Who We Are: In the News

mbaMission Senior Consultants are often featured in the press as experts on the MBA application process. Here is a selection of articles that feature members of the mbaMission team.

Poets&Quants — The Top MBA Admission Consulting Firms of 2023

For the third time in a row, mbaMission has been named the top MBA admissions consulting firm by Poets&Quants. In fact, mbaMission is the only firm to ever be in the top spot in the ranking, based on verified client reviews. From September 2021 through August 2022, mbaMission consultants received an incredible 211 positive reviews and an overall client satisfaction score of 9.9 out of 10.

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Fortune — A potential recession during grad school? What MBA candidates need to know

Early 2023 saw thousands of job cuts in the tech field, including from Microsoft and Amazon. In this article, mbaMission’s Rachel Beck notes that going to business school in a recession is actually perfect timing. She says this is “because you’re kind-of in hiding for a defined amount of time, and you’re often out of the recession by the time you graduate from an MBA program.” She notes that business schools are making accommodations for laid-off tech workers such as offering test waivers and extended deadlines. Rachel also offers her advice for applicants during this time - “have a very good plan B,” take advantage of increased responsibility as an intern, and “stay the course” regardless of the economy.

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U.S. News & World Report — 4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Applying to B-School

Is business school the right path for YOU? In this article, mbaMission Managing Director Rachel Beck notes that you should only consider and apply to business school if you’re working toward specific goals, not just trying to “build a network.” “You also want to think about how an MBA will keep you growing as a leader and a manager,” she says.

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Poets&Quants — Bragging Rights: This MBA Admissions Consulting Firm Boasts The Most Former M7 Adcoms

While many MBA admissions consulting firms boast that they have a team of former admissions committee members, mbaMission's Jeremy Shinewald feels that is just a marketing gimmick. "While appealing at first, if you scratch beneath the surface, this approach puts the emphasis on the wrong skill. We have rejected several high ranking admissions officers and admissions directors, because, while they can read a file like anyone else, they have not been creative minds who were able to coach an applicant toward crafting their best work..." He adds that applicants also need to think about when an admissions consultant worked in an admissions office as insight from over a decade ago is very likely not relevant today.

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The Wall Street Journal — M.B.A. Applications at Some of the Country's Best Colleges Fell This Year

Following an application surge in 2020, many top MBA programs are seeing a decline in application volume for 2021. mbaMission Founder and President Jeremy Shinewald noted “I assumed, like everyone else, that applications were going to go through the roof. People were calling us during the financial crisis [of 2008] saying we need somewhere to hide for two years. We didn't quite see that this time.” He also feels there is no reason to believe applications will go up anytime soon. “As banks roll out huge wage increases, retention bonuses, stock options and that makes a huge difference if you're 25 or 26 years old. The professional set that applied for business school is extremely secure in their job.”

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Forbes — Why Fewer Internationals Want an M.B.A. from A U.S. School

For the past decade, interest in attending business school in the United States from internationals has declined, and this year, some top-ranked U.S. MBA programs report double-digit drops in application volume. mbaMission Founder and President Jeremy Shinewald commented: “To say that it is a buyer’s market would be an understatement. We are seeing massive amounts of scholarship dollars being thrown at applicants, regardless of need and, in some cases, clear where there is no need at all.”

GMAC notes that this trend is due in part to anti-immigration sentiments and uncertainty over getting a work Visa in the U.S, as well as the rising cost of an MBA.

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Forbes — Can You Cheat Your Way Into Business School?

After the $25 million college admissions bribery scandal made headlines recently, many are wondering if something like this could happen in MBA admissions. At every top business school, there are donors who can have influence an admissions decision and in the past, there have been cases of cheating on the GMAT and GRE. However, due to the smaller classes and lack of athletic influence in b-school admissions, a case like this is unlikely in the MBA world.

mbaMission Founder and President Jeremy Shinewald weighed in, saying that "this type of negative event ratchets up anxiety" about the admissions consulting world in general and could leave qualified applicants feeling discouraged about their chances of admission. "Over the years, we have seen literally tens of thousands of qualified people with no connections at all get into top programs...we have seen very well connected applicants - children of major donors - who are completely unqualified get rejected." He adds that "the truly unqualified are weeded out" and the "MBA playing field is about as level as we would expect it to be."

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Poets&Quants — Odds Of Landing An Interview At Top Business Schools

What are your odds of landing an MBA admissions interview? Wayne Atwell, a 2016 graduate of NYU Stern, examined five years of GMAT and GPA data to come up with interview probabilities at the leading MBA programs. However, mbaMission President and Founder Jeremy Shinewald says that applicants are judged on a wide variety of factors including GMAT and GPA, but also professional experience, extra-curricular activities, post-MBA employability, execution of application components and more.

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Poets&Quants — MBA Acceptance Rates By Major

According to data collected by Wayne Atwell, an NYU Stern grad and a McKinsey associate, those who majored in education during their undergraduate studies have the highest odds of getting accepted into a top business school. These students tend to have higher GPAs and get higher GMAT scores. mbaMission President and Founder Jeremy Shinewald believes education majors are underrepresented. "They bring a valuable experience. At many schools, there are only a handful of teachers applying. It is a demographic that admissions feels can really add something to the classroom so they give them a very careful look," he says.

Applicants with liberal arts backgrounds have an edge in business, Shinewald says. "An MBA who is leaving business school with a liberal arts background may have a better understanding of the world around them and that could lead to a variety of benefits in business in terms of managing and relating to other people."

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Poets&Quants — Applying to HBS? This Chart Will Make You Wish It Was 2005

History shows that the best year to have applied to Harvard Business School was 2005. Since then, acceptance rates at HBS have dropped. According to mbaMission's Jeremy Shinewald, "MBA applications tend to always run a little bit ahead of the economy...when the economy crashes, there is a final surge in application volume." However, right now in this "post-financial crash cycle," application numbers never fell as much as they did after the dotcom bubble burst. If the economy crashes now, "application numbers could shot into the stratosphere." Shinewald believes this is because the market has changed. The combination of the "decline of law as a leading professional degree and the rise of tech salaries and perks, the MBA has moved into a new level of perceived security and prestige."

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Poets&Quants — How To Tackle Harvard's MBA Application Essay

For the 2017-2018 application cycle, Harvard Business School (HBS) posed the same essay question as the year before. In this article, Jeremy Shinewald gives applicants a few things to keep in mind as they start to tackle the open-ended prompt, including expressing your values, staying away from "type," recognizing that it is not a career essay, avoiding writing your biography, and making sure you are offering more.

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U.S. News & World Report — Consider Pros, Cons of Leaving a Job for a Full-Time MBA

With the average tuition for the 2016-2017 school year at $57,218 at a top 25 private business school, pursuing an MBA is a huge investment. Applicants must weigh the financial pros and cons when considering leaving their job for a full-time MBA program.

One con to think about is that most students will not have a steady income for a few years. mbaMission President and Founder Jeremy Shinewald says that applicants should be conservative when calculating exactly how much an MBA will cost. He says to consider the potential return on investment, whether financial aid will be offered, and the opportunity cost.

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The Wall Street Journal — Consider Pros, Cons of Leaving a Job for a Full-Time MBA

With the average tuition for the 2016-2017 school year at $57,218 at a top 25 private business school, pursuing an MBA is a huge investment. Applicants must weigh the financial pros and cons when considering leaving their job for a full-time MBA program.

One con to think about is that most students will not have a steady income for a few years. mbaMission President and Founder Jeremy Shinewald says that applicants should be conservative when calculating exactly how much an MBA will cost. He says to consider the potential return on investment, whether financial aid will be offered, and the opportunity cost.

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The Wall Street Journal — U.S., U.K. May Lose Luster as M.B.A. Destinations

Recent political changes in the United States and United Kingdom may have some prospective business school candidates looking elsewhere for their degrees.

According to a Graduate Management Admission Council survey, 37% of 760 prospective non-U.S. MBA candidates say they are less likely to pursue a degree in the U.S. because of the results of the 2016 presidential election. However, mbaMission President and Founder Jeremy Shinewald says that a "top American M.B.A. is still a very powerful global credential, no matter who's in the White House" and only "one or two" of mbaMission's hundreds of international clients dropped their b-school applications in recent months.

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Poets&Quants — Six Key Factors To Impact MBA Admissions in 2016—2017

Typically, top MBA programs start to release their essay questions on or around May 1, and that is when the proverbial starting gun is fired for a marathon with thousands of hopeful “runners” all striving to get into their dream schools. What are some of the key factors that will shape the 2016—2017 admissions race?

In this article on Poets&Quants, mbaMission President and Founder Jeremy Shinewald identifies six key factors that will impact MBA admissions in 2016—2017.

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Poets&Quants — Before You Write That HBS Essay…

Harvard Business School (HBS) has announced that it has a new essay question for those aspiring to be part of its Class of 2018 and that writing an essay is now mandatory. Apparently, though, no one considered last year’s essay option, because HBS Director of Admissions Dee Leopold reported in a recent blog post that every single applicant submitted one.

In this article on Poets&Quants, mbaMission President and Founder Jeremy Shinewald shares mbaMission's top five tips for what to do when approaching this question.

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The Wall Street Journal — Should Harvard Business School Hit Refresh?

With more emerging MBAs eyeing careers in Silicon Valley, with digital start-ups, and at tech giants, Harvard Business School (HBS) may not be able to rely simply on the prestige of its brand to remain a top program choice. An article in the Wall Street Journal [Note: Subscription required to view entire article.] asks whether HBS may be too traditional in its approach.

Many faculty, students, and administrators at HBS worry that the program’s curriculum no longer adequately prepares its graduates for a rapidly changing business landscape that values tech-savvy managers. According to the article, prospective MBAs with an interest in tech are turning to such other top-ranked schools as the Stanford Graduate School of Business and MIT Sloan, which in recent years have staked a claim as “pre-eminent tech-industry feeders.”

The WSJ asked mbaMission President and Founder Jeremy Shinewald for his thoughts on the trend. “As more M.B.A.s seek careers in tech, applicants with such aspirations are now thinking Silicon Valley rather than Boston,” Shinewald commented. “Of the small number of people who win admission to both HBS and Stanford, tech-minded candidates generally opt for Stanford.”

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The Wall Street Journal — On B-School Test, Americans Fail to Measure Up

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article—which quotes mbaMission’s own Founder/President Jeremy Shinewald—MBA program applicants from China and India have been attaining higher scores on the GMAT than test takers from the United States.

The article, titled “On B-School Test, Americans Fail to Measure Up,” explains that Asia-Pacific MBA hopefuls have exhibited advanced proficiency as of late on the Quantitative section of the GMAT—causing median scores to rise and Americans’ results to appear less than stellar by comparison. For this reason, admissions officers for various programs are now seeking new methods by which to judge applicant strength. According to Shinewald, U.S. candidates are “banging their heads the wall” and test score inadequacy is “causing a ton of student anxiety.”

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The New York Times — In B-School, Is That a Syllabus, or an Itinerary?

Highlighting the “shadow budget” of additional travel expenses that can often accompany an already expensive business degree, the New York Times asked mbaMission President/Founder Jeremy Shinewald just how much MBA students should expect to invest in “lifestyle experiences.” Bonding with classmates on international excursions and keeping active with the seemingly limitless social functions of MBA student life have become increasingly vital to one’s induction into the business school network. Many students say that socioeconomics can play a decisive role in how much time they spend with one another.

“My father went to business school a generation ago as a married 25-year-old, and I can assure you he has no stories of jetting off to Vegas for the weekend,” says Shinewald in the article, noting that bars, parties, and trips now occupy a significant portion of the average MBA student’s schedule. “I would say that $5,000 total for two years is a low to moderate budget, but is one that would still allow a student to experience significant social and academic opportunities.” The high-end budget for such expenses, Shinewald explains, can run as much as $20,000 to $30,000 for two years. Still, many students see the investment in social and travel opportunities as part and parcel of buying into an invaluable business network.

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The Wall Street Journal — More Students Use GRE Scores to Apply to Business Schools

The Wall Street Journal offers insight into the rising popularity of the GRE among business school applicants, suggesting that the exam may help business schools attract students from outside disciplines. While the GMAT has historically reigned supreme among MBA entrance exams, many schools are seeing a spike in the number of applicants who are submitting GRE scores. Although only 10% of all exam-taking MBA hopefuls sat for the GRE last year, this figure represents a 10% increase over the same period the year prior, according to data from the Educational Testing Service. The jump in GRE-takers may reflect “the GMAT’s loosening stronghold on the industry,” in addition to “applicants’ anxiety about that assessment’s ‘integrated reasoning’ section.’”

Nonetheless, many applicants remain ambivalent toward the GRE. mbaMission President and Founder Jeremy Shinewald is cited in the article, explaining that applicants may have difficulty discerning how seriously they should take the GRE and how to size up their scores. “It’s maddening. You can say it until you’re blue in the face, and for whatever reason, some people will never believe that the GRE is equal [to the GMAT].”

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The Wall Street Journal — What’s Wrong with Wharton?

With a 12% drop in application volume over the past four years (a 5.8% drop in the past year alone), is the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School losing its luster? A Wall Street Journal article quotes mbaMission Founder and President Jeremy Shinewald on to the apparent decline in Wharton applicants: “We’re hearing [applicants say] Stanford, Harvard or nothing. It used to be Stanford or Wharton.” Following the financial crisis, some experts claim that Wharton—often pigeonholed as a finance school—“didn’t react aggressively enough when the spigot of finance jobs was turned off.” Others have cited the frequent turnover of admissions directors at the school and questioned whether adding a group discussion component to the application process has intimidated would-be applicants. In defense, Ankur Kumar, Wharton’s director of MBA admissions and financial aid, says, “Our focus is on the quality of our applicant population, and that remains as high as ever.” Wharton has responded to the downslide by scaling up its efforts to appeal to applicants interested in industries beyond finance, such as entrepreneurship, retail, and real estate. Despite receiving fewer applications, Wharton’s average GMAT score actually rose to a record 725 this year—perhaps suggesting that, even if the school has lost some of its luster, its selectivity remains intact.

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The Financial Times — Do MBA Admissions Consultants Open Doors?

An article in the Financial Times asks a question that will no doubt weigh on anyone feeling daunted by the business school application process: “Do admissions consultants give applicants an edge, or is it better to save the money and go it alone?” In answering this, one must remember that not all consulting firms are equal.

While Dan Bauer at MBA Exchange estimates between 20 and 25 MBA admissions consulting firms globally, the article cites mbaMission’s own president and founder, Jeremy Shinewald, as counting just five or six “true firms,” capable of delivering real value for the investment. Many consultants can claim experience and credentials with regard to their understanding of the admissions process, but as the article notes, consultants must also stay current with admissions trends. For this reason, the expertise offered by mbaMission is supported by an annual consultant training conference, weekly team meetings, and full-time team members dedicated to finding the latest insights and information each admissions season.

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The Wall Street Journal — Applying to Harvard Business Gets Easier

To help interpret the changes to the 2013-2014 Harvard Business School application essays, the Wall Street Journal asked mbaMission founder and president Jeremy Shinewald to weigh in on possible motivations. While eliminating the essay may lighten the load for applicants, Shinewald says that these changes could also make the process easier on the admissions end of things: “By cutting a few hundred words from a few thousand applications, schools can evaluate candidates more quickly. … It may also be a sign that schools are adapting to the way applicants communicate these days, relying more on Tweets, emails and blog posts than on long correspondence.”

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Chicago Tribune — Make It Your Business to Save Money

mbaMission’s own Senior Consultant Rachel Beck was featured prominently in an article published in the Chicago Tribune. Titled “Make It Your Business to Save Money,” the article weighed the costs and possible career benefits of investing in an MBA program, identifying important variables that applicants ought to examine carefully. Beck emphasizes the importance of finding the right school to fit your career goals, rather than focusing too narrowly on rankings. “A lot of MBA applicants don’t look at the whole picture. There are all these other factors that should go into your decision making,” Beck notes, adding that location, add-on opportunities and associated costs (such as studying abroad), and opportunities to socialize within a robust student and alumni network should all fall within an applicant’s range of considerations.

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The Wall Street Journal — Frankly, Wharton Wants Candor

mbaMission Founder and President Jeremy Shinewald was quoted in a Wall Street Journal article, discussing the evolution of the admissions process at top MBA programs. As admissions officers strive to see the unvarnished applicant—through impromptu post-interview reflections at Harvard Business School (HBS) or team-based discussions at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School—are they hurting those who are naturally polished? HBS, in particular, has gone to great lengths to communicate that it wants candidates’ post-interview reflections to be “raw.” As Shinewald told the Wall Street Journal, “HBS may ironically have people rewriting to make their reflections ‘better’ by being ‘worse.’”

Certainly, nothing is wrong with the quest for the unvarnished applicant, but applicants also should not fear putting their best forward. mbaMission’s group mock interview simulation, which was mentioned in the article and developed to help applicants manage the Wharton Team-Based Discussion, was not designed to give participants the “right” answers. Although participants receive feedback to identify any red flags, the primary purpose of the simulation is to help candidates feel more at ease when the real thing comes to pass. One can still be him/herself and be prepared.

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Poets&Quants — Prepping Applicants for New Wharton Test

Ever since the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School introduced a new team-based discussion component to its MBA admissions process, many applicants have been uncertain about what to expect should they have the opportunity to interview at the school. Poets&Quants featured mbaMission’s offerings in its examination of options for candidates hoping to assuage their anxieties about this stressful element of the application process. mbaMission gives applicants the opportunity to participate anonymously with three to five others in a simulation moderated by two of our professional MBA admissions consultants. All participants then get individualized feedback on their performance.

mbaMission’s own Angela Guido is quoted in the article, showcasing the value that clients have found in being able to run through a practice discussion: “Across the board, people have said it boosted my confidence and comfort in the real thing. A lot of people have also told us that what it helped them to do is think about their role in the group so that they went in with at least a few ideas of how they would orient themselves to the group. It’s not about the information. It’s about how they communicate their ideas and what happens in the 39 minutes after the introduction when they are thrown in the deep water and have to swim. Having a plan of how to help move the groups forward while not stepping on people’s toes gave them a greater sense of security.”

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The Wall Street Journal — What Business Schools Want

mbaMission Founder and President Jeremy Shinewald sat down with Keith Vaughn, assistant dean of MBA admissions at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, Dawna Levenson, associate director of admissions at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and Amanda Carlson, assistant dean of admissions at Columbia Business School, for a roundtable discussion with the Wall Street Journal. This quartet of admissions experts discussed what business schools are really looking for in candidates, specifically exploring how the applicant pool has changed, how nontraditional candidates can stand out and how business schools and admissions consultants interact. It was particularly gratifying to hear Levenson’s comment, “I see you [Mr. Shinewald] as an advocate for us.”

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Poets&Quants — How Many Applicants Use Consultants

Have you used an admissions consultant to help you with your MBA application? Seems like a relatively harmless question, right? Well, that depends on who asks it. Jeremy Shinewald, president and founder of mbaMission, tells Poets&Quants that he believes the number of applicants who report to business schools that they used an admissions consultant for help with their application is because they fear that doing so would negatively affect the school’s admission decision. Schools that ask the question, such as Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, have said that the answer would not be factored into the admissions process and that they only use the question for data purposes.

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The Wall Street Journal — An Expert on MBA Admissions

Jeremy Shinewald, president and founder of mbaMission, talks to the Wall Street Journal about the MBA application process, addressing the value of application essays, the reasons top schools stand out, the most common concerns applicants face, and the fact that the GMAT is only one aspect of the larger application process.

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The Wall Street Journal — Harvard Business School Changes Its Class Profile

Harvard Business School’s incoming Class of 2013 will have a higher percentage of students with manufacturing and technology backgrounds, and fewer students with finance backgrounds. mbaMission Founder and President Jeremy Shinewald told the Wall Street Journal that some candidates erroneously try to “game” the admissions system. “You’re going to see guys who worked on one private-equity deal with an auto manufacturer try to play up their auto experience and look ridiculous,” he says. “Candidates buy into stereotypes for their target schools and become things they think the school wants.” As candidates examine the stats, they should keep in mind that they can only be who they are and that they cannot go back in time and change careers. So, they are best creating an authentic picture of themselves in an attempt to set themselves apart from all others (not just those in their field).

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U.S. News & World Report — Get Into Business School: Admissions Essays

Crafting an intricate admissions essay is perhaps the most daunting part of applying to business school. Applicants should not sit down to write without direction, so U.S. News asked Jeremy Shinewald, founder and president of the business school admissions consulting firm mbaMission and graduate of the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, to offer insight on how to write a piece that will set you apart from the competition.

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Poets&Quants — Leading Firms in MBA Admissions Consulting

MBA admissions counseling has become so common that there are now as many as 300 firms around the world with more than 500 consultants helping applicants get into the best business schools. This article lists six of the leading players, including mbaMission, which together employ a total of some 120 consultants.

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Poets&Quants — Suddenly Cozy: MBA Admission Consultants and B-Schools

Business schools are becoming more accepting of MBA admissions consultants, like mbaMission. Poets&Quants estimates that one-quarter to one-third of applicants to the top ten business schools now use consulting services. Open dialogue helped reinvent the relationship, but so did consultants’ extensive reach on the Internet. According to a survey by AIGAC last year, consultants’ sites now rank third behind school websites and the Bloomberg Businessweek rankings as a source of information for MBA aspirants. “[Schools] can use us as a marketing tool to reach more people than they would going out on the road,” says mbaMission Founder Jeremy Shinewald. “We’re part of the communication channel for them in a way that’s very cheap and easy.” mbaMission serves up “exclusive” interviews with admissions directors from the country’s top schools, and its joint newsletter with Manhattan GMAT reaches tens of thousands of inboxes.

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GraduateGuide.com — Getting Rejected from Business School May Be a Temporary Speed Bump

As a prospective MBA student, getting denied by your business school of choice can be a disheartening experience. Now what do you do? Reapplying to the same school the following year is a waste of time, right?

Wrong, says Jeremy Shinewald, Founder and President of mbaMission, a business school admissions consulting service. People who reapply to MBA programs actually have a similar admittance rate to first-time applicants.

Shinewald points out that MBA admissions committees are driven by self-interest and are looking for the best pool of applicants. Getting rejected simply means that your application did not fit into the top percentile of candidates in that given year.

"If the schools were not willing to let in a re-applicant, they would not waste their time and resources reviewing the applications," said Shinewald.

Bloomberg Businessweek — Extracurriculars: The Extras That Count

MBA admissions committee members and admissions consultants will tell you business schools are looking for applicants to participate in activities about which they are truly passionate. This could be anything from playing the guitar in a garage band to running marathons. Your extracurricular activities bring another dimension to your application, says Jeremy Shinewald, president and founder of mbaMission, who adds that those with the best stories to share come by them naturally. People with outrageous activities, such as Shinewald‘s client who took care of exotic animals that had been confiscated while authorities found homes for them in zoos, usually fall into that category. “You can‘t fudge a story like that,” says Shinewald. “That’s why it’s so good.”

The key to finding the right activity for business school—and just for yourself—is simple, really. “Do what you love,” says Shinewald. “And the story will follow.”

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Crain’s — As Economy Sputters, Grad Schools Overflow

Graduate programs typically see an enrollment boost during economic downturns. As Wall Street firms shed tens of thousands of jobs, graduate programs at local schools like NYU and Columbia University have seen a flood of applications.

However, some warn that the credit crisis could make paying for graduate school more difficult as the availability of private loans at low interest rates has shrunk. “Graduate students finance education via the sale of a house or liquidation of investments,” said Jeremy Shinewald, founder of education consultancy mbaMission. “Many people will be reluctant to do so if they are under water. This is going to mean more students will look for loans.”

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Bloomberg Businessweek — How to Stand Out from the Herd

When you come from an overrepresented group, but you cannot change who you are, how do you make your application stand out in the crowd? Admissions consultant Jeremy Shinewald, the founder of mbaMission, is straightforward with some of his clients, warning them that they are in a “high-risk group that faces strong competition—either because of ethnicity, country of origin, or work history. To demonstrate individuality, Shinewald recommends writing their essay out of chronological order by skipping the traditional introduction and getting right into a unique story that veers away from an all-too-familiar background. “A lot of people can write, ‘When I started as an analyst at Morgan Stanley,’” says Shinewald. “If you were to say ‘Arriving in Minneapolis, I rushed to meet the CFO of Best Buy,’ it‘s a much more gripping way of introducing yourself.”

Canadian Business — Best Foot Forward

Jeremy Shinewald’s admissions consulting business can help make your business school application stand out. But beware: his service does not come cheaply—and not all MBA administrators are sold on the idea. “Where we add the most value is in the creative process,” says Shinewald. “A lot of people just aren’t aware of their own stories and what is compelling about their own professional experiences and lives.” In the end, no amount of fancy footwork will get you in the door. “You need to have achieved in all aspects of your life—academic, professional, community and personal—in order to be a strong candidate,” he says. “If you haven’t done that, you can’t get there through creative writing.”

Crain’s — Advisers Coach M.B.A. Hopefuls: More Candidates Shell Out for Guidance in Choosing a School, Writing an Inspiring Essay

With the stakes so high, MBA candidates are understandably seeking aid to find the nuggets that make their application distinctive. Because applicants often have similar academic qualifications, consultants emphasize the essay as the best shot at making an impression. “Many candidates don’t understand the depth of stories and experience they possess,” says Jeremy Shinewald, founder of mbaMission. “Brainstorming with us is a way to help them become more aware—but we don’t do the actual writing for them.”

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