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Expartus Admission Consultant - My journey to Biz School

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shamanth Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts Default Avatar
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Expartus Admission Consultant - My journey to Biz School

Post Fri Jun 08, 2012 10:37 am
Dear All,

I have been an active user of this forum - for gmat, school research - so I felt its time I add my contribution to help other aspiring MBA students, just as how this forum has helped me in my journey. My brief might be a bit long, but I hope it will help current students going through the process of deciding on admission consultants, gmat etc.

A brief intro about me - Asian (non-indian) origin, mother to 15 month old baby, 5 years experience in banking/asset management, NOT So great GMAT (670)

I decided to sit for my gmat during my maternity which I would say is not the ideal time , given that being a new mom is a challenge in itself. But I felt the time was now, and I didnt want to push back any further, so with haphazard practice ( given the many many sleepless nights and days of being a new mom) I sat for my exams first in december and scored a dismal 580 and then with much break in between as my lil bub fell ill etc etc, I sat for it again in March again with less than 2 weeks of practice before the exam and scored a 670. As you can see from the timeline, I missed the earlier rounds of the admissions and here is where I believe Expartus has helped me tremendously in securing a spot in the later rounds. During this time preparing for the gmat, I was also writing essays for the schools I was applying to.

I hired Expartus after reading the admission book by Chioma ( the founder) "Best Business School Admission Secrets". They work on a hourly basis as opposed to some consultants that do per school packages. I must add, they are VERY GOOD at time management and so rest assured you are definitely getting your money's worth and more. My dream was to apply to Harvard, hence why I enlisted their service. My initial consultation was with Kim one of the consultants , and we went over my expectations, and how Expartus can help me, are we a good fit etc etc. Expartus do their best to pair you with a consultant that has experience in your industry and generally a good fit to help you bring out your best stories.

I was paired with Rachel Scott who is a Harvard MBA Alumna and currently works in the banking industry. Rachel is amazing in that she is really passionate about helping her client succeed. I had to complete a very detailed questionnaire before we started the process. After this, Rachel and I went over this document, to highlight the best stories to write for the school I was targeting. We started with Harvard. Rachel always gave me constructive feedback, and at times when I felt I reached a dead end, she would encourage me on. She managed to help me highlight my stories in a way I never imagined was possible. I know this sounds cliche, but she really does challenge you to think outside the box and throughout the whole process I only felt encouraged. I must add that I credit Rachel for her critical feedback in helping me refine my stories.

Whats great about Expartus is that you get additional reviews, ie once you have a final draft with your consultant, other consultants will review your draft and provide feedback at no additional cost. I had my Harvard application reviewed by Kim and Mollie. Mollie was until recently a member of the admissions team at Harvard Business School. So she brings a fresh perspective/ an insider view of what goes on in the minds of the reviewers. She gave some pretty constructive feedback. All in all, I was recommended to defer my application to Round 1 of next year instead of going for Round 3 as it is a very very competitive round especially so for HBS. Rachel and the team concurred that I would stand a better chance next year and also additional time to improve on my gmat, but I just didnt have the luxury given my circumstances so I just applied.

In that time I also focused on Oxford and Cambridge. Although Rachel focuses mainly on American Ivy League schools, I was probably her first client who focused on European Schools. Both Oxford and Cambridge appealed to me for its focus on social entrepreneurship/general management /practical approach and of course both are 1 year programs and attached to renowned universities which was important to me. I wanted to go to a business school that was part of a larger university. Again I applied in Round 5 for Cambridge and Round 3 for Oxford which are both final rounds and are generally more competitive.

I decided to hire Amerasia after reading good reviews about them ( since they have worked on European schools ), and worked with Michelle Awuku Tatum. Since I worked well on the hourly package with Expartus, so I decided to take the hourly package with Amerasia. Michelle was great in that she gave me some good ideas on how to approach the Cambridge and Oxford applications. She gave me good feedback on Cambridge. But I must add, I was Michelle 's first client on the hourly package and I could see the difference in approach between Expartus and Amerasia. I would say Michelle works better on the "per school package deals" as she would be less constrained watching her clock. I could see the difference in terms of the number of edits I received for the same number of hours purchased with between Expartus and Amerasia. Barring this fact, Michelle really works hard to give her best as an admissions consultant and I credit her for suggesting the approach I took with the Oxford Application.

In the end, I went back to Rachel for my final edits for Cambridge and worked through my Oxford application . I felt most comfortable with Rachel, as by this time, she knew my story well, and would actually tell me perhaps I should include X or Y of my experience or skill that would make my story sound better. I really liked this about Rachel, as you can see she knows her client well. Even if I have deleted a paragraph my draft, she is so thorough that she would suggest to add a particular content from my previous drafts. Although Michelle from Amerasia kicked off my application for Cambridge and Oxford I completed it with Expartus. For both these schools I had Kim as my second reviewer, who once again provided constructive feedback.

Whilst I didnt get through Harvard, I got interview invites from Oxford and Cambridge and an offer from Oxford. My final round with Cambridge is this weekend, and I am feeling positive , so hopefully an offer too ( fingers crossed).

For the interview prep, Michelle Awuku Tatum was amazing, she really helped me hone my answers and I think she is a brilliant coach for interviews. Rachel is equally amazing. Rachel was always generous with her time, and we went through mock interviews that were very helpful.

Overall I highly recommend Expartus as they have been brilliant, I applied in the final rounds despite a less than 700 gmat and still got through and credit definitely goes to Expartus and Amerasia for assisting in refining my story.

From the process, I can see that American schools place a greater emphasis on GMAT scores compared to European schools. Especially the final rounds when the class is nearly full and the adcom has a few spots left to fill, the gmat scores makes a huge difference compared to other rounds. I am only grateful that the European schools look beyond the gmat scores.

I know it is a very lengthy brief, but I hope this has been useful to at least one person.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

Kind regards
Shamanth

Thanked by: gmattesttaker2
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shrutib Senior | Next Rank: 100 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Sat Jun 09, 2012 7:23 am
Hi Shamnath,

You inspired me in so many ways. I am a mother of a preschooler and want to get back to work after 5 years break. I worked for 7 years in India post graduation in the field of International Business and Financial service. Do you think a long break of 5 years will ever give me an opportunity to join in a good ranking business school? I will wait for your comment.

Thank you

shamanth Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Sat Jun 09, 2012 8:56 am
shrutib wrote:
Hi Shamnath,

You inspired me in so many ways. I am a mother of a preschooler and want to get back to work after 5 years break. I worked for 7 years in India post graduation in the field of International Business and Financial service. Do you think a long break of 5 years will ever give me an opportunity to join in a good ranking business school? I will wait for your comment.

Thank you
HI Shruti,

I am glad my post has helped you. I always tell myself never set limits to what you can achieve, and so I will say the same to you. Of course going back to work after a break can be challenging for many different reasons . Having said that if you are targeting business schools, whats important is to show how you spent that time away from work - the new skills you learnt, maybe the charities you helped, why you decided to take a break etc. Have a good story. Also a good gmat score will reflect your aptitude in quant/verbal and show you can thrive in a academically challenging environment. Again as always , I do believe you need to have a good reason as to why you want an MBA. Also would be a good idea to apply in the earlier rounds ( round 1 or round 2).

I think you should reach out to the various admissions consultants and get their feedback - they do this all the time and might be in a better position to advice. I would suggest reaching to Expartus - they are brilliant and honest and the initial consultation doesnt cost anything. Additionally Amerasia and one other consultant ( Dr Shell Watts) - I have read several of her posts and I think she would be in a good position to advice.

I am not sure what else I can say, but an MBA is definitely a journey!

Good luck : ) and dont give up on that dream.

Shamanth

neo020 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
02 Jul 2013
Posted:
1 messages
Post Tue Jul 29, 2014 10:51 pm
I've had a bad experience of working with Amerasia -

I hired Amerasia on a two-school engagement, specifically requesting for Adam Hoff to help me with Tuck and Insead. Even though I paid them for two schools, after our work on Insead, I decided to not to use them to finalize my essays for Tuck.

THE POSITIVES:
(1) I had an excellent free initial consultation with Adam - he spoke to me for an hour, showed great enthusiasm and seemed like a guy that could really help me out.

(2) He agreed to roll over his services for one of the schools to the next year without any hesitation. This wasn't part of our agreement, and I thought it was really nice of him to do so.

THE NEGATIVES:
(1) Amerasia's "strategy memos" were small, generic, and not really useful. For example, their guidance on Insead's culture, fit with the school, and how to approach its 7 essays was summed up on 3.5 page document. Going through the process with other schools, I thought I got more insights from reading publicly available articles written by other admissions consultants than by referring to his strategy memos.

(2) Outside of the free consultation call, there were no brainstorming sessions on my goals, how to address my weaknesses or showcase my strengths. Adam sent me a questionnaire that seemed like a starting point for this process. But it didn't happen at all. While his writing and editing skills are decent, it felt like I paid a lot of money to have my sentences rephrased and grammar corrected.

(3) When it came close to the deadline, I expected him to absorb a little more pressure. Instead he wrote back about how he has other work obligations and how it was his son's birthday that day, etc. All through the duration of our engagement, he spent a lot of time explaining his stand point - I wish he'd put in the same amount of effort in reviewing my essays. In the end, he came back with comments that lacked depth, and were rushed through to get things over with.

CONCLUSION:
(1) After applying, I shared my essays with an Insead alum - he said that even though I have decent profile (I work at a global investment bank, have some international experience, and a 740 GMAT), my essays didn't give me a chance at being competitive.

(2) After getting dinged at both schools, I reworked and my essays and my approach to the admissions process, and was invited to interview with Chicago Booth, Columbia, Kellogg and Cornell.

(3) Adam Hoff is a nice guy, but lacks commitment towards his job, and had no genuine interest in my success.

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