There’s an unfortunate reality in this MBA admissions consulting scene where the lack of transparency works against you, the client/bschool applicant.
You want to pick the best advisor to help you with your apps. But how do you know who that is?
How do you evaluate whether an admissions consultant will help you get in — or if they’re planning on Photoshopping your face onto a tennis player’s body?
Our business model is set up to a) divide out each part of the process into individual services, so that you can pick and choose only those that you need, and thus make services more affordable to all, and b) telling the truth.
Sometimes, we get a BSer come through the door whose sights are set high — unfortunately, a little too high, when we see the reality of the profile. It’s not that the profile is flawed or that they’re not qualified. It’s just that they’re all, “HARVARD! STANFORD! WHARTON!” and we’re like, “Well, have you considered maybe Booth or Berkeley?”
We know that that can cause offense. We try to say it delicately, but we know that it can suck to have someone rain on the parade and it can feel like we’re saying, “You suck, a##hole, you’re never getting in anywhere good!”
Which is totally not what we’re saying.
Our Comprehensive Profile Review gives us a chance to look at some of the most important points of the profile. It is, errr, comprehensive. We don’t do free consults with anybody. Instead, we prefer to spend serious time digging into the details, and we develop a report custom to you that you can then use as a resource as you go through the entirety of the process.
This is not how many admissions consultants do things, and unfortunately, we know that there are many out there who are unrealistically optimistic when it comes to telling a prospective client that they have strong chances of success.
So ask yourself, as you are kicking the tires on advisors and consultants, and before you speak with any of them, or pony up some of your hard-earned ducats for a report on your qualifications delivered by some snarkster on the internet:
Would you rather be told yes you can get in?
(And potentially find out later that no you cannot?)
Or would you rather be told the truth, in time to take action and fix the weaknesses, or adjust targets, or in some other way change strategy to make sure that you’re optimizing chances of success?
We might be wrong about saying you can’t get into Harvard — and we would love for you to tell us if we are! But unfortunately we don’t know of a single instance of a false negative, where we told someone “Sorry, we don’t think it’ll work out” and it ended up as an admit to HBS. Yes there have been some cases of a false positive, but even those were closer to a false neutral — meaning, we told people, “Yes you have a shot if it all plays in your favor” and then it didn’t end up working out.
But if you’re shopping for a consultant to “believe in you” well…. not sure that’s truly the best approach.
EssaySnark believes in you, and we will be the first to celebrate your long-shot successes!
But we also believe that it’s professional incompetence to shine on a candidate who has no chance in the world, but based only on a 760 GMAT and a decent college GPA, to convince them that sure, Harvard might want them, when everything else on the profile is lacking that “it” factor that is required for a success story at Harvard.
We do not think it’s the admissions consultants place to tell someone “no you can’t get into Harvard” unless they’ve really gone into the profile — so don’t get caught up in the opposite trap either. There are consultants out there dishing out verdicts on whether a candidate will make it in based on very scant information. (We call those the “adcon” and we do not agree with the tactics.) The admissions teams get to make decisions on your app. Not the consultant. If you’re truly feeling inspired by Harvard and you want to give it a go, we’ll be right there to support you, showing you what’s needed, helping you to make that essay all it can be. We’ve even been known to step in at the last minute and help BSers start their HBS essay over from scratch in the week before deadline, once the applicant realized that the advice they were getting from their original advisor was not quite panning out. (In more than one occasion, those candidates got in.) We will not squash all of your dreams if you’re truly motivated to make them happen! But we also feel strongly in shooting straight, in making it clear when we see essays that are not where they need to be, or a profile that’s not showing the level of differentiation that a school like Harvard requires.
That’s one thing we promise you, Brave Supplicant: After working with us on your essays, you should have visibility into your chances and clear expectations when you submit of whether you’re going to earn the interview invite or not. In a down season, as this year should be, then sometimes we’re wrong in a happy direction, but much much better to have well-managed expectations, that force you to put in real effort and make everything as tight as you can possibly make it, and then be surprised at an interview…. then to do all that work on an app that has low chance even in a downcycle, and then not have enough energy and enthusiasm available to do an equally stand-up job on other schools where the chances are much greater.
So the purpose of this post is just to be an educated consumer. Ask lots of questions before signing up with any consultant. Make sure you understand their philosophy of advice, and evaluate what information you provided to them that led to their pronouncements on your chances of success. If you conveyed very little to them, then how can you trust their predictions?
And if a consultant says, “Hmm, dunno, have you considered some other schools?” then let yourself feel the sting of that, and acknowledge, ouch, that’s not what you wanted to hear, but then consider where they’re coming from, and ask why they say it. If there are valid reasons behind it, then instead of shopping for another consultant who will feed you sweet nothings, look at your strategy and see if adjustments might be in order.
It all comes down to your priorities and values. For some people, HBS or bust is a thing, and that’s fine if that’s where you’re at.
But for others, the Round 1 process is rockier than necessary, and having a hurt ego because a consultant said “Hmmmm” is way better than having a total blow to your self-confidence when a consultant says “You’ve got an excellent shot!!” and then HBS cuts you loose at the first chance they can in October.