Top Ten MBA Admission Consultants

These MBA admission consultants are among the most favorably reviewed

Other MBA admission consultants took one look at the stats and either ignored the candidate altogether or steered the young professional to second- and third-tier schools. It’s not hard to see why: The would-be MBA applicant had a 3.1 GPA from a mid-ranked public university and a 600 score on a practice GMAT test.

Yet, the candidate aimed high: Harvard Business School, Wharton, Yale School of Management, MIT Sloan, and Harvard’s Kennedy School. But after finding a more supportive consultant in Angela Guido of mbaMission, the applicant scored a 720 on the GMAT and was ultimately admitted to his dream MBA experience: Harvard Business School. MIT Sloan even offered him a Dean’s fellowship worth $107,000.

The candidate’s praise for his consultant is unrivaled. “To work with Angela Guido is to have an MRI performed on your soul,” he says. “After a 30-minute consultation with Angela, I was stunned by the accuracy with which she summarized my motivations, character, and potential. She roots for you. She’s in your corner. She pushes you in a direction that she knows will be authentic for you. She will give you a pep talk whenever you need one, and in the end you really want to make her proud.”

THE WORLD’S MOST FAVORABLY REVIEWED MBA ADMISSION CONSULTANTS

That’s high praise, indeed. Yet, for the best MBA admission consultants in the business, it’s also confirmation that the supportive guidance of a consultant can make a world of difference in an applicant’s outcomes. That’s not always the case. Some applicants have horror stories to tell about their consultants, with experiences so bad that they have actually demanded refunds. They’ve been swayed from dream schools, put up with long response times, and even mediocre advice.

Not so with the counselors at the very top of the business. So who are the world’s most favorably reviewed MBA admission counselors. Poets&Quants has been soliciting client reviews on the consultants in its directory for well over a year. Dozens upon dozens of consultants have gained reviews in that time. We’ve compiled a top ten list of the most extraordinary members of the club, the select few who have garnered the most raves from highly satisfied clients. All reviews are independently verified by Poets&Quants to insure that they are genuine assessments from recent MBA applicants.

Some of the top ten work for a few of the largest consulting firms in the business. A few are solo practitioners, and a couple work in boutique firms. The group includes a fair number of MBAs as well, including those who have Harvard Business School, Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, Chicago Booth and INSEAD stamped on their resumes. In their previous lives, they were consultants at such firms as McKinsey, Bain and BCG as well as executives at Yahoo and Sony.

SOLID ADMISSIONS CONSULTING DOESN’T COME CHEAP

Of the top ten, Tyler Cormney has the highest rates: A whopping $475 an hour

Almost all have creative DNA. Guido, based in Florence, Italy, is a trained screenwriter, hobbyist filmmaker and holder of a BA in philosophy from Yale University. Tyler Cormney, CEO and co-founder of Los Angeles-based MBA Prep School, is undoubtedly the only MBA admissions consultant who can claim both a Harvard MBA and a master’s in professional writing. Alice van Harten, the founding partner of Menlo Coaching, had been a lecturer in the humanities at Stanford University. The first applications she worked on was her own to gain acceptance to the Ph.D. program at Cambridge University.

The people who make our list are not unlike good psychologists. Although the vast majority of admission counselors never actually see their clients face-to-face but rather by Skype, telephone or email, they display deep empathy for their clients. Yet, they also can be brutally honest when necessary. They’re highly responsive, quickly getting back to an applicant with an answer or suggestion. And their clients say they are generous with their time.

As is typical in admissions consulting, the top dogs don’t come cheap. The hourly consulting rates for the top ten range from a low of $275 for Meredith Shields, a Kellogg MBA and former investment banker and strategy consultant who is co-founder of Vantage Point in New York, to a high of $475 for Cormney, a former tech and media consultant. A three-school consulting package at MBA Prep School costs $6,495 and you can add $1,000 per school if you wanted to work directly with Cormney, while a three-school deal at Vantage Point comes in at $6,500.

What they all share in common, however, is universal approval from highly grateful clients who sing their praises in no uncertain terms. These exceptional counselors bring their knowledge of elite MBA admissions to the game, more often than not connecting deeply with clients to nudge the odds in favor of an admit decision. Or as the HBS-bound candidate says of Guido, “She has this uncanny ability to channel the essence of who I am. She thought the way I thought. She understood my voice. She could articulate things about me that I hadn’t fully realized myself.”

The Top Ten Most Favorably Reviewed MBA Admission Counselors

ConsultantFirmHourly RateEarlier Work Background
1. Melissa JonesFortuna Admissions$345Marketing at Sony, InBev, Xerox
2. Paul BodineBodine Consulting$290Author of six admissions books
3. Jessica BurlingameThe MBA Exchange$295Healthcare consultant, i-banker
4. David WhiteMenlo Coaching$400Tech exec at Travelzoo, Yahoo
4. Alice van HartenMenlo Coaching$400Bain consultant
6. Meredith ShieldsVantage Point$275I-banker, strategy consultant
7. Susanne PeltzFortuna Admissions$345INSEAD admissions, careers
8. Angela GuidombaMission$325BCG consultant, recruiting mgr.
9. Stephanie HornThe MBA Exchange$295McKinsey consultant
10. Tyler CormneyMBA Prep School$475Craft consultant
10. Alex LeventhalPrep MBA$345Consultant, life sciences tech
  • Kyle Buffenmyer

    Another firm doesn’t actually charge you unless you get admitted. GetInOrDon’tPay https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ac6e42bdacc6ee6e9c198a9f4db0720fd2c7083c52b3a48344a7c70118b6382b.png

  • Jessica Burlingame

    As a longtime MBA admissions consultant (who, along with my colleagues, deeply appreciates P&Q’s ongoing support!), my bias towards the value of skilled consultants is clear. That said, I’d like to build on the valuable perspective that John offers here.

    When a client and consultant work together to the best of our ability, the benefits of the consultation can extend far beyond receiving the “yes” call from the AdCom (which is still a rush like none other!) With the support of a trained, ethical consultant, each MBA applicant undergoes rigorous, candid, and courageous assessments of both past experiences and future goals — alongside careful analyses of how each target school aligns uniquely with his/her needs and aspirations. This work can and does lay the foundation, then, for equally rigorous, courageous, and effective assessments and decision-making both during b-school, and in post-MBA professional decisions.

    A top MBA affords more opportunities than any student (or alum) can possibly leverage. Choosing wisely among those opportunities is always, therefore, both challenging and essential. It’s my privilege to work with extraordinary clients and colleagues in honing those skills in work as high-stakes and personal as the MBA application process can be — and my deep conviction in the value of that work keeps me excited to keep working by my clients’ sides.

  • jburlingame03@gsb.columbia.edu

    As a longtime MBA admissions consultant (who, along with my colleagues, deeply appreciates P&Q’s ongoing support!), my bias towards the value of skilled consultants is clear. That said, I’d like to build on the valuable perspective that John offers here.

    When a client and consultant work together to the best of our ability, the benefits of the consultation can extend far beyond receiving the “yes” call from the AdCom (which is still a rush like none other!) With the support of a trained, ethical consultant, each MBA applicant undergoes rigorous, candid, and courageous assessments of both past experiences and future goals — alongside careful analyses of how each target school aligns uniquely with his/her needs and aspirations. This work can and does lay the foundation, then, for equally rigorous, courageous, and effective assessments and decision-making both during b-school, and in post-MBA professional decisions.

    A top MBA affords more opportunities than any student (or alum) can possibly leverage. Choosing wisely among those opportunities is always, therefore, both challenging and essential. It’s my privilege to work with extraordinary clients and colleagues in honing those skills in work as high-stakes and personal as the MBA application process can be — and my deep conviction in the value of that work keeps me excited to keep working by my clients’ sides.

  • Given the cost of going to business school–including the opportunity costs–the actual cost of an admissions consultant is pretty much a drop in the bucket. But it’s certainly not necessary and you can avoid it entirely as most applicants do. Still, you don’t need to get into H or S to make a consultant worthwhile. This is especially true if you work in an organization that does not employ many MBAs who you could rely upon for free advice. Or if you are a person who needs someone to simply guide you through the process. And I would say that if it doesn’t matter if you get into a school ranked below 10 or 12, a consultant isn’t needed.

    But the value calculation has to also include some intangibles: The deeper introspection that may come from someone who gets to know you well, the amount of scholarship money you might get with a great application, and the potential to get into a school that will continue to deliver value well beyond that first post-MBA job and salary.

  • H/S Reject

    Obviously not everyone goes the route of hiring an expensive coach but indulge me for a second:

    Cost of the MBA, plus admissions coaching, plus GMAT prep (even pricier if you hire one of those expensive $200 – 300 per hour tutors) .

    I’m starting to think that those who go down the path above and pay full freight might be placing an unrealistic premium on HBS / GSB.

    Or am I just not comprehending the full weight of having Harvard / Stanford on a person’s resume? For a very select few who go to the high end PE/HFs, I can fully get behind ($$$$!) but for the others I just don’t get it.