Who We Are: mbaMission Reviews

Reviews for Jessica Shklar

I was a non-traditional applicant with a liberal arts major from an Ivy and work experience in startups. I’m a female Asian-American. The weaknesses I knew I had to overcome were a sub-3.5 GPA, lack of quantitative background, and scattered work history due to the nature of the startup world.

As I searched for a consultant, the first mistake I made in the application process was seeking a consultant with a high “success rate.” After all, my ultimate goal wasn’t to write a bunch of essays; it was to be admitted to my dream school! When I spoke to Jessica, she made me realize that the firms that boast about their numbers push applicants towards safety schools in the interest of keeping their numbers high. She politely explained that her own success rate included having countless clients who felt as though they were her only client, glowing testimonials, and half of her business from referrals. The fact that her own incentives were in line with mine, not agai nst them, was a refreshing break from other consultants - many of which told me straight up that I had no chance at my dream schools, so I shouldn’t even try.

When I asked Jessica about my weaknesses, she was nothing but positive. Unlike other consultants, who continued to harp on the fact that it would be difficult to overcome the GPA and work history, Jessica instead focused on my upward trend in grades and how fascinating the work I did in each of my jobs was. She encouraged me to apply to my dream schools. I could feel her genuine excitement upon hearing my story. This is what sold me.

Our first brainstorming session was unforgettable. I’d prepared a 22-page document full of answers to questions about my upbringing, work history, and personal values - not just my numbers and resume points. Jessica read every single page in order to touch upon the most poignant details about my life in our conversation. She eventually drew so much “content” out of me (that I didn’t even know I had!) that we were able to come up with an outline for a very personal story.

This story ended up forming the foundation of our relationship. For three months, I’d lock myself in my room to finish a draft, send them to Jessica, anxiously wait for her response, open her document full of thoughtful and honest edits that matched my own effort, and repeat. I was shocked by how far every draft progressed. In just 6 drafts, my essay went from scattered to polished. I’m confident I couldn’t find another person that puts as much care into her review as Jessica does, especially considering how personal the story was to me.

In the end, I used the final essay as my main introduction for 5 out of 6 applications to Top 10 schools. I secured 3 interviews, was accepted to all 3 with Jessica’s help (2 with scholarship), and I’m now at Wharton - a dream!

Before I had secured any interviews, I told Jessica that no matter the outcome, she had helpe d me be more introspective about myself than ever before. The story she helped me write helped me come to terms with something I hadn’t had the courage to face. If you work with Jessica, you’ll be getting so much more than an acceptance letter to business school.

B-School Admit (via GMAT Club)

When I started my application process, I was uncomfortable with my lack of experience and my “unconventional” application. I was in the process of vetting several consultants when I spoke to Jessica for a free consultation. I was instantly sold. She offered me more insight into the application process during that thirty-minute phone call than the rest of the consultants that I had been vetting combined.

From the very beginning, Jessica was invested in me, my story, and perhaps most importantly, how to help me present the very best version of myself/story. I can honestly say that during EVERY step of the process, Jessica went above and beyond what was required of her. Her knowledge base, attention to detail, and just overall brilliance, helped me to create what I viewed to be a perfect admissions package. She was so personally invested in my story that as far as I was concerned, I was her only client. She immediately responded to my emails and was always available.

What makes Jessica so special is her palpable excitement and energy throughout the process—and her unbelievable concern for and investment in my success. If you are at all concerned about the potential costs, Jessica’s insider knowledge and familiarity with the process, to me, in many ways, was priceless.

Overall, though, the most important thing about Jessica is how remarkably clear it is that she is always giving you her very best in every aspect of her work. I can honestly say, that if you decide to hire Jessica, I am absolutely convinced that you will be hiring the best. I am happy to say that because of Jessica’s help I will be attending Harvard’s Kennedy School in the fall, and Stanford’s Graduate School of Business the following year.

Stanford GSB Admit (via GMAT Club)

I really cannot express enough the impact that mbaMission and my consultant Jessica Shklar had on my applications and ultimately my future. From the very beginning of the process, it was a partnership with the sole goal of getting me accepted to a top business school. She treated me like I was her only client starting with the initial brainstorming session and worked very hard to improve my applications. Jessica was incredibly knowledgeable about the entire process and was fantastic at framing my story and helping me craft impactful and powerful essays. I have a very nontraditional background and my consultant worked with me to pull out my very best experiences. She was then willing to work on as many drafts as necessary to make each essay perfect. After the submission we worked just as hard to prepare for my interviews. I can honestly say that if I went at this alone I would have been rejected from most top 50 schools. With their help I was accepted to multiple top 15 schools!

Dartmouth Tuck and Darden Admit (via Admissions 411)

I considered taking a go-it-alone approach to writing applications. With a solid GMAT score and 6.0 on my AWA, I felt perfectly qualified to write good essays. However, I had a low GPA from a non-prestigious school and felt those red flags might overshadow my strong work experience and extra curricular activities. I wanted to make sure I communicated my accomplishments and goals as effectively as possible so I made the decision to work with a consultant.

Initially, I felt a little apprehensive about hiring outside help. I worried that this person would encourage me to say what Adcoms wanted to hear and submit essays that didn’t truly reflect my voice and personality. I worried that the other applicants working with the same consultant would present similar stories in similar voices. I worried that I might be wasting my money on a service that gets paid regardless of the outcome. I interviewed consultants from multiple companies, asking them specific questions about their experiences with past clients. Besides being incredibly intelligent and articulate, Jessica Shklar stood out as someone who remembers her clients better than anyone and even seemed emotionally invested in their success. As we worked together over the course of several months, at five key times I remember thinking to myself, “wow, working with Jessica was a really good decision.”

  1. Receiving feedback on my first resume draft. I thought my resume looked great, like, if there was one area where she would have little to no feedback, it was this. When she returned my resume covered with red ink, I realized I had a lot to learn about describing my work to readers who are completely unfamiliar my career field. My problem: I was too modest in some areas, not specific enough in others, and a little too qualitative in my descriptions. After five drafts the final resume looked incredible. Nothing about it was embellished or untrue, Jessica’s outside perspective simply helped me describe my own experience – basically giving me full credit for everything I had accomplished.
  2. The initial brainstorming session. Over the course of 2 hours we pored over my nearly 20-page questionnaire and pulled out some of my most interesting and impactful stories. After dreading the application process for so long, I finished that conversation with an overall plan for my apps and couldn’t wait to write my first essay.
  3. Finishing my first essay (one down, a dozen to go). From start to final draft, the first essay ended up taking seven days. I thought my initial draft was terrific and almost good enough to submit. Jessica returned my document with insightful and constructive comments that literally covered the pages. For example, she would suggest that I change one word to make a specific sentence sound more positive. Or she’d tell me to explain things in more detail while suggesting ways to make other sentences more concise. Besides helping me keep the essay within the word limit, this was important because instead of just using one example to showcase my leadership experience, I now had room for two really concrete examples. Looking back at its evolution, that first essay went from good to amazing. Jessica’s feedback made me look forward to revising each draft. Her mentorship has even helped me professionally by making me a more effective and efficient writer at work (though not for this review because I have so much to say).
  4. Finishing all my applications one month before the deadlines. I’m usually the type of person who procrastinates and needs every last minute. With Jessica’s help, I started in July and finished four outstanding applications by September. Rather than feeling stressed out, I actually enjoyed writing my essays to include the “why an MBA and why our school” ones. By telling me when I seemed too cookie-cutter or vague, Jessica prodded me to think more carefully about my short and long-term goals. I took my time, researched more thoroughly, and developed a better sense for the classes I wanted to take, the industry I want to enter, and most importantly, why I wanted to go that direction.
  5. December 20, 2012: getting accepted to Wharton, my target school!
I can’t say for sure that I would have gained acceptance to Wharton had I taken a go-it-alone approach, but in my opinion, Jessica’s guidance was the most impactful factor that turned my otherwise good application into an exceptional one. Not only did I get into my target school, I transformed my resume, learned to write more effectively, and formed a plan for B-school and beyond. Looking back, my decision to work with Jessica wasn’t just a good idea; it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.

Wharton Admit

I can’t tell my business school application story without talking about Jessica Shklar from mbaMission. By helping me find my voice, Jessica gave me the tools I needed to articulately convey my 3-dimensional self to the Stanford admissions committee and secure admission. Three days before I submitted a round 1 application, I had a crisis. My GMAT score, which I’d expected to be top notch fell below the Stanford average. I had to make a decision — apply round 1 or take it again and apply round 2. Deciding to give this my very best shot, I decided against submitting the round 1 application. My mentor suggested that in addition to working on retaking the GMAT, I reach out to Jessica to have her look at my essays. I am so glad that I did! Jessica didn’t ’spruce up’ my essays for me. She compelled me to stop writing things I think the admissions team want to hear and instead focus on honestly telling my story in a colorful way that allowed a 360-degree view of my real self to shine through — embracing my personality, highlighting my core strengths, and being honest about my areas for development.

Jessica is an enabler and a mentor. She provided me with tangible frameworks for honest self reflection and invaluable writing techniques to honestly tell my story. By focusing on harnessing my voice instead of superimposing that of another’s, like most consultants do, Jessica guided me to produce the best application that I could. I was so impressed by how committed Jessica was — she always responded on time! Never a second late. In fact, her promptness, passion, and professionalism challenged me to give my application everything that I had. After I submitted my application, Jessica remained a refreshing source of counsel and support. As soon as I got the interview notification, she was there for me providing me with concrete ways to structure my responses so that I don’t just ramble or give in to nerves. This helped me feel confident during my interview — I could relax and be myself because I knew I was well prepared. Prospective students always ask me whether or not they should use a consultant. I always say the same thing — if Jessica can take you on board then YES YES YES! Nothing compares to having a coach who will push you to be honest, focused, and articulate.

Stanford GSB Admit (via GMAT Club)

I cannot recommend mbaMission highly enough and specifically Jessica Shklar. I don’t know if I could have gotten into HBS without her. To say that she was instrumental in my MBA application is a massive understatement — she literally transformed my application and my essays, made them come alive. I think the most difficult aspect of these applications is that no matter how much time, heart, and soul you pour into them, you still self-doubt and over-analyze. The amazing thing about working with mbaMission’s extremely talented writers is that you can rest easy with the knowledge that you will really, truly submit your best possible application — you don’t have to worry about whether you could have done something better. Not only do you get external affirmation from an expert who has read thousands of these essays, but you also will have fine-tuned it with her to the point where you feel happy with your application, and I think that this is critical to stay sane and happy throughout this process.

mbaMission, specifically Jessica Shklar, are by far the best consultants out there in my opinion. I have spoken to friends who have tried other consultants — the problem with others is that 1) they may not care as much or really give it their all...Jessica responded to a million e-mails from me with depth, knowledge, and guidance, and every draft I got back was insightfully edited (she entertained my debates and over-analysis of literally every single word); and 2) they are not professional writers in the way that mbaMission consultants are — Jessica is a brilliant, gifted writer who will bring your essays to life and make sure your story comes out comprehensively, compellingly, and powerfully enough to resonate with the AdCom. She framed so many of my essays into words that I was unable to get on paper myself. She has the ability to cut through a jumbled, non-sensical mess of words on the paper and say, "This is what you are REALLY trying to say. This is the crux of it, the meaning that is coming out. Try saying it this way instead..." Her suggestions every single time were so brilliant I counted my lucky stars that I had found her.

Jessica truly exceeded all of my expectations. I did not think that I could find a consultant who would be there for me as much as she was, through every single line, draft, and question. The best thing about her is that she is a straight-shooter — no bs, no nonsense, no sugar-coating. She tells you how it is and doesn’t waste time. If your draft is no good, she will tell you, but then help you to improve it step by step. She will not rest or allow you to submit until you both are 100% happy with it. And she helps not just with the essays (though at essays there is no one better in my opinion), but also with the entire application, interviews, etc. Hire mbaMission and Jessica Shklar — best decision you will ever make if you want to get into the school of your dreams!!

Business School Admit (via GMAT Club)

Without a doubt, Jessica Shklar & mbaMission are the reasons why I’m headed to b-school this fall. Jessica came highly recommended from several friends who had previously used her services, and she exceeded even their glowing recommendations.

Coming from a non-traditional background (military), I was clueless about how to navigate the b-school application process. Herself a graduate of HBS, Jessica knows first hand what it takes to get into a top b-school and how to best present oneself to the admissions committee. From the beginning, Jessica helped me clearly and tangibly articulate why I wanted to get a MBA in a way that was both logical and compelling to the admissions committees. To that end, she helped me develop a rock-star resume, helped me flesh out my most compelling stories (both personal and professional), and when the time came, helped prepare me to knock out my admissions interviews.

Throughout the application process, Jessica continually pushed me to provide hard, quantifiable data to back up my accomplishments and swiftly eliminated any “fluff” that snuck its way into my essays. As a result, each word in my essays packed a serious punch…crucial when you consider that several of my essays had limits of only 200 words. Jessica also helped me organize my experiences into over-arching themes. This was critical as it allowed me to quickly answer the common behavioral questions that were asked during my admissions interviews, and it was much more effective than trying to memorize answers to questions that may/may not be asked. Jessica always responded swiftly to my questions, ensuring I had the maximum amount of time to work on essay & resume revisions.

Extremely high professionalism and quality is what you can expect from Jessica Shklar. I could easily write several more pages about the top-notch service and insight she provided, but the results speak for themselves. With Jessica I went “3 for 3” and was accepted into Ross, Haas, & Tuck, and found myself in the “difficult” position of having to choose amongst those three top tier programs. I owe all of that to Jessica, and if you’re serious about applying to a top flight business school, you owe it to yourself to go with mbaMission and Jessica Shklar…you won’t regret it!!

Michigan Ross, Haas and Dartmouth Tuck Admit (via GMAT Club)

mbaMission, specifically Jessica Shklar, by far exceeded my expectations of what I thought an admissions consultant would be.

When I started the MBA application process I wasn’t going to hire a consultant because of the service’s cost. However, a friend of mine hired one and convinced me to take a look at some of the firms. I had two half hour consultations — one with Jessica and one with another consulting firm. My first session with a consulting firm I won’t name here was horrible. The man I spoke with focused on all my weaknesses and basically tried to tell me that I would not get into any of my target schools without his services. That really turned me off.

When I had my free consultation with Jessica, it was completely different. She have me such good pointers and really made me feel like she wanted to get to know my story, me as a person. I felt like I really connected with her. A few weeks later, I went to an event organized my mbaMission and got to meet Jessica in person as well as some of her former clients. Everyone had amazing things to say about her work. After that, I was convinced.

When we began working on my applications, we brainstormed for essay topics for each school separately. Essays were the most time consuming part. But she also helped me come up with the list of schools, questions for my school visits, interview prep, filling out the actual applications and guiding me in the process of getting the best recommendations possible.

Jessica’s commitment to my success was evident in everything she did. I used to get emails from her at all hours of the night and on weekends — she is truly dedicated. I know that I would have never been able to come up with all of the topics I wrote about without her help. She made me think about my past in ways that I wouldn’t have thought on my own. She made sure that every application expressed each important aspect of who I am. Jessica was also really great at helping manage stress throughout the process. I felt like she provided very strong support for me, which was definitely not part of her job description! Overall, I think that Jessica really cares about her clients and puts 110% into the job.

I was admitted into 2 of the Top 5 programs in the country with the help of my consultant at mbaMission. I am extremely satisfied with the services Jessica and the firm provided for me. It was worth every penny.

Business School Admit (via Yelp)

Jessica is very thoughtful, positive and responsive. I felt that she likes what she is doing very much, which is crucial for clients. I am a non-native, aged 31, and did my bachelor’s degree in my country with low GPA. And I have never written a single essay in my life. So, I decided to work with a consultant, otherwise, I knew that I couldn’t make it. After carefully reading reviews of different consultants and companies, I decided to try a 30-minute free phone consultation with Jessica Shklar at mbaMission. That was one of the best decisions I ever made. During that 30 minutes, I was impressed by her ability to give advices with limited information. She gave me advice that I would get from someone who had known me for a long time and knows my strengths and weaknesses very well. So I knew that if I worked with her and shared more about who I am, she could market me very well.

So I stopped my market research and decided to work with Jessica Shklar on four different business schools with full admission packages. Jessica gave me crucial advice on choosing schools and recommenders, did mock interviews, and changed my resume to the world class one I would say (I sent my resume, recently, to a manager of one of the top consulting firms. She said, "Your resume is just brilliant.") Most importantly, without Jessica, I would not be able to write such great essays. We worked on at least five drafts for every single essay. Also, she connected me with her past clients who are alumni or current students at different business schools, and they were extremely happy to share their experiences with me and provide me with a lot of helpful information.

As you imagine, the application process was very stressful and I had lot of ups and downs. Having someone during that time encouraged me a lot to work harder. My interview-hit rate was 100% and I chose to attend my top choice. As soon as I heard news from schools to which I applied, such as interview invitations and admission decisions, the very first person I shared my emotion with was Jessica. After telling Jessica, I told my wife and parents.

If you are serious about getting into a top 10 program, you are going to need some professional help to produce a flawless application. I highly recommend Jessica Shklar at mbaMission as an admissions consultant.

Duke Fuqua Admit (via GMAT Club)

I had finished my GMAT and was in the essay-writing phase of my application when I first spoke with Jessica. I took the 30 minute trial to see if speaking with a consultant (specifically one who had helped others get into my dream school) would help me structure some of my thoughts. It did so much more.

My call with Jessica was very warm and friendly, but we actually didn’t spend time “small-talking.” Instead, Jessica asked how she could help and, when I told her that I needed some help organizing my thoughts for my essay, she asked why I wanted to go to school. I spoke for a few minutes (with Jessica listening intently and asking a few questions here and there). As soon as I rambled through my explanation, Jessica matter-of-factly followed with: “Okay, here’s what I would do. Make your intro about X. Take this angle or that angle, whichever feels better. Follow with points A, B, and C, and conclude saying Y. That’s how I’d structure it. What do you think?”

It was the most productive half hour I’d had in my whole experience applying. I ended the call action items, to-do’s, feedback, and more from someone who I had just met but who knew exactly what I needed to make my application better.

I ended up purchasing more hours so that I could get Jessica’s help trimming down my very long essays. She did so much more: she called out examples that seemed weak, encouraged me to elaborate on ideas that made my essays unique, and helped me clarify the main points of each of my essays. From that phone call all the way through edits of letters while I was on the waitlist, Jessica guided me in a way that was incredibly constructive and efficient.

I am so grateful that I met Jessica and had her help. She went above and beyond with my timelines and, when I eventually got in, I could practically hear her shouting in excitement with me!

B-School Admit (via GMAT Club)

I was unfamiliar with the MBA application process and decided to choose mbaMission (Jessica) to guide me from start to finish. I evaluated several consultants at the time and, after talking with Jessica, I felt that she was the right person! In the 30-minute free session, Jessica tried to help me as much as she could within the time limit. If you have a chance to evaluate many consultants, you will certainly know that the free session is actually the marketing session. However, this is not the case for Jessica. I bought 5 school start-to-finish package and eventually got interview at HBS (post-interview waitlisted and dinged), Wharton (admitted), and Booth (admitted). So in this review, I would like to tell you 3 key points about Jessica that eventually led to my successful applications.

  1. Identification of Meaningful Personal Stories
    In my case, I was able to list out personal stories that really shaped my life but, at first, connection among them was relatively weak. Hence, I was so tempted to write about my job, initially. Jessica was an expert in identifying meaningful personal stories and she would keep asking you to explain those stores in details. During the process, you would start to realize by yourself how much impact those events were. In the end, a few personal stories represented the core part of my essays and were used for 4 schools (out of 5) and accounted for at least 70% of word counts. I wrote only 1 paragraph about my job for each essay and its role was to support my personal stories.
  2. On-Time Delivery and Perfection
    Jessica always commented my drafts, on time, and she would not stop doing it until the essays are perfect. She would ask you to write as much as possible up 50% more than maximum word counts and gave you tons of comments that, sometimes, took me a week or so to address. This is a very efficient process. You overwrite it first and then remove certain parts, one by one, so, in the process, you will see the big picture and force yourself to consider each point in depth. You would likely run out of energy before she does. On each school, I worked with her at least 8-12 drafts. And even my final draft sometimes still had her pending comments that I needed to remove because of limited space.
  3. Genuine and Authentic
    My essay got me an interview at HBS so it was great, although I couldn’t convert the interview to the offer. The essay question was “Introduce yourself to classmates” and was the great opportunity to show your personality so I wrote it in a very personalized and funny way, while mentioning some of my achievements but not too many (imagine you brag for 10 minutes. How could that be interesting to your classmates?). Before I submitted my essay, I sent the essay to my boss (and my recommender) for review. And he said “this essay is so authentic. It feels like you are speaking to me..... It’s alive”. Jessica helped me set the tone for my essay and, in my opinion, I like HBS essay the most.
So in my opinion, I strongly recommend Jessica. You need experts who can look into your stories and express independent opinions. During MBA application, you will burn out. So better invest now and get the best shot.

Wharton Admit (via GMAT Club)

I initially considered hiring an admissions consultant as a result of my insane work schedule — I was looking for support during the brainstorming process and for guidance to help me streamline the application process as a whole. I reached out to two friends of mine who had both been accepted into their top schools the previous year, and each of them emphasized the value of working with a consultant and explained that they provide so much more than brainstorming and general guidance.

Coincidentally, both of my contacts had worked with Jessica Shklar and guaranteed that she would be a great fit for me — professional, responsive, and willing to push her clients. Jessica’s (and I’m sure other mbaMission consultants) knowledge of each top program was beyond impressive, and the insight she provided for each of my questions (which were plentiful) was extremely valuable. Before working with Jessica, I had determined what "stories" I would focus on through my essays, but after a 2-hour brainstorming session with her early on, she did a fantastic job of teasing out additional experiences that I had not considered which provided a more holistic picture of who I am as an applicant and as a person.

While working on my essays, Jessica was extremely responsive. I recall times when I considered an essay complete after the second or third draft, but she pushed me to provide more articulate details — or clarify my decision making process within the essay — or scrap everything after the first paragraph and start over (that was fun!) — which resulted in a much stronger final product.

While I am confident that I had a strong application going into this process, I am certain that my presentation was significantly strengthened by working with Jessica Shklar, and do not believe I would have been admitted to my dream school (MIT Sloan) without her support. I cannot say enough to recommend Jessica, but will warn you that she hits her max # of clients earlier than most (she was at max capacity when I first reached out to her but fortunately one of her clients decided to wait until R2 so I took his/her R1 spot — lucky me!).

Best of luck to all future applicants — the letters of acceptance are worth the months of work.

MIT Sloan Admit (via GMAT Club)

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