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Frequently Asked Questions about Admissions
This is the million-dollar question (or $200,000 since that’s what a lot of graduate degrees cost).
And the answer is: EVERYTHING.
Universities want interesting professional experiences, a strong academic background, cultural exposure, meaningful volunteer work, thoughtful self-analysis, awareness of global trends, clear career goals, soft skills, hard skills, and all skills.
No single thing will get you into school. But a little bit of everything will. That’s why you need to really analyze every aspect of who you are and what you’ve done, and then you have to figure out how to convey that in an application.
That’s usually where consulting comes in.
Not as important as you may think.
Yes, it’s absolutely a factor, but every year, 740 GMAT scores get rejected from Top 10 universities while 660s get in. That’s because schools care about their average GMAT/GRE scores, but they are open to a range.
Consequently, a high score doesn’t guarantee success, and a lower score doesn’t disqualify you. A great consultant will help you discover and leverage all the other aspects of your candidacy to ensure your GMAT is just one component of your profile, not its defining characteristic.
Crowdsource, but be selective in following advice.
You may have friends who have applied for MBAs, and their insights can be helpful. However, it’s important to note that each of them has applied one time, so their experience is limited and personal.
An experienced consultant has worked with hundreds of clients and can differentiate between anomalies and patterns, causation and correlation. Former admissions officers can be helpful because they’ve seen thousands of applications, but it also means they only see the final product; they often don’t know what it took to get there. A great admissions consultant has a unique blend of perspectives and experiences to help you discover what is exceptional about you and then present that to professional readers, who usually come from another country, culture, and background.
In short, listen to different viewpoints, but your best asset is to work with someone who already has all of those perspectives.
Passion. Knowledge. Skill.
First and foremost, your consultant must care about your success. It has to be more than just a job. If someone has been doing this for 20 years but is just in it for the money, you’re not going to get the dedication or focus you need and deserve. Conversely, if someone is new to the industry, regardless of how much they want to help, they will struggle to actually help.
You really need someone who is emotionally invested in your success, who understands diverse industries and subjects, and who has the unique skills necessary to help you convey your stories effectively – both in your applications and your interviews.
Increasingly so on both accounts.
Schools want to meet you in person (via video) instead of just read about you. They also know there are Literature majors out there overediting b-school essays into Shakespearean prose, so they want to know if you are the same person on video as you are on paper.
This is why you need a strategy consultant and interview expert, not just an editor or (even worse) a ghost writer. You must write your own essays, and your consultant must ensure you maintain your unique voice even while improving the final product. Then your consultant has to get you ready to do the same thing verbally with 20 seconds to prepare, which is how video essays work.
A lot. 30-40 hours with an interview expert, and at least that much time practicing on your own or with fellow applicants.
The interview is by far the hardest part of the entire process, and it’s strange that more people don’t say so. But it’s pretty clear when you think about it. During an interview, you are essentially instantly writing essays, out loud, during one of the most stressful experiences of your life. This is not the kind of thing you get good at with a few mock sessions right before you interview. Most importantly, you need strategies, not just practice. This is why you need to work with a coaching expert.
You also need to keep in mind that interviews are constantly changing (and getting more difficult). Additionally, each school (and interviewer) has a unique style. You need to be prepared for all of them. And obviously this takes time. Even more than the time, it takes strategies and skills development, because very few people are natural TED talkers.
Even those people giving professional speeches aren’t being asked a new question every few minutes. They are controlling the conversation, which usually doesn’t happen in a graduate school interview. In short, work with an expert, and do so for several hours per week for several months.
This is one of the most important decisions you will ever make, so you obviously want to be sure you’re working with someone who has the ethics, skills, passion, and experience necessary to help you succeed. Here’s a quick list of questions that can help you get the answers you need before you sign with a company.
- Are you the person I will be working with throughout the process?
- If not, who else will be involved and what will be his/her role?
- How many meetings can I expect with you specifically, and what percentage will be handled by someone else?
- How long has this other person been working as a consultant?
- What are his/her results over the last several years?
- Do you have any testimonials that specifically mention the person I will be working with?
- Are there any former clients who would be willing to speak with me to discuss their experiences?
- Can I meet the consultant before I sign up?
- Does the price I’m paying cover everything I need to succeed?
- Are there any hidden charges for things such as pre/post-interview essays (e.g. MIT, HBS)?
- Do you use names or photos in your promotional materials, and is there any chance mine would be used without my permission?
- What are your areas of expertise, and how will those help me succeed?
- What is your maximum client load, and will you have the time and resources to make me a priority?
- What is your success rate? Is there any way to confirm that?
- Finally, do you love what you do? Because this is really important to me. And I want someone who cares about this as much as I do.
These are just a few key questions that will help you as you shop around. In short, you want to know exactly what you will be getting and from whom. Additionally, there are no questions you cannot ask while making your decision, because you deserve absolute transparency and honesty from the company and individuals responsible for helping you achieve your dreams.
Absolutely (with a couple of exceptions).
Most top programs are now splitting their intake evenly between Round 1 and Round 2. So the old saying “they run out of spots” simply isn’t true anymore (except for Columbia, which is rolling). CBS also has a binding decision (as does Duke) that gives an advantage to those who apply early and are willing to commit. But for every other major program, Round 2 (or Round 3 for UK programs) is a perfectly reasonable time to apply.
Admittedly, while intake and acceptance rate don’t directly equate, for the most part, you can apply in January and have an equally high chance of getting in. That being said, you will want to make the most of your additional time.
With an extra 3-4 months to study for the GMAT, your scores should go up. The same is true of TOEFL/IELTS. So if you have GMAT tests remaining, use them. For language tests, you can always take more, so utilize those as well.
- your positioning is unique
- your essays are great (and accurate)
- your interview skills are strong
- you’re ready for the difficulty and stress of video essays
- you continue to be active outside of work
- you find the right consultant, if that’s the way you want to go.
Obviously, if you do #6 well, numbers 1-5 are significantly easier.
Simple. We only accept a finite number of applicants, but we hope a lot more people get accepted and achieve their dreams. All of our clients will succeed. That’s a given. That means we can root for other people to succeed as well.
Additionally, dream schools vary. While our clients tend to want (and get) Top 10s, there are a lot of great programs out there. All that matters is that you end up where you want to be. The #11 program in the world is still phenomenal. #30 is too. And we help applicants get there if that’s what they want.
We cap our clients because we will never deliver less than 100%. We never give an applicant a couple of meetings with the owner and then hand them off to someone else for the entirety of the process. This is your life, and we take that very seriously, which is why we only have a few spots left for Round 2.
Lastly, we highly recommend you look at the wide variety of programs available, because you may find they are a better fit for your goals. There are programs such as: 1-year MBA, Tech MBA, GMBA, MS Innovation/Entrepreneurship/etc., Data Analytics, Business Analytics, MPP, MPA, Law, Medicine, and dozens of others that can empower you to achieve your personal and professional goals.
Whether you apply with us, with another company, or on your own, Elite Admit wishes you the very best of luck in this challenging and life-changing process.