Hello North Star blog readers. I am in the midst of selecting candidates for the second Sirius group admissions consulting program, designed to help first generation college graduates get into business school. I wanted to share this blog about what it’s like to participate, from last year’s Sirius Fellow.

I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Karen through the first Sirius group consulting program for first-generation students. I remember how much the college application process seemed to be a ‘black box’, and the MBA admissions process is no exception (if not even more obscure!) Thankfully, Karen was able to shed light on how the process works behind closed doors.

One of my biggest hesitations in the application process was what to put as my short and long-term goals. I have a very specific, niche interest that I would like to become an investor in, yet I was afraid to mark “Private Equity/Venture Capital” as my post-MBA industry. I had this fear because virtually every online MBA admissions blog warns how fiercely competitive PE/VC is, and that admissions members would doubt my ability to secure such a role (this is why Karen recommends staying OFF the online blogs!) She assured me that my passions and experiences lend credibility to my goals, and reiterated the value of honesty and self-awareness through the application process-this approach pays off during the interview portion of the process.

Karen was incredibly helpful with helping me develop my application strategy and timeline. After securing a competitive GMAT score in June, I knew I was in a position where I could apply in the earlier rounds, yet I also saw value in the additional few months to craft the ‘perfect essay’. Karen assured me that I was ready for Round 1, and that while essays play a very important role in MBA admissions, the process isn’t an essay contest, and the essay alone should not delay my applications. From her experience in Tuck admissions, Karen knew the value of applying early, especially at some of the most competitive programs. In hindsight, applying Round 1 was absolutely the right decision, and I am now able to leverage my admissions offers in outside scholarship applications.

As the 2015 Sirius Fellow, I had the opportunity to participate in North Star’s Sirius Group Consulting Program at no cost. This allowed me to fully prepare two applications with Karen’s invaluable support. While this alone was extremely valuable, the opportunity didn’t end there. I was able to meet several other prospective students who are also first-generation. It was reassuring to have this community during the application season, and we supported each other and helped each other with essay reviews and interview preparation. Karen also introduced us to a number of her professional contacts, including current MBA students at top schools, and alumni who are now working in industries in which we are interested in working. This connectivity really strengthened my overall experience, and I look forward to staying connected with my cohort as we venture off to some of the world’s top business schools. I also look forward to meeting future Sirius cohorts and giving back, the same way Karen’s former students helped me.

One of my favorite parts of working with Karen was her friendly and positive nature. Whenever I felt like I was bothering her with a ‘silly question’, Karen would reassure me and thoroughly answer my question. Furthermore, Karen was exceptionally prompt in responding to all of my questions. I never would have thought that Karen’s most valuable help would come after I had been admitted to schools. Karen had a number of calls with me to discuss how to navigate the financial aid process and weigh a full scholarship against a partial at a stronger fitting program. Karen also coached me through how to have conversations with my partner, family, and friends, and help them understand why it may make sense to accept a lower aid package in exchange for a stronger alumni base. It was at this point in the process when I realized that Karen was no longer my consultant, but my mentor and friend.

I am currently deciding between admissions offers from Harvard, MIT, and Yale-two with partial fellowships and one with full, and I wouldn’t have had this ‘tough problem’ had I not had Karen’s unwavering support.

 

 

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Karen Marks

Karen has more than 12 years of experience evaluating candidates for admission to Dartmouth College and to the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Since founding North Star Admissions Consulting in 2012, she has helped applicants gain admission to the nation’s top schools, including Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Wharton, MIT, Tuck, Columbia, Kellogg, Booth, Haas, Duke, Johnson, Ross, NYU, UNC, UCLA, Georgetown and more. Clients have been awarded more than $36 million dollars in scholarships, and more than 97% have gotten into one of their top choice schools.