This blog post originally appeared on AIGAC’s blog.
There are endless and frequent discussions on forums and message boards questioning the value of admissions consulting. One of the more common arguments against using a consultant runs something like this:
“Everyone I know that’s been accepted and is attending top schools did so without …an admissions consultant…. Is [using a consultant] crucial to top-school acceptance? Absolutely not.”
I’m sure if you took a poll of AIGAC members, the overwhelming majority would have attended grad school without the aid of a consultant. Many, including me, would not have taken a test prep course before applying to graduate school. However, over the last thirty years test preparation went from being an act of desperation, to a competitive edge, to a mainstay of the application process. Today, to maximize chances of a top score and acceptance at the best possible school, virtually all applicants take a test prep course.
The same phenomenon is occurring to admissions consulting, but educational advising is currently at the “competitive edge” stage. At this point, using a consultant is not crucial for some. It is extremely helpful for all.
The question is not whether one can get accepted to business, law, or medical school without a consultant. Many are accepted without professional advising. The question is: Are the advantages of using a consultant worth the cost?
First let’s discuss the ways in which a consultant can help you. We bring:
- Experience that you lack.
- Objectivity to a subject that is difficult to be objective about: You
- Editing skills. Professional writers have editors because their writing benefits from a knowledgeable, critical eye. The same is true for the writing of non-professionals.
How do these benefits justify the cost and provide a critical competitive edge?
Using an admissions consultant can:
- Enable your acceptance to a “better” school. “Better” implies more professional opportunity, increased earnings, and an educational experience more to your liking. Just looking at dollars and cents, “better” represents potentially tens of thousands of dollars in your pocket during your career.
- Help you snag a fellowship or scholarship. Savings: tens of thousands of dollars.
- Save you the cost of reapplication. Applying to medical, law, business school or any other graduate program including application fees and travel expenses can cost several thousand dollars. When you apply one time, you save.
- Reduce the time, stress, and frustration you (and those close to you) experience during the admissions process. We can guide you so you don’t go down tangents and useless paths or flounder for weeks as you struggle to learn what we know.
So can you gain acceptance to a graduate school without using an admissions consultant? Certainly. Should you try? Only if you don’t value the experience, objectivity, and skill that can provide you with returns many times the cost.