Before listing out any parameters, here is a piece of advice for you. KNOW YOUR PRIORITIES. Before approaching any consultant, list out your reasons for working with a consultant. Is it to grab some scholarships? Or do you need someone to express yourself? Or, Are you under-confident of yourself and need someone to project the right story? A lot will depend on what your hiccups are and only after knowing your motives, you should do your research. Check the consultants out on LinkedIn (this will give you an insight into the kind of person he/she is and what his credentials are), read their reviews, know their results, and if possible, talk to clients. This will help in completing the preliminary research.
Now, for the secondary research and after having discussions with the consultants, try to tick these boxes:
A highly important and ironically, the most overlooked parameter. What process you will be undergoing after signing up with that consultant and is that process fruitful enough to address the hiccups you have? Does the process have enough space to stream through a plethora of ideas and brainstorm on different thoughts to define the elements that should be picked and placed in the essays to define your “Story”. This means before even starting with the application contents, there should be enough sessions on brainstorming, on understand each other and getting the best story out of your whole life of experiences. Wherever you feel the process is not able to address your concerns, ask directly to the consultant how he is going to deal with this problem of yours.
- MATURITY OF UNDERSTANDING THE SCHOOLS YOU ARE APPLYING FOR:
First, understand the significance of “Maturity”. Does the consultant working with you share the responsibility of your application? Or are you just one of the 30 other "clients" he/she is working with simultaneously? Does he/she work with you as a mentor or a ghost-writer? MBA and Beyond has always made sure to share this responsibility and this is why, we have a limit of how many candidates we want to work with to give as much time as our candidates need. To check this box, the best thing for you is to talk to the consultant. Now when we say understanding the schools, an experience of 10 or 20 years does not validate this. To truly know about his understanding and experience, ask him about the schools and how he helps you to “fit” the criteria of those schools. Also, check the results of the consultant for those particular schools.
- ACCESSING HUMAN, NOT BOT:
Talk to the consultant and find out if he is a human or going to be a bot for the rest of your application. See if his/her vibe matches with yours, if he can connect with you on a personal level. Understand this, you are going to share some of the deepest experiences of your life and if the person is not able to connect with you and understand the side of yours that truly, honestly depicts you, how will he get a personality, a live person in your essays? Also, you are going to have many sessions with your consultant, it’s important for you to be fully engaged in the sessions and enjoy them and this is possible only, again, if you both are in a relationship beyond customer-client.
One major parameter that has been overlooked almost always is how much time your consultant should give you to get a kick-ass application? Applying to business schools is one of the major events of our lives and to truly make it major and meaningful, you and your consultant need to give it due time. So, before even approaching a consultant you need to find for yourself how much time do your applications need and then how much the respective consultant can give (with flexibility) and the time should be less gauged based on quantity and more on the quality (of the sessions). For this, you may like to talk to the clients of the consultant to get a better picture.
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Shantanu Sharma, INSEAD MBA’17
Founder and Admissions Consultant, MBA and Beyond
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