Who We Are: Testimonials

Reviews for Susan Kaplan

I worked with Susan for nearly the entirety of the past year, through 2 rounds of bschool admissions (which might sound like a bad thing, but read on to learn why!), and highly recommend that you give her a call if you are in the early stages of applying to business school. Your applications will be better for it.

I initially applied in the last round of admissions for the Class of 2019, and hired Susan after a 30-minute phone call with another mbaMission consultant who was no longer accepting third round candidates but who heavily endorsed Susan. Going into this final round, Susan was super-candid about my odds of getting accepted (spoiler alert: they were not great). This candor and honesty has been a theme of my work with Susan, and I really appreciated it. I decided to proceed with the final round apps, and Susan was with me every step of the way. She held herself accountable to promised turnaround times, and was often open to expedited reviews as I got into crunch time for certain apps. I applied to three schools in this last round, and was waitlisted at two of them (rejected from one) – which, all things considered, was a pretty good outcome.

The brainstorming / career goals exercise, which then flows into outlining first drafts of essays, are such helpful steps that I think set mbaMission and Susan, specifically, apart. Susan pushed me to set realistic and specific goals by tying in my past experiences (personal / professional), identifying knowledge / skills gaps that I needed to fill, and highlighting how specific resources at my target programs are going to help me realize my goals. One of the best parts of working with Susan is how much she pushed me to go one level deeper – always getting to the “how” and the “why” vs. just stating the “what”. Pointing to specific resources and identifying why I want to pursue them and how they fit with my goals made my story much more compelling than just saying which specific resources I was excited about. I would not have gotten to this level without Susan’s guidance.

Susan’s feedback not only helped ensure that each aspect of my applications was individually strong, but also that there was an almost tangible common thread / consistent story running through the entire application.

I applied again in Round 1 for the Class of 2020, and – after kicking around the “is it worth the money”-question – decided to work with Susan again on my second attempt. Her feedback on my essays and other materials, as well as video components and interview prep was invaluable. I am thrilled that I will be attending a top-10 program (my top choice) in the Fall!

Yale SOM Admit (via GMAT Club)

After speaking with admissions consultants at a few companies, I ultimately selected Susan because of her amazing reviews on GMAT Club. I knew that she had a reputation for being tough, but that’s what I wanted, and that’s what I got. Susan helped me get into Stanford, my dream school, and I can’t thank her enough.

I’m embarrassed to think about how bad my applications would have been without Susan’s help. As a non-traditional applicant with an engineering background, I needed assistance with all aspects of my application – post-MBA career goals, school selection, resume, essays, recommendations, and interviews. Susan guided me through all of it flawlessly.

“This just isn’t working.” Susan never hesitated to tell me when something wasn’t working. When I was ready to give up, Susan pressed onward. We went through ten revisions of some essays, and Susan never missed the two-day turnaround.

Even if I hadn’t gotten into any business schools, going through the application process with Susan would have been worth it. She encouraged me think critically about my motivations, strengths, and accomplishments, and got me into the habit of asking why to drive down to the deepest levels of a decision or goal.

I have no doubt that the applications I submitted were the best I could possibly submit. At times, I thought it was overkill, that there was no way one more revision could make a difference. But Susan always found room for improvement. And it’s hard to argue with success.

Stanford GSB Admit (via GMAT Club)

I took my time choosing an admissions consultant- first, because there are so many options out there! Second, honestly, I wasn’t sure if I bought into the idea. Couldn’t I do as good of a job passing my essays around to a few friends and getting their feedback? (Short answer: no.) When I spoke with Susan, I appreciated her straightforward approach. In our initial consultation, I never felt like she was pushing anything on me, but rather giving candid feedback and giving me options to consider. In that 30 minute conversation alone, the ‘food for thought’ she provided made me realize how much I stood to gain from working with Susan, and it was easy to pull the trigger after that.

Throughout the application process- brainstorming, writing essays, preparing the resume- Susan helped me sharpen my focus. She called me out when I was trying to skirt an issue or avoid adding extra details, and pushed me to spend more time thinking through each of the components of my application (Why does this matter? Do less telling and more showing!) so that the final product was true to my best work. She NEVER gave me the answer, or rewrote things for me, which I also appreciated.

Susan helped me get into Kellogg, my top choice, and I can’t thank her enough. You have everything to gain from working with Susan, and nothing to lose!

Kellogg Admit (via GMAT Club)

I feel confident stating that I would never have gotten into both schools I applied to with Susan’s help.

A non-traditional background can be a real asset if you know which aspects of your background to highlight, and a hindrance if you focus on the wrong areas. I was completely hung up on trying to figure out how to present my story, and Susan was incredibly helpful in working with me to identify which particular skills and experiences to highlight in the various parts of my application. She also provided frank feedback when I was heading in the wrong direction.

I particularly valued her help on my essays - I was amazed at how quickly my jumbled first drafts turned into final products. It’s because her comments were focused and direct. She suggested places to cut out lots of unnecessary details, pointed out areas where I should elaborate more, and left me to work on improving my next draft without getting stuck running in circles.

She also really pushed me to clarify my career goals. In addition to strengthening my application, that also made me feel much more confident that going to business school was the right decision for me.

Finally, it was great to have someone in my corner who was enthusiastic and supportive any time I had news to share about interviews or acceptances.

Wharton and Yale SOM Admit (via GMAT Club)

Upfront and honest: Hiring an admissions consulting service was the best decision I made during the MBA application process, and if I had to do it all over again (thankfully I don’t!), I would work with Susan again in a heartbeat.

Small caveat: I worked in the undergraduate admissions office at a Top 25 school in undergrad, and learned that the most important part of an applicant’s application is not necessarily the “stats.” Most everyone applying has around the same GPA/test scores, so just numbers alone help an applicant achieve parity with the rest of the applicant pool - not necessarily differentiation. The story that supported the stats, i.e. essays/letters of rec, was really where applicants separated from each other and unique students stood out.

Therefore, I applied the same insights to the graduate school application process. Knowing my grad school stats (3.4 GPA/650 GMAT) were going to be “average,” the essays were going to be an critical part of my application in order to breakthrough the applicant log jam.

However, I had no idea where to start, what to say and how to say it. When trying to fit years of work experience and undergrad accomplishments into 250 words or less, having a clear perspective on the key points you want to say is mission critical before ever putting finger-to-keyboard. That is when I started working with Susan, and she absolutely saved me!

Here is what Susan did that was tremendously valuable:

  • Gave me a place to start. The initial brainstorming sessions were painful soul-searching endeavors, but she knew the right questions to ask and how to ask them in a way that got me to be honest with myself about who I am, who I wanted to be, where I wanted to be and what made me unique.
  • Helped me understand the application game. With her background in marketing, Susan helped me to understand that applications are really just an exercise in building your personal “brand.” She helped me to look through my background, and recognize the experiences that were worth building a brand around.
  • School-specific optimization. Susan also provided unique insight into each school I was applying to, the elements they’re looking for in an applicant and how I could tailor my brand story to align with what each school was looking for.
  • Time efficiency. Susan also kept our time streamlined so as to maximize efficiencies, which I appreciated. This mentality extended to the essay writing process itself, where she was also able to help me self-edit down (some times brutally, but necessarily) to the most important parts of what needed to be said in order to maximize every word.
I applied to four schools, each with approximately 2-4 essays and several resume iterations (professional and activities.) Susan provided feedback on time in every instance, helping me to meet deadlines as needed.

Additionally, Susan also provided encouragement when things were on the right track and honest feedback when an essay had gone awry. When words begin to swim in front of you, knowing I could trust her to give me real feedback made the process less stressful and more productive.

I also worked with Susan for interview prep, and highly recommend the experience as well. Susan knew me as an applicant and was able to identify my key strengths/weaknesses along with suggestions as to how to address them in an verbal format. The mock interview along with her real-time feedback was particularly beneficial.

In the end, I got into 3 of the 4 schools, including my top choice, and was wait-listed at the other school. I am very pleased with how everything went, and I have Susan to thank for the positive outcome.

Business School Admit (via GMAT Club)

As a nontraditional candidate from a nonprofit background, I was initially worried about applying to business school. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to work closely with Susan Kaplan throughout the process. Susan not only allayed my concerns, she worked with me to clarify my goals and present them in a clear and concise manner. Through the brainstorming and writing process, Susan helped me to present my experiences creatively and in a compelling way.

Susan was a thorough and meticulous reader of my work and by working with her, I was able to hone my writing abilities and develop a clearer sense of my career goals. Beyond that, she was encouraging and very attentive throughout the process, working quickly to give me feedback.

I truly cannot recommend her highly enough. With Susan’s help I was able to get into my first choice program: Columbia.

Columbia Business School Admit (via GMAT Club)

I had started preparing my applications for the top MBA programs and thought I was in pretty good shape, until I asked mbaMission’s consultant Susan to have a look at my file. Boy, am I glad I did that! Thanks to Susan’s impressive experience and credentials, I was truly able to raise my game to the next level. She was more than helpful, and struck a great balance in bringing new ideas vs working with my owns ideas. I’d say working with someone with good experience to help you build your case for top schools through a second perspective is a must, but Susan really surpassed any expectation I had for this. Her dedication and enthusiasm made me feel that I was really getting my bang for the buck. I would strongly recommend her to anyone thinking of applying to an MBA program.

Business School Admit (via GMAT Club)

I still go back to my 1st draft and compare with my 9th draft. It makes me laugh and I thank Susan again and again for drastically making my stories come to life. ’Do you really need to put that point across?’, ’Write one point and delve deeper into that’... many such words of wisdom echo in my ears still. Susan you are awesome! It was just not a process of application but self-reflection. I will carry the experience throughout my life. As an applicant I appreciate Susan’s turnaround time. I was pretty late in the process but Susan paced me up and bought me back right in the game. She strived to get my essays before 2 business days. As an applicant I was okay with my essays sometimes but Susan was not. So you imagine the level of perfection she demands. Her comments really pushed me to think deep and enhance my style of writing. I learned to write EFFECTIVELY.

Susan is the best! You will never go wrong in your decision.

Business School Admit (via GMAT Club)

I first came to mbaMission after applying to, and getting dinged from, 3 top 15 schools in 2011/2012. After surveying the damage and doing a lot of soul searching, I decided really late in 2012/2013 application season to give it another try and aim a little lower on schools, but to get some help this time.

I shopped around and spoke to a few consulting services and was impressed with the free consultation with Jeremy. He asked a lot of questions about my particular situation/story, and genuinely answered all of my questions. Most importantly, he didn’t just speak about his experience applying to Harvard, or his time working as an adcom like a few other consultants I spoke with.

So I decided to test mbaMission using their ding review to see if I would like to use their services on full school packages. I was assigned to Susan Kaplan after speaking with Jeremy about what I wanted in a consultant (honest, constructive, but tough feedback on my story and chances of getting into different schools). Susan definitely ticked all of the boxes! After spending an hour or so on the phone with her going over my application to Ross, she picked apart most of my application (which is what I wanted) and got me thinking a lot more critically about how uniform my story sounded to the adcom.

So I decided to work with Susan on 2 new schools I had targeted. Long story short, the brainstorming process, outlining, drafting, and pulling together all of the other little things that make up an application, was a lot easier and less painful with Susan. I actually learned a great deal about myself and my goals by going through the process.

The most important thing I got out of the whole experience was understanding how my story sounded to an outsider who didn’t know me at all — or in other words… an adcom. Working with Susan made me understand exactly where my weaknesses were and how to address them properly. It also helped me understand my strengths, how to talk about them through simple but effective stories, and how to demonstrate how my strengths added value to the particular school I was applying to.

I was very happy with the services mbaMission offered and I would recommend them to a friend or anyone who needs guidance navigating the very vague waters of MBA admissions.

Business School Admit (via GMAT Club)

The GMATs for me were straightforward. Study + put in the hours + practice problems galore + take the test twice = awesome score.

But when it was time to start thinking about actually applying to schools, I had no idea what I was doing. I’m naturally more of a “flowery” writer, and I strongly believed in keeping true to myself and having my voice come through. So my writing meandered all over the place and couldn’t be called “succinct” in any definition of the word.

Susan Kaplan whipped me into shape.

After getting a few free consulting calls from different companies, I connected with her the most because she showed genuine enthusiasm for helping me. Plus, her background and experience in Marketing meant a natural fit for me and my career goals.

From the outset of defining my background and career goals, Susan gently but firmly guided my writing to be more professional and concise. With each essay revision, she made detailed notes and probed with pointed questions to make me truly think about the “what” and “why” of every sentence. Even when I was on the 10th version, or when I expressed my frustration at how little progress I felt I was making, she remained positive and encouraging. In addition, it helped that I could create my own timeline and force myself to revise and finish essays because I knew Susan’s time was valuable.

Most importantly, with each essay I wrote, my next one got easier because I was learning how to answer the questions well. My latter applications were definitely stronger than my first essays, because I knew what I was doing! I would not have been so knowledgeable if I muddled through by myself. I pushed myself the harder knowing Susan was with me every step of the way.

Of course, I can’t forget the comprehensiveness of the packages mbaMission offers either. From in-depth calls, to mock videos and interviews (individual and group), to the Insider Guides and other resources, every element helped me make my application and interviews better.

After R1, I was able to get into one of my top schools, and have other schools in my back pocket.

I definitely would not have gotten as far as I did without mbaMission and Susan, and I would highly recommend both the company and the consultant to anyone!

B-School Admit (via GMAT Club)

Honestly, I would have never been able to craft my most compelling story with the same conviction without Susan Kaplan’s guidance. She was incredibly pleasant and had a knack for pushing all the right buttons to bring out the very best in me. In hindsight, I should have just purchased the entire package deal because I trusted her and sought her input every step of the way in the application process.

With Susan as my coach, my work became more efficient and targeted! And, when I strayed, she was not afraid to bring me back on point. I was so confident with the strength of my final application,and subsequent interview, that I decided to apply only to my top school and wait for a decision. I was accepted – Ivy League Executive MBA!

EMBA Admit (via GMAT Club)

I started working with Susan in late October. Word of advice - start much much..much earlier! I knew I was cutting it very close so I wanted a consultant that was frank (in a nice way) and would keep me ticking away. I got this with Susan.

Susan was upfront about the amount of work that i’d have to put in to make sure I developed strong applications in a short space of time. We got started on exchanging information about myself and picking potential schools. More honest conversations ensued about my chances at each school and my fit with the schools. In the end I chose 3 - one in the top 2, another in the top 7 and and the other in the top 10-ish. The hard work started with the brainstorming session. The questionnaire, the long phonecall and Susan’s probing questions really do make you dig deep. Once we had all my experiences pinned down, I begun outlining my essay responses, getting feedback from Susan and more back and forths. Susan’s feedback was always clear and straight to the point and she was always happy to jump on a call if there were any sticky points.

In the end, there’s no substitute to the upfront time spent fleshing out one’s story and outlining your essay answers. In essay draft 5, 6 or more, you’ll appreciate the effort you put in upfront and can always go back to the source. Another word of advice, applications aren’t a walk in the park. A couple of times in the process, I felt myself losing momentum/motivation and Susan was very quick to pick up on this and keep me going. She was a great support in helping me get my applications in and in helping me prepare for all the 3 interviews. In the end, I got offers from all 3 schools.

I would definitely recommend Susan. She’ll make you dig deep and work hard but it’ll be worth it in the end.

B-School Admit (via GMAT Club)

Back to Susan Kaplan’s profile