There’s nothing worse than some admissions consultant telling you you have a shot at a top school and then not even getting the interview. It can REALLY tick you off.
And understandably so!
After all, that’s what you PAID THEM for!
MBA admissions lacks so much transparency and having a so-called expert help you focus your efforts can be a massive benefit.
Unless of course, they’re wrong.
If you’re working with someone who does not have a depth of experience to truly assess YOUR profile against the schools you’re in love with, then they can be doing more damage than good.
We’ve made our share of bad calls before, notably this one that we posted about publicly. We’ve never gotten it that wrong before or since. That was a learning experience for sure.
This is one reason why our Comprehensive Profile Review will tell you which schools are in range for you — but with a gazillion caveats, reminding you that it’s the execution that will be the determining factor. If your core stats and the essential background you are presenting shows you as QUALIFIED for a top MBA program, it’s still up to you to put the application together in a way that makes the admissions reviewer say “Yes!”
You may remember from some long-ago science class that a false negative is when a test comes back as a “no” when it’s actually a “yes” — and when you’re testing for life-threatening diseases, then this is a problem! If a test says “No, you do not have cancer” but really you do, then that’s bad.
A false positive is when the test says “Uh-oh you do have it!” but you actually don’t.
In medicine, that’s not necessarily so bad — the main issue being of course that you’re subject to treatment that you don’t actually need, and sometimes the treatment is damaging.
But in this case, a false positive would be, “Oh yes, you definitely have a shot at Harvard!!” when actually, you don’t.
Man, that one hurts, when October comes around.
In medicine, a false negative is a major problem, particularly if it’s an infectious disease. A false negative says “You’re healthy!” when actually you might be walking around spreading it to others.
In MBA apps, a false negative is something you will never, ever know about because if you believe your consultant and trust in him, and he says “Nope, not a chance, don’t even bother” and so you never apply…. and if they were WRONG….. nobody ever will know. If your consultant says “Sorry, I don’t see Harvard as being a fit” and you don’t try for Harvard, then dang. Apparently he was right! BEcause now you have not applied to Harvard, and so the consultant has made Harvard’s decision for them. The consultant decided you weren’t gonna get in, and you never tried, and so of course, you didn’t. (And yes, we frequently have the deep-seated opinion that a BSer won’t get into Harvard, and we do advise them of such, but we try to do so in a way to make them feel empowered to still apply if they are motivated to do so. Because it’s their life, not ours, to be living.)
More often, we see consultants being unrealistically optimistic, sometimes this may be intentional, but probably in most cases it’s because they have an unconscious bias: If they’re talking to you FOR FREE during a pitch for their services, then a) they’re usually looking at very limited information, often only GMAT and GPA and maybe the resume; and b) they’re trying to get you to sign up with them. Even if they are authentically wanting to only provide value to you as a person and are not fixated on making a sale, it is only human nature that they are trying to make a sale. It’s really hard (impossible?) to set that aside. And it’s also really hard to be speaking to someone on the phone and telling them, “Nope, you’re crap, nobody is going to want to admit you.”
This is why EssaySnark does not do free consults as part of a pre-sales process, and it’s why we do everything in writing.
It is much much easier to be honest and forthcoming when we can type it out on a screen and deliver the news. It’s just hard to shatter someone’s hopes in Real Life one-on-one conversation. Yes, good consultants find a way to say this but sometimes it’s couched in so many platitudes that the message is not heard.
And very often, a consultant who is working closely with a candidate over many weeks or months gets to the end of the process with them and is looking at the final product of the essays that they have created together with the applicant (because many consultants get their fingers very deep into the pie) and they have lost objectivity. They see how far the client progressed from the beginning and yes, the final drafts are better, but maybe they’re still not good enough? And they’ve been subject to how many rounds of review? The consultant is tired. They just want the project to be done with. They sign off on the essays with a note of confidence, and the client submits an app that still has no chance at all. But whether the consultant consciously knows this or not, they have tacitly given their approval and rubber-stamped it, so the client/applicant thinks they have a real shot. After all, there was a tremendous amount of WORK involved – they MUST be good essays by now!!
Or so the thinking goes.
And yes, this is a self-serving post, and here is where we plug our Sanity Check review that gives you our unbiased opinion of whether your application has come together in a way that this school will respond to.
Your consultant needs to have experience with the tier of school that you’re targeting — with the understanding that someone who is truly HBS material is likely going to make it into HBS with or without a consultant!! There are absolutely cases where the consultant helped someone who is borderline get tipped over into the HBS pool, but there are many consultants who managed to only not hurt the applicant’s chances. The applicant was going to get in, regardless, and the consultant perhaps helped them with polish and presentation.
Your consultant also needs to have extensive experience with the type of applicant you are. If your consultant has never worked with military candidates, or has only done so here or there, then honestly, how much help can they offer? Particularly when this segment of the applicant population has been booming and the competition has ratcheted up.
If your consultant has never helped someone with a really low GPA make it into a school like Columbia or Duke or Kellogg, how much help can they be if that’s the challenge you’re facing?
These are the questions you need to ask.
And yes, obviously we’ve helped people in your shoes before — regardless of what shoes you’re wearing! We’ve been doing this practically for-ev-er and we have high confidence that we’ve seen a profile EXACTLY like yours before. Whatever uniqueness you bring or challenges you offer. You can find out in our Comprehensive Profile Review, or if you just want a confirmation before you dive in with even the most basic service, hit us up with a question about your profile and how you’re so special and we will let you know yay or nay if we’ve never seen one like you before (who got in! as a result of our efforts).
Every year we get comments like this after doing a final-hour essay review for someone:
Lastly, I know you probably still feel this is a polished turd, but considering I submit tomorrow please help me get to the best product I can in the next 18 hours. (I fired my consultant because I’ve had this essay done for a month and he loved it).
Obviously that BSer sensed that perhaps something was off on the essay they’d created, enough to seek out a second opinion — but not everyone has that premonition.
Even more often, we get people sign up for our Post-Mortem Review at the end of November after their previous consultant told them they were a shoe-in, and they got nowhere on all of Round 1.
So yeah, this is a self-serving post — but honestly, we want all of you to be successful!! You found your way over to EssaySnark by some turn of fate and we feel very invested in helping you get in. We shoot straight. We keep it real. We offer feedback and advice to help you aim higher when warranted, and tools to support you in climbing. We want you to get into the best school you can!
If there’s more we can do, please ask!
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