2+yrs work-ex, admitted to Tuck: Admissions Gateway review

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It is always a delight and an immense learning opportunity to work with incredibly smart people. That is exactly what the AG team was for me. It was especially easy to lay trust in a team who had been through the process themselves successfully before. I worked with Rajdeep on my resume and school selection, with Aparna on certain small sections of my application and most of my engagement was predominantly with Niketa.

Why I chose to work with AG:
1. Understanding of my aspirations and ability to quantify that I can move on a path of improvement in terms of my application process. For instance: how my resume would be worked upon and explanation of what an ideal state resume looks like
2. Touching base: when I connected with Rajdeep, it took him 2-3 calls of 30-60mins each to elaborate the working model and what the typical MBA application demands, which he was willing to invest even though I was not even a paying client at that time
3. Client testimonials: The team shared details of almost 6 candidates from different schools from Stanford to Kellogg and Tuck. The process was transparent wherein I could learn about what my investment would entail from multiple sources. While candidates did highlight how the journey was difficult on many occasions, it was comforting to note that everybody had had a fulfilling experience with AG. One candidate in particular also highlighted how he continues to use the skills he picked up while working with AG during his MBA and recruitment process as well
4. Belief in my candidacy: While I was not falsely promised a sure-shot Stanford admit, I was not discouraged from applying to schools of my choice, all the same taking a realistic approach towards casting a wider net. This later on ended up being a huge confidence boost and helped build a strong application-material foundation, while applying to reach schools
5. Candid: It was very important to me that I am not crafting stories far from reality or even imaginary, just for the sake of MBA applications. AG did not hint at such practices to begin with, and stayed ethical throughout the application process. Also, AG's involvement was purely in terms of a coach/ expert-reviewer. Never was any part of my application modified or worked upon by the AG team. This was key to me having confidence in the stories I wanted to tell the AdCom

Experience of working with AG:
There are plenty of good consultants out there, but you really need to find someone who fits best with your working style, aspirations and beliefs. I had applied to schools during the last application cycle without success. Despite being an early career candidate with <2yrs experience and having little understanding of the application process, the main reason why I chose to not engage with an admissions consultant is because I was worried that the authenticity and honesty of my stories would be lost. Hence, when I was exploring the options of working with an admissions consultant, ethics was very important for me. For an admissions consultant to create a successful application ethically, it is essential that a cookie-cutter solution is not forced down the candidate's throat. This involved a lot of investment of time on AG's part to listen to my experiences, ask the right questions about them, assimilate them and leverage those in the right places of my application. I was never asked to introduce imaginary elements in my application or fabricate experiences.

When you are involved in tasks that are demanding and mean a lot to you (high-stakes), having someone review your work and provide constructive criticism promptly can be extremely comforting and valuable. I was balancing a high-pressure job and the application process (much like most applicants would be), and on several occasions I was turning in my application only at the deadline. A lot of my work was done last minute. Niketa's responsiveness to my emails/ messages meant that I could count on her. Despite a lot of last-minute work, she would never compromise on quality, and pass off badly written essays as OK simply because we were short on time. She always pushed me to continuously revise. Her recommendations always made sense to me, and hence I never felt forced to implement them :P. On one occasion, I completed an essay on the day of the deadline and shared with Aparna for her review. Not only did she immediately respond, but also walked me through 3-4 iterations to fix it in time for submission. On another occasion, I completed a very long application on the day of the deadline. Thankfully, I had a lot of material ready by then. However, one day is still not enough time to wrap up 3 essays. Niketa stayed up with me till almost 3am in that night, reviewing my work and advising changes wherever she found necessary. Not just that, she kept me motivated to take the application to completion since I was exhausted and nearly ready to give up on a dream school. This kind of a support system was unparalleled.

The only way to differentiate yourself in a pool of excellent applicants is to share with the AdCom your unique stories/ experiences. Essay templates and samples serve as great guidelines, but the key to that near-perfect essay is to identify which story of yours answers the essay question best, what parts of the experience are essential to the story and then present it in your writing style. This was only possible with my applications because of Niketa's ability to understand my experiences quickly (because remember we are always short on time), map it to the essay's requirements, highlight how it aligns with the school's core values and help reflect my personality through it all. It is almost impossible to observe all this through even the best sample essays. Most importantly, Niketa would only make recommendations and give me ideas. I had complete freedom to accept or reject them with good reason. This is especially important since nobody knows your experiences better than you.

Reflecting upon all my past experiences in such detail through the MBA application process took me on a rather spiritual journey around my professional life. Having a coach walk me through this journey, helped gain a more mature perspective on my experiences: past and future. I had done all the hard work at my job and outside, but AG helped me see the pattern in my experiences, the underlying motivation for the projects I had been choosing, the impact that I had created at a strategic level. Surely, this helped with my MBA applications, but I see it as a lifetime investment because of how I evaluate opportunities now and developed the ability to visualize alignment to my goals and growth.

Finally, AG helped me envision my MBA and life after that. Surely, as a young applicant I had big dreams about how I wanted to make an impact on the world and why an MBA would be a great experience in shaping my career. After having gone through the process, I realize that I did not know how to make my dreams relevant to the world and chart a practical path towards achieving them. All the brainstorming around my goals pushed me to explore all the opportunities out there which are of interest to me and identify exactly how an MBA would help me inch towards my goals. Not having a well-framed goal statement is not only a recipe for disaster for your MBA applications, but also disastrous for your MBA journey itself. While I am always open to new opportunities that will eventually lead me towards my goals, there is great comfort in the fact that I have a solid career option after working with AG.

I have finally enrolled at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth over offers with $$ at a few other schools.