The Most Favorably Reviewed MBA Admission Consulting Firms

Jeremy Shinewald, founder and CEO of mbaMission


Q: Tell me a little bit about the firm—size, number of full-time or part-time admissions consultants, how long you’ve been in business, and whom you serve.

A: mbaMission is the best-reviewed firm on Poets&Quants and GMAT Club by a margin of hundreds of verified five-star reviews.

When mbaMission formally launched in 2004, we made a choice that proved critical in building our firm and professionalizing our industry: we hired elite MBAs as full-time consultants. Because everyone on our entire team of 23 consultants is full-time—not a part-timer or hobbyist—they are fully committed to their practices and their clients. With virtually no turnover, our team is the most tenured in this space, which has allowed us to develop truly unparalleled institutional knowledge.

We do have several former admissions officers on our team, but we also know that there are no admissions “secrets,” so we consider having earned an MBA from a top program a far more important credential. These individuals have already had the experience of competing with the best and thus have the highest expectations of themselves. Furthermore, we rigorously select from hundreds of applicants when we hire, ensuring that each new consultant is a consummate writer and editor, capable of guiding a demanding clientele. And again, because our team is full-time, we are uniquely accessible both to our clients and to each other. So, when an applicant works with mbaMission, they get the power and combined expertise of 23 consultants, some of whom might weigh in on their application at various stages of the process. We serve a deservedly exacting client base. Our applicants are seeking to attend the world’s most competitive MBA programs, and we respond to their demands with a team that has won more Poets&Quants “top MBA consultants of the year” honors than any other.

Q: What is your firm best known for?

A: mbaMission is known for four main things: our excellence in admissions, our thought leadership, our dedicated team of skilled writers and editors, and our depth of experience.

We are extremely proud of our hundreds of five-star reviews and our many Poets&Quants MBA consultant honors year after year.

We are constantly setting the standard for excellence in our field. We have produced an unparalleled library of resources, including our 17 Insider’s Guides to the top MBA programs, the Complete Start-to-Finish Guide to MBA Admissions, “What Matters?” and “What More?”: 50 Successful Essays for the Stanford GSB and HBS (and Why They Worked), and a suite of career guides. Our library of materials, in addition to a vast trove of video admissions tips, resume templates, and other valuable offerings are available via our proprietary client resource center, ensuring that our applicants have all the tools necessary to succeed.

We are uncompromising about our team’s writing and editing skills. Before any potential new consultant works directly with clients, they must complete six extensive writing and editing exercises during the evaluation process and then a three-month curriculum that includes numerous brainstorming, writing, and editing assignments,. At some firms, it is simply “You went to HBS? When can you start?” But at mbaMission, we know that having earned an MBA or worked on an admissions committee is just part of the equation; our finely honed communication skills are what help our applicants present themselves best.

Q: What makes you unique and differentiates you from other firms, large or small?

A: As the largest firm in our space, we take advantage of our scale to provide unparalleled client resources and personalized service. What does that mean? At mbaMission, you can complete a free consultation with any member of our firm, including our founder—you get to choose the right consultant for you from the very beginning. You can also ask for a second review of your materials along the way or for a different opinion, and it is available to you, because we are full-time, collaborative, and focused on our clientele. Plus, we offer an enormous and constantly growing client resource center, complete with guides, presentations, resume and essay samples, and other helpful materials. We have been building up and regularly enhancing these resources for two decades, and our clients are the primary beneficiaries. Most important, though, is really our tight-knit team; we have a team like no other. We meet weekly and have our own annual conference. We know each other well as both colleagues and friends. So, in addition to your dedicated lead consultant, you have 22 other experienced voices that you can easily leverage.

Q: Do you have a roadmap or formula for the MBA applicant?

A: At mbaMission, we have a well-defined process and resource support at each step of the journey, but every single applicant must present their own story and voice. (There is no set template or formula for success—the admissions officers are people, not riddles!) In short, our process, the Complete Start-to-Finish Package, is a framework through which we can access a candidate’s most compelling stories and ensure that their values and experiences emerge and are clearly conveyed in their application.

Q: Since you first opened your doors, how many MBA seekers have you helped to gain acceptance? How many successful applicants?

A: We have helped more than ten-thousand applicants over the years and, each year, our clients receive more than $20 million in scholarship offers. Beyond our client engagements, we provide free consultations to thousands annually, our guides are read by tens of thousands annually and our many online events are attended by thousands as well. We try to be as accessible as possible and contribute to the applicant community whenever we can.

Q: How can an applicant tell whether your firm is a good fit for them to help them through the application process?

A: We believe that mutual fit is absolutely critical, so we put an incredible amount of material into the public domain so candidates can learn about our perspective and philosophy well before signing on with us. We offer our full suite of Insider’s Guides and our Complete Start-to-Finish MBA Admissions Guide to the applicant community entirely for free, and we prepare presentations on a range of admissions-related topics (e.g., essay writing, interview preparation, profile evaluation). Most critically, we offer all interested applicants one free, half-hour consultation, which is meant to give them an opportunity to learn about themselves and to better understand their candidacy in context, rather than giving us a chance to talk up our services (we will not discuss our services unless asked). In short, our goal is to provide applicants the tools they need to make informed decisions about their consultant and to enter into a relationship with us with a profound understanding of the mbaMission experience.

Q: Do you ever refer people to other firms?

A: In most years, we run out of capacity late in the season, so at times, we have had to turn clients away.

Q: Give us one free tip for applicants.

A: If you think MBA admissions is some kind of riddle or puzzle that can be “solved,” then you are starting this process in the wrong headspace and will likely end up struggling with your applications. The Stanford GSB Admissions Office once wrote on its website, “Resist the urge to ‘package’ yourself into what you think Stanford wants to see,” which essentially sums up this idea. Admissions officers are not looking for a prototype; they want to discover who you truly are. So, authenticity is the rule and will give you your best chance of connecting with your audience and creating the conditions for success.