MBA Admission Consulting Claims: How Credible?

Acceptance rates at the world’s best business schools remain stubbornly low. They range from just 7% at Stanford and 11% at Harvard Business School to 32% at the University of Michigan’s Ross School. No matter how you slice it, when it comes to applying to the prestige business schools, the odds are set firmly against you.

So how it is possible that an MBA admissions firm is claiming an astonishing 100% success rate for clients who last year applied to at least four top MBA programs?

Ivy MBA Consulting, the firm making the claim, also is asserting that its MBA applicants won more than $2 million in scholarship grants last year. And the firm, which had been operating out of Hoboken, New Jersey, but is now based in Tel Aviv, Israel, says that for all its clients, including those who applied to fewer than four schools, its overall success rate was 93.5%.


“If they are what they claim they are,” quips a rival consultant who asked to remain anonymous, “I would refer 100% of my clients there.”

Of course, the firm—founded by a pair of 2008 MBA grads from Kellogg and Tuck—is hardly the first to trumpet unusually high success rates. MBAPrepAdvantage, based in Miami, Fla., claims that more than 95% of its applicants have been accepted. The MBA Exchange, a Chicago-based firm that is among the largest in the admissions market, reports that 97% of its applicants have gained admission to one or more of their four targeted schools. New York-based Stratus Admissions Counseling claims “unprecedented success rates, including an 80%+ lifetime admissions rate to Wharton and a 60%+ lifetime success rate at HBS.” And Los Angeles-based PrepMBA contends that over 90% of its clients get into one of their top three schools.

Some firms are even more detailed in their claims. Aringo, which publishes the success rates of its clients for specific schools over the past seven years from 2005 to 2012, claims that it has gotten MBA clients into Kellogg, Columbia and INSEAD at more than double the acceptance rates of those elite schools. On its website, Israeli-based Aringo maintains that 72 of 103 clients who applied to INSEAD were accepted, a success rate of 70% versus INSEAD’s typical 33% acceptance rate (see table of claimed success rates at left). The firm acknowledges being less successful with applicants who targeted Stanford, reporting that only 21 of its 134 Stanford applicants have been accepted, a success rate of 15% versus Stanford’s 7% acceptance rate. Of the 201 clients who targeted Wharton, Aringo claims that 65, or 32%, have received invites to attend the school, a 32% success rate that is nearly double Wharton’s 18% acceptance rate.

Ivy MBA Consulting also publishes on its website detailed breakdowns of its success rates. During the 2010 application season, for example, Ivy MBA Consulting says that it won acceptance for nine of the 18 clients who applied to the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, a 50% success rate at a school where the acceptance rate is about 25%. Ivy says that 89% of those clients, 16 of 18, got invites to interview with Chicago Booth (see table at left for two years of data).

The firm claims that it helped to get three of the seven clients who applied to Harvard Business School accepted for a success rate of 43%, well above Harvard’s 11% acceptance rate. Ivy MBA also says that two of the three received full scholarships from Harvard.

Publishing school-specific success rates may well be a function of the hyper-competitiveness of the consulting market in Israel. Ivy MBA Consulting co-founder Eli David says his firm was the first to publish the information two years ago and is “flattered” that rival Aringo followed their lead soon after. Aringo, however, says it has published client outcomes by school from its beginning in 2002—six years before Ivy was founded. “So we are the ones who are flattered,” quips Gil Dubowski of Aringo. Adds Dubowski, “One of their founders used Aringo consulting services to get into business school and more than 20 of their admission consultants were Aringo clients in the past.”

  • cthorby@yahoo.com

    Some of these SBC “reviews” are not that surprisingly similar in word choice and format…

  • Frustrated Guy

    I mean it’s quite simple. Any admissions consulting firm who boasts of 90% success rate can very easily prove it (and in turn get more business). They could have a live feed of students who enroll with them. (Once a person is enrolled with you and you have already taken the money, she is not going anywhere).

    And then when the season is over, the candidates can update that feed to indicate where they got in. Once a candidate has gotten in, they will not go to your competition because they won’t apply again – they are already in!

    It’s simple — the candidates know it, the admission consultants know it, but they won’t know it. I think everyone knows why!

  • Dave

    I had a great time working with Sherry from Stacy Blackman. Even though we live in opposite side of the world Sherry was always happy to find a time that was suitable for me, even if it meant she had to work early in the morning PST time. We were able to work together through multiple essay iterations and each time I found her comments to be very helpful. Sherry’s experience with the admission process and her knowledge of the b-school I was applying to was also a great help. She gave me good feedback on how to approach interview questions during our mock interview as well as information about the school that you would not find through the school webpage. I recommend Stacy Blackman Consulting. They really did a great job evaluating my profile and pairing me with someone who would best help me to succeed in the application process. Cheers!

  • Stephanie

    Hi everyone, I thought I would share my experience working with an admissions consultant. No I didn’t go 6 for 6, I got into 4 schools with significant aid and was wait listed at the other two. I owe these facts due to my experience working with Stacy Blackman consultants.

    When I first started researching MBA admission consultants, I had no idea of how I would go about making my choice. After a couple of free consultations I was still undecided until I spoke with Esther Magna at Stacy Blackman. Instantly we made a connection, she didn’t candy coat my weakness – BS from a state college, low GPA- rather she discussed the positives I had and how they should be promoted. Esther helped match me with my consultant Lisa Anderson. From the beginning Lisa was a great resource, very communicative and at times my own personal cheerleader. She helped guide me with school selection and was an adamant cheerleader for me through my THREE GMAT attempts.

    I wrote my own essays, but Lisa was there to not just help with grammar, but more importantly she kept me on task with what the question was asking. I have to admit that at times I strayed away from the question and she was extremely helpful in pointing me back in the right direction.

    As I said earlier I worked with her on applications to six schools. In the end
    I was waitlisted at two schools and received admittance to the other four, all
    of which offered me scholarships. Three of the schools gave me merit aid that
    amounted to full tuition and fees in either scholarships or fellowships or a
    combination of both. The fourth school gave me half tuition Forte Fellowship. I
    know that without Lisa helping me to market myself to these schools I
    would not have received as many admission offers nor the substantial amount of
    financial aid that I was awarded. I highly recommend SBC; the amount of return is substantial for your investment.