1. Clarify how long the call will be and how much it costs. Some admissions consultants give an initial consultation call. These calls are usually only about 15 minutes and stay fairly surface level in providing information and soliciting information from you from which to base their feedback. Some people use these calls to simply get a feel for an admissions consultant’s communication style as well as to get a knee-jerk reaction to their chances at admission. One of the reasons I don’t offer these kinds of short calls is that it puts me in the position of trying to “sell” the client on working with me rather than giving the client my 100% honest assessment of their situation as well as what they should do next. Since my clients pay for a one-hour consultation call (which is actually 50 minutes to be more precise), I concentrate on giving them as much information as possible to help them with their application process during that time. They’ve already paid for a service, and I do my best to deliver on that service during the time we have together. 2. Ask the admissions consultant what information you can give them ahead of time. While some admissions consultants have a specific form you fill out where you can put all your information in, others just advise you to send an email or message through the contact form in order to schedule a consultation call. The more information you can provide the admissions consultant about your situation, the better. It will make their advice more specific and based on your particular situation. I’d say there are three levels of information you can provide: 1) your stats and resume 2) your stats, resume, and short summary of your story and goals 3) your stats, resume, and any essays for which you have drafts Not all admissions consultants will accept all three levels of information—especially if they receive tons of inquiries for consultation calls. However, it’s in your best interest to submit as much information as possible. 3. Send the agenda ahead of time. By sending an agenda of the topics you hope to cover in the call, you proactively manage the conversation to keep it from being too much of a sales pitch rather than a genuinely helpful session. You won’t always be able to cover every single thing you hoped to in the call, but having a clear list of topics you want to cover is always helpful in getting as much helpful information as possible during the call. 4. Be prepared to take notes and take action. My consultation calls should be called live working sessions because we get sh*t done in my calls! Have a Google Doc open as well as good ole pen and paper on hand to quickly record all the information that will be coming your way. Also be sure to take notes on your thoughts and feelings during the call. Is this person making you feel inspired, motivated, and increasing your clarity? Or is the person making you feel more confused and insecure than ever? You want to record both information as well as your reactions so that you can review them later. When recording impressions, I even use happy faces and sad faces throughout my notes to help me remember how I felt when interacting with someone over the phone. 5. Possible Questions and Topics of Discussion: (can be covered roughly in this order or in any order you want)
- Briefly introduce yourself: background, current situation, schools or degree you want to apply to, and your progress thus far in the process
- Tell the consultant what you hope to accomplish during the call and/or what topics you want to cover during the call.
- From the progress I’ve made so far in my applications, do you think I am well prepared to apply in the upcoming round—or should I consider waiting until the next round?
- Knowing my profile and goals, what schools do you think might be a good fit for me?
- Do the schools I already have in mind to apply to seem to be a good fit for me from what I’ve shared with you so far? Why or why not? Do you have additional suggestions?
- What suggestions do you have for me for strengthening my candidacy?
- What resources do you suggest I use in my application process?
- What has been your experience working with applicants whose profiles are similar to mine? (It doesn’t matter if they have a 92% success rate if 100% of their clients have GMATs in the 700’s and yours is a 640, now does it? Focus on their record of working with people like you). Your profile includes things such as: your age, GPA, test scores, country of origin, work experience, career goals, and the school and degree you are applying to (very important)
- How would you describe your communication and coaching style? What are your particular strengths as a coach?
- What is the most important thing for me to do next in my application process?
6. Urge the admissions consultant to be as specific as possible when providing feedback and guidance. Admissions consultants aren’t psychics so we aren’t going to be able to give you an exact answer for many of your questions (e.g. “Will I get in to Harvard?”). However, we can provide you specific answers (e.g. “In my opinion, you have a 70% chance of getting into Harvard because of these specific reasons…”). Try to get the admissions consultant to be as specific as possible during the conversation so you don’t leave with a bunch of vague guidance and no direction after the call has ended. 7. Ask the admissions consultant what is the most important thing for you to do next. Use the consultation call to propel you into your next action step. Now that you have taken the time to reach out to an admissions consultant, held a call and received some feedback, you should use that momentum to accomplish the next most important thing on your to-do list for your applications. Their answer could be as simple as retake the GMAT to more abstract as think more deeply about why you really want an MBA. This will ensure that you have some sort of homework to do after the call. 8. Process the feedback you received with a filter. Don’t take any advice or feedback from an admissions consultant that violently disagrees with your intuition or common sense. If you leave a conversation with an admissions consultant feeling discouraged, overwhelmed, bullied, or demeaned, you’ve likely spoken to someone who is not a good match for you. I’ve had dozens of consultation calls with people who were bulldozed by admissions consultants—even ones they had paid their hard-earned money to!—and didn’t realize that coaching styles can be entirely different from one consultant to another. Now that I’ve laid it all out there for you, nothing should be stopping you from reaching out to the admissions consultants you’ve been curious to learn from and getting that information!