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MBA Admissions Consulting: Do you need it?

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July 2, 2021

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Josh Jones

At one level, I suppose that question’s a bit of a moot point.  Recently, there’s been a bit of an arms race in admissions consulting, so – whether Admissions Officers admit it or not – they (implicitly at least) expect your application to reflect a consultant’s input.  To put it another way, let’s suppose you manage to craft an expert application on your own; even so, you’ll still suffer the “consultant” discount because everyone will assume that you used a consultant. In short, admissions consulting has become part of the price of admission to the top schools.

But let’s set that aside for a moment: what does the consultant actually do?  Every consultant will help you craft a professional application – no typos, no grammatical errors, etc.  And that’s not worthless, but I wouldn’t pay too much for such pedestrian services.

Similarly, most consultants will try to fit you into their “package” or perhaps their school-specific package, which they’ll try to convince you is based upon “experience” or “relationships” or whatever.

If that’s all you’re getting, you might want to save your money.

The best consultants, like the consultants at Test Prep Unlimited, think differently: we don’t try to fit you into our standard package or even our school-specific package; rather, we try to present the best “you” we possibly can.  We try to market you; we don’t try to reinvent or, worse yet, create a fake you. Look, if you’re a computer nerd, we’re not going to repackage you as a suave athlete; rather, we’re going to help you present yourself as the one computer nerd from all of the other computer nerds who have applied that they should take.

Remember that schools want a diverse student body, which means they’ll have to take a few computer nerds (and a few of every other kind of applicant); our job is to help you become the one they pick – we don’t try to pretend you’re something else.

Authenticity is everything.  And that’s our point: we don’t want to create a fake you; we want the real you to come shining through – and that takes time, creativity, and skill.  The real you, after all, is far too complex to be reduced to an essay or two.

It’s like drawing a three-dimensional world on a two-dimensional map: you’ll get a very distorted image unless you truly know what you’re doing; likewise, it’s far too easy for your essay to misrepresent you — not because you’re a bad essayist, but simply because these essays are a highly-artificial form, which you’ve had no reason to study, much less master.  I like to remind people that the world’s greatest authors still hire somebody else to write the blurbs on the back because writing copy is very different than writing a novel – if professional authors know they need help to reduce their masterpieces to a blurb, why wouldn’t you need help to reduce your life to a blurb?

I want you to think of your application like a new product: there’s no shame in consulting with the marketing department; indeed, you’d be a fool not to.

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