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Are MBA admissions consultants worth their fees?

来源:FT中文网    2017-11-06 07:29

        With a wide range of entrance exams, essays and interviews, securing a place at a top business school has never been easy. With more would-be MBAs applying for the elite schools, it is getting harder still. Growing competition has lowered the average acceptance rate for the top-10 US MBAs ranked by the Financial Times to fewer than 15 per cent, down from 17 per cent five years ago.        除一大堆入学考试外,还得撰写申请作文和参加面试,从顶级商学院拿到一张MBA录取通知书绝非易事。而且随着申请名校的学生越来越多,获得录取的难度也越来越大。由于竞争日趋激烈,在英国《金融时报》美国MBA项目排名中名列前10名的商学院的平均录取率,已经由5年前的17%下降至不足15%。
        It is of little surprise, then, that last year one-quarter of candidates turned to admissions consultants to give their application an edge, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council.        因此,据管理专业研究生入学考试委员会(Graduate Management Admission Council)的数据,去年有25%的申请人求助于申请顾问,希望其为他们的申请增添光彩,也就毫不奇怪了。
        But do consultants really give applicants an advantage or is it better to save the money and seek advice elsewhere?        但是,这些申请顾问是否真正能够让申请人脱颖而出?或者说省下这笔钱、从别处获得建议才是更好的选择?
        Admissions services cover the entire application process, from essay reviews to interview coaching. On average each application takes 15-20 hours but some candidates spend more than 50 with a consultant, typically between March and June.        申请顾问服务覆盖整个申请过程,从申请作文的撰写到面试辅导。每位申请人平均会接受申请顾问15到20个小时的辅导,有的申请人接受辅导的时间超过50个小时,通常是在每年3月到6月之间。
        Many consultants are former admissions officers and MBA holders. They claim their knowledge of the application process can help candidates gain entry.        许多申请顾问是曾经的招生专员和MBA学位获得者。他们声称,他们对申请程序的了解会增加申请人被录取的机会。
        One Harvard Business School MBA student, for example, was advised by his consultant to use his admissions essay to highlight a healthcare project that had made a positive impact on patient care.        例如,一位哈佛商学院MBA学生就是根据申请顾问的建议,在申请作文中重点强调了一个对患者有正面疗效的医疗项目。
        “At first I wanted to write about my achievements in college,” says the student, who like many clients requested anonymity because consulting is controversial.        “最初,我想多写写我在大学时取得的成绩,”这位学生说。像许多客户一样,他也要求匿名,因为申请顾问服务还是非常有争议的。
        “But my consultant helped me change the story, which differentiated me because it was unique.”        “但是,我的申请顾问协助我对自己的情况介绍进行了调整。内容的独特性让我从众多申请人中脱颖而出。”
        Consultants are particularly useful for candidates who are out of touch with the university process and those who need help securing visas. They are also beneficial for those who are time-constrained because they help with the lengthy but important process of school selection.        对于那些对申请程序不熟悉、以及在获得签证方面需要帮助的申请人来说,申请顾问特别有帮助。申请顾问还对没有太多时间投入申请程序的申请人大有帮助,因为,申请顾问可以在耗时多、但特别重要的学校选择过程中发挥作用。
        Candidates stand a better chance of being admitted if they can demonstrate their “fit” with a programme, says Matt Symonds, director of Fortuna Admissions.        申请顾问公司Fortuna Admissions的负责人马特•西蒙斯(Matt Symonds)指出,如果申请人能够展现出他们与MBA项目的“契合”之处,获得录取的几率就会增加。
        “A unique story is prized but business schools seek those with personalities that fit their underlying DNA, such as a focus on technology and innovation,” Mr Symonds says.        “特别的经历固然会加分,但商学院要的是个性与其DNA——比如对技术和创新的专注——特别匹配的学生,”西蒙斯说。
        Success is hard to quantify, however. Some companies publish audited figures — such as the MBA Exchange, which claims that 87 per cent of its clients get into at least one school — but there is neither compulsory disclosure nor regulation.        但成功很难量化。有些顾问公司还公布了经审计的数据——如MBA Exchange声称,其87%的客户至少被一所商学院录取——但目前没有强制性信息披露要求或规定。
        24        国际研究生招生顾问协会(Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants)要求,申请顾问的咨询经验满24个月才能成为其会员。
        Months of consulting experience needed to qualify for membership of the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants        上文提到的哈佛MBA学生认为,申请顾问并非其被成功录取的关键。“(申请顾问)的确有帮助,但是,如果你没有超群的分数和工作经验——赌桌上的筹码——你也不会被录取,”他说。
        The Harvard MBA student does not think consulting was vital to the success of his application. “[It] helped but if you don’t have exceptional test scores and work experience — the table stakes — you won’t get in,” he says.        申请顾问可能令申请锦上添花,也可能带来负面影响。有些招生人员担心,申请顾问的参与可能导致申请人的信息不真实。“申请顾问的负面影响是申请人的同质化,”杜克大学(Duke University)富卡商学院(Fuqua School of Business)高级副院长拉斯•摩根(Russ Morgan)说。
        A consultant can add value to an application but could also harm it. Some admissions teams fear that consultants can make applications inauthentic. “The negative side of consulting is the homogenisation of applicants,” says Russ Morgan, senior associate dean at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.        他举了一个咨询过度的例子。杜克大学要求申请人列举有关自己的25个随机的特点。“有时候,多个申请人会列出10个相同的特点,”摩根说,“这明显有关联性。”
        He cites, as a blatant example of excessive coaching, replies to Duke’s essay question asking applicants to list 25 random facts about themselves. “Sometimes the same 10 facts are used by multiple applicants,” Mr Morgan says. “There is clearly correlation.”        申请顾问淡化信息不真实的可能性,并指出,一名优秀的申请顾问从来不会代替申请人撰写申请材料。“如果说我们能发挥什么作用的话,那就是,我们会劝阻申请人不要夸大成绩,以使申请信息更加真实。因为,我们知道,他们在面试过程中会露馅的,”MBA Exchange的联合创始人丹•鲍尔(Dan Bauer)说。
        Consultants play down the possibility of inauthenticity and say that a good consultant would never write an application on behalf of a candidate. “If anything, we make applicants more authentic by discouraging the grandiose exaggeration of achievements, as we know they will be busted in the interview,” says Dan Bauer, founder of the MBA Exchange.        虽然顾问都会炫耀自己多么熟悉招生流程,并且亲身经历了这一流程,但他们的知识也可能会变得陈旧。网上也有大量相关信息,申请人可以向其他申请人寻求第三方帮助。申请顾问斯泰西•布莱克曼(Stacy Blackman)表示,宣称有“内部信息”通常是吸引客户的营销伎俩。
        Although consultants tend to flaunt their knowledge of the admissions process, having been through it themselves, their expertise can become stale. There is also a wealth of information online, and candidates can seek third-party assistance from their peers. Touting “insider knowledge” is often a marketing gimmick to lure clients in, says admissions consultant Stacy Blackman.        然而,更大的担忧是,申请顾问正在造成有能力聘请申请顾问的申请人与无力负担服务费用的申请人之间的差距。Fortuna收取的打包服务起点价为4725美元,但少数客户会获得免费服务。
        The bigger concern, however, is that consultants are causing disparity between well-heeled applicants and those who cannot afford the service. At Fortuna, packages start at $4,725, although a small number of clients are assisted pro-bono.        招生软件公司Kira Talent对50所顶尖美国商学院的招生官员进行了调查,他们中有一半表示,聘请了申请顾问的申请人获得了不公平的优势。
        Half of admissions officers at 50 top US business schools surveyed by admissions software firm Kira Talent said that applicants who used consultants had an unfair advantage.        但申请顾问指出,商学院已经是独家机构。与MBA的收费标准相比,他们的服务费用微不足道。根据FT数据,去年排名前25的美国商学院的平均收费为118468美元。
        But consultants point out that business schools are already exclusive institutions, and say the cost of their service is dwarfed by the price tag of an MBA. According to FT data, last year the average fee for the top 25 US business schools was $118,468.        “与MBA一样,向申请顾问咨询也是一笔大投资,但其回报惊人,”来自纽约的商学院申请咨询公司Expartus的基奥玛•伊西亚丁索(Chioma Isiadinso)说。
        “Like the MBA, consulting is a big investment. But the return can be huge,” says Chioma Isiadinso, of Expartus consultancy in New York.        如何选择申请顾问
        How to choose a consultant        布莱克曼女士说,个人推荐是最好的选择。“阅读评论,并与以前的客户联系,获得他们对申请顾问的评价。这里没法作假,因为评价直接来自申请人,”她说。
        Ms Blackman says a personal recommendation is the best option. “Read reviews and contact previous clients for testimonials, which cannot be gamed as they come straight from the candidates,” she says.        选择国际研究生招生顾问协会成员担任申请顾问是一个好主意,因为该协会成员的入会标准是拥有24个月的顾问服务经验和至少15名客户。
        It is also a good idea to choose consultants who are members of the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants, whose entry criteria include 24 months’ consulting experience and at least 15 clients.        译者/何黎

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