Is It Worth It To Hire An MBA Admissions Consultant?
MBA admissions are getting increasingly competitive. According to Fortune, the top MBA programs are getting more applicants than ever. Make no mistake: the candidates are more accomplished than ever. That why it makes sense that one-quarter of applicants hire MBA admissions consultants to help them get into their dream school. But are they worth the money?
Seb Murray, a contributor for Financial Times, recently penned a piece weighing the costs and benefits hiring MBA admissions consultants.
“Admissions services cover the entire application process, from essay reviews to interview coaching,” Murray says. “On average each application takes 15-20 hours but some candidates spend more than 50 with a consultant, typically between March and June.”
At Stacy Blackman Consulting, the cost for a one-school package is $4,675 (adding an additional school ranges from $1,000 to $1,500). At mbaMission, a one-school package is $4,400. Accepted.com charges $4,250 for a one-school package. At Fortuna Admissions, prices start at $4,275 for one school.
Matt Symonds is the director of Fortuna Admissions. He tells Financial Times that applicants have a higher chance of admission if they can convey their fit to the program.
“A unique story is prized, but business schools seek those with personalities that fit their underlying DNA, such as a focus on technology and innovation,” Symonds says.
Drawbacks to admissions consultants
Admissions consulting companies can offer services on practically every element of an MBA application. But what are the drawbacks?
Russ Morgan is senior associate dean at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Morgan tells Financial Times that admissions consultants can add value to an application, but he adds that they can also do damage.
“The negative side of consulting is the homogenization of applicants,” Morgan says.
Application questions are meant to draw out unique characteristics from applicants. But Morgan says application consultants can actually harm applications when it comes to questions like Duke’s “list 25 random facts about yourself.”
“Sometimes the same 10 facts are used by multiple applicants,” Morgan says. “There is clearly correlation.”
The false lure of ‘insider knowledge’
Many admissions consultants market their companies as having ‘insider knowledge’ when it comes to MBA admissions. But it falls short as more of “marketing gimmick,” Stacy Blackman says.
Much of the information regarding admissions processes can be found online and at a price tag of more than $4,000, admissions consulting can only be afforded by a select portion of candidates.
Chioma Isiadinso, co-founder and CEO of Expartus consultancy, says consulting services should be viewed similarly to an MBA education.
“Like the MBA, consulting is a big investment. But the return can be huge,” Isiadinso tells Financial Times.