3. Alice van Harten: The other half of Menlo Coaching with David White (above), van Harten had worked as a strategy consultant at Bain & Co. and manager for strategy, science and technology for Elsevier before founding her admissions firm five years ago in 2012. With a PhD in the classics from the University of Cambridge, she also has been a lecturer in the humanities at Stanford University. Van Harten was in fourth place last year.
Five-Star Review Excerpt: “I am so happy I found Alice through a friend’s referral. From the start, we clicked and I could tell she really cared about finding the best MBA fit for me (she helped me narrow down the list of schools I was applying to based on personal/family needs). Then while writing the essays, she always followed up, helped me think through my story, and paid attention to the smallest details so that I came across as dynamic and not just a typical “finance person.” I knew when I submitted each application that it was as perfect as possible – and I ended up getting admitted to Wharton, MIT, and Booth with an 80k scholarship! She is also a great resource to practice interviewing with (we prepped for about five hours total) and is as invested in the process as you are. I think this is because she doesn’t overwhelm her schedule with clients – so once she is fully booked, she doesn’t accept more clients in order to ensure quality time with the set that she has. That was really helpful, especially when I was finishing essays last minute.”
4. Jessica Shklar: Shklar was what we commonly call a non-traditional MBA applicant. With a degree in anthropology from Harvard College, she had worked in non-profit education, initially on curriculum development for an adult education center and later in the admissions office of a small university in Los Angeles. But she clearly knew how to apply to an elite MBA program. Shklar was accepted to every business school to which she applied, including Stanford, Kellogg, and Yale. She ultimately chose to attend HBS, where she completed her MBA with distinction (graduating in the top 10%). She has worked at several Fortune 100 companies, including American Express and JPMorgan Chase. She has been a full-time admissions consultant with mbaMission since 2008.
Five-Star Review Excerpt: “Jessica is a phenomenal admissions counselor. My working relationship with Jessica began over 5 years ago when I applied to the HBS 2+2 program as a college senior. During the initial consultation, Jessica and I immediately clicked and I knew that her knowledge and experience would be invaluable. I chose to go through my 2+2 application without any support and was not admitted. Five years later, I decided to re-apply to MBA programs. I submitted a request for another consultation and, to my surprise, Jessica emailed me back. During our chat, she was very optimistic about my profile and chances for admission. I interviewed seven other admission consultants just to make sure but with Jessica, I felt the most comfortable. Over the course of 5 months, Jessica spent many hours helping to refine my application and make sure every aspect was perfect. I couldn’t be happier with the result – I was admitted to my top choice – HBS!”
5. Caryn Altman: A Kellogg MBA, Altman worked as an admissions officer for her alma mater where she read and evaluated written applicant essays and recommended admission to Kellogg. She also conducted numerous applicant interviews assessing candidate fit and future potential at Kellogg and beyond. Preceding her time at Kellogg, Altman was a senior marketing manager for Gatorade, leading Gatorade’s efforts to a variety of consumer targets. Concurrently, she co-led all of the Kellogg recruiting efforts for the PepsiCo Chicago office. Before earning her MBA, Caryn worked in corporate finance and public accounting with CPA certification.
Five-Star Review Excerpt: “Caryn takes her job very seriously. She treats your application as it is her own. Caryn would e-mail me daily, sometimes multiple times a day, with essay rewrites, tips, friendly hellos, etc. I should note that this is because I was very involved in the process and would constantly be e-mailing her first! I am thrilled by my results. After applying to 6 business schools, I got into three of them (one being a top 5 school where I plan to attend next year).”
6. Betsy Massar: A Harvard Business School MBA, Massar had first worked for Goldman Sachs and has spent most of her professional career in and around the financial industry, working on both the sell and buy sides (Barclays Global Investors, now Blackrock), and on Wall Street (in the 80’s), Asia (in the 90’s), and San Francisco (in the new millennium). Founder of Master Admissions, she has been doing MBA admission consulting for 10 years.
Five-Star Review Excerpt: “The choice to select an MBA consultant can be a big one, and I am so glad to have found Betsy. I was not looking forward to the introspection, and I was daunted by the process of distilling myself into the essays. Fortunately, I received personal attention from Betsy and felt like I was able to create a real relationship. Because of this, she was able to better guide me and help me push through the hard work. Often, she would help me cast something through a new lens or help me find a creative direction that surprised me, but she was also extremely collaborative and supportive in me retaining creative control. She was committed to my success and a true partner in the process. On top of having an incredible experience with Betsy, I was lucky enough to secure excellent outcomes with her help. I applied to the M7, received four interviews, and two acceptances. I cannot recommend her highly enough!”
7. Jessica Burlingame: Based in the New York metro area, Burlingame has been an MBA admissions consultant with The MBA Exchange for the past 13 years. A Columbia Business School MBA who also has an undergraduate degree from Columbia in English and comparative literature, she previously worked in healthcare consulting, private and investment banking, as well as editorial and business development with The Condé Nast Publications and Vault.com. This is her second appearance on the P&Q list of the top ten.
Five-Star Review Excerpt: “I started the application process for 2018 R2 late in the cycle and felt I was very under-prepared. Throughout the engagement, Jessica was extremely diligent, thorough and direct in her approach. Her feedback was invaluable in helping me bringing out my best stories and building a tight narrative. I was delighted when I was accepted at my top choice (Yale SOM) with a merit scholarship. Working with Jessica was hands down the best decision I made in this successful journey and I strongly recommend her to all applicants who are looking for a brilliant, no-nonsense consultant.”
7. Sherry Holland: A former assistant director of admissions for Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, Holland has been an MBA admissions consultant with Stacy Blackman Consulting for just over ten years. She has a bachelor’s degree in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University after which she worked in human resources for I. Magnin for three years. At Fuqua, from 2001 to 2005, Holland traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and abroad to recruit, interview and evaluate applicants to Duke’s MBA program.
Five-Star Review Excerpt: “I could not recommend Sherry highly enough. She made the entire process so much more manageable. From the start Sherry was responsive, understanding, and friendly. I had an interview at Duke the next weekend, and she immediately offered to walk me through a mock interview to help me prepare, even before we did the initial call. She read all of my essays and responded promptly – even essays that were for other, non-MBA programs that I was applying to. She completely reworked my resume and made me feel like I had a handle on the process more than I ever thought I would. After being in the working world for 4 years before deciding to go back to school, Sherry was exactly what I needed to get me through. She was honest but also comforting, and I would have never gotten into the schools I did without here.”