Do Business School Admissions Need an Overhaul?

There have been a few articles published lately about MBA Admissions Consulting. One such article published in Bloomberg Businessweek, Business School Admissions Needs an Overhaul, proposed that the entire admissions process for graduate business school be changed. The author, Alex Fleming, goes so far to propose that essay length and number should be reduced to discourage applicants from hiring admissions consultants. No one, he suggests, would pay someone “$1,000 to write 100 words.”

The author and I both have MBA degrees from Wharton, but we part company after that.

What Business School Admissions Consulting ISN’T

As an MBA Admissions Consultant for 14 years, I believe that what needs the overhaul isn’t business school admissions but rather the incorrect understanding that many have about what admissions consulting actually is. For a start, any ethical admissions consultant will make it clear that he or she will never write an essay for an applicant. Some of our clients will ask us to do so despite what our written agreements and policies may say, but we make it clear that that’s not part of our service. And for the record, as of the current admissions season, most top business school applications require multiple essays, with limits of several hundred to about a thousand words each. An admissions consultant can help to ensure the topic and organization of those essays hits the mark with admissions committees.

Admissions Consultants also won’t ghost write recommendations for our clients, although a few may request that service. In fact, many of us, myself included, refuse to even review a draft recommendation. I take it even further than most, suggesting that my clients push back if the recommender won’t write a recommendation without getting a draft from the applicant. If the recommender insists on receiving more than a bulleted list of suggested points, I tell my clients to find another recommender.

Is there an alumni interviewer popularity contest?

I disagree with another point in the article. Having been an alumni interviewer for Wharton MBA applicants, I don’t understand what he means by the “alumni interviewer popularity contest.” Assuming that the school trains its volunteer alumni interviewers well, as most do, an interview with an experienced alumnus can give the interviewer and interviewee insights into the fit between the applicant and the school that an on campus interview may not, especially in terms of the long-term career view. I have no understanding of the popularity contest that the author mentions.

You are no doubt wondering what MBA Admissions Consulting is if this is what it isn’t? That will be the topic of my next blog entry.

Need guidance in your MBA/EMBA Application process? Maximize your applications with help from The Essay Expert’s MBA Admissions Consulting Services. Or feel free to email me directly at


Larry Sochrin

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