Has anyone used a consultant in grad school admission (for masters and preferably in STEM subjects) and did it make a difference?
No to consultant. For grad school, fit is most important along with cost of course. It helps to visit, and/or meet with someone from the department.
Grad school admissions are based on the strength of your application and the program’s desire to have you as a member of their cohort.
I can’t imagine what a “consultant” could do to help with this.
What were you hoping a consultant could do for this student?
Agree, contact with the department is important, as well as suggestions from mentors in the undergrad program. Undergrad mentors are a great source for grad programs to apply to.
D did not use one for STEM PhD program. Not sure one would have helped as basis seemed to be research publications, LoR’s from supervisors and undergrad profs, undergrad transcript and GRE’s. Maybe a consultant could have helped with her personal statement.
D’s BF did use a consultant for BSchool. I think he believed it helped. Maybe the personal statement carries greater weight (really don’t know) and there was a great deal of interview prep with the consultant.
To take this one step further, fit in this context has a different meaning than it does in undergrad. It’s about finding a lab doing what interests you and having a strong relationship with your advisor.
This is all assuming a thesis based MS. If you are going to do a course only based MS, like Stanford’s ME MS for example, just apply. I don’t recommend this route though.