Who are you?

avi gordon 125x150 About

Avi Gordon

The MBA Admissions Studio is directed by me, Avi Gordon, a specialist MBA admissions coach, and author of MBA Admissions Strategy: From Profile Building to Essay Writing (McGraw-Hill). In addition to 12 years as a specialist MBA admissions advisor, I have a professional communications-marketing background, MBA Adcoms experience, World MBA Tour experience, and am  a graduate of a top-10 MBA program.

I have been admitted as a full member of the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC)—the oversight and credentialing body in the admissions field—and practice strictly according to the standards and ethics set by the association.

I have an ongoing profile in the admissions community and, other than the book, have been published widely in the industry over the years, for example, articles in The Times and on MBAPodcaster and The World MBA Tour. I’m also Business Week’s invited MBA Admissions expert, founder of the MBA Admissions Forum on Business Week’s Business Exchange (BX).

Since 2002, I’ve worked with hundreds of successful applicants. What’s important to know, what’s different about MBA Studio, is it is not in any way a “volume” business. I work with individual clients personally (there are no other consultants in MBA Studio) in evaluating and advising on their application strategy and profile building for MBA admissions, and also personally review and edit essays. There are no adjunct or junior consultants involved with your application, nor delays due to backchanneling your questions up the chain of command.

It’s all about 1-to-1 personalized access to quality advice, as and when you need it during your application cycle.

In serving clients, I’m most easily reachable on Skype: [mbastudio] or email: avi.gordon(at)mbastudio.net , and you are welcome to be in contact at any time. MBA Studio’s twitter feed is @mbastudio .

How is the MBA Admissions Studio different from other admissions consultants?
At the quality end of the market, there are various firms, including MBA Studio, which provide high value in helping candidates make the best possible application to competitive-admissions business schools.

With reference to the industry as a whole, there are a few key attributes that distinguish MBA Studio:

1. There are no dummy solicitations here; no ‘insight’ guides that give you a taster of what you need to know and then ask for cash; no ‘free’ downloads that lead to cash outlays if you want full value. Every resource on this site is free and does not require your email address or any other information from you.

2. Service prices are transparent and directly available here on the site, so  you do not need to sign up or provide your email address or other personal information to know what they are. Transparency also assures you that, while services options are adapted to clients’ needs, and discounted in bulk, there are no special private deals.

3. You get the expert. Many MBA admissions consulting firms have dozens of consultants and adjuncts, and while you pay for the top insight and editing, you may get a part-timer. At MBA Studio you get Avi, from start to finish.

4. There is no hype. MBA Studio is a boutique business that refreshes its client base year after year (much of it by word of mouth) and has no ambitions to grow volumes. So it doesn’t need to over-promise school admission chances to drive new business — to feed its consultant base or marketing overhead or industry ambitions. Avi can either help you or not, and if not he’ll say so.

5. MBA Studio avoids the (selling) game of asserting knowledge of what different schools each ‘look for.’ Why? Actually Avi does have insider experience with a number of the top schools, garnered over many years, and keeps closely up-to-date with what top-tier Adcoms put out and what they say behind the scenes. But he has learned many times over that the best admissions strategy is to focus on the candidate not the school. Of course each candidate must be able to specify attributes, courses, professors, and extra-curricular features of the particular school that enhance his/her purpose (“the fit”) but they should not let any school’s alleged ideal-applicant profile determine their pitch. This is because all schools seek a rich mix of different candidates of all types and backgrounds to achieve class balance and so improve peer-learning.

There is a more-ideal vs. less-ideal applicant in general, but there is no such thing as an ideal applicant for any one school. That’s just marketing hot air. (Also, currents move quickly in at business schools, so claims to past admissions committee experience of “who they are looking for” at any institution is of zero consequence.)

What you don’t get at MBA Studio is a big-brochure website with loads of school background and experiential admissions info. That’s just the reality of time limitation: Avi is totally focused on getting clients into elite b-schools, not on creating the ultimate admissions resource on the Web. There are many deep MBA info-resource specialists out there, and among these MBA Studio most recommends Business Week and Poets & Quants.

So how would you define your approach?
1. You get out what you put in. The only way to get into business school is via a complete, balanced, thorough application that captures your current admissions value as a person and as a professional, and validly implies much future success. It takes work, yours and ours. This is what is meant in the “production studio” approach, and this is why it’s called MBA Studio. Together we find the value elements in your profile, and organize, produce, and polish them to make a great finished product. Avi takes your application from where it is to where it needs to be, to be competitive.

2. It’s personal. It follows that the MBA Admissions Studio is not a a big consulting shop or an essay supermarket. Everything here is built on a 1-to-1 relationship between the applicant and Avi. Everything is highly customized to the applicant and his or her particular needs. Avi is not here to ‘process’ your application to a norm (anyway, Adcoms hate that); he is here to help you find the mix of valuable elements in your profile, weight and package them correctly, and communicate this successfully across your application platforms.

What is MBA Studio’s success record?
MBA Studio’s success percentage, over eight years, is about 95%. But we don’t champion this fact. Why? Because there is no auditing body that verifies this, so anyone can claim whatever they like as a success record. Also, more importantly, advisors looking to achieve a 100% success record will steer applicants to lower-career-value schools. We believe a candidate should apply to “reach” as well as “realistic” schools, in a portfolio-based approach.

aigac AboutDo you write essays?
No. The MBA Studio wholly endorses the ethics of MBA admissions, the standards of business schools, and the codes of practice as outlined by the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants of which we are a member. In short, a candidate’s essays must be their own work. We do not ghost-write or otherwise condone clients submitting work that is not their own.

Having said that, every athlete has a coach, every film star has an agent, and every significant business leader uses many expert consultants. So MBA Studio will absolutely coach you, advise you, troubleshoot for you, and guide you every step of the way, so you make the most compelling and persuasive case come “race day.”

Think of it this way: almost everyone gets “coached” in the GMAT, whether through guidebooks or prep classes or online — so the candidate’s final GMAT score does not represent their raw ability. Admissions consulting, interview prep, and essay review go by the same rules. It’s all about what you can achieve with expert advice, just like in the real business world. Everything we do is by way of expert suggestion. You are the boss and you retain full ownership and control of your application.

How do Adcoms view admission consulting, interview prep, and essay editing? Is it “legal”?
There’s no problem as long as you don’t get anyone to do your application for you. In fact, Adcoms prefer applicants who understand their strengths, weaknesses, and educational needs, and are able to express themselves clearly. What gives them a headache is the obviously talented and successful individual who submits a weak application. Although there has in the past been a tetchy relationship between Adcoms and MBA admissions advisors (inexplicably different to GMAT coaching and advisory services), the positive role of MBA admissions advisors is now very widely accepted and endorsed. For more, see this article.

Is it confidential?
All interactions are 100% confidential. MBA Studio maintains strict confidentiality of any material you send us, any discussions we have, and the fact of our relationship itself. You may publicize it at your discretion. Client contact data (email/phone) is closely guarded and never sold.

I can get editing on the Web for 99¢ per 1,000 pages from sweetalkediting.com. Why should I come to you?
There are many cheap editing services around. Some are clear charlatans, but others are okay. What they don’t have, and what you almost certainly need if you are on this site, is an editor/advisor who understands what works in MBA admissions. Getting text correct is not so hard. What’s hard is understanding your value profile and communicating it to MBA admissions officers through the set questions, and getting the essays to dovetail with your file, recommendations, resume, and interview. A text-editor cannot take you there.

Also, MBA Studio focuses only on the MBA. If you want to go to law school or med school, etc., we send you to consultants better than ourselves. But for top-tier MBA admissions, this is the place. For more, see “16 Reasons to Choose MBA Studio as your Application Partner“.

You make a big deal of profiling and profile building. What is it and why do I need it?
The Greek Oracle at Delphi said: “know thyself” and that’s the single key to MBA admissions. If you know who you are and where you’re going, and why it requires an MBA, you’re already halfway to getting in. MBA Studio’s profiling tool is a quick and effective way to achieve the necessary admissions self-insight. It assesses, organizes and develops what you know about your strengths,  achievements, preferences, goals, motivations, etc., and aligns these with what carries value in MBA admissions — all of which becomes the basis of your essay and interview content. If you don’t do adequate profiling, you’ll end up sounding like a generic candidate. Ding.

Do you sell sample essays? If not, why not?
The MBA Admissions Studio does not traffic in sample essays. Samples can be good, if used in the right way (as a learning tool.) There are many samples of excellent and shoddy essays available, but we do not suggest you use these essays as any sort of model. Firstly there’s the possibility that Adcom will directly recognize elements of the essay, and therein your plagiarism. But even if they don’t, the verbal expression pattern will be different to your own, and the essay will likely not fit in with the rest of your application, which will raise a red flag.

Second, unless you are an immensely centered individual, you will be influenced and sucked in to mimicking the model essay that worked for someone else – which by definition won’t work for you. Our advice is: have a look at some examples, understand the principles of success, then put others’ work away and concentrate on telling your own story letting your own “voice” come through.

You offer more tailored services than any other MBA admissions consulting firm. That’s nice, but how do I know if I should use Essay Makeover client or Per-School options, or what services to use?
All options (at the same price point) are designed to provide the same value. Some people are more comfortable with a per-essay system they can control; some are more comfortable knowing “what they’re in for” in total.

Having said that, the Essay Makeover options (without profiling) help clients move through the essay-writing process more quickly and inexpensively. This is suitable when the candidate has done their own profiling and positioning, that is, knows their value points and has a clear idea of the strategic base of their application.

School package Option A is an Essay Makeover option, but priced per school not per essay.

Packages B, C, and D, are more “deep dive,” for those who are ready to build (or rebuild) their admissions strategy, profile, essays, interviews, recos, file data etc., into one coherent, competitive picture from the ground up. It takes longer and costs more, but returns commensurately higher benefits to you.

Okay, assuming I sign up for the Essay Makeover (review, development, editing.) What then?
You submit your essays or essay set. These will be reviewed initially for content and structure. There is no full interview but we do ask you to send as much background about yourself – resume, etc., so we can do a better job.

In reviewing an essay we first ask questions such as: Do you answer the question? Does the essay communicate a value point or points, or have you shared a distinctive memorable attribute? Does it have an argument (for your admissions value) which follows a logical structure? Do the introduction and conclusion add enough to justify the word use? Does the story you chose work in its context? Have you been specific enough and given examples?

If you submit various essays for one school, we check that they complement but don’t overlap each other.

Your essays will be returned with content, profile, and structure/flow comments and advice, as necessary. This is Round 1. You’ll then rework them. Depending on how the essay looks, Round 2 editing may do more of this, but where the content is more-or-less right, progresses to look more closely at the text, focusing on language, expression, and style. Have you briefly and clearly said what you need to say, using clear expression and good writing technique? Are all errors of style and grammar cleaned up? etc.

Sometimes, if an essay is really good and clean, it takes only one review. Normally it takes 2-3 reviews to get it right.

Assuming I sign up for profile building, or a per-school package that includes it. What happens then?
The full service admissions consulting is designed to get all parts of your file, interview, reco’s, essays, as good as they can be, and working in harmony. You get MBA Studio’s profiling worksheets and we’ll set up a time to talk on the phone or Skype — where Avi gets to know you and asks you questions about your personality, background, key transition points, goals, motivations, community service, successes, failures, etc. Thinking like Adcom, it’s more about the human interest and stories and choices in your life than the bald facts and events.

During this process we also sift through the profiling docs together , all towards deciding which parts of you to promote to create a valuable, compelling candidate. Finally, together we come to a clear determination of your key value themes, points of interest, and distinctive elements, that is we organize your value points and discuss how to evidence them. This is the profiling interview. Depending on time and need, the profiling interview will also cover goals development — clarifying and enhancing your future aspirations.

Then it is onto essay approaches: Avi will ask you to “map” your profile onto the essays of the first school you are tackling, and help you do this. You are not left to write until we have defined what goes in each essay, and set up a clear approach to each one. After that, the process resembles the Essay Makeover. Avi takes your essay through various edits and rewrites until it is complete. This is all done via email, with occasional phone calls, where necessary. The more extensive package options – C and D – have more services built in.

So it is all done by phone/chat and email?
Absolutely. The MBA Admissions Studio has locations in the US and the UK. But whether we’re working for someone in Trenton NJ, or Osaka, Japan, we actually work the same way – via phone, email, and/or internet chat. There’s no difference, except that, if calling from abroad is expensive, we’ll keep that to a minimum or we’ll call you.

So what does this all cost?
The MBA Studio offers various flexible options: essay makeover, per school package options, and a completely a-la-carte menu. See the services tab. The principle is: you always know exactly what you are paying for and you have full control over it.

We don’t expect you to plunk down a lot of money without experiencing the benefits of the process. Therefore we encourage you to take advantage of our free essay edit, or just some preliminary services, so you can get an idea of the value-add. Only disreputable providers try to sucker you into a big upfront payment based on sweet words. We don’t hard-sell you and we don’t expect you to pay for more than one service at a time. (Obviously, discounts apply when you ready to make a bigger commitment to the process.)

What if I want to try out, and purchase more services later?
The whole philosophy of The MBA Admissions Studio is that you have the power to choose. You can do whatever you want, and play it as your time and budget demands.

How long does it take?
A full profiling and per-school package typically takes two to six weeks to work through. It really depends on how fast you work. Work for review by MBA Studio will be returned in 48 hours, excluding weekends, but may be turned quicker. A guaranteed 24-hr turn service is also available on request.


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