Who We Are: Testimonials

Reviews for Melissa Blakeslee

I will say this without equivocation and for the world to hear: Melissa Blakeslee at mbaMission is the reason I got into a top 5 B-School. How can I say that with such certitude? Because it sure as stuff wasn’t my 690 GMAT. And my inconsistent, all-over-the-map work experience didn’t exactly help either.

Melissa knew how to bring out my story and how to frame, share and ultimately sell that story to an admissions counselor. Over the course of several months, Melissa skillfully guided me through the process. Melissa was patient and eager to bring out my best work. We brainstormed about my experience, my background and my upbringing working together to genuinely figure out what my contribution to an MBA program would be (that’s ultimately what you’re selling – what do you bring to their table.) Don’t get it wrong. I did the work. You will write, you will rewrite, you will roll your eyes and rewrite again… and by the end, the final product is undeniable.

And she was always available. When things got dicey, she quickly hopped on the phone and talked me off the ledge. Here’s what happened - I was sloppy on my resume and botched a date pretty badly. Well, after I got accepted I started reading about background checks and realized the school would probably catch the mistake and potentially revoke my acceptance. Was I overreacting? Maybe. Doesn’t matter. Melissa totally talked me through it meeting my concerns with her admissions knowledge and experience.

Looking back, Melissa made it look so easy. During the course of our engagement, she effortlessly glided from consultant to advisor to mentor to counselor to friend depending on what I needed. Thanks, MB. Lucky to have you in my corner.

Kellogg Admit (via GMAT Club)

I started working with Melissa on a 4-school package but ended up adding a 5th school based on my positive experience with her. From helping me think through what schools I would apply to and encouraging attendance of various MBA info sessions to interview prep and follow-up, she was there every step of the way. I was able to hone my story and get an objective perspective from someone with experience working in b school admissions. I had 7+ years of work experience when I started working with her, so I often had competing ideas for what direction to take my essay responses. She gave pointed feedback on what worked and what didn’t, helping me create better and more focused applications in the process.

A sample of some of the other things Melissa helped me with:

  • Help in turning my resume into something that highlighted results instead of responsibilities.
  • Mock interview prep, particularly in helping me highlight certain areas that may not have come through in my applications. She wasn’t just asking sample interview questions. As someone who had become very familiar with my background, strengths, weaknesses, etc., she was able to give great feedback on how I responded.
  • Set deadlines for me. I am a procrastinator, so Melissa offered to set deadlines. I managed to turn in my applications early, which still amazes me.
  • Helped me address some of the deficiencies I had in extracurriculars. It’s not as though she could have retroactively made me participate in more organizations outside of work, but she helped me think through how I could present my hobbies/interests in a compelling manner.
Overall, I had a great experience working with Melissa that definitely exceeded my expectations, and I would recommend her to anyone looking for help throughout the application process.

MIT Sloan Admit (via GMAT Club)

Before I ever met Melissa Blakeslee, I was excited to work with her because of her experience working on the other end of the admissions process, as an executive director of admissions at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business. More than helping me craft essays and applications that would appeal to the admissions officers though, Melissa helped me build an authentic application because she was completely committed to getting to know me. Equal parts therapy session and brainstorm, our first meeting was a 1.5 hour call where we talked about everything from my upbringing to my work experience. During our next brainstorming session, she continued to bring up ideas that evolved some of the topics we had discussed 2+ months earlier.

When it came time to practice for my interview, Melissa was the ultimate resource because she knew me as well (if not better) than I knew myself. She suggested answers that I hadn’t considered and reminded me of experiences that I had forgotten. In the end, I was perfectly set-up for an interview that told one cohesive story, rather than a series of disjointed, one-off answers.

More than anything else though, in searching for an admissions consultant, I was looking for a real partner to guide me through a pretty overwhelming process. Someone who’d be as invested in my success as much as my mom or dad might be. In Melissa, I found exactly that. When it was crunch time, I was incredibly grateful to have Melissa with me in the trenches. She provided feedback on my essays quicker than I could edit them and was the only reason I got everything in on time. After a poor interview, Melissa gave me some much-needed perspective, helping me parse the emotional from the rational. And when I found out I had been admitted to my dream school, Melissa was my third call (after my parents and grandma). If I could go through it all over again, I wouldn’t do it with anyone else but Melissa.

Kellogg Admit (via GMAT Club)

I chose to go with the hourly services so that I could spread the consulting time out over a number of different schools. I had very little traditional business experience so I really needed someone to help me frame my story and experience in a way that would speak to the admissions committee. Today I’m happy to report that I got into my TOP school, and I really could not have done it without Melissa.

From day one she was very professional. She never wasted any of my time on our phone calls and was completely transparent about the amount of time spent on assignments and emails. Not only did I appreciate this level of transparency, it helped keep the costs down by allowing me to only buy as much time as necessary. I used every minute that I paid for.

Melissa initially helped me with school selection, which wasn’t easy because I was aiming for Columbia with a GMAT of 640. But when I decided to forge ahead anyway, she was nothing but supportive.

We then spent a considerable amount of time on my resume. Like other people have stated, they do not write the documents for you. But that wouldn’t be authentic anyway. Melissa’s guidance on my bullet points, style, and structure transformed my resume.

When we worked on the essays every draft I got back from her had lots of helpful edits. Additionally, Melissa was particularly good at turnaround - I got most of my documents back in 36 hours or less, and everything definitely before 48. Again, the level of professionalism here was top notch.

After a lot of back and forth I ended up with a very strong application. I feel that mbaMission helped me communicate my story in the most relevant and convincing way possible. I would have ended up with a totally different set of documents had it not been for their guidance. When the time came, I felt very confident hitting “submit”.

Then when I got an interview request, Melissa made time for me even though it was last minute. We spent an hour on the phone to prepare and the next day I interviewed extremely well.

Overall, I felt that Melissa was genuinely interested in my progress. It was especially great to get encouraging emails when I was struggling with the GMAT! I would definitely recommend hiring mbaMission. Even if you are someone who has been through graduate school admissions before, MBA admissions is a totally different game. You need someone who “gets it” to look over your documents and steer you in the right direction.

Finally, yes they are very expensive. But so is business school. A little investment upfront might make all the difference in how your tuition dollars are spent. It most definitely did for me.

Columbia Business School Admit (via GMAT Club)

Summary:
Working with Melissa Blakeslee was one of the best choices that I have made, playing a critical role in my acceptance at CBS (’18).

I decided to work with a consultant after failing to get acceptance from top MBA programs during the previous application cycle. In retrospect, I was too naive to think that I could put together strong applications in a span of one month for Round 2. When re-applying, I decided to invest the time and resources to work with a strong consultant who can provide me with insights to what MBA admissions look for in candidates and how I can best position my strengths to differentiate myself.

Melissa Blakeslee was the perfect fit. She has years of experience working as a senior admissions officer at one of the top US MBA programs. She also has experience in branding / marketing at a major Fortune 500 company. Combined, she knew exactly how to position my background in light of the student profile that top MBA programs seek to enroll.

To note, I spent countless hours speaking to various MBA consulting firms and their consultants. I do not settle easily, especially if I am going to invest a significant amount of my time and resources. Moreover, my situation was tricky given that I was an older re-applicant from an over-represented pool. My advice to the readers of this post is to make full use of free hourly consulting services and reach out to many people before finalizing your choices. I did, and now I have no regrets.

Background:
Asian male, 32 years old. Working in finance in Hong Kong since summer 2010. Currently at an Asia-dedicated private equity firm (buyout). Undergraduate from one of the Ivy Leagues, majoring in Economics and International Relations.

Situation:
Wanted to move away from finance to search for a career in international development organizations. Applied to various schools in winter 2014; would have had 5 years of full time work experience. Dinged at my top choices hence decided to re-apply.

Searching for MBA Consultants:
Decided that it would be best to work with an MBA consultant if I wanted to maximize my chances for enrollment. Worked with several firms, starting with Ding Analysis of schools from different firms. Did not find the feedback very insightful or convincing; was too generic and lacked depth (e.g. “you have a good background, maybe your essay could have been stronger, we know how to help” type of feedback).

I was then recommended by a friend to speak to Jessica Shklar at mbaMission, who in turn, recommended me to Melissa.

Working with Melissa:
Very efficient in turning around the work, flexible to schedule calls, and most importantly, cares greatly about her clients. Took her less than 24 hours to provide comments on the essay.She provided detailed comments on her edits to communicate effectively what she was thinking. She picked out the right ideas to highlight and synthesized elegantly without being too verbose.

In the end, I could trust her to help me refine my story. I can get stubborn / strong-headed and demanding (or nagging, if you spin it differently) when working with others at work. But had no issues when working with Melissa - something that’s only possible if I have full confidence in her words.

Outcome:
Accepted at CBS, Class of 2018! One of the top schools that I was denied from the previous year. Cannot be more happy with this outcome. Very happy with the results.

Highly recommend working with Melissa. Had full confidence when hitting the application submit button that I have put forward a thorough, well-prepared set of documents.

In closing, thank you very much Melissa for all the support! Could have not done this without you!!

Columbia Business School Admit (via GMAT Club)

I was late to the application process and was applying to only one school 3rd round, shooting for the moon knowing the odds were against me. And I honestly don’t think I would have gotten in without Melissa’s help on my essays.

I had the “stories” of both of my essays down, but what Melissa helped me with was to consolidate and focus/expand on what I viewed as details in the story, but actually were distinguishing factors for who I am as a person and applicant, rather than the overall “story”. Her point view coming directly from the seat of the AdCom is invaluable to be able to highlight these character qualities I would have glossed over, instead focusing on the overall story. For example, my original essay said: I tried new things. Melissa helped me to turn that into: swimming across shark infested beaches, traveled to several third world countries, and signed up for new running clubs. By reframing what I was trying to say and extracting these descriptive details she was able to highlight my passion for adventure, exploration, and fearlessness and show more of who I am and what I would bring to campus. She was able to extract at least three adjectives to describe me when my original sentence gave zero.

I know my essays would not have fully shown who I am as a person and what sets me apart from the rest of the application pool without Melissa’s guidance and ability to more effectively demonstrate what I was trying to convey. I would recommend her to ANYONE for any part of the process and was actually excited to work with her the following year had I not gotten accepted!

Kellogg Admit (via GMAT Club)

Melissa was an invaluable resource for me throughout application process, from brainstorming how to tell my story, to helping me craft compelling essays, to helping me successfully navigate the waitlist process. She knows each school inside and out - I was blown away by her deep knowledge of what differentiates each program and what each admissions committee looks for as a result!

When reviewing my essays, Melissa provided specific feedback from the perspective of the AC, whether calling out an experience that I did not explain in enough detail or helping me narrow my focus in shorter essays. She also helped me recognize how highlighting specific elements of my story created a more powerful explanation for “why Kellogg.”

When I was originally waitlisted at Kellogg, Melissa guided me through the difficult process, providing me with tactical next steps about how I should approach each waitlist update strategically and continue to express my interest. Her advice proved to be accurate and invaluable - I was successfully pulled off of the waitlist and admitted to my dream school!

The perfect balance of high level feedback on my story, detailed feedback on essay wording, and moral support through what can be a grueling process - I cannot recommend Melissa highly enough!

Kellogg Admit (via GMAT Club)

As a late applicant, I sought support from Melissa Blakeslee at mbaMission. Melissa began providing thoughtful immediate feedback during our consultation call, identifying areas of improvement for my resume structure and diction as well as overall weaknesses in my application. This first discussion was critical in guiding me to think about my essay topics and ensuring a well-rounded application.

As we began working together, Melissa’s genuine interest in helping me reach my goals was evident. During our brainstorming session, Melissa asked thought-provoking questions and made meaningful connections between my stories. Melissa’s ability to understand my motivations and connect the dots enabled me to develop more thoughtful essays over a short timeline.

Finally, Melissa was always available to discuss my thoughts or admission concerns. Essays, resumes, and questions were promptly answered. Melissa provided honest feedback on an array of topics related to admissions and was consistently open to sharing additional information.

Overall, I highly recommend working with Melissa Blakeslee if an applicant is seeking a COACH to guide you though the entire application process.

Haas Admit (via GMAT Club)

As I prepared for the gauntlet that is the MBA application process, I weighed the option of enlisting the services of an MBA admissions consultant. These packages, or hourly services, are a significant investment. It’s important to know what you want to achieve through hiring a consultant.

One way to practically ensure you will have a good experience with admissions consulting services would be to work with Melissa Blakeslee. Melissa was an outstanding partner to me throughout the admissions process and was a critical driver of my acceptance into an M7 program.

I feel it is common for top MBA applicants to believe in their own infallibility — I myself fall into this trap at times — so let me spell out specifically what value Melissa brought to my process:

  • Melissa helped me clarify my goals: Conversations with Melissa helped me move beyond surface-level goals and drill down with specificity into what I really wanted, what schools would fit those goals, and how to spell those goals out with impact in admissions essays
  • Melissa challenged me: Like I said, lots of top MBA applicants have had success in their careers and believe in their own infallibility to an extent. When you come to realize the quality of talent in the applicant pool, it becomes clearer how an admissions consultant who will push you to perfect your application in all aspects can be a competitive advantage. For me, Melissa struck the perfect blend of cheerleader and coach — supportive of my progress but critical of my application where I needed it.
  • Melissa has a keen eye toward storytelling — Her past as a brand marketer is evident in her work. She has a natural ability as a storyteller. In my opening call with her, Melissa was able to pick out unique stories from my professional and personal past and perfectly flesh them out into ideas for compelling essays. Absolutely invaluable.
Beyond all this — Melissa was timely, efficient, and flexible to work with. I highly recommend her and can’t thank her enough for her role in helping me achieve this dream!

Kellogg Admit (via GMAT Club)

Melissa Blakeslee was AMAZING!!! At first, it felt like a lot of money to spend on a school package - but let’s be honest, it’s a drop in the financial abyss that will be business school and couldn’t have been more worthwhile.

She immediately zeroed in on my most pivotal stories (professional and personal) from the 20-page brainstorming document and our first few conversations then fit them into unique essay structures, helping me shape applications that were compelling for each particular school. In working together, expect to gain an incredible resource who definitely pushes you and is also your biggest cheerleader. Melissa was not only incredibly professional/responsive and always turned drafts around early, but was SO much fun to work with and definitely made me more confident as an applicant and person. I couldn’t have gotten through the process without her!!

B-School Admit (via GMAT Club)

When scoping out admissions consultants, I had only one simple criteria – someone that cared and would serve as an advocate and a friend throughout the process. In the saturated landscape of admissions consulting, Melissa is someone who will go the extra mile for her applicants. Her relationship with clients is not transactional, but vicarious. I can readily attest to Melissa’s empathy and care for her clients, along with her deep knowledge of the admissions world from her own experience as an admissions director.

Working with Melissa was a fantastic experience. She was always responsive, reliable and speedy with turning over reviewed documents. She made constructive and meaningful suggestions to my personal statements, and helped me prioritize the most important qualities to highlight for each of my target programs. Beyond the logistics, she helped to bring a sense of ease and comfort with her upbeat personality to an otherwise daunting application process. I remember a specific instance where Melissa offered her assistance to prep me for interviews even though it meant running over the remaining hours available– that is how much she invests in her applicants. Melissa also provided career insights from her rich experiences, which is something I did not expect from an admissions consultant.

With Melissa’s valuable support and guidance, I was able to gain admission to Kellogg, HBS, and Wharton!

Kellogg, HBS, Wharton Admit (via GMAT Club)

I went into the b-school process early, but totally blind. I heard about mbaMission through Manhattan GMAT and decided to set up a free 30 min consultation. I could not have been more impressed with Melissa from the start. She provide a valuable framework for how to think through the process early on and help me decide if this was the right time for me to apply. She got me thinking about all the right questions early on and helped me identify potential weaknesses in my application and worked with me on a strategy for overcoming those.

After deciding that I was going to apply to schools R1, I signed up for the hourly package. Melissa would hop on a phone call with me right away and quickly responded to all my emails. She calmed me down when I would get overwhelmed with the process and would talk me through anything that I was stressing about.

I decided to apply to 4 schools all of which I felt could have been a stretch. Melissa gave me great tailored advice for each school and was extremely quick at getting my essays back to me. Her feedback was always clear and concise, and most importantly, very specific to each school. The resume guidance I received was particularly valuable.

When I got into 3 of the 4 schools (dinged at HBS), Melissa was there to talk through my decision with me. She was such a reassuring, calming presence throughout this whole process.

I felt that Melissa always wanted me to succeed and was doing whatever she could to help me achieve my goals. I could not have been more pleased with my consulting process with both Melissa and mbaMission.

I am going to my dream school and am so excited for what is to come!

B-School Admit (via GMAT Club)

Back to Melissa Blakeslee’s profile