 2012
But he was (and still is, we’d imagine 😀 ) an underrepresented minority, with decent stats in terms of GPA and GMAT. The schools tend to fight over those underrepresented types; as unfair as it may be, when you’re coming from certain demographics, you don’t have to be a superstar candidate to break in. He had a bschool-ready background, with some entrepreneurial experience. And he did a good job on his goals essay. This is the kind of profile that a school like Booth or MIT should snap up.
Yup, Wharton is where he ended up. Kudos to him! Admitted to several schools, and he accepted the Wharton offer. A fine accomplishment for anyone. We even gave him a free subscription to the blahg as a congrats; we toss those out from time to time to friendly BSers who wander around these parts. And he was nice enough to be sending some other BSers our direction; a couple people contacted us in early 2013 saying that he’d been talking us up. And he had put a link to our little blahg on his blog. ‘Cuz it seems that all BSers have an I’m-applying-to-business-school blog these days. We appreciated that he did that, the link thing; a small gesture. Cool, and congrats.
Then a few months ago, this past August, we discovered that this former BSer had started offering MBA consulting services.
Let’s say that again:
A former BSer, now matriculating at Wharton, who just a year prior had been seeking our help, had converted his I’m-applying-to-bschool blog to an admissions consulting service.
In fact, he’d copied our pricing, and some of our language, and positioning, and all that jazz. Whatever.
Now, we have no problem with competition. Sure, we were a little miffed by the blatant and unimaginative copying, but so be it. That’s life in the big city.
It’s incredibly easy for someone to hang up a shingle and call themselves an expert in this business. Given the lack of transparency – how do you know if what they’re saying is legit? – an applicant just has to take their word for it. That they know what they’re doing and all that.
But we’ve issued some warnings to all of you BSers out there before, about what to look for in an admissions consultant – mostly, that you need someone who has had several YEARS of experience in this biz if you’re going to have half a chance of having some luck with them, that it takes time to build up the expertise to coach someone – that just getting into a good school does not make someone an expert in advising others on how to get in…. yada yada yada.
At this point you may be wondering, “Where are you going with this, EssaySnark?”
The reason for today’s rant is this: A month or so ago we had a BSer with a very strong profile come to us saying that they had enlisted the services of this other “consultant” for their Round 1 strategy… and, uh, well. We went through the end product (two separate apps) that this BSer developed using the “strategy” apparently advised to them by this consultant… and can we just say that we were not impressed.
This BSer has a lot of potential – and a lot of risk. But everyone has risk. Their profile is of one who should find it relatively EASY to get into bschool. Yet this person clearly did not execute well. Not even a single interview invites in Rd 1. All of the mistakes we saw were completely avoidable. It was all about miffed-up strategy on the essays. Thankfully this BSer started early enough that they could redirect course for Rd 2.
To be fair, we honestly do not know how much input this other “consultant” had in the BSer’s apps. We have seen plenty of people who engage the bare-minimum of our services and then go on to shoot themselves in the foot with the actual execution (we also know of lots others who get one Profile Review from us and then go on to great success all on their own – or maybe with a strategy guide or two for help). We didn’t grill this BSer to find out what part of this failed strategy was his own idea and what was adopted from the “consultant”.
But with this level of #essayfail, to hear that the person started out talking with ANY consultant, and ended up with that? Well. That’s just an out-and-out shame, it is. Even if this “consultant” didn’t literally say “Talk about X in this essay, and use Y for that other thing” then no matter what, the BSer was not apprised of the risks and pitfalls that are so obviously evident in the profile. Those just simply weren’t accounted for at all. In fact, how the essays were written totally exacerbated the weaknesses, instead of working to overcome them.
We’re not scared of competition. Heck, we didn’t even say anything when this consultant-dude copied our pricing and website language stuff. We didn’t say anything when he took down the link he usedta have going from his blog to this here snark site – even though we’d given him free access to the blahg for a bunch o’ months, before we knew of his plans. No worries. We get it. We can deal.
But this made us p!ssed.
There are a LOT of lousy admissions consultants out there. Brave Supplicants come to us ALL THE TIME with evidence of said lousyness – horrible essays, a whole season’s worth of rejections, oodles of bad advice. Maybe we shouldn’t be singling this one “consultant” out like this. There’s plenty of crap available out there in the wild west.
Give it some thought.
Before you enlist the services of a “professional” – and before you decide you’re qualified to provide such services. In any capacity. Think things through.
Are you going to let your buddy rebuild the engine on your custom ’66 Stingray 427, just because he figured out how to jumpstart his mom’s Corolla?
And to the “consultant” (who claims to not be one) if you’re still around: This is not exactly the career path that you had mapped out for yourself in that career goals essay we read last year; now THAT looked impressive. No offense to other admissions consultants out there (ourselves included!), but you’re going to Wharton for this?
2015 Update: We’ve now had MULTIPLE candidates coming to us who’ve been REJECTED based on the advice of this person, and many claiming that he does not return emails quickly either when they’re in the throes of essays and deadlines. Be careful out there, pardner.