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Should You Hire an MBA Admissions Consultant?

MBA admissions consultant

Getting accepted into an elite MBA program isn’t work that occurs in the blink of an eye. It takes research, dedication, and talent to stand out amid a sea of amazing applicants. That’s where an MBA Admissions Consultant can help.

The Graduate Management Admission Council reports that one in five applicants worldwide uses a consultant while the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants reports that 57% of MBAs use an admissions consultant. So, is a consultant right for you?

We spoke with Graham Richmond, a co-founder of Clear Admit. He holds an MBA from Wharton, where he also served as an admissions officer. He has over 18 years of experience in the field of MBA admissions, including having spent several years as an admissions consultant. Graham provided us with his valuable insight on MBA admissions consultants.

What help can an admissions’ consultant provide? Why are they valuable?

“Admissions consultants help in many different areas—from school
selection, career goals development, overall candidate positioning strategy, timeline planning, essay editing, recommender coaching, test prep advice, interview preparation, choosing between schools, financial aid negotiation and more,” explained Graham.

Graham Richmond


Graham Richmond
is a Co-founder of Clear Admit. He holds an MBA from Wharton, where he also served as an admissions officer. He has over 18 years of experience in the field of MBA admissions, including having spent several years as an admissions consultant. His admissions advice has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, and US News & World Report.

“They are valuable because they provide their clients with a second set of eyes, but it’s much more than that. First, admissions consultants—unlike friends, family or colleagues—will always have time for you.

Second, admissions consultants are unlikely to be biased (unlike say mom or dad—who will always think you are great!).

Third, a good admissions consultant draws from a wealth of knowledge in order to give you the right advice. Many admissions consultants are former admissions officers, MBA graduates, and even current students who bring first-hand knowledge of the process to the table.”

When is it a wise move to spend the money and hire a consultant?

“It makes sense to engage with a consultant as early in the application process as possible—essentially as soon as you decide to apply to business school. There are two reasons for this: the first is the simple fact that the earlier you begin work on your application strategy, the better off you will be.

The second reason is because most MBA admissions consultants work on a ‘package’ basis—where an applicant pays a fixed fee per school. This makes it advantageous to kick off the process early in terms of maximizing the number of hours you spend with your consultant. In most cases, though, applicants will hire an admissions consultant in the late spring or summer months for help with applications in the fall/winter—so roughly 12-16 months before the applicant envisions starting an MBA program.”

Is an admissions consultant only necessary for top schools?

“While admissions consultants are certainly most commonly used for schools with a ‘high stakes’ admissions process, it’s important to remember that a great admissions consultant does much more than provide counsel on essays or interviewing. The better consultants out there help young professionals to shape their overall career strategy—using the MBA as a vehicle to achieve a set of career goals – and ensuring that the applicant takes an informed approach to selecting target schools.

In short, while you may not need an admissions consultant to get into an MBA program that has an acceptance rate north of 60%, you might find the counsel of a consultant to be extremely valuable when it comes to deciding where you wish to apply and which schools in your metro area will provide you with the greatest chance for success.”

What traits/experience/knowledge should you look for in a good consultant?

Before you hire an MBA admissions consultant, Graham recommended that you keep your eye out for the following traits:

  • An ability to get to know the applicant ‘beyond the resume’ and to help tease out the aspects of the candidate’s profile that will resonate most
  • Prior experience as an admissions officer
  • An MBA
  • Strong editing skills – the ability to push you to deliver the absolute best content you can in your written materials
  • Conscientious and reliable- applying to business school is a deadline driven process
  • Past experience – and success – counseling MBA applicants.

What questions should you ask yourself and the consultant before making a decision?

There are many questions you can and should ask before choosing an admissions consultant. Below are Graham’s top picks:

  • questionDo you have past clients who I can speak to as references?
  • Are you a member of AIGAC—the membership association of admissions consultants that sets strict standards for the profession?
  • How many clients do you take on each admissions season and how many clients are ‘active’ at any given time?
  • Is admissions consulting your full-time job or something you do on the side?
  • Do you have an MBA and, if so, from which school?
  • Do you have any prior admissions experience?

MBA admissions consultants can push you to the next level with your application. If you’re looking for a true partnership and you’re able to accept criticisms, coaching, and input from others, then an admissions consultant could be right for you.

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For more guidance on the MBA admissions and application process make sure to check out the following:

  1. MBA Interview: Putting Your Best Foot Forward
  2. Tips for Tackling the “Why Do You Want an MBA?” Application Essay Question
  3. 5 Reasons to Submit an Optional Essay
  4. How to Succeed at Your MBA Interview: Part 1

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About the Author


Kelly Vo    

Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and personal development.

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