Choosing an MBA Admissions Consultant – MBA or AWE?

Most MBA admissions consultants have MBA backgrounds, but any MBA admissions consultant worth hiring will work with a good AWE because AWE training, skills and expertise are vital to MBA admissions success. Some MBA admissions applicants find greater value and better results working directly with an AWE.

What’s AWE?

Would you hire an MBA to tailor your suit? Probably not. You would probably hire someone with the skills, knowledge, education and expertise to do the job well.

You might buy a suit from a storeowner who has an MBA, but you would want to ensure that storeowner also has a good tailor on staff. The tailor will after all be far more important than the MBA when it comes to making you look good.

In admissions consulting, that tailor is the AWE (Admissions Writer & Editor). Tailors are experts in working with the fabric of clothing; AWEs are experts in working with the fabric of language. Any admissions consultant worth hiring will have a good AWE on staff.

If a consultant with an MBA tells you he does his own editing, walk away. If that consultant is not born to the English language, run! As an absolute minimum qualification, your AWE should be born to the English language. A qualified AWE will also have years of university study in writing for marketing and public relations. A good AWE will have years of experience admissions editing on thousands of cases. Business schools don’t teach any of this – that’s why you need an AWE.

Wouldn’t someone who got accepted to and studied in an elite MBA program be most qualified MBA admissions consultant?

An MBA has probably also purchased a suit, and he probably has some idea of the difference between a quality suit and a cheap suit, but that doesn’t mean you should hire an MBA to tailor your suit.

An MBA has gained admission once. A good AWE will have helped MBA applicants gain admission hundreds, if not thousands, of times. Moreover, what worked for the MBA will not work for you. Trying to follow in that person’s footsteps is like trying to wear his suit. It won’t fit you, and you will not look good in it.

Like the tailor, a good AWE will look first at you. A good AWE will learn who you are, your background, experiences, goals and aspirations. A good AWE will help you find your voice, choose your material, and tailor the language to fit your audience and your purpose. Business schools don’t teach any of this!

But wouldn’t someone with an MBA understand MBA culture better than anyone?

Yes, he would, indeed! – At his particular school and program at least. But that isn’t going to help you much getting accepted because your admissions officer – the person deciding whether to send you an interview invitation or a rejection notice – probably won’t have an MBA or come from that culture.

More importantly, your admissions committee is not looking for someone who can imitate MBA culture. They are looking for authenticity, fresh thinking, emotional intelligence and leadership. Leaders don’t imitate; leaders innovate!

The cultural gap you need to negotiate is not between MBA alumni and MBA applicants, or even less between the culture of one MBA program and another, but rather, the gap between Chinese language culture and English language culture.

Then why would anyone choose a consultant with an MBA?

Many applicants choose to work with a consultant who has an MBA because the MBA has already done what the applicant is about to do. Nobody is going to understand that experience better than someone who has lived and studied in it. That can be very useful information; even if it is not particularly useful in tailoring a winning admissions package. But if the consultant has a good AWE on staff, you are covered.

MBAs have been through the whole process you are about to embark upon, from GMAT to mapping out your goals, choosing schools, applying, interviewing, matriculating and experiencing that school and program. MBAs can be very effective in guiding you through this process.

Also, since AWEs are necessarily native-born English speakers, many people feel more comfortable hiring a consultant who speaks their own language.

So, should I choose an MBA who works with an AWE, or should I choose an AWE without the MBA?

 This depends upon where you are, what you want and how concerned you are with costs.

  • If you have no idea about your goals or what you want to do after MBA;
  • If you don’t know what schools to apply or how to choose them;
  • If you have no idea how to begin;
  • If you would feel more comfortable communicating with someone of your own language and culture;
  • And, if you are not concerned about cost;

Then you will probably do better with a Chinese-speaking MBA as your consultant.


  • If you have an idea of your goals;
  • If you are willing to use a computer and internet to learn about different schools and programs;
  • If you are willing to seek out alumni, current students and AdComs at coffee chats, on internet message boards, and elsewhere, to ask questions, get answers and conduct your own research;
  • If leaving your comfort zone to communicate directly with western consultants in English seems like a great way to prepare for writing, interviewing and studying in an English immersion environment;
  • And finally, if you are concerned about cost;

Then an AWE consultant will be your best investment.