It’s no secret: the MBA marketplace is crowded and competitive, and getting into a top business school is tough. The details of the application process are complex and can be confusing, and conflicting advice and bad information abounds online.
MBA candidates are, more often than not, leading busy lives with demanding jobs and many other competing activities and responsibilities — and limited time to sort through all this information and determine what is helpful. Experienced admissions coaches can help.
“We work with clients to cut through that, so they are able to use their time efficiently, not wading through and filtering all this information. We’ve done that for them,” Fortuna co-founder and director Caroline Diarte Edwards told John Byrne of Poets & Quants in a recent video interview that explored the question of why you should hire an MBA coach.
What Can A Coach Do for You?
Efficiency is one reason for hiring an admissions coach, according to Fortuna’s founding team. Here’s another: you’re giving yourself the gift of self-confidence. Working with an experienced coach gives you the assurance that you’ve put your very best foot forward and your application is as good as it can possibly be.
“When you’re targeting your application to the top schools, they are extremely selective and drawing students from a lot of well-represented pools — consulting, finance, the tech industry,” said Matt Symonds, Fortuna co-founder and director. Competing with this can be intimidating. No matter how qualified you are or how much you’ve worked for that spot in the class, it can be easy to fall prey to doubt about whether you really belong.
Symonds notes that many grateful clients contact their Fortuna coaches after admissions to say, “You really believed in me; I’m so glad I followed your advice.” He adds, “I think that sense of self-empowerment and the feeling of realizing your full potential is a wonderful gift. To be able to give applicants that sense of self-belief is just unbelievably precious.”
Diarte Edwards recalls that in her days as Director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid at INSEAD, “I would end up rejecting applicants not because they were not good candidates, but because they hadn’t fully understood what was expected of them in the admissions process and hadn’t presented themselves well. We at Fortuna take that risk out of the process.”
Of course, there are no guarantees, she notes, but “when our clients submit their application, when they are going into interviews, they know they have given it their best shot. They have given themselves the best possible chance at the best outcome.”
Judith Silverman Hodara, the third Fortuna founding director, told Byrne that Fortuna coaches advise aspiring MBAs from a vast array of backgrounds. “We help people from the really deep pools of tech, finance, and consulting” hone and tell their unique story to stand out from the crowd, and also guide the non-traditional candidates: “the teacher and principal who wants to transform education; the opera singer who sees herself in the fashion industry helping to dress people of her body type.”
Why Choose Fortuna?
A Fortuna coach offers unmatched expertise. Our Dream Team of expert coaches includes 40 former admissions insiders with 175 years of combined experience at the top American and European business schools. Collectively, we have reviewed some 220,000 MBA applications and admitted more than 60,000 students.
More than a decade ago, the founding partners noticed that more applicants were working with coaches — but they often sought advice from alumni of the schools they wanted to attend. “Admissions is an entirely different world from experiencing the school as a student,” Diarte Edwards said, and candidates who worked with alumni were not always being well-advised. That was the idea behind Fortuna’s founding: “bringing together a team of people who really understood how the admissions process works and what goes on behind the closed door of the admissions committee.”
“Over the years, the success we’ve had shows that resonates with the market. I think candidates really understand the value of working with a coach who has that insider experience,” she added.
Symonds, a business education industry expert, offered the “Three S’s” for why applicants should choose Fortuna:
- Success, not just in helping clients achieve their MBA hopes and dreams, but also a personal success in the sense of purpose and fulfillment clients gain by taking a deep dive into their motivations, their unique experiences, accomplishments, life choices, and values.
- Scholarships, as Fortuna coaches focus on the wider issue of accessibility and provide information and honest evaluations that help students secure financial aid.
- Sharing, both in the word-of-mouth referrals from clients who willingly share the secrets to their admissions success with colleagues, friends, and family, and the sharing of knowledge and expertise among the Fortuna team.
The Fortuna Style
From the start, Fortuna’s approach to coaching has been distinctively personal, said Silverman Hodara, formerly Acting Director and Senior Associate Director of MBA Admissions at Wharton. “We really wanted to develop relationships that were deep and connected. This is not a transaction, it’s a relationship. And it all starts with that first half-hour conversation [in our free consultations] when we ask, ‘What’s on your mind? What’s keeping you up at night?’
“We really make it about the candidate, their background, what they are hoping to achieve, and then putting them in touch with colleagues to get a sense of chemistry, because with the level of trust and connection it takes to do the self-reflection and produce a winning application, the chemistry matters. We want people who come to us to feel like they are getting our attention, our focus, our support, on a lot of different levels.”
As Byrne pointed out, applying to a top MBA program is like taking a journey that can be filled with anxiety. “When you’re on that long journey, it’s awfully nice to have someone beside you who is supportive, encouraging, thoughtful, and knowledgeable who guides you along the way,” he said.
Fortuna’s founders agree. “For us, it’s an opportunity to make you feel that someone is walking that path with you, and that it’s someone who cares,” said Silverman Hodara. “We’re holding your hand during the process and that takes a lot of the stress out of it,” Diarte Edwards added. And having a supportive coach in your corner “makes the journey more fun,” said Symonds.