The Wharton Adcom Blog’s most recent post, "MBA Admissions Essential #4: Thoughts on Consultants & Coaching," is a thoughtful piece on the pros and cons of using an admissions consultant. I would like to expand on the pros and respond to the perceived cons. Although the original post focuses on MBA admissions, the arguments really apply to all admissions consulting.
Consultants bring to the table enormous experience in admissions that you probably don’t have. And don’t want to have. According to the Wharton blog post, that expertise is the chief advantage of using an admissions consultant or coach. I certainly agree that expertise and experience represent a major strength of consultants, but it is not the only one.
The Wharton blog post perceives the chief disadvantages of using consultants as a sameness and possible lack of authenticity to your essays. After reading essays previously untouched by consultants’ eyes, I can assure you that blandness and lack of personality or voice are rampant — before any consultant makes any suggestions. At Accepted.com, our editors and consultants push our clients to bring out their personalities and be authentic in the essays. In fact, achieving authenticity, individuality, and distinctiveness is one of the advantages of using a consultant.
I can’t tell you how many times I have read essays of friends’ children, applicants whom I know well, and the authors are entirely absent from the essay. I don’t see them at all in the essay. I also review our clients’ essays, the first drafts and the final drafts. The clients’ personality and voice is absent from the first drafts and present in the latter drafts.
Story time: Several years ago I was checking references for an editor I was considering hiring. She gave me the name of a former client, a student at Wharton, and I called him and started asking about the prospective editor’s work. He told me that after she edited his essays, he decided to show his original essay, let’s call it Essay A, and the edited version, Essay B, to his wife and not tell her which one had been edited. His wife read both and holding Essay A said, "Of course this is the one that was edited. It doesn’t sound at all like you." His wife thought the edited version sounded more like her husband than the original. Tanis Kmetyk has been working for Accepted.com ever since.
End of story time and back to the Wharton adcom blog post.
The blog poster correctly notes that essays that have been reviewed by your fifty closest friends start to sound muddled and "may read like they were written by multiple authors." That result stems not from showing it to one experienced consultant who writes well, has taken the time to get to know you, and knows MBA admissions. It occurs when you show your essays to everyone and his brother and then you willy-nilly attempt to incorporate this congress of viewpoints and opinions into your no-longer-personal statement or application essay.
The blog poster points out that consultants can be expensive. How expensive depends on how you use us and how you view us. At Accepted.com you have many options that keep your costs down. And if the education you want to obtain is worth the tuition, it is also worth our fees, which are a tiny fraction of the total cost of any degree program even for those clients who use our most comprehensive services. One of our clients, accepted at all the schools he applied to, called his investment in Accepted.com "a "rounding error" in the context of the total cost of an MBA education. Additionally, some schools give merit aid based on your application and essays. It is possible that better essays can result in scholarships that will far exceed the cost of an admissions consultant.
The blog post encourages applicants to use the resources provided by Wharton, which are excellent — really a gold standard that other schools emulate — and other sources to research the programs in depth. Accepted.com also encourages that research and helps guide students to admissions information for particular fields as well as school-specific information through this blog and our b-school zones. In fact, many admissions consultants, like Accepted.com or Clear Admit, provide a wealth of resources.
The blog post closes with " Spend less time on “impression management” and more time on letting us adcoms get to know the true you." Accepted.com is dedicated to helping you write your best and thereby letting the adcoms get to know you.