As someone who applied to undergrad not knowing what the "Ivy League" was, I have always felt that the best application to a school is a raw reflection of the individual (along with all important scores and grades). When I heard about MBA admissions consultants, I put them in the same category as the essay consultants my classmates in high school used to try to get into a school they didn't have the grades to get into. Maybe that was the right category, but I have decided to give them a bit more thought.
The 2012-2013 application season is now upon us. HBS has released their application, officially kicking off the time of year where the downtrodden analysts in the world can start to dream of where they can take their two year break...and way more importantly: what they want to do after their two year break. Although I wouldn't personally consider myself an analyst at this point in my career, I too will be jumping into the fray that is MBA admissions this year. My undergradwas cemented into stone almost 4 years ago exactly. I knocked out the last summer. Now it is time to take on the actual application.
The process of filing out an MBA application can be exhilarating, challenging, and at times, downright frustrating. I think for a lot of people, especially those in the consulting and finance industries, one of the biggest challenges is distilling our experience and future goals down into eloquent, readable essays.
Over the course of the past few weeks, I have explored a couple different MBA admissions consultants and also spoken with a few friends, now in b-school, that used consultants. I was surprised that in my conversations with the consultants themselves, they brought up multiple aspects of my application that I had not thought about (for instance, my favorite story from my career so far has nothing to do with what I actually am supposed to do at my job). A lot of these things seemed like no-brainers, but nonetheless, I had not thought about them before.
The pros I have identified are: the consultant acts as a task master and basically tells you what to do, you get to spend less time on the foot work of learning about the different pieces of the application, and you get an honest sounding board who is paid to listen to whatever you have to say.
The cons are slightly more obvious: huge cost (usually running 3-4K for 1 school) and to me they limit individualistic expression a bit. I have heard some people call them an unfair advantage as well.
The uncertainty with MBA admissions consultants is that you will never really know if they helped. If you get in, would you have gotten in anyways? If you don't get in, would you have gotten dinged anyways?
I am curious to hear people's experiences with consultants - Did you find them helpful? Was it worth the money? I am also curious to hear from people that are opposed to consultants, and why?(beyond the money of course!)