We had a rather awkward (for us) exchange with someone who successfully got into a Very Good School last season.
This person had purchased some of our school strategy guides, and then a few months later they popped back in to announce that they’d been accepted. Yay!!
We wrote back to them with congratulations, because of course! And we asked if they’d want to share their story in a quick write-up for the blahg. We mentioned that it’s always inspiring when someone goes it alone – ‘cuz they hadn’t used any of our services, just the essay guides.
And they wrote back and kindly said yes, they’d be happy to share their story, but that they actually had used a different consultant.
And we were like, “Oh.” (It reminded us of this at first.)
Then we figured out what they meant: They’d already engaged that other consultant before they found us. (At least, that’s what we assume was the sequence.) Anyway, they still had a success story to share! Even if it wasn’t one that involved us as much. 😉
But this post is actually to draw attention to something specific that they shared. Here’s what they said:
First, about me. I am a second generation business owner. I have been working in the family business for the past eight years. Before that, I worked at (firm name), a public accounting firm for a year and a half. My GMAT score is 720, and my undergraduate GPA is (quite good). I will be 31 when I start at (bschool). This is the best time for me to get my MBA since my sister is now experienced enough to run the business on her own.
(Bschool) is a natural fit for me. A very dear friend of mine graduated from Columbia this year. We talked about courses she took and how her experience at Columbia helped her shift gears from accounting to retail.
After the GMAT, I started working on my applications for (bschool) and Stanford (as mentioned in an earlier note, Stanford’s application was great practice. Even though I knew I had a snowball’s chance in hell at Stanford, I worked on the application diligently)
My consultant recommended that I research both schools, and that is where your guides helped.
Anyway, we kinda laughed when we got to that last sentence.
First off, a sign of a good consultant is how much they encourage you to do your own research.
But the funny part is that much as we’re flattered that this was the approach, reading our school guides just doesn’t count as “school research”.
Our school guides surely do provide a great asset into your process. They contain all kinds of insights and information and practical tips and tricks for applying to your target schools.
But they are not “school research”.
School research is first-hand, on-the-ground, direct interactions with THE SCHOOL.
It’s not reading about the school from some third party.
We know that lots of the big consulting firms release school guides and they are to some degree or another useful in the process, certainly.
But those are not “school research”.
In order to have the BEST advantage in applying, you need to get outside your comfort zone and TALK TO PEOPLE.
You probably even need to leave your house for this! (gah!)
Sure, use the resources that are available to you. Study the websites, pick up these planners and whatnot.
But don’t believe that someone else’s advice and opinion is worth nearly half as much as your OWN findings and impressions and takeaways.
Clearly this worked out for this person and we do offer genuine Congratulations to them.
And at the same time, for those of you starting off on this adventure, please remember that it’s YOUR opinion that matters most – and you can only form a truly useful impression of a place by experiencing it for yourself (or at least, talking to people who are in the community – you don’t need to literally visit though that’s always super great if you can).
Our strategy guides are intended to cut through the angst of applying – they’re written to help you make the most of your limited time in front of the adcom (through the written app and to some extent the interview). Technically you should’ve already done a whole significant research project before it comes time to tackle the app.
Use everything! We’re not saying don’t get those guides. But we couldn’t let that go un-remarked-upon.
And oh yeah…. to the BSer who had help from another consultant… CONGRATS! 😀
We’re glad to have played the tiniest part in your success through those guides. You’re off to the races now!