What was your goal in founding Ivy Admissions Group?
When we went through the MBA admissions process, we found it full of unnecessary anxiety, odd speculation, and bad information on sketchy websites. The goal of Ivy Admissions Group is to take the stress out of the process by sharing good information born out of our own experience and working with admissions.
So it’s just the two of you?
Yes. We’re not trying to be a big industrial admissions consultancy. We only want to take on a few select clients and offer them exceptionally insightful and highly personal advice. We have very different backgrounds and are confident that between the two of us, each applicant gets a diverse set of perspectives.
What makes Ivy Admissions Group special?
A lot, actually.
- We focus on narrative and know how to build credible, authentic ones.
- We’re Harvard MBAs. We’ve walked the walk and can empathize with clients.
- We have the results. Our clients have been admitted to Stanford GSB, HBS, Wharton, Booth, and elsewhere
- We’re boutique, not an application factory. All clients work directly and only with us.
- We’re marketing managers. We are used to brilliantly marketing things to discriminating audiences.
- You get two diverse perspectives for the price of one.
- We’re not just copy editors. We intimately help with application brainstorming and crafting that perfect package.
Why are you so focused on narrative?
I (Nate) know from experience. When I applied, I had all the right elements. An above average GPA from a target school, a perfect GRE, impressive leadership experience in the military, and glowing recommendations. What I had was a brand, but not a narrative, and so I was placed on the waitlist at HBS, Stanford, and Wharton. Through update letters that established my narrative, I was able to get admitted to all three. So take my advice, and get your narrative right the first time around.
How did you start advising admissions applicants?
I (Nate) started by re-reading college applications of younger friends after they had been deferred admission from Dartmouth. I’d go over essays about community service and cringe because I knew that admissions officers would read them as “vacation stories”. I would work with them to improve their narratives for the general admissions cycle and got a lot of satisfaction watching them get get into fantastic universities.
Did you hire admissions consultants when you applied?
No. We wanted more than just a series of worksheets and spell-checkers. We wanted someone who had actually been admitted to HBS, who knew what the classes and clubs were like, and who had enough contact with admission deans to know how they think. We built Ivy Admissions Group to be the service that we wish we could have used.
When did you decide to make this a business?
When we found ourselves spending 20+ hours per week advising MBA applicants for free! We realized the advice we were giving them was superior to what our advisees were getting from paid consultants, that we were more responsive than paid consultants, and that we sometimes found ourselves more invested in our advisees' admissions prospects than they were. Switching over to a professional service allows us to go deeper with a smaller number of motivated applicants.
How do you set your prices?
We have day jobs (as marketing managers), so we're not in it to earn a living. We believe in offering the best value of any admissions service, while charging and fair and consistent prices that are just enough to make it worth our own substantial time investment in each applicant. Definitely do your diligence before choosing a service, but let us know if you can find a better deal.
How do you determine which clients to work with?
We only work with clients we think we can offer substantial value. If we don't believe we can move the needle that much in a particular case, we figure that out upfront, refund that client's money, and try to refer them elsewhere. We believe our value is clearest for applicants applying to top schools, where the admissions process is most difficult.