We hate to do this. What we’re going to lay out here is likely to create some angst for at least a few of our readers out there. We’re already in a stressful time of year for you BSers, so it hardly seems fair to do this. But you know EssaySnark; we say it how we see it. Today’s post is about the increasing competitiveness of MBA admissions – which you already know about – but hear us out. Based on the class profiles that have been released so far (Exhibits A, B, C and even D) we can see that this game is heating up. When Harvard announced that their 80% GMAT score range for the Class of 2017 is 700 to 760 – wait lemme say that again, 700 to 760 – well that just cemented things.
We already saw this in mid-cycle last year. Things CHANGED. BSers who normally would’ve had no trouble at all getting into, say, Duke, or Tuck, or Kellogg, were being put on the waitlist. These were GOOD CANDIDATES with decent profiles, and the ones we worked with at least 🙂 did a good job on their essays. Yet we kept hearing about limbo outcomes instead of the Rd 2 admits that we were expecting. It was heartbreaking.
This increase in GMAT scores is not happening across the board – the average GMAT at Columbia ticked down a point, to 715 – but that’s still a 715 average. Nothing to laugh at.
And, for the schools we’ve seen reporting data thus far, the trend was that app volumes went up last year. Wharton shows a nearly 8% increase in apps to an already-high 6600. We have seen not much happening there with the (not so new anymore) dean but apparently behind the scenes he’s been putting things in place – or newly-empowered Admissions Director Mary Ellen Lamb has. Presumably the reason that Wharton was able to bump their average GMAT up so significantly (728 to 732) is because they just had so many apps to choose from. A seller’s market, there. They could afford to be selective – and they were.
OK OK OK if you’ve been paying even half attention to the MBA websites this year you already know all this. What we just laid out actually isn’t the part of the post that’s going to cause stress (though it may have done so inadvertently). Your profile is your profile; most likely, whatever GMAT score you have in hand is what you’re planning on moving forward with for Round 1, and the fact that you’re reading this today means that you are already planning for Round 1, so those strategies are set. Today is not about freaking you out about whether your GMAT is good enough or not.
Today is to point out a what-should-be-obvious truth.
Not all applicants are going to make it into the top MBA programs this year. There is a shaking-out process whereby only the best of the best (based on how the adcoms in their whimsy perceive it) will make it.
Not all admissions consultants are up to the task of helping you be one of those few.
When we say the game has changed (not that we like thinking of this as “a game” – it is YOUR LIFE after all) then what we mean is THE GAME HAS CHANGED – and not all admissions consultants are A players.
Even before the admissions landscape tightened up like this, there were gobs of consultants handing out really bad advice all the time. Today, in this new climate, there is simply no margin for error.
In every industry, or company, or team, you have the best performers, the superstars, the ones who have the exceptional knowledge and skills and abilities. The winners. And you have all the rest.
As self-serving as it is for us to be saying this, you just cannot afford to lay your destiny at the feet of a shitty MBA admissions consultant.
What worked for a consultant in helping their clients get in, in, say 2013, is NOT GOING TO CUT IT TODAY.
We see so many people come to us AFTER having worked with a consultant – and we see what that consultant told them to do with their essays. And we’re just like, “GAH!” Because the BSer was totally qualified and totally SHOULD HAVE made it in. Yet there are all these rookie mistakes in the essays they submitted – essays they crafted based on this so-called “professional” advice.
And it’s such a shame, because you only get one shot at the big leagues!! You’re going through this process for the first time, how do you know if you’re being steered right or not? The consultant says that one of their clients made it into Harvard last year, so they must know what they’re doing, right?
Well maybe – except for that fact that sometimes people are admitted to Harvard in spite of their essays. That’s true for every school on the planet.
A clueless admissions consultant is going to assume that that outcome was based on THEIR efforts. On THEIR guidance. When very often it had no bearing whatsoever.
We’ve worked with other consultants; we watch what they say on their websites and applicant forums; we see the results of their work with applicants. We are largely unimpressed by the field.
Want proof? We’ve caught several BUYING OUR ESSAY GUIDES. Yes that’s right: MBA admissions consultants are subscribing to our blahg to read the premium posts on essay strategy and they are also buying our bschool application guides. This happens every year; this year, it’s happened more than ever before. Hmmm, wonder why?
We’re not saying that All consultants except EssaySnark are lousy. No not at all. We happen to know of a (fairly small) handful that actually give out good advice. That do a thorough job of coaching their clients through a process that works. Where their people reliably get in.
But these are few and far between.
You’re putting your life in their hands, people.
We’re speaking here to the BSers who are also A players. Who have a real shot at the big time. Don’t squander your chances by casting your lot with the unqualified. Please remember, the consultants who charge the most are NOT necessarily the ones who know the most. (Sometimes we wonder if we should jack up our prices, actually; that seems to be the bias, that the ‘elite’ consultants are the ones who know what they’re talking about.)
Truly, today we’re speaking to the really good guys (and gals) who have their hearts in the right place, who have done, and are willing to do, the work that’s required, who bring honesty and integrity and ethics to it, who will make the world a better place through the pursuit of their goals. Who are maybe only B‑level players right now, but who deserve the shot, too.
Those are the ones we really like helping. Those middle-of-the-pack players who have the seed of greatness in them, but maybe it’s not fully come out yet. Maybe now is your time?
We’re talking to you. Please be very careful who you trust for advice in this process. We want you to win. In this new era, despite their good intentions, not everyone who claims to be an admissions expert is actually equipped to help you do that.
The possible pain of this post would come from the doubt that we are introducing into the minds of those BSers who come reading the ‘Snark’s blahg every day but for whatever reason went with a different admissions consultant already this season.