Well, no — just like an oncologist does not need to have suffered from their own cancer in order to treat the patient’s.
But yes, if they’re going to be able to give you true insights on what the experience will be like and how you may, or may not, be prepared, and ready.
Though actually, nobody can be prepared and ready for what business school really is. Business school is an immersive, overwhelming, incredibly stressful, hectic, and usually transformative experience. You can read those words and nod along, thinking, sure, you know what they mean. Until you go through it, though, you won’t really appreciate what is involved.
You’ll bond with your classmates. You’ll form new friendships, some of which may turn into lifelong relationships. You’ll learn stuff. You’ll be frustrated, and likely many times very nervous. There will be pressure, and anxiety, for many different reasons, at different phases. The first day. The first happy hour. The first cold call. The first interview with a big-name firm that you really want to work for.
And all the rest.
It’s not necessary that your admissions consultant has gone through all that before, but it can help. More important is for you to do your own on-the-ground research to understand the schools that you’re targeting; you hopefully won’t be relying on your admissions consultant to tell you what the actual experience of getting the MBA will be like. Current students are the best resource for that. However, working with a consultant who has an MBA from a school at the level that you’re trying to get into will mean that you’re working with someone who truly appreciates not only the process you’re going through, but what to expect when you get in.
The business schools are in a phase of reinvention right now, spurred by the pandemic and the changes it forced on higher ed. That’s going to mean that your experience in school is going to be different than what the consultant’s experience was. If your admissions consultant graduated more than 5 years ago (and yes, you really want a consultant with at least that much admissions consulting experience, because they need to have gone through the cycle multiple times to know how things actually work for clients of different types and candidates in different pools at these very different schools) then the experience you’re going to have will resemble even less what theirs was. Still, that’s probably an advantage to working with someone who didn’t have it at all. It’s like training for a marathon with someone who’s only ran a 10k. Can they help you to be fully prepared for your race? Sure, but do they really know what it’ll be like for you at the 20-mile mark?
It’s definitely not necessary that your admissions consultant previously served on an admissions committee, and in fact we actually think that can be a DISadvantage rather than a benefit to the applicant. That topic deserves its own post, so we’ll circle back to that again soon.