Yale | Ms. Social Impact AKS
GRE 315, GPA 7.56
Harvard | Mr. Political Consultant
GRE 337, GPA 3.85
Stanford GSB | Mr. Singing Banking Lawyer
GMAT 720, GPA 110-point scale. Got 110/110 with honors
Berkeley Haas | Ms. 10 Years Experience
GMAT To be taken, GPA 3.1
MIT Sloan | Mr. Refinery Engineer
GMAT 700- will retake, GPA 3.87
Said Business School | Mr. Across The Pond
GMAT 680, GPA 2.8
Yale | Mr. Army Infantry Officer
GMAT 730, GPA 2.83
Wharton | Mr. Army & Consulting
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 360 Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
N U Singapore | Ms. Biomanager
GMAT 520, GPA 2.8
MIT Sloan | Mr. Low GPA Over Achiever
GMAT 700, GPA 2.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. Corp Finance
GMAT 740, GPA 3.75
Harvard | Mr. Improve Healthcare
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Wake Up & Grind
GMAT 700, GPA 3.5
Darden | Mr. Fintech Nerd
GMAT 740, GPA 7.7/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Minority Champ
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Darden | Mr. Senior Energy Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 2.5
Harvard | Mr. Merchant Of Debt
GMAT 760, GPA 3.5 / 4.0 in Master 1 / 4.0 in Master 2
Stanford GSB | Mr. Indian Telecom ENG
GRE 340, GPA 3.56
Stanford GSB | Ms. East Africa Specialist
GMAT 690, GPA 3.34
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Hanging By A Thread
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Mr. Nonprofit Social Entrepreneur
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Chicago Booth | Ms. Start-Up Entrepreneur
GRE 318 current; 324 intended, GPA 3.4
Duke Fuqua | Ms. Health Care Executive
GMAT 690, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. Professional Boy Scout
GMAT 660, GPA 3.83
IU Kelley | Mr. Construction Manager
GRE 680, GPA 3.02
IU Kelley | Mr. Clinical Trial Ops
GMAT Waived, GPA 3.33

Do You Really Need A Consultant?

Consultants, on the other hand, point out that they don’t write essays for students; rather, they coax out personal stories that candidates might otherwise overlook. “The truth is these essays are coming from the client themselves with our guidance,” says admissions consultant Stacy Blackman. “It’s not going to be a Stacy Blackman Consulting-produced essay. A lot of our clients want to write a Joe Business School essay that is actually impersonal, and we help them to insert themselves into the essay and make it more unique.” She concedes there are consultants who take it too far and highjack the story. But a good consultant should help candidates express themselves more compellingly, she says.

While consultants no doubt make the admissions process easier, Eddy contends that they can’t call you out when you’re off target. Whereas, someone like your mom will let you know when what you believe about yourself simply isn’t true. “I thought that I’m unique and different, but it turns out that’s not at my core,” he says. “One of things that is core to me is being honest and dependable, and that defines me a lot more than seeking out usual activities like Japanese Taiko drumming. There’s no way an admissions consultant would have directed me away from those things and toward what are actually the most important aspects of myself.”

But consultants claim they make a concerted effort to know their students and to develop a rapport with them. Blackman says her firm limits the number of clients per consultant to ensure students receive plenty of one-on-one attention. Betsy Masser of Master Admissions arranges consultations with clients before taking them on to ensure it’s a good fit on both sides. “I spend a virtual bottle of wine with my students, getting to know them and helping them find their authentic selves,” she says.

Whether or not your consultant becomes your best friend, they can help candidates navigate a daunting set of deadlines and check boxes. Blackman compares consultants to coaches. From leadership skills to sports to public speaking, coaches can save you time, stress, and mental angst by offering a third-party perspective. For many applicants, this is well worth a $5,000 investment. For others, not so much. “I wasn’t one of those people who was making a bunch of money and has little time,” Veling says. “I had the time available, but not the money. Whereas, I think a lot of people applying to business school have plenty of money on hand but no time to invest in writing their application.” For them, a consultant may very well make sense.

Then again, if you’re a contender for a top B-school, you’ll probably have a great experience wherever you go. So shelling out several thousand dollars to get into that “one” school may not be worth it. This was certainly the case for Matt Jacobs, 28, who took a “more haphazard” approach to MBA applications.

He applied to the business schools at New York University, Yale, Columbia, Dartmouth, U Penn, and Tepper. He ultimately went to the school he got in  – Tepper. “Honestly, this is the part where maybe a consultant would have made sense because I only got interviewed for one of them,” he says. “I ended up going to the school that I wanted to go to least, but honestly it worked out for the best. It was a fabulous experience.”

Securing a consultant to prune his essays and shape his application might have led to a bad fit. “Not hiring a consultant … gave me the best result, so luck all around,” he adds.

Of course, it’s also possible that Jacobs could have gotten in to a greater variety of schools had he paid for the guidance of a good admissions consultant. As anyone will tell you, getting into a highly selective MBA program is a difficult road, whether you use a consultant or not.

DON’T MISS: What MBA Admission Consultants Charge or MBA Admission Consulting Claims: How Credible?