Who are you?

Avi Gordon

The MBA Admissions Studio is me, Avi Gordon, MBA admissions coach, and author of MBA Admissions Strategy: From Profile Building to Essay Writing (McGraw-Hill). In addition to 18 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 was admitted as a full member of the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC), the oversight and credentialing body in the admissions field, in 2007, and continue to practice according to the standards and ethics set by the association.

I have an ongoing profile in the admissions community and aside from my book, now in 3rd edition, I have been published widely in the industry over many years, for example, articles in The Times and on MBAPodcaster and The World MBA Tour. I was also Business Week’s invited MBA Admissions expert, founder of the MBA Admissions Forum on Business Week’s Business Exchange (BX).

This really is a different kind of MBA admissions advice service.
I’m not a big shop, I don’t market my ass off, all glam and fizz. I don’t offer “packages.” I don’t have business revenue targets, I don’t up-sell you. What you have here is a service that is straight and true: I work with personally, just you and I, to get you in where you want to go. It’s flexible, as much as you need, where and when you want it. No lock- in. Oh, and I personally review and edit essays. There are no adjunct or allied consultants involved with your application.

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 but I don’t maintain client interactions through that (or any) public channel. This is a confidential service.

How is the MBA Admissions Studio different from other admissions consultants?
At the quality end of the market, there are various firms which provide high value in helping candidates make their best application to competitive-admissions business schools. Quality is quality, and I have friends and colleagues in the industry who are excellent.

With reference to the industry as a whole, a few key attributes 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 money; 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. The MBA Studio offers a uniquely flexible full-text markup editing and content advisory service, based on a per-100 word model. You can even exclude paragraphs from review, therefore exclude them from the bill. You only pay for what you use, and you control the process. I challenge you to find a  more flexible, cost-effective service out there, among reputable providers!

4. 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.

5. 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. So it doesn’t need to over-promise school admission chances to drive new business—to pay its consultant base or marketing overhead or fuel other industry ambitions. Avi can either help you or not, and if not he’ll say so.

6. MBA Studio avoids the (selling) game of asserting knowledge of what different schools each “look for.” Why? I do 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 I have 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: I am totally focused on getting clients admitted to elite b-schools, not on creating the ultimate MBA admissions resource on the Web. There are many deep MBA info-resource specialists out there. Enjoy!

So how would you define your approach?
1. You get out what you put in. The only way to get into a good 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 mine. 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 big consulting shop or an essay supermarket. Everything here is built on a 1-to-1 relationship with the applicant. Everything is highly customized to the applicant and his or her particular needs. I’m not here to ‘process’ your application to a norm (anyway, Adcoms hate that); I’m 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 is about 95%. But I don’t champion this fact. Why? Because there is no auditing body that verifies such claims, so anyone can claim whatever they like. Also, more importantly, advisors looking to achieve a 100% success record will steer applicants to lower-career-value schools. I believe a candidate should apply to “reach” as well as “realistic” schools, in a portfolio-based approach.

Do 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 in, 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. Any material or feedback published on this site is carefully anonymized.

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 your 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.

Okay, assuming I sign up for the essay review, development, editing. Or similar for reco’s or resume. What then?
You submit your text 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, structure and flow comments as well as essay-building advice if 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, it 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.

A similar process applies to resume or recommendations, but recommendations are only reviewed for content, not grammar or writing style.

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.

Can I test the service?
You can get just one short essay reviewed once, and see how that goes, with no obligation to continue. The MBA Studio offers totally flexible options: for editing you pay only per-100 words you send, pro-rata, and you can exclude paragraphs from the count. There is no more flexible service out there, among reputable providers. For prices and signup see the services tab.

The principle is: you always know exactly what you are paying for and you have full control over it. 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.

How long does it take?
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.

Insights and tools to gain admission to the world's elite MBA programs