Status: First-time applicant
Pre-MBA industry: Various supportive/unrelated roles for 4 years + Private Equity
Years of experience at time of matriculation: 9
GMAT/GRE score: 760 (V: 41 Q: 51)
Undergraduate GPA: 1.6/4.0
Career Gap: 36 months, 5 months
Admitted to: Columbia
I was initially hesitant to work with a consultant because I was concerned that the incentives for consultants were skewed as they get paid regardless of where you are admitted so have an incentive to undersell your potential and often ask you to adjust down your expectations. After reaching out to 6 consulting services (many of whom told me not to apply to my dream school), I found Kathryn was the only one I spoke with who actually took the time to understand my background. I knew for sure I wanted to use her services when I asked her “Based on my profile where do you think I should apply?” I asked this of all consultants, because it was my gauge for how aligned their incentives were with mine. She said I should only apply to schools I am excited to attend and that she would never presume to know which schools I should apply to. (she also said I hadn’t done enough work into answering this question for myself, which was a dose of the refreshing honesty I needed).
In terms of the key areas in which her assistance was crucial:
I have a nontraditional background, so was scared about how that background would be perceived by adcoms. She helped me incorporate that background into my optional essay in a way that was concise but effective (Had I not worked with her, I would likely have written something far more verbose and likely not what the adcom would like to read)
My goals were too vague and after discussing with her, I realized I needed to be more introspective and specific with my goals. Also, my resume was written with too much industry nomenclature and needed to be revised.
I had several questions along the way (should I fly to the schools to show interest in the programs I was interested in? What are admit rates in different rounds pre and post interview? Will my older age be a hindrance?) She quickly addressed all these questions and more which I would have struggled answering on my own. TBH, she provided almost as much value assuaging the emotional tension of applying to MBA programs as value provided by helping me sculpt my MBA applications.
Most importantly, she worked with me through the essays to help me find the information that most expresses who I am and what I contribute to a program.
At the end of the day you are paying a consultant to help you put your best foot forward. Kathryn helped me realize when I was falling short and therefore needed to put in more effort. I do not think I would have gained admission to CBS without her help.
An additional note, one of my coworkers applied a year ago to the same program I was admitted to and had slightly better stats (better GPA from better school, more extracurriculars, but slightly lower GMAT). He was not offered an interview invite. I truly believe the difference was Kathryn’s guidance