Q: If the bar on case interviews is the same no matter what, how does a top MBA help?
I think you are assuming that an MBA is only useful to land a consulting offer. Although it can definitely help with that (in particular for the screening part), it is not the only benefit and most likely there are other ways to get the same result without an MBA.
Generally speaking an MBA is useful for three things:
- Building a network – you will be able to easily get in touch with alumni who attended the same MBA in the past.
- Allow to switch career – after an MBA you will be qualified for industries not available before.
- Business knowledge – the actual knowledge you get.
In some cases an MBA also gives credibility for a corporate career.
The most useful thing long-term in most cases is the network.
If your reasons are not included in the ones above, I would not recommend investing the time and money for an MBA. Specifically, if your goal is solely to get into consulting and you can apply now for the same position, it definitely makes sense to apply now without an MBA.