Are MBA Admissions Consultants Worth It? How to Decide (and How to Pick One)

Do you need an MBA admissions consultant to apply to business school? We'll help you decide—and show you how to pick the best coach for you.

Posted May 11, 2024

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All right—you're applying for your MBA. You're likely targeting a mix of programs, ranging from very competitive to less competitive, and if you're like most business school applicants, you've probably been asking yourself the question: are MBA admissions consultants worth it? Should I hire an MBA admissions consultant, and if so, how do I choose the right one?

Well, the good news is, you've come to the right place.

Deciding on whether or not to hire a consultant or coach is one of the most important steps in your MBA application journey. It can mean the difference between having a well-examined resume and not, between choosing excellent recommenders or merely mediocre ones, between earning that coveted acceptance to a top business school and trying again another year.

With that in mind, let's start with the basics:

What does an MBA Admissions Consultant Do?

First thing's first: what exactly does an MBA admissions consultant do?

An MBA consultant is your personal guide through the admissions process. Their job is to answer your questions, offer insights and feedback about your application materials—such as your essays and letters of recommendation—help you submit everything by the required deadline, and overall boost your chances of admission to your target schools. An MBA consultant is a mentor and thought partner as you embark on this difficult journey.

It's important to note that an MBA consultant is not responsible for filling out or writing any part of your application. They can provide invaluable guidance, as most coaches have successfully gone through the process themselves, but they cannot and should not offer to do any of the work for you. Having someone else write any part of your application is the surest way to get rejected. Don't fall into that trap.

Second, it's important to note that different consultants will provide different services. Some will be able to help you through the entire process from soup to nuts, starting with application strategy and ending with interview prep, while others will specialize in specific parts of the application, like brainstorming for your essays or assisting you as you apply for scholarships.

Again, we have good news: on Leland, you'll find all kinds of different coaches, from all top schools, offering every kind of service. Click here to browse our vetted, world-class admissions coaches.

Should I Hire an MBA Admissions Coach?

Now that we've covered what an admissions coach does, the next question is: should you hire one?

Generally speaking, we think working with an admissions consultant is always a good idea. The application process is lengthy, difficult, and stressful, and it can be a game-changer to have someone in your corner throughout. Nobody gets into a top MBA program alone—and they shouldn't have to.

All that said, there are certain groups of candidates who will benefit more from having an admissions coach. Strongly consider hiring a consultant if:

  1. If you're applying to top-ranking programs like Harvard Business School (HBS), the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB), Wharton, Chicago Booth, MIT Sloan, Kellogg, or Columbia Business School. Competition at these programs is intense, and many if most applicants seek out coaching to give themselves an advantage.
  2. If you're applying from an overrepresented demographic, for instance, from a background in finance or management consulting. Since there are so many others applying with similar backgrounds, it can be difficult to stand out, so hiring a coach can help give you an edge.
  3. If you have significant gaps as a business school applicant, for instance:
    • You have a low GPA or GMAT score
    • You've worked at a company or in an industry that does not typically send employees to business schools.
    • You are either significantly above or below the average age of years of work experience of typical admits.
    • You're a non-native English speaker with a lower TOEFL score.
    • You have any other red flags on your application, such as marks on your criminal record or collegiate honor code violations

If you fall into one of these categories, it's of course not the end of the world! That's exactly why admissions coaches exist—to help you find your way to your dream school.

So you've decided to work with an admissions coach. Now the question is:

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How do I Choose the Right MBA Admissions Coach?

We get it: there are so many excellent admissions coaches out there, and it can be hard to choose. To help you out, here are 4 key factors to consider when selecting your MBA admissions coach:

1. Experience

One of the first metrics to look at is experience. How long has the consultant been helping others through the MBA admissions process and what programs have their clients been admitted to? What kind of reviews has the coach amassed, and what have other clients said about working with them?

On Leland, you'll find all types of different coaches. Some are more experienced consultants, with experience on MBA admissions committees; others are just starting out, or are in the middle of their b-school experience. Deciding what kind of level of experience you want at the outset can help you narrow down your decision.

Pro tip: You can filter by years of experience when browsing Leland's vetted coaches.

2. Cost

A related factor to experience is cost. Coaches with different levels of experience will, of course, charge different prices for their services. A former admissions officer at Haas or the Wharton School, for instance, will set a different rate for their services than a recent admit to INSEAD or London Business School (LBS).

Similarly, on Leland, you'll find coaches with a wide range of prices. Understanding your resources and setting a budget beforehand will help you make the right decision for you.

Pro tip: You can also filter by price when browsing Leland's admissions coaches.

3. MBA Program/Professional Background

Which school a consultant attended also affects the information they're able to provide. If you have your heart set on top programs like Harvard or Stanford, then you might consider working with a coach who matriculated from those institutions, since they'll have more insight into the admissions process.

You might also consider a consultant's professional background: for instance, if you've worked in the entertainment industry, you might seek out a coach with similar experience, or if you're the founder of a startup, you might look for a consultant who also has founding experience. Even small things like this can help you make a connection with your coach, and could give you an edge on your application.

Pro tip: All coaches on Leland have a one-sentence headline on their profile, as well as a longer bio. Bios include more detail about a coach’s professional history and superpowers. Finally, we’ve encouraged coaches to share what they’re looking for in an ideal applicant at the end of their bio; reading that will give you an idea of whether this coach is a fit for you.

4. Chemistry/Fit

Finally, trust your gut. When you choose a coach, you'll likely work with them for a significant amount of time, so you want to partner with someone with whom you have a good connection and chemistry. Ask yourself: will this person really care about me and my application journey? Could I see myself chatting with them every week for the next few months? If the answer is “yes,” you’ve got yourself a winner.

Pro tip: On Leland, you can schedule free introductory calls with any of our coaches. Simply navigate to their page and click "Free Intro Call." These calls are a great way for you to determine if a coach is a good fit for you.

Don't hesitate to ask your coach about themselves! Consider some of the following questions:

  • What got you interested in coaching in the first place?
  • What have you learned about coaching from your experience at [ business school ] or [ company ]?
  • What will you tell me about my application that other coaches won’t? What’s your secret sauce?
  • Is there anything you usually tell clients they shouldn’t do in the application process?
  • What would our working relationship be like? Can you share a sketch of what your personal coaching process is like?

Who you work with is an important decision. Be polite but firm, and be prepared to answer questions as well一a coach wants to know if you’re a good fit for them, too!

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