How many schools should I sign up for?
There is no "right" answer in terms of how many school comprehensive packages you should sign up for in support of your applications. The answer for each prospective client depends on the following factors:
Essays: While some schools have similar essays questions, many schools have extremely different questions which must be written from scratch and require a completely new approach. Also, remember that even for similar essays questions, simply taking an essay from one school and changing the name of the school may be obvious to the admissions committee since the writing will seem not quite right. Essay questions are never identical, and very subtle question differences can actually have a significant impact on the content.Schools get thousands of applications each month during the application season - rest assured they have seen it all and can identify when essays were not purposefully written. How comfortable you are tackling new essays questions and creating school-specific essays (for example, Why School XYZ?), versus having professional input and review of all your essays, should be taken into consideration.
Schools: This may be an obvious statement, but top schools are not all the same. While your overall application strategy will not change (you won't be a different person to different schools), you may choose to focus on different experiences and different strengths to show an individual school you will be the best fit for their particular program. Furthermore, the application process is slightly different at different schools - some schools really encourage engagement with them during the application process, and in some schools certain student organizations are more helpful than others. Another factor is therefore your comfort level with your expertise in the nuances of each particular school.
Interview: Schools tend to have very different interview styles. Some use 2nd year students to conduct blind interviews (e.g. they have no read your essays ahead of time), and some use deeper behavioral type interviews which can be relatively intense. Preparation for these interviews are different, and the more targeted practice you have the better.
Risk level: Many applicants take great comfort knowing that a professional set of eyes will support, provide input, and review their entire application set from start to finish - so as to maximize chances of acceptance to their top choices. Some applicants already have a strong network of support, such as family members with top MBAs or friends already going through top programs who will be helping them with individual schools.
Economics: Ultimately, all of the above is aggregated into an economic risk/reward calculation - whether formally conducted or just through gut check intuition - it's something that you will consider. We understand the application packages are a large investment (though still significantly lower than most traditional admissions consultants), and therefore economics must come into consideration.
In Summary: We find that most clients choose 3-4 school packages, especially given the significantly reduced price per school as schools are added. Some clients however choose only 1 school and try to leverage that information set to apply to other schools on their own, while many clients will choose 5 schools and opt-in for the certainty of complete coverage. We are happy to support you no matter what you choose, and will ensure that whatever schools we support you with, you will receive our absolute commitment to your success.