Clear Admit, once a leading MBA admissions consultancy, said today (March 18) that it is exiting the consulting business. The decision comes less than two years after co-founder Graham Richmond left the firm to launch Southwark Consulting, a consulting company to help business schools recruit applicants.
Shortly after Richmond’s departure, the firm lost a highly regarded consultant, Stacy Oyler, who had been with Clear Admit for nearly six years. Oyler, who had assumed a more public role for the firm after Richmond left, resigned to join an executive search consultant in March of last year.
Wharton MBA Richmond founded Clear Admit with partner Eliot Ingram in late 2001. Ingram graduated with his MBA from Wharton in 1999, two years before his partner. Over the years, Richmond largely served as Mr. Outside, while Ingram focused on internal operations. Ingram told Poets&Quants that Clear Admit has forged a partnership with Veritas Prep and is exclusively recommending their services for both GMAT preparation and MBA admissions consulting. While exiting the consulting business, Clear Admit said it will re-focus its efforts as a digital media company.
The MBA admissions consulting business has become hotly competitive in the last five years, with dozens of new players and several fast growing larger firms that range from The MBA Exchange and mbaMission to Stratus Admissions Counseling, Stacy Blackman Consulting and Accepted.com. Clear Admit had not only been one of the early pioneers of the business, but co-founder Richmond also had been co-founder of the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC).
DISCONTINUING ONE-ON-ONE ADMISSIONS CONSULTING AS OF THE 2015-2016 CYCLE
At its peak, the boutique firm only had six full-time admission counselors, says Ingram. This month, Clear Admit is winding down its business with four full-time consultants. Ingram says the decision is not a reflection on the market for admissions consulting. “The overall industry is healthy,” he says. “There is a lot of growth overseas, particularly in Asia and over time we have seen more of our clients coming from overseas. Our web presence was always much larger tun the size of our admissions consulting.”
Ingram said Clear Admit started a website in 2003 and began selling e-guides that range in price from $9.99 to $24.95 in 2006. “The publishing side of our business has grown much more rapidly than we would have expected,” said Ingram. “As such, we have made the decision to focus all of our efforts on our digital media property and discontinue offering one-on-one admissions consulting services as of the 2015-16 cycle. While our team has greatly enjoyed our direct counseling work with MBA applicants, we are extremely excited about our growth plans for ClearAdmit.com and our expanded commitment to promoting management education and offering readers helpful information about the admissions process.”
Officials at competing firms say Clear Admit’s decision is “a graceful way” to step out of admissions consulting. “Their admissions consulting business has softened to the point that they no longer want to do it,” explained one rival.