Discounting Hits MBA Admissions Consulting


What Some Leading Admission Consulting Firms Are Charging MBA Clients

Consulting Firm Four-School Package One School Consult Hourly Rate
Accepted.com $6,975 $2,350 — $4,075* $270
ClearAdmit $7,599 $3,599 $275
EXPARTUS $7,500 $2,997 $375
Inside MBA Admissions $5,400 $3,600 $250
The MBA Exchange $7,000 $4,300 NA
mbaMission $6,900 $3,630 $275
Stacy Blackman $7,200 $3,950 $270
Stratus Admissions Counseling $7,750** $3,250 $250
Veritas $7,000 $3,700 $244

 

Source: Company websites and interviews. Price includes the firm’s full service consulting from school selection to interview prep. *Quoted fees vary by school, from Harvard at $2,3500 to INSEAD at $4,075. **Prices includes an extra $250 if an applicant makes HBS one of the four schools, though Stratus Admissions Counseling is currently offering clients a 10% discount

‘YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR’

Shinewald says his $100 discount on mbaMission’s boot-camp offering is something of a anomaly, a way to encourage applicants to learn more about the service and because discounts had been until this year a condition of participating in the GMAT Club community. “We compete on the basis of service, not price, and never discount our core admissions consulting services – ever,” he maintains. “We feel that by standing firm with our pricing, we send a message to applicants that we are not offering an indistinguishable commodity, but are instead providing an elite and dependable service throughout the admissions process. My feeling is that you get what you pay for and I would not want to pay less for services that will be crucial to my educational and career development.”

Stratus Admissions Counseling says its 10% discount isn’t driving as much business as referrals. “MBA applicants are educated consumers,” says founder and director Shawn O’Connor. “While they may be intrigued by a discount, they will do their due diligence and choose the firm that is right for them. Stratus Admissions Counseling has seen unprecedented growth this year, most of it driven, not by discounts, but by referrals from former clients who valued our expertise and commitment to client service.”

As is typical in any service business, there are some unusual twists and turns to pricing in MBA admissions consulting. Accepted.com, for example, varies its fees on the basis of which business schools applicants want to attend. One of the cheapest? Surprisingly, it’s Harvard Business School, where the single school-consulting rate is $2,350, with the “premier package” costing $3,150. The priciest? INSEAD, where the single school rate is $4,075 and the premier package at $4,600, nearly 75% more.

Accepted.com says its basic per school package for Harvard includes a competitive assessment of an applicant’s chances, a “wide-ranging consultation” on overall application strategy, brainstorming, outline and editing of two required essays, advice on recommender choice and a critique of HBS recommendations, and the editing of an applicant’s resume. For the higher $3,150 rate, Accepted also throws in one mock interview session tailored to Harvard, consulting on and editing of the newly required post-interview reflection, HBS waitlist. and HBS decision counseling.

Why would Accepted.com charge more for a school that is harder to get into? “The pricing has nothing to do with acceptance rates and everything to do with the amount of work anticipated,” explains Abraham of Accepted.com. “It simply takes much more time to advise an applicant to INSEAD or Haas for example than an applicant to HBS or Darden which is the least expensive package and our pricing reflects it.”

Accepted.com’s website lists the “Darden Essay Package,” which includes “wide-ranging consultation on overall applications strategy, brainstorming, outline, and editing of one required essay and two short essays, at just $1,375.

At New York-based Stratus Admissions Counseling, the firm’s hourly consulting rates range from $250 for an “admissions counselor” to twice as much, or $500 an hour, for founder and director O’Connor. Vani Krishnamurthy, whose title at Stratus Admissions Counseling is “MBA admissions director,” charges $300 an hour.

One thing seems certain. Expect discounting to spread. “I absolutely think further discounting will occur in the market, and I think you get what you pay for,” says Blackman.

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