Friday, February 18, 2011

Who needs an Admission Consultant..??

A lot of applicants toy with the idea of hiring an Admission Consultant while applying to a school.

The usual thought process is :

When one is going to spend over $100 k in a top B-School, one might spend a few hundred dollars more to put together a solid application..!!

The consultants know this very well and try to cash in on the applicants ignorance. During my search I spoke to at least 8-10 consultants. Some local ones were ready to do up to 10 schools for $500 and other international ones were going for $3000 for one school and there were some charging by the hour as well.

But this post is not about understanding the consultants strategy but to answer the following question :

Do I need an admission consultant ..???? 

You may need an admission consultant if -

1) You lack self awareness - not aware of your achievements, strengths, weaknesses
2) You cant write in decent English
3) You don't know why you are applying for an MBA in the first place
4) You believe someone else can tell your story better than you could

I almost paid $800 to an Admission Consultant (a Harvard alumnus) but deep down I had this uncomfortable feeling. I decided to defer the decision by a few days. And once I asked the above questions, I was clear that no consultant (whether from Harvard, Stanford or anywhere else) will be able to do justice to my application. So I decided against going with any consultant and saved $800.

No consultant can guarantee you an admission.Once you spend enough time on researching the schools, programs etc, you yourself will have enough ammunition to strengthen your application and essays. And you will be much more confident if you write your own essays. Your story, your message, your drive will come out clearly. Of course, you may need a second opinion and there are plenty of ways to get it. Check my future posts for that..

So do the hard work and skip the consultants....!!

I was told by HBSGURU (Sandy) that I will never get into a top-school. And was told by Alex (another one of those self obsessed consultants) that top 10 schools will be a stretch for me..!! I thought of writing to them after I got admitted to MIT but did not. 

Who wants to waste more time with them anyways..!!

Why I got selected..??

When I started preparing for MBA, the entire process seemed extremely complex. With so many variables like gmat, essays, recommendations, interviews, wait lists, classification of schools as target, stretch and reach etc. etc. Plus there is so much information available on forums like gmatclub, beatthegmat and others it freaks you out. And Consultants doing free profile evaluation and telling people if they can or cannot get into a top b-school.

Given below are some reasons which I think got me an admit -

1) Strategic Fit - clich├ęd as it may sound, but it is true.

This program is not for people looking to change careers. Simply put this program is targeted at Mid Career Managers aiming for senior roles. Avrg class profile - 14 yrs exp, 38 yrs of age. This totally matched my requirements.

But I did see some people in the information session who wanted to transition from IT into banking or consulting. Not that it doesn't happen but then you should be in a different program and not this one.

So its important to find out everything you can about the program, most importantly its objective.

2) My in depth Research about the program -

I had read so much about the program that i knew almost everything that was available on the open internet. After the Information Session, I even told the Program Director that I could have also presented the slides and he was surprised. I also asked some very specific questions about the course, leadership seminars (which are part of the program but not openly advertised etc). All of this showed him the research I had done on the program. And this does help.

3) Experience -

The above factors do play a role but in the end it comes down to what you bring to the table (or the class). My experience of 10 yrs was spread across Hospitality (5yrs) and IT Outsourcing (5 yrs). Fortunately I had a  progressive career in both my jobs and I help some key leadership positions at an early age. More than the number of years (which was less than the program avrg anyways) I think it was the quality of experience and my transition from hospitality to IT was what worked in my favor.

Lastly, my PASSION to get into the program was evident in all my dealings with the school. Some people get over excited and desperate when speaking with Program Directors or Admissions Office. Trust me it dents your case. Be stable and come across as a matured human being and not as someone who would die to get into their school or the program.