The MBA Exchange Review 2021

The MBA Exchange admissions consulting full reviewRATING:

The MBA Exchange is one of the earliest entrants into the MBA admissions consulting space (pioneers, in fact); they are also under new management by a team that has a remarkably strong grasp of the challenges facing modern-day MBA applicants. This is a unique best-of-both-worlds scenario where a firm with over 25 years of experience is able to leverage the cumulative knowledge of one of the most illustrious roster of consultants and former admissions directors under fresh, propulsive leadership. The result is a unique consulting experience that feels new, but is buttressed by the most experienced team in the game.

As you might expect from a firm with a decades-long reputation, they can come across as a bit selective when meeting new prospective clients. For a serious MBA applicant, this inspires confidence, and the firm feels like a highly dependable choice. For a client who may benefit from more hand holding, The MBA Exchange may not be the best fit. These are seasoned consultants that are in high demand and command a steep price compared to the competition. They can do amazing things when working with a client who takes the process as seriously as they do.

If you are targeting an M7 MBA program, of Top 15, or any business-adjacent degrees (like EMBA, JD/MBA, MPP, MFin, etc.), you’re more of a “brass tacks, just get me in” type, and you have the budget for it, there is no firm that does it better.


Pros:

1. Former Adcom

A program that includes experts with former admissions committee experience is usually beneficial for marketing purposes, but does not always translate to high quality service for the client. After all, these were gatekeepers and decision makers, not mentors. However, due to The MBA Exchange’s strong reputation dating back to 1996, they were in the unique position of being selective when it came to inviting interested former members of admissions committees to their roster.

The MBA Exchange, over time, has assembled the single deepest and strongest roster of experts with former admissions committee experience in the admissions consulting space. What makes this group of professionals unique is that they are also highly talented coaches.

2. Passionate Consultants

The consultants at The MBA Exchange do not do admissions consulting full-time, and they insist on keeping it that way. Each consultant has a separate full-time career and seeks out this MBA admissions coaching opportunity not because they need the paycheck, but because mentorship fulfills a profound itch to give back.

3. Dedicated Onboarders

Unlike other consulting firms which put their coaches in a sales position, The MBA Exchange takes a unique approach. Because the firm’s reputation is so strong and coaches are in such high demand, they use a different methodology to match you with the right mentor.

Your first introduction is with a member of their team who has an MBA from an elite school and also knows the company inside-and-out. They will not only advise you on which services will be the correct fit, but also which coach on the roster will be the best match.

You then have the opportunity to engage in a chemistry chat to ensure that the match is a mutual fit, and then the service begins. Why is this model intriguing? Because the consultant you will end up working with is not meeting you with a desire to make a sale. It is a unique and purer approach than any firm in the industry.

4. Background Training | Ongoing Education

The MBA Exchange likes to win. As such, they conduct regular internal “ongoing training” sessions where consultants and former adcom committee members share information. Few firms invest resources toward efforts like this, rather than simply investing in marketing.

When asked about this strategy, their CEO explained that because of the strength of their reputation and word of mouth recommendations, they are able to invest in this effort to maintain an edge on quality. The cumulative experience of 25+ years isn’t just a slogan, it manifests in ongoing education to all members of the team.

5. Career Coaching Angle

Career coaching was not always a focus of theirs. However,, as members of their consulting staff became more experienced and seasoned in the business world, their unique perspective of how the MBA connects to an individual’s career evolution became baked into the counseling itself.

Eventually, the firm developed several unique options for applicants pursuing different career paths. One example is the Career Consulting Academy, led by former MBB consultants Stephanie Horn and Matthew Strickler, who have developed several service options dedicated to folks pursuing a career in consulting at any stage of their career.

The MBA Exchange is not only focused on helping applicants get into their top school choices, but also on setting their clients on a career path that is smarter and more thoughtful than it would have been without their mentorship.

6. Unique Service Items

In addition to the standard features offered by all consulting firms (profile, essay, LORs, interview prep, etc.), The MBA Exchange offers several unique and often overlooked elements of the total application, including:

  • Video Essay Coaching
  • Team-based Discussion Prep
  • Background Verification Support
  • Social Media Audit

This is a firm that leaves no stone unturned without adding “frills” for marketing sheen. Their service offerings all have utility, demonstrating their commitment to building trust-based relationships with their clients.

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Cons:

1. Expensive

‘Their prices are not for every budget. Their Comprehensive Consultation with a Senior Consultant begins at $4,900 for one school, with increasing fees as you add more schools. Senior Consultants at The MBA Exchange resemble the typical MBA admissions consultant likely to be found at most competitor firms––coaches with elite MBAs on their resume.

However, unlike many of their competitors, The MBA Exchange offers tiered pricing for consultants with additional levels of experience, either in years of mentorship or former admissions experience. For the same service with a “Master Consultant” the price tag is $5,650. The same service with a “Principal Consultant” is $6,100. This is how they control high demand.

2. No Refunds

This long-standing policy is due to the high demand for their services and the significant time commitment required for each consultant-client relationship.

If you are at all uncertain about what your commitment will be, an option would be starting slow and adding as you go, tbut it could end up costing more in the long run. However, that may result in missing out on working with your preferred consultant.

The bottom line is that the “no refunds” policy is firm, unlike many other firms that offer more flexibility.

3. Serious, No-Nonsense Vibe

While they do have a handful of warm consultants, the majority would be more accurately described as “businesslike,” “determined,” or “sober.” For a certain client type, this may be desirable, but it may not be a good fit for everyone. They aren’t cold, but they may not go out of their way to be your best friend. This is a group very much in the business of getting you into your dream school.


Conclusion:

The MBA Exchange may not look like it from the exterior (they have not updated their web design in what seems like years), but underneath the hood, their service is as high-quality as any we have investigated. You will be hard-pressed to find a team more genuinely dedicated to helping you “win,” because winning is very much a part of the DNA of this firm.

If you have the budget and you are willing to defer to the decades-long experience of this team, this could be an excellent choice for those pursuing ultra-competitive programs in the U.S. or Europe, and/or careers in the business world.

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FAQs:

Does The MBA Exchange offer GMAT/GRE Prep?

The MBA Exchange does offer GMAT/GRE prep, including one-on-one test tutoring, diagnostics to assess strengths and opportunities, flexible scheduling, and anxiety-reduction techniques.

This firm is truly a one-stop shop for making clients more desirable as a whole on their business school applications.

What services do the consulting packages offer?

The comprehensive consultation includes a full review of the applicant’s resume, transcripts, social media profile, and other relevant information to come up with a tactical action plan. Coaching and guidance along with essay edits, interview prep, and waitlist support are standard.

The MBA Exchange also offers miscellaneous coaching, assistance with any issues or questions that arise, guidance on video essays (if required by the school), and ongoing coaching as applicants await their schools’ decisions.

The firm also offers specialized prep for Wharton and Michigan Ross applicants to help them perform at their best during the “team discussion” test.

Check out how The MBA Exchange consulting packages stack up against other admissions consulting firms.

Is there a limit on essay revisions?

The MBA Exchange provides multiple rounds of edits and revisions on essays and resumes, as needed. Starting with an outline for each school’s essay, the applicant will receive critiques and comments before the essay is ever written.

The client will provide a narrative draft and get an additional round of edits and stylistic improvement suggestions. This process is repeated for each additional school, resulting in personalized essays for each application.

What if I’m waitlisted for my preferred school?

Clients who are waitlisted will continue to receive proven strategies and tactics for advancing from the waitlist. In addition, The MBA Exchange will provide coaching through ongoing email and telephone contact until the school announces the decision.