March 30, 2015

Joined: Mar 30, 2015

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Bottom Line Upfront: when I was applying to MBA programs I just cared about peoples backgrounds, scores, and where they got into, so real quick: Decorated Army Officer (9 years), 3.7 GPA from West Point, 700 GMAT, dinged HBS, wait list Wharton, accepted Duke. Don't think I would have achieved the results (or would have had a much harder time) without Jessica.

I'm an Army Officer who wanted to go to a top tier business school through a program the Army has to send Officers to grad school. I didn't really know anything about business, and even less about business school, so I decided to get a consultant off a recommendation of several friends. One friend pointed me to Jessica, stating that she helped another Army Officer get into HBS. I signed up for the 3 school complete package.

I had already taken the GMAT and got a 700 (low for the schools I was applying to) and in my first meeting with Jessica she said I should work on getting that score up and to email her back in one year because I was starting the process WAY early, which really makes sense because again, I'm an Army Officer and I like to plan long term.

I was unable to work on my GMAT because I was in command and deployed, so a year later I emailed Jessica while deployed. She said she was looking forward to me recontacting her, and gave me a brainstorming document to work on. This brainstorming document covered a lot in your life- accomplishments, stories, awards, etc. We also briefly discussed my strategy for graduate school- that essentially I was competing against other military and I needed to make myself stick out compared to other military.

She helped me out tremendously with my resume. I've done a lot in my career, however, I didn't really know how to put it in terms that non-military people understood. This was actually the most difficult part of the entire application process for me. But we worked it out and put together a great resume that I am very proud of.

Next We had an online "workshop" with other students to talk about essays. We had to read essays before hand and talk about them. I found this really enjoyable and insightful and got to ask a lot of good questions. I was also very intimidated by the other participants- after all, I have no background in business and it seems like the other MBA applicants had a much better background than I did! I brought that up to Jessica and she said not to worry, that I had a strong background, was not at all outclassed, and in fact other applicants would probably be intimated by me. This really helped my attitude going forward. Thanks Jessica!

The essay process was hell. A lot of rewrites and edits. Typically when I gave something to Jessica I'd get it back in a day or two- even when she was on "vacation"! I truly poured my heart out into these essays and put together a very satisfactory product for both HBS and Wharton. I also felt that I was in total control of my product- Jessica suggested routes to explore and go down, and help me tighten up my bad grammar and take out parts that didn't belong, but she by no means dictated what I wrote. I also got to know Jessica and I really appreciated her insight and humor.

Duke was the last school for R1 applications, so naturally I did that essay last. Unfortunately, I didn't leave myself much time because it was right before a deployment. I had to force myself to sit down in front of my computer while staying in Waikiki Beach in Hawaii and write. The first product I sent to Jessica was horrible- and I knew it. However, we quickly talked, recovered, and knocked out what turned out to be my favorite essay.

Interviews were nothing to stress about. We talked a little bit about them, but I felt I was fine. The Wharton mock interview was very helpful, especially since I had to interview while in India.

Overall, I was disappointed in myself that I did not get into HBS and got wait listed for Wharton. I knew some peers that got in with similar scores as me (or lower) and I thought my essays were top notch. However, those schools are very competitive, may have been looking for something else, and plenty of my peers did not get into Duke, which is where I finally ended up getting admitted to. However, I don't think I even would have had a chance without Jessica's help, and more importantly, she gave me confidence and kept me on track when I needed it.

I'm very happy that I ended up at Duke and would pick it over Wharton anyways. For anyone starting the MBA application process, especially if they are military, I recommend a consultant, and I couldn't imagine a better one than Jessica Shklar.

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