Poets & Quants recently interviewed me about how I help my clients win MBA scholarships. (Over the last 18 months, North Star clients have received more than 3.5 million dollars, including many full tuition awards.) I thought that this was an interesting question – how do consultants help people get scholarships? Here are my strategies:

  • Understand your assets.

Clients are often surprised to learn that factors they considered to be neutral or even detrimental (non-traditional work experience, being the first in their family to attend college, being a woman, hailing from an underrepresented country or industry) are strengths. I help my clients understand how the admissions committee will see them, so that we can emphasize qualities that prompt schools to offer scholarships.

  • Choose your schools strategically.

Some schools, even top ones, have large endowments and are willing to incentive candidates to attend. They use their scholarship budgets to shape the class in various ways; GMAT & GPA, ethnic, gender and socioeconomic diversity, a range of industries and geography. I help clients understand which schools are most likely to offer them scholarships, based upon their individual characteristics.

  • Interact appropriately with your target programs.

In some cases, it helps to connect with the right people at your target schools, and to attend key events. I direct my clients to the best opportunities for them to get to know the decision makers, and give them advice about how to respectfully and effectively interact with the community.

  • Craft an amazing application.

As I have said before, in order to get a scholarship, especially full tuition, you need to submit a sparkling application. You need a well thought out narrative, great essays, a clear understanding of the school and compelling reasons why it’s a great fit. One of the main ways that I add value is by helping my clients create truly compelling applications, so that the schools don’t just admit them, but are also very motivated to yield them.

  • Nail the interview.

For most large scholarships, you also need to create a terrific impression in your interview. I make sure that my clients are thoroughly prepared for their interviews. Getting a seat in the class is competitive enough – If you want a scholarship, it’s crucial to maximize every part of your candidacy.

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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 20 million dollars in scholarships, and more than 97% have gotten into one of their top choice schools.