SBC Scoop: Making the Business Case for Admission

*Please note that no client details are ever shared in SBC Scoop or otherwise without complete sign off from client.

Most MBA candidates face either serious writer’s block or a case of “too much information” when it comes to b-school essays. Yes, business schools tell you they want to know the real you. However, that doesn’t mean that your entire life story is relevant to your business school applications. Editing yourself (or working with someone else who can edit you) is a key strategy to producing quality business school essays.

Cheryl took a comprehensive package with Stacy Blackman Consulting and was looking particularly for help pitching her non-traditional background to MBA programs. Her target schools were Haas, Tuck, Anderson and Duke. Much like our client May whose career path was covered in an earlier SBC Scoop, Cheryl had pursued more than one career prior to pursuing an MBA. Cheryl had worked as an investment banking analyst for a year, then started producing off-off-Broadway productions with a group of friends from her undergrad theater classes. The first draft of Cheryl’s career goals essay was three times the word limit and included numerous anecdotes from her colorful theater experience. The essay read like a novel with anecdotes like the time Cheryl had to manage an alcoholic actor who threatened to quit the show right before opening curtain.

While Cheryl’s story would definitely hold an admission officer’s interest, we needed to transform her essay into a coherent pitch for her admission to the program. First we talked through the various experiences Cheryl had in her years of work experience. Then we applied a filter to all of her stories and asked: “Does this story demonstrate that Cheryl has key business skills?” If a story was compelling ”“ but had more drama than skillset ”“ we eliminated it. After extensive editing Cheryl’s essay was a coherent portrait of someone who worked effectively with creative people and had the skills to run an organization.

In the end Cheryl was happy with her less-dramatic essay because it led to real results. She attended Anderson and was able to pursue her dreams of combining her creative and business skills together in the entertainment industry.

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