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Alternatives to Consulting


Of course, many applicants are accepted to a top MBA every year without the benefit of admissions consulting services. In our experience however, this fortunate group tend to:
  • Be highly qualified, with few or no major profile "weaknesses" to overcome
  • Have started early, particularly with their research of both suitable schools and the ins-and-outs of the application process itself (thus avoiding the cardinal error of underestimating the task)
  • Have taken a highly disciplined "project management" approach from the beginning of the application process
  • Have spent a great deal of time overall on their applications, particularly their essays
  • Have relied heavily on books and MBA friends for advice at several stages of the application process
While we encourage every applicant to use every resource available, there are some important reasons why reliance on MBA friends and books alone may not offer the kind of comprehensive insurance policy many applicants seek.

Relying on friends


There are several advantages of having MBA friends or relatives help you through the application process:
  • Because they know you, they can be an invaluable sounding board every step of the way, from school selection through how you present yourself in your essays
  • If they have an MBA themselves, or are senior enough in business to have hiring authority (particularly of MBAs), they can offer strong insight into the characteristics of successful applicants


However, relying on friends has some key disadvantages:
  • Limited experience. Their application experience is typically limited to themselves. Especially if your profile/background is different to theirs, they may not know how to best position your experience and personal qualities, and may not recognise profile-specific pitfalls. In contrast, we have been first-hand witnesses of what works consistently for the full range of applicant profiles.
  • Inadequate or inappropriate guidance. Even if they correctly identify areas of weakness in your application, it is unlikely they will know for certain how to prioritise them, or have the most effective suggestions to mitigate them. There are few things more frustrating than being told "Don’t do what you did, but I don’t know what you should do." In contrast, doing this skillfully is our bread-and-butter.
  • Unwillingness to be candid. Because they know you (!), they may not be completely candid about raising issues about your candidacy in general or your essays in particular. In contrast, as we don't know you and are compensated specifically for our advice, we are duty-bound to call out issues the moment we see them.
  • Too busy. Unfortunately, the very friends who could help the most are often the least likely to have the time to do so comprehensively. More than likely you will have to be satisfied with a snippet of assistance here or there, or jump from one friend to the next. In contrast, we are dedicated to working with you from start to finish, enabling an ideal, holistic approach to shaping your presentation.

Relying on books

We highly recommend you consider getting a leg up on other candidates by understanding the application process better. Books can be a great way to do that. Below we look at the advantages and disadvantages of relying on books alone:


  • Great self-help way to de-mystify admissions process.
  • There are some good books (see our recommendations here).
  • They cost little.
  • You can absorb the information anywhere, anytime, at your own pace.


  • There are many poor quality ones (again, see our recommendations here to avoid this problem).
  • They take considerable time to read, and no single book contains all the best ideas. In contrast, we have not only read all the best books, but have absorbed -- and in many cases gone beyond -- their best ideas. 
  • Given the commercial necessity of their focus on the widest possible applicant audience, books are necessarily limited to higher-level guidance applicable to a broad set of profiles. However, putting that high-level guidance into practise for your particular objectives, profile, and personality is another task entirely. You could think of the best books together as representing the best application "theory", whereas our service works out the theory's best application to you.
Client Testimonials

"I just wanted to drop a short success note. 

I am in at INSEAD!!!! I feel incredibly happy and still can't believe that I am going next January. Anyway, thanks a lot for your help, which was more than great especially given the tight schedule. 

I really enjoyed collaborating with you." 

– Wilhelm (accepted INSEAD)

"Thank you very much ... your help was invaluable and massively massively appreciated.

Overall the rewrites gave a more open structure with better word economy and improved the essays immeasurably.

I am still getting my head round the enormity of the fees that I am going to have to pay, but if it is as transforming a career experience as I have been told, it will be worth it and I am looking forward to immersing myself in the course."

– Simon (accepted London Business School EMBA)

"I had a great experience with Aspire's service. You were proactive, efficient and very professional. 

My essays have been significantly improved and at the same time kept the original sense and content. You managed this very well. I will definitely recommend your services to friends.

– Martin (accepted University of Chicago IMBA)

"You are the first one to know :) "

"Made it double!"

– Kasia (accepted London Business School and INSEAD)

"Credit to you guys, and do keep the business model working this way.

 I will recommend you to anyone I come across who needs either an essay or GMAT boost." 

– Nimesh (accepted London Business School)

"Guys just wanted to pass along the good news that I have been accepted
to my top choice. Again I really appreciate your help during this process.

Cliff it would be my pleasure to buy you a pint!"  

– Charles (accepted Instituto de Empresa)

"I wanted to thank you again for your help on how to pitch my story.

I did very well at my interview at City [Cass - UK] and they offered me a place. [Tufts - USA] Fletcher also offered me a place, and a full scholarship for their two year Masters in International Business programme. 

I'm taking up their offer."

– Imad (accepted Tufts Fletcher MIB on full scholarship, and Cass Business School)

"Good news: 
I have been admitted to the MBA program starting this fall! I want to thank you for your help! The three essays definitely contributed big. 

I am very happy. Thank you!" 

– Lin (accepted University of Maryland Robert Smith Business School)

"Update on the Lancaster admissions interview this afternoon:

By the time I got home, the offer of admission was sitting in my Inbox.

I believe I did well on the interview. It was a relaxed discussion about Why MBA, Why Lancaster, Leadership style, Alternatives (the content we developed for IMD helped a great deal here - special thanks to Rob) and a few other general questions."

– Deepak (accepted Lancaster Business School)

"I am very happy to inform you that I have been accepted to London Business School, and in a great measure thanks to you. 

Your service was great, very professional and very helpful. You were able to give my essays the direction and purpose they were lacking. Thank you for all your help and I hope you continue to do your excellent work." 

– Carlos (accepted London Business School)

"When I first sent my essays to you, I thought there were in pretty good shape. 

The difference between now and then is amazing. 

I am so glad I used your service – I am much more confident of my chances now!" 

– Amit 

"Thank you very much for your working on my essays. It was not only a pleasure to work with you but also an experience in the process of which I improved my general English skills. Without exception, you provided a superb service. Particularly important for me were:
  • Always prompt answers from you 
  • Very good ideas to change certain text passages but to still express my original thoughts 
  • Professional service (e-mail, Word with the "track change" function, payment) 
  • I liked your style, the way you suggested changes, gave comments, made remarks (not like a teacher, more like a personal adviser) 
  • You managed to imagine what I wanted to say 
  • Professional advice but still somehow personal atmosphere.
If someone, sometime later, would require an essay writing/correcting service, my recommendation to him/her would be: Go to Aspire." 

– Falk 

"Thanks very much. You made my job easier with great ideas and clear direction. I just submitted Wharton, Kellogg and Michigan. I have two more to go!!! Thanks again… I will let you know as soon as I hear from the schools." 

– Karthik 

"Thank you so much for all your help. The quality of comments plus the turnaround time of the service were excellent. 

I would be pleased to refer anyone needing help with their essays." 

– Siddarth