Surmounting the formidable odds of getting admitted into a highly selective business school can sometimes feel like running a marathon. That’s why many MBA candidates who aim for the likes of Stanford, Harvard, Wharton and other top schools turn to consulting help to navigate the journey.
So which MBA admission consulting firms do the best job? For the third consecutive year, mbaMission earns the top crown for the most favorably reviewed large MBA admissions consulting firm in the world. mbaMission, now approaching its 20th year in business, rose to the top yet again based on 211 positive verified client reviews, an overall client satisfaction score of 9.9 on a ten-point scale, with 21 of the firm’s consultants getting reviewed.
Rival Fortuna Admissions came in a close second, followed by Stacy Blackman Consulting. Fortuna matched mbaMission’s client satisfaction score of 9.9 with 174 reviews. Stacy Blackman’s consultants racked up 92 favorable reviews and a satisfaction score of 9.8.
In the medium-sized category, Career Protocol earned top status, while among the many small boutique firms, Personal MBA Coach won out.
The firm list is a complement to our recently published list of the most positively reviewed MBA admission consultants of 2023.
AN EXTENSIVE ANALYSIS BASED ON VERIFIED CLIENT REVIEWS
The analysis is based on verified client reviews at Poets&Quants from September 1 of 2021 to August 31 of 2022. During that timeframe, clients wrote 1,233 assessments of their experience with 212 admission consultants at 59 different firms. Overall, 567 MBA counselors are profiled in our directory. The highest possible client satisfaction scores–a perfect 10.0 on our ten-point scale which is very difficult to achieve firm-wide–were earned by three of the consulting shops: Vantage Point, Menlo Coaching, and Gatehouse Admissions.
Each firm, of course, brings a unique culture and approach in making a business out of helping applicants put their best foot forward. Fortuna Admissions has built a firm based on hiring former business school admission consultants from such elite business schools as INSEAD and Wharton. Stacy Blackman, a Kellogg MBA graduate, has put together a successful firm with part-time coaches who more often than not provide admissions advice on the side.
But at the top among larger firms is mbaMission. “We are the only firm to have ever won best firm and now it is three times in a row,” notes Jeremy Shinewald, the founder and CEO of mbaMission. “As we Canadians say, ‘Natural Hat Trick!'”
Founded in the summer of 2004, a year after Shinewald graduated with his MBA from Virginia’s Darden School of Business, mbaMission is now approaching the 20-year mark, a remarkable accomplishment in a challenging and transient business. As the sole speechwriter for the Ambassador of Israel to the United States, he had written more than 70 policy addresses. At Darden, Shinewald was an admissions interviewer, wrote two case studies for professors and was chosen by his peers to be the class graduation speaker.
‘A MENTOR, CHEERLEADER AND FRIEND WHO IS TRULY INVESTED’
Somehow his natural entrepreneurial urge along with the personal satisfaction gained from helping others get into highly selective MBA programs as a side hustle, led to his launch of mbaMission. For five years, he was unwittingly developing the groundwork for the business until he stopped writing speeches entirely and began taking on prospective MBA students as clients. While he only works with a handful of clients a year, choosing to spend the vast majority of his time leading his firm, the reviews he does get speak to his success.
“Jeremy’s wealth of knowledge, writing skills, and ability to tell a powerful story are unparalleled,” raves Kristina Mani, who graduated from Wharton in 2022 and works as a manager in Pfizer’s pharmaceutical marketing rotational program. “He brings insight to every decision, no matter how big or small, every step of the way. Yet, what makes him the best, and in my opinion, the only choice for a consultant is that he truly connects with each applicant he works with and is committed to their success. He is more than a consultant, but through this process, becomes a mentor, cheerleader, and friend. Each moment, he was truly invested, sometimes even more so than I was!”
Yet, Shinewald’s greatest pride is having built a true professional services firm, selling both knowledge and expertise, through nearly two dozen full-time consultants. An intense entrepreneur who is on top of every business detail, Shinewald brings confidence and passion to the job of running mbaMission. He possesses a singular focus on growth, believing that a business that does not grow is unlikely to survive over the long haul. There are seven managing directors and 15 senior consultants, as well as a support staff of five, led by Aimee Lukin, who has been with mbaMission for 12 years and runs the day-to-day operations as the director of marketing and operations.
‘WE RUN THIS PLACE LIKE A TRUE PROFESSIONAL SERVICES FIRM’
mbaMission has no sales staff because Shinewald wants would-be clients to work with his consultants one-on-one from start to finish. Team meetings are held every other week among all the consultants who first share good news and shoutouts before moving to a review the firm’s performance against plan. The sessions typically end on a discussion on current market issues and trends. On occasion, he’ll bring in a guest speaker, typically an admissions official at a school, who will share insights on a school’s admission practices.
A five-person hiring committee, led by Kate Richardson, one of the firm’s superstar consultants who as a Chicago Booth MBA had been an admissions fellow. All five committee members must be unanimous in agreeing to interview a potential consultant who would then be put through a test reviewing sample essays. If everyone on the panel agrees to hire the person, the consultant then must pass muster with Shinewald. New consultant hires are paired with a mentor for up to a year while undergoing four months of training, after which they are evaluated by three other team members.
“We run this place like a true professional services firm,” says Shinewald.
In all, mbaMission has 1,124 five-star reviews in Poets&Quants‘ database among active team members. No less impressive, 30% of the Top Ten most favorably reviewed consultants this year work for mbaMission, which also boasts a quarter of the Top 39 singled out for their work this year. Some 30% have perfect 10.0 scores.
The Most Favorably Reviewed Large MBA Admissions Consulting Firms
|Firm||Reviews||Client Satisfaction Score||# Of Reviewed Coaches|
|2. Fortuna Admissions||174||9.9||27|
|3. Stacy Blackman Consulting||92||9.8||35|
|4. Stratus Admissions Counseling||64||9.9||11|
|5. Vantage Point||25||10.0||10|
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