A 2018 updated version of this article can be viewed on Poets&Quants here.
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
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
|Consultant||Firm||Hourly Rate||Earlier Work Background|
|1. Melissa Jones||Fortuna Admissions||$345||Marketing at Sony, InBev, Xerox|
|2. Paul Bodine||Bodine Consulting||$290||Author of six admissions books|
|3. Jessica Burlingame||The MBA Exchange||$295||Healthcare consultant, i-banker|
|4. David White||Menlo Coaching||$400||Tech exec at Travelzoo, Yahoo|
|4. Alice van Harten||Menlo Coaching||$400||Bain consultant|
|6. Meredith Shields||Vantage Point||$275||I-banker, strategy consultant|
|7. Susanne Peltz||Fortuna Admissions||$345||INSEAD admissions, careers|
|8. Angela Guido||mbaMission||$325||BCG consultant, recruiting mgr.|
|9. Stephanie Horn||The MBA Exchange||$295||McKinsey consultant|
|10. Tyler Cormney||MBA Prep School||$475||Craft consultant|
|10. Alex Leventhal||Prep MBA||$345||Consultant, life sciences tech|