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Best MBA Admissions Consulting Service?

This topic has 4 expert replies and 124 member replies
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fxMBAconsulting (Leah) Senior | Next Rank: 100 Posts
19 Apr 2015
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Post Sun Apr 19, 2015 10:13 am
You could read threads evaluating firms and consultants until your head pops off. You'll be in a better position if you have the tools to evaluate that firm or consultant for yourself. I've just done a video that gives you the lowdown on how to perform due diligence on MBA Admissions firms and consultants. Hope it proves useful to you!
View it here: http://fxmbaconsulting.com/find-best-mba-admissions-consultants-firms-due-diligence/

Leah Derus
MIT Sloan MBA 2010
Independent MBA Admissions Consultant

MBA Admissions Consultants & Firms - How to Hire a Great One

Thanked by: Sambhav Jain
Need free GMAT or MBA advice from an expert? Register for Beat The GMAT now and post your question in these forums!
julianneperry Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts
16 May 2015
1 messages
Post Sat May 16, 2015 4:24 pm
Choosing to hire SBC worked out INCREDIBLE for me. Either way there would have been 20 rewrites of each application and 200 tears and roller coasters of hope and doubt, but with SBC I got admitted into my top dream school. Getting into Tuck is the most incredible opportunity I’ve ever been given and I’m convinced that without Erika Olson and the Blackman team I would not be heading to Dartmouth this fall. My ego may have gotten knocked around as I grinded through applications, but there is nothing like the feeling I’ve had since I got my admissions call. I’ll be reaching my top potential in life in part because of SBC.

Anonymous Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
17 May 2015
1 messages
Post Sun May 17, 2015 4:22 pm
I went through the business school application process recently, and am glad that I used Stacy Blackman Consulting. SBC is responsive, organized, and knowledgeable. I applied to eight top 20 full-time programs for entrance in the fall of 2015 and used SBC’s all-in package for five of them. Ultimately, I was offered interviews at five schools and accepted at three. I am happy and excited to say that I will be attending one of them, a top 10 school, in just a couple of months.

Initially, I had planned on not using a consultant. After reading a lot of articles and books, I felt like I was capable of handling things on my own and didn’t want to spend any extra money. Fairly quickly into the process, however, I realized that I would benefit significantly from some expert guidance. I had taken a week off from work in July to get the ball rolling, but immediately found myself struggling with and taking much longer than expected on some of the early steps of the process, including redoing my resume. On Thursday of that week, I emailed SBC. I had been referred to SBC from a friend whose sister had used them and had gotten into her top choice. Almost immediately after doing so that day, Esther, one of SBC’s principals, contacted me, and before I knew it we were off to the races on an eight-month journey together.

My SBC consultant was Joyce Whang, and I recommend her highly. Joyce is a real professional. She is effective, thorough, and fast. Additionally, it was obvious to me that she truly cared about my outcome. She took the time to fully understand my background and goals, and quickly pinpointed my strengths and weaknesses as an applicant. She was frank and honest with me about these weaknesses, which was somewhat tough for me to take initially but pretty quickly became evident to me as absolutely necessary. In doing so, we were able to develop and pursue a strategy that put my application in the best light possible by highlighting the most unique and powerful aspects of my story while crafting reasonable and persuasive responses for those other aspects of my story that needed explanation and support.

To me, such highly personalized and nuanced help is one of the major reasons to use a consultancy during the business school application process. Personally, I was a candidate at the older end of the applicant age range and did not have some of the other so-called check-the-box qualities or experiences of many other candidates. So, without a doubt, I know I benefitted immeasurably from the guidance SBC and Joyce provided in navigating some of these challenges. In all honesty, there is a good chance that I would not be getting ready to go to the school that I am if I hadn’t made that call to SBC almost a year ago.

Finally, if you can afford it, I recommend going with the all-in package for as many schools as you can. Although higher priced than the a la carte options, I believe it was money well spent because it gave me the full, around-the-clock help and attention that I needed. Good luck to all current and future applicants who read this. I hope you get to where you want to go, and maybe I will see you around on campus.

arushijyoti Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts
27 Jun 2012
2 messages
Post Mon May 18, 2015 11:42 am
When I first started learning about the business school admissions process, I decided to seek help from consulting firms despite some initial hesitancy. I was still early in the process but I figured it was good to speak with experts sooner. I spoke with three different consulting firms and it was clear within the very first call that Critical Square would meet my needs the best. I was still a year or so away from applying but I realize I wanted help early on in the process to make sure I was on the right path. I chose Critical Square’s Discovery service and we got to work. Over the next week, my Client Manager and I worked to assess my candidacy from top to bottom. We figured out what my strengths were and where I needed to develop further. I am so glad I got that advice and feedback when I did because if I had gone to them right before applying, I would only have to work with what I had. This gave me the opportunity to build a stronger profile, identify which schools might be a good fit for me, and create an action plan for the next few months. My Client Manager stayed in touch with me long after our work had ended and was there to answer my questions.

So when it came time to work with an admissions consultant on my actual applications, the choice was simple and I was excited to be kicking things off. The main reason behind my selection was that my consultant at Critical Square didn’t follow a structured formula and didn’t time track every second of our conversation. They were a lot more relaxed, open, honest, and holistic in their approach rather than speeding things during our discussions or fitting me to some stale formula.

I worked with them on every major portion of my application from developing my unique story to prepping my recommenders to my resume and essays all the way to interview prep. Coming from an engineering background, I was a bit worried about my recommendations but having the recommender packet Critical Square helped me develop really facilitated the process and gave my recommenders a lot more insight into not only what I needed from them, but also answered their questions. They’re busy and this was obviously a time consuming task for them but they appreciated the preparation and the guidance. Equally important, my consultant put in a lot of effort and detail in identifying areas of improvements for my resume. I was very impressed with the final version of my resume as we were able to present my work profile in a consistent manner and highlight my best achievements. The component we spent the most time with was my essays. The consultant gave me very good pointers in doing some deep reflection to figure out the best topics to write about and also offered some honest remarks on my content, writing style, and presentation through every iteration. The latter really gave me a snapshot of my weak areas and also opportunities to present my ideas coherently and concisely.

All the hard work paid off when the interview invites started rolling in. The last area of my admissions process was the interview preparation. The mock session was difficult and tailored. The consultant prepared a list of questions that were applicable to the schools I was applying to and conducted an interview over phone which simulated my real interview. After the interview, we discussed areas where I did well and areas where I could reflect more and answer better. After the real interview, I realized how valuable that session was!

My overall experience with Critical Square has been great. I discovered a lot of things about myself along the way securing a spot at 6 out of the 7 schools to which I applied. I highly recommend new applicants to give Critical Square a chance and I am positive you will not be disappointed!

BerkeleyBound Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
20 May 2015
1 messages
Post Wed May 20, 2015 6:50 pm
I was skeptical at first about using a consulting service to help me with my MBA applications, but after using Stacy Blackman Consulting, I’m a believer now. From the initial strategy call, to the edits and re-edits of essays, all the way to the interview-prep help, Erika was my cheerleader, trusted advisor and go-to person whenever I had questions (and trust me, I had a lot). When it comes to MBA applications, candor is king, and Erika did an amazing job at keeping me on the path that we had outlined.

Initially, Erika told me that my four top-choice schools-Stanford, Harvard, Berkeley and MIT-were the four toughest schools to get into (by acceptance rate, respectively). Even knowing this, Erika and SBC took the risk and worked with me, knowing that it could hurt their own client acceptance rate numbers. My GMAT/GPA stats were very average at the schools I was applying to (below average at my top choices), and I knew that I would need a compelling story. I had the work background and personal initiatives on my resume to tell that story, and Erika challenged me to be authentic, to show and not tell, and to craft my story until it was perfect.

I ended up applying to six schools in round one (all top-ten), and with the help of Erika and SBC, I was able to land four interviews, eventually getting admitted to one of my top choices-Berkeley!

reverseflash Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
25 May 2015
8 messages
3 times
GMAT Score:
Post Mon May 25, 2015 3:26 pm
Look at the website, select few which resonate with you, then have a conversation with consultant who is going to help you (this is really important) and then clearly discuss what s/he can offer and how does that relate to what you're looking for. There're lot of good consultants out there and sometimes it's just a matter for good fit

Coach @ usmbainterview.com
Former Management Consultant
GMAT: 750

avik629 Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts
09 May 2013
11 messages
Post Sat Jun 13, 2015 7:04 am
I would like to tell you about my admissions consulting experience....

Critical Square was ‘critical’ factor in turning my unfruitful 2 year struggle to get into a good business school into a success beyond my expectations. In my first year of trying for b-school I had hired another local admissions consultant, but I was not able to get an admit even though I got to the interview round. Their interview prep was off target. So a second time around, I was reluctant to get help from an consultant. But seven R1 denials, even from very safe schools, made me very shaky.

I wanted to go to b-school that very year, so I reluctantly decided to hire a US based admission consultant. I reached out to a number of admissions consultants asking them if they could suggest a package which was within my budget. Critical Square offered me a customised hour based plan which was affordable as well as suited to build upon the work of the older consultant. I had asked for a ding analysis which was not a part of their standard services, but they accommodated anyway!

I want to say this about my consultant - he gets you. That ding analysis turned out to be very helpful to my overall application. He saw through and through my application and was brutally honest in pointing out red flags. I was not even aware they were there. This helped me point out the sections I would work on and take their help.

I ended up signing up for resume editing, school selection, and help with 3 schools essays. A note to all b-school aspirants, there is a ton you could seek their help in, but it would be more effective if you know where you want to concentrate your efforts. They don’t hold your hand and instruct you and you are in the driving seat the whole time.

With a revamped resume, and essays reviewed by Critical Square at least once, I applied to 3 schools. I also leveraged that work to apply to two additional schools. When the schools started shortlisting candidates for interview I was amazed to get interview calls from all 5! I signed up for interview prep for my top choice UCLA and scheduled mock interviews with different consultants. They do that so you get completely unbiased interview help - it’s really helpful. Both sessions were tailored to UCLA and I was given a prep package and a detailed action tracker to track how I performed in each question and what further work was required which was very helpful. The actual interview turned out to be exactly the same as my first mock.

I ended up with 3 admits including UCLA where I am matriculating. I believe Critical Square helped me become a great candidate in the eyes of the adcoms. They are well aware of what the adcoms are looking for in an application and try to help ‘you’ say ‘your’ stories to achieve the best results. So to all aspirants who find themselves in a similar situation. If you are getting dings, there is something wrong with your app. You cant find it if you don’t know what to look for. Critical Square does.

akhilmodi Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
22 Jun 2015
1 messages
Post Mon Jun 22, 2015 9:52 pm
I first came across SBC when I realized that some guidance and help in the application process couldn’t hurt. Since the consulting business is all about the people, I found SBC to be the best fit for me. I first talked to Esther and connected really well. I really liked that Esther was straight to the point, no fluff. We went through my resume, and Esther provided fantastic clear feedback on my strengths and weaknesses based on her extensive experience in the MBA application process. Esther understood my MBA goals and matched me with Jen who was the perfect consultant for me based on my background and goals.
Jen was able to relate to me and provided very insightful feedback throughout the application process, everything from generating ideas for essays through to interview prep and waitlist management. Jen took a vested interest in understanding my entire background and future goals so she could deliver top quality advice, help research MBA programs based on what classes and clubs they offer and how the program fits into my career goals. Jen and the entire SBC team is very thorough and know the industry really well. You’ll know you’re in safe hands and I highly recommend working with SCB.

HBSAlumPE Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts Default Avatar
01 Jul 2015
17 messages
Post Thu Jul 02, 2015 8:40 am
I worked with Scott Edinburgh at Personal MBA Coach and I could not have been happier! Scott offers an incredible personal experience that is very hard to find. The fact that you are working with an individual and not a company cannot be emphasized enough. Don't be fooled by the big company name / support services that some larger firms have. At the end of the day you work with one person most of the time so why not work directly with an expert for the same price rather than an employee of a larger firm?

I hired a more well known name referenced on here and was not satisfied as the support died off as it got closer to the deadlines. I then reached out to Scott via www.personalmbacoach.com and was floored by the level of support I got. While we only had a short amount of time since I contacted him late, he took the time to get to know me personally and professionally and he was the one coming up with essay topics after just a couple discussions. Scott is quite tough and it works out in the end. In a very short amount of time, we did an entire HBS application and I ultimately got in. (As well as a couple other programs I turned down)

With Personal MBA Coach, you get a great balance of no BS, direct and brutal feedback while at the same time you have encouraging support throughout the entire process. Whereas with the other more well-known name I felt like I was a number in the process, Scott brainstormed everything with me from start to finish. Scott is a hidden gem in the admissions consulting space and I have sent many friends to him over the years who also had great success!

kenanguler Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
30 Jul 2015
1 messages
Post Fri Jul 31, 2015 2:19 pm
Definitely Andre Torres at MBAitNOW. Within the first 15 minutes of the one hour free consultation i decided to sign with him. Being a graduate from a top-mba program himself, he is extremely experienced and i felt that he didn't try to sell the service but really wanted to help. Moreover, different than other firms (they promise that you would interact with the founder consultants but they put you in contact with the starters) Andre took care about everything himself and was reachable overtime i tried to contact him. I am so happy that i got so lucky with my admission consultant.

AdmitHopeful123 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
11 Jun 2015
1 messages
Post Sun Jan 03, 2016 6:01 pm
Longtime lurker here. I’ve enjoyed reading the forums for the past year during my study process and recently my application process. I just successfully finished my application to business school with an acceptance to Tuck and an acceptance to Kellogg with scholarship (almost full tuition).

A big part of my success is due to the insights I got from working with Paul Bodine. I had bought his book on application essays and found it very helpful. So when I started considering admission consultants, I decided to include him in the list of consultants I had free consultation calls with. I was immediately impressed by Paul because he understood my background and had good insights on the different disadvantages I would have to overcome. Ultimately I chose to work with Paul on an hourly basis since I had targeted areas I wanted help.

A few areas where his service played a major part in my success-

1. Outstanding service: After our kick-off call, Paul reached out to past successful clients and connected me with students/alumni that were willing to chat with me. This was something I didn’t expect at all and was a pleasant surprise which helped me build my connection with the programs.

Throughout our time working together, he continued with this level of service. As we got closer to the deadline, I noticed his turnaround time improve as I was struggling to get everything done. I had 3 of my interviews in a 2 week period and had to fly out to each of the campuses. Paul was flexible in working with me to find a good time to do mock interviews before each of my interview. The flexibility to help me before each interview was very helpful in getting me warmed up and mentally prepared for the real thing.

2. Insight: Paul’s experience and insight was invaluable to my overall apps. We had a long call where he gained a solid understanding of my background. He helped me prepare a guidance packet for my recommenders that discussed my strengths, my weaknesses, my overall strategy, and what the schools are looking for. The documents were tailored specifically for each recommender and each school. Providing my recommenders with these concise guides definitely made the process easier for them and helped me complete my overall strategy.

In addition, I had trouble deciding who to pick for my second recommender. Paul strongly encouraged me to pick someone that I initially was skeptical of. However, this choice proved crucial since it helped me show a well-rounded picture of my candidacy. My scholarship letter even cited instances related to my recommender.

3. Honesty/candidness: During early essay edits, I discussed initial essay ideas and sent Paul a few drafts. His edits provided me with clear and actionable points on how I can make my essay more impactful. Most importantly, he was honest in telling me when my essay wasn’t working. This interaction early on gave me confidence that I could trust Paul to be a truthful advisor throughout the process and not just rush to get things done.

Overall, I would wholeheartedly recommend Paul to any applicant hoping to get into a top program. His insight throughout the process made all the difference in my acceptances and securing the scholarship.

rmalkmaar Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
06 Mar 2016
1 messages
Post Sun Mar 06, 2016 12:14 pm

A review of my experience working with admissions consultant Paul BODINE of Paul Bodine consulting.

Coming from a scientific background, I needed to make sure that my story is told in a way that would leave a good impression on the reader. For this reason, after a friend of mine recommended me to Paul, I exchanged few emails with him and was impressed by his insight and his initial advise. I subsequently decided to work with him and didn't look any further for other consultants. Working with him was both a learning and a fun experience. I liked the way he was able to comprehend even the smallest details of my personal and professional life and how his advise resulted in me emphasising key aspects of my life and career that are worth mentioning and recognising areas where I was not so strong at. The whole experience was very insightful. I had only targeted two top-tier universities and got admitted to one of those (in Europe). It wouldn't have been possible without Paul's valuable suggestions and advise.

For all those MBA aspirants with a scientific background, if you are on the lookout for a consultant who would be able to comprehend your story and put you on the path to success, I strongly recommend you contact Paul BODINE.

All the best.

AuroraW Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
17 Mar 2016
1 messages
Post Thu Mar 17, 2016 10:51 am
I recommend Paul Bodine, author of "Great Applications for Business School". I have a silver profile, not gold, but with Paul's help, I was admitted to my dream school, a M7. Choosing Paul is definitely very important in my application success!

1. Paul really knows the whole process well and gives great advice. I consulted him on whether to retake GMAT, choice of recommenders and the many drafts of essays as well as interviews. I bought Paul's book first, "Great Applications for Business School", and liked what I read. And during the whole process, I kept on reading specific parts of the book, especially the real essay examples, really helpful.

2.Paul is very responsive, replies usually in one business day. This is what I value greatly, because when the deadline is approaching, you really want to hear back from your consultant! I know other admission companies have a 2-business-day turnaround time, which could be very nerve-racking. Just imagine you send a draft on Thursday and you have to wait till Monday to hear it back!

3. He is very invested in my success and I feel that I am his only client. He remembers my every interview date and always check on me via email to cheer me up. The application process is hard enough, so it is wonderful to have someone who really cares. When my interview is very close, Paul even agreed to prep me on weekends.

4. More importantly, Paul adjusts his approach to match his client's individual style. He is very nice, of course, but I wanted to push myself harder and after I told Paul that, he indeed pushed me, offering ways to make my essay prettier, tighter. I would never thought of it without Paul pointing it out.

I would definitely recommend Paul to anyone who is serious about getting into a great b-school. I think both his book and his consultations work great together. When I was in the middle of polishing my essays, I carried his book with me everyday. Hope my feedback helps. Good luck to all!

Sambhav Jain Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
21 Dec 2015
9 messages
Post Fri Mar 18, 2016 10:18 am
looks like you created a very fresh profile and started praising Anonymously

zorro123 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
14 Mar 2016
1 messages
Post Wed Mar 23, 2016 9:53 am
Hi Guys,

I would like to wholeheartedly recommend Paul Bodine's MBA consulting services. Were it not for Paul, I would not have been able to put my best foot forward and gain admission to my dream school, which is a top 2 program. I spent countless (and I mean countless) hours with Paul brainstorming and dissecting my themes, essays, short answers, resume, and more. Simply put, Paul is a brilliant consultant. As a point of reference, several years ago while in college I applied to an MBA program and used a different consultant at the time, from one of the many reputable firms out there. I can honestly tell you that the difference in my personal experience is night and day. Paul's advice was far more insightful and candid. His response time to drafts was consistently fast. He was willing to respond to more of my e-mails (I must have sent an insane amount of anxiety laden e-mails with questions). AND, last but not at all least, being the nice guy that he is, Paul was an absolute pleasure to work with and speak on the phone. From the outside looking in, I know from experience it is difficult to find a good consultant as on the surface there are so many consultants advertising their services online. I chose Paul because I did my homework and saw that his reviews were consistently fantastic. I then saw that he had written multiple books on the MBA application! So I went a step beyond and ordered his book, which was an excellent way for me to begin thinking about the application. I can honestly say that working with him surpassed my expectations, and I cannot describe how excited I am to now be attending my dream school in the fall. If you are applying, best of luck!

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