THE TOP CONSULTANTS HAD TO PASS A RIGOROUS EXAMINATION SCREEN
To make our annual honor roll of top MBA admission consultants, every counselor’s reviews had to pass a rigorous two-step process. Unlike some other pay-to-play and unverified lists on the Internet, where advisers actually have to pay a fee to allow reviews on their profiles, this is a pure journalistic endeavor, not a pay-to-play model. In our database, you’ll find both positive and negative assessments of consultants and firms (if you have had a bad experience, we strongly encourage you to share it with others so that they can avoid those issues). Whether positive or negative, no review is published unless it passes through a fine screen.
First, every published review up until our deadline of April 15th had to be independently verified by Poets&Quants with both the client and the service provider. Secondly, every appraisal was then painstakingly reviewed so that only MBA consulting assignments were counted. Eliminated from the count were reviews for undergraduate or Executive MBA applicants, free introductory consultations, career counseling, and case prep advisement, and group sessions for such organization as the Forte Foundation. Those restrictions often brought down the number of favorable reviews for the top consultants and kept others off the list. Chimni, for example, has 173 five-star ratings in our database but gets credit for 65. Scott Edinburgh, in second place, is credited with 121 reviews, 55 of which he received in the year under review. An honorable mention, for sure, should go to Maria Wich-Vila, a Harvard MBA, who has received 68 appreciative appraisals from clients who have used her ApplicantLab software platform (see ApplicantLab: A Cheap, Virtual Alternative To A Pricey MBA Admissions Consultant?)
Skeptics may argue that consultants who rack up the most positive reviews are merely more assertive in encouraging their clients to write favorably about their experiences. Or that the list would exclude part-time counselors who could be just as good as full-timers but aren’t exposed to as many clients. But MBA applicants who take the time and effort to write their expressions of praise are the ultimate endorsements of superior consulting work. The more reviews any consultant has, the more credible and authoritative the result. When a client writes a positive referral for a consultant, that action goes beyond customer satisfaction: It becomes a measure of customer loyalty.
CLIENT TESTIMONIALS OFTEN GIVE CONSULTANTS CREDIT FOR GETTING THEM ADMITTED
The reviews, moreover, often go into the kind of convincing detail that reveals the extent of a consultant’s commitment to client service. Admits to leading business schools generally convey how important it was to get honest, candid feedback on their efforts, to have a coach, mentor, and cheerleader in their corner at every turn of what is often a grueling journey to a highly selective MBA program where the vast majority of applicants are routinely rejected.
They praise their advisors for gently leading them through an introspective examination of their personal and professional lives and for drawing out of them the most compelling narratives and the lessons drawn from them. (You can search our consultants’ directory by the number of reviews a counselor has received from clients. Just go to search parameters in the left rail of the directory and click under candid reviews to “highest number of reviews.” Consultant profiles will pop up in order of the number of assessments from clients each has received).
Not everyone can afford to hire an MBA admissions consultant, of course, and many candidates certainly don’t need one. Despite the high costs, however, few of the clients who have written reviews have any remorse. One after another, their testimonials often support the notion that they would not have gotten into their target schools without their help.
A GRATEFUL 2020 STANFORD GSB ADMIT: ‘SHE DUG DEEP AND PEELED ALMOST EVERY LAYER I HAD’
A 2020 admitted student to Stanford Graduate School of Business paid homage to Fortuna Admissions’ Karen Hamou who ranked in our top ten this year. “Her incomparable support and enormous help made it possible for me to gain admission to the most selective MBA program in the world! As an international student, I was very stressed by the interview process, especially that English was not my native language. Though I have done many interviews in the past, I was not sure how to address the MBA interview and how to communicate effectively. Adding more stress to the matter, I had only three weeks to prepare, while I was working 16 hours a day, since the moment I was invited for the interview.”
The applicant describes Hamou as his “secret weapon.” “Karen did not waste any time, and immediately we started working on my interview skills,” he added. “We did some tough mock interviews. Karen did not go easy on me, not in the interview and nor in the feedback. She dug very deep and peeled almost every layer that I had. She explained carefully what was right, what was wrong, and how I can improve, always with a smile and a great attitude. She was so engaged in the process, that sometimes it felt that she wanted it more than I did. Having those sessions with Karen made me very confident. There is no doubt that my work with her was critical for my success. I got accepted to all three schools that I applied to, and eventually, I choose to go with Stanford GSB.”
CONSULTANTS WHO EARNED A PERFECT 10.0 CLIENT SATISFACTION SCORE
|Consultant||Firm||Positive Reviews*||Hourly Rate|
|Shaifali Aggarwal||Ivy Groupe||21||$350|
|Yaron Dahan||Menlo Coaching||13||$550|
|Caryn Altman||Stacy Blackman Consulting||10||$365|
|Maria Wich-Vila||ApplicantLab||10||$1,999/3 school package|
|Donna Bauman||Stratus Admissions Consulting||9||$425|
|Melody Jones||Vantage Point||9||$345|
|Cassandra Pittman||Fortuna Admissions||8||$365|
|Emma Bond||Fortuna Admissions||8||$480|
|Rebecca Heath Anderson||Menlo Coaching||8||$550|
|Beth Tidmarsh||Stacy Blackman Consulting||7||$365|
|Betsy Massar||Master Admissions||7||$300|
|Jessica Chung||Fortuna Admissions||7||$365|
|Alex Ruiz Lee||ARLee Consulting||6||$195|
|Laura Freedman||Access Education||6||$250|
|Natalie Grinblatt Epstein||Accepted||6||$330|
|Tiffany Jaksic||Bravura Prep||6||$7,450/3 school package|
* Consultants with perfect 10.0 customer satisfaction scores and more than five reviews in the past year