Admissions Consulting: It’s a New World

The Wall St Journal had a great special section this week on graduate business education.  As an admissions consultant for the last fifteen years, I read the articles with memories of similar sections and articles from the past floating through my head. And I see major changes reflected here.

By Linda Abraham, Accepted.com

First the article, “Looking for an Edge,” shines a spotlight on the increasing role of admission consultants in the application process. According to the article, 20% of applicants in a GMAC survey said they used admissions consultants. Clearly, the applicant interviewed for the WSJ article found beneficial her experience with (then) AIGAC member, Clear Admit. Her comments on her experience closely mirrored the arguments I made in an earlier post, “Why use an admissions consultant?”

The article also reveals the increasing acceptance of admissions consultants by admissions directors. According to Deirdre Leopold, [then] managing director of M.B.A. admissions and financial aid at Harvard Business School, “meeting with admissions consultants is useful to ‘get some field intelligence’ about how prospective students view the school and its admissions process.”

Derrick Bolton, [then] assistant dean, and director of M.B.A. admissions at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, has moved from definite opposition to cautious neutrality:

“Applicants approach the process saying, ‘What are the areas over which I have control?’ They see part of that as getting coaching or guidance from someone who may have seen more candidates.”

“Does it help? Does it hurt? It’s candidate by candidate. What I would always ask is, ‘How can someone who doesn’t know you help you be a more authentic version of yourself?’ Some people probably can, if they’re asking the right questions.”

While these admissions directors haven’t become evangelists or advocates for consultants, their comments reveal a marked change in their public posture. They have moved to acceptance, perhaps even begrudging respect.

These trends reflect a lot of AIGAC’s hard work over the last five years. AIGAC has set industry standards for professionalism and ethical consulting. It has increased and improved communications with the schools especially at our annual conferences, where members have visited Chicago, Kellogg, Columbia, NYU, MIT, Harvard, Stanford, and UC Berkeley Haas.

Finally, the article also has enormous implications for AIGAC, its members, and non-member consultants. The Wall St. Journal overwhelmingly turns to AIGAC members when it wanted information on MBA admissions consulting. Almost every consultant mentioned or interviewed in the above WSJ article is an AIGAC member. In fact, the only link in the article is to AIGAC: “To find a consultant, one place to start is AIGAC.org, the website of the admissions consultants’ trade group.”

If The Wall St. Journal is saying that one place to find an admissions consultant is AIGAC.org and you are an admissions consultant, don’t you want to be found here?

If you are a member, you know your AIGAC investment is paying dividends — big time.

If you are not yet a member, but you share AIGAC’s values, believe in its vision, and meet its membership requirements, now is a great time to join us!

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