Stacy Blackman Consulting - MBA Admissions Consulting Winning Marketing Strategy for Business School Admissions Thu, 26 Feb 2015 19:05:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Survey Says American MBA Programs Prepare Students Better Than Anywhere Else Thu, 26 Feb 2015 19:05:54 +0000 ]]> MBA programs in the United States feel overwhelmingly confident that their graduates are prepared for today’s workforce—and that they are better prepared than their European and Asian counterparts.

According to a Kaplan Test Prep survey of over 200 top business schools across the United States, a whopping 95% think American business schools better prepare their students than European business schools do, and 92% said the same about business schools in Asia, despite their growing global prominence.

Given the number of contrary news reports over the past year, it is perhaps surprising that 95% of surveyed business schools say that “today’s MBA graduates in the U.S. are properly prepared for the changing employment landscape.” This evaluation comes at a time when many business leaders are questioning whether U.S. colleges and universities are preparing students with the skills needed in today’s workforce.

A Gallup study last year shows that a third of business leaders disagree with the statement that “higher education institutions in this country are graduating students with the skills and competencies that my business needs.”

Recognizing the skills gap, many business leaders are working with business schools to make sure the MBA degree stays relevant, and some business schools are significantly revamping their curricula to give students the skill sets needed to excel in an increasingly tech-focused economy.

In what may become a trend among business schools that are changing their curricula, Kaplan’s survey finds that 26% currently offer a course to teach students how to code; 64% don’t and the remaining were unsure.  Of the 64%  that said they’d didn’t offer a coding class, just 7% said they may develop one.

“American business schools continue to produce many of the world’s top leaders in a host of industries, from finance to technology to healthcare, but despite the confidence in their ability to meet workforce needs, many business schools understand they must continue to evolve so that their graduates have the know-how needed to thrive in a competitive, increasingly technology-driven global economy,” said Brian Carlidge, Executive Director of pre-graduate and pre-business programs, Kaplan Test Prep.

“We think MBA programs may increasingly offer their students the opportunity to take courses in both coding and data science in the years to come to give them basic knowledge in two areas that businesses are increasingly taking an interest in,” Carlidge added.

For the Kaplan survey, admissions officers from 204 business schools from across the United States – including 11 of the top 30 MBA programs, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report – were polled by telephone between August and September 2014.

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Mind Your Manners Wed, 25 Feb 2015 13:09:08 +0000 ]]> Our clients often ask us if they should write thank-you notes to their interviewers. While handwritten messages of appreciation will always be a classy move—and we certainly encourage applicants to write such notes if they’re so inclined—an email message is just as acceptable in this day and age.

The most important thing is to ensure you have your interviewer’s contact information. This is especially critical if your discussion is taking place on campus and you won’t know who your interviewer is going to be until you arrive. Don’t forget to ask for that person’s business card when you’re wrapping up!

If you’re interviewing with a local alum, then you’ll have already been supplied with their email address.

As for the content of the message, you shouldn’t feel the need to go on and on. There are only two must-includes: 1) thank the interviewer for their time and 2) reiterate your interest in the program. If you can throw in a sentence or two that references something you talked about, all the better. But a thank-you note is not the place to try and sell yourself any further. The point is to show that you’re excited about and thankful for the opportunity to be considered for a spot in Program X.

Some AdComs need to make accept and denial decisions very quickly, so you shouldn’t let more than 24 hours go by before you send your message. If you interviewed in the morning, send it before the business day is over. If your talk was in the late afternoon or evening, get your e-mail out first thing in the morning.

If you have to type out a quick message from your phone because you’ll be traveling back home after the interview, please don’t forget to read things over carefully to ensure spellcheck or autocorrect didn’t do you wrong. You don’t want the last impression you leave to be a negative one!

Have MBA hopefuls been accepted to their dream programs without writing any sort of thank-you note? Yes, of course. But showing that you have manners and are aware of the proper etiquette is never a bad move—it’s just the right thing to do.


MBA thank you notes







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Michigan Ross to Release Early Deny Decisions Tue, 24 Feb 2015 18:58:36 +0000 ]]> The University of Michigan Ross School of Business continues to streamline and improve the transparency of MBA admissions by piloting a new process that will release unsuccessful applicants from Rounds 1 and 2 before the official Round 2 notification date on March 13th to give them more time to make other plans for the fall.

Admissions Director Soojin Kwon posted this diagram on her blog to help illustrate the change:

Michigan Ross MBA admissions decisions

credit: University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business

“This is not to say that all applicants who weren’t invited to interview will be denied early,” Kwon clarifies. “If you weren’t invited to interview and you don’t receive an early release notification, you will be notified on the regular notification date.”

The admissions committee plans to send out the early deny notifications by the end of this week (February 27).

You may also be interested in:

Michigan Ross Director on Interviewing, Team Exercise

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HBS Dominates in B-School ‘Oscars’ Tue, 24 Feb 2015 13:47:35 +0000 ]]> Harvard Business School took home a whopping six awards and experienced its best showing ever at the 2015 annual Case Centre Awards, a celebration of excellence in case writing and teaching from across the globe that are now considered the case method community’s annual ‘Oscars.’

Awards for cases are presented for nine management categories plus an Overall Winner Award. Each year, an award is made to recognize an individual who has made an Outstanding Contribution to the Case Method.

David B. Yoffie and Renee Kim of Harvard Business School authored the Overall winning case, Cola Wars Continue: Coke and Pepsi in 2010. “The ‘Cola Wars’ have been a classic competitive dynamic and industry analysis case for three decades,” says Yoffie, who is the Max and Doris Starr Professor of International Business Administration at HBS.

“It is an industry that is easy to understand, but complicated to analyse, which always works well in the classroom. Understanding why this industry has been so profitable for so long makes it stand out,” Yoffie explains.

Debapratim Purkayastha, associate dean at ICFAI Business School in Hyderabad, India, won the Outstanding Contribution to the Case Method award for his innovative and forward-looking commitment to transform case teaching and writing.

“To students, I would like to say that the process of case learning is more important than the results. It’s not just about getting a good grade; it’s about developing the skills you will need in your future career,” says Debapratim.

Case-based sessions are great fun when you are well prepared; and a big drag when you are not. Prepare the cases, participate wholeheartedly in the classroom keeping an open mind, and then spend some time for introspection after the class; you will be surprised by the results, Debapratim advises.

A new award debuted in 2015 for Outstanding Case Teacher, which recognizes an excellent practitioner in the case classroom. This award went to Casey Lichtendahl, associate professor at University of Virginia Darden School of Business. He teaches students how to apply advanced statistical and machine learning techniques to key business problems while immersing them in the world of practical data science.

Two case writing competitions are held each year to find an outstanding first-time case writer, and to identify the best new case written on a ‘hot topic.’ Laurel C. Austin, associate professor at Copenhagen Business School, won the Outstanding New Case Writer competition with the case, UCSD: A Cancer Cluster in the Literature Building? Vlerick Business School professors Steve Muylle and Stijn Viaene won the best ‘hot topic’ case with Hello bank! The Birth of a Mobile Bank.

The Case Centre is a non-profit organization that advances the case method worldwide, sharing knowledge, wisdom and experience to inspire and transform business education across the globe. The Case Centre Awards are in their 25th year and have been awarded on a global basis since 2011.

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Face the Challenge of Round 3 Business School Applications Mon, 23 Feb 2015 17:18:29 +0000 ]]> This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on

Round three is the most competitive one at most business schools, since the vast majority of acceptances happen in the first two rounds. If you weren’t able to apply earlier because you were busy studying for the GMAT, dealing with a family crisis or completing an all-consuming work project, you’ve got to bring your A-game if you hope to land a seat at the end of the admissions cycle.

With fewer slots available, fine-tune your focus on schools where you’ll be a compelling candidate. A strong, well-thought-out application is critical. Make sure your academic profile aligns with the school’s median GMAT and average GPA and that you add something special to the class that the admissions committee didn’t see earlier in the season.

Special means unusual work experience, substantial community service, a diverse background, compelling leadership examples, unique or uncommon interests outside of business or entrepreneurial success of some sort.

“We actually enjoy round three,” Dee Leopold, managing director of MBA admissions and financial aid at Harvard Business School, recently told The Wall Street Journal. “It takes a certain amount of confidence to apply then. Those applicants march to their own drum, and we would never want to miss them.”

You should definitely use the required or optional MBA admission essays to explain to the admissions committee your reasons for waiting until the third – or final – round to apply. You don’t want anyone to jump to the conclusion that you are using round three as a last-ditch effort to get into business school in the fall after receiving rejections from other schools in earlier rounds.

[Read more about the best round to submit your business school application.]

Applicants who graduated from college more than five years ago should also give serious consideration to applying in round three. While every situation is different, time is of the essence, especially at programs that tend to focus on younger applicants.

Plus, it’s unlikely your candidacy will improve significantly over the next eight months after you’ve already been in the workforce for so long. If this is your situation and all you need to do is put the finishing touches on your materials, go for round three.

It’s worth noting that being admitted to some schools is not as challenging in round three as others. Elite European business school INSEAD has four rounds, and provides options for a January start date in addition to the traditional September intake. This allows later applicants who don’t mind waiting to start school to have a stronger chance at admission.

The University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School has five rounds, and Columbia Business School also offers a January intake for candidates who don’t need an internship between the first and second year.

[Get advice on what matters most in MBA admissions.]

Finally, it’s important to have a Plan B in case things don’t go your way. You can always apply to a set of schools in round three knowing there is a good chance you will need to reapply to them and add in some new ones next season.

Though the initial rejection may sting, you’ll be in a great position for round one in the fall with your essays, recommendation letters and transcripts already in hand. Or, you may find that the soul searching required for an MBA application sets you on a different path altogether. Perhaps you will decide to make a career switch now and pursue higher education later.

Round three is certainly a gamble, but you just might be that missing element the admissions committee is looking for to spice up the mix.

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Popular Stanford GSB Course on Female Entrepreneurship Offers Lessons for All Fri, 20 Feb 2015 19:51:41 +0000 ]]> The men who take a Stanford Graduate School of Business course on female entrepreneurship do so for the eye-opening exposure to some of the down-and-dirty aspects of starting your own business. Learning about the strategic and business challenges of entrepreneurship is great, but what about the expectations and emotions of starting a business? How does starting a company impact your personal life? What are you willing to give up to get your business off the ground?

While women are still the majority participants in the “Entrepreneurship from the Perspective of Women” course taught by Professor Fern Mandelbaum, that may change as word continues to spread of the “people issues” covered in the course, a recent profile piece in Fast Company reveals.

The idea for the course came ten years ago, when Professor Garth Saloner, currently dean of the Stanford GSB, created a two-week seminar on female entrepreneurship with the simple goal of exposing business students to a multitude of entrepreneurship examples. As of 2015, the class will be offered as a full, quarter course.

Three male students interviewed in the article say they signed up for the course because they wanted to better understand the real-life challenges and decisions that entrepreneurs have to make.

“In a lot of the other classes, you hear the stories of winners … not to say that you didn’t hear it in this class, but the tone of it was more about the trade-offs that you have to make along the way,” says former student Andrew Yaffe. “We had both male and female speakers in the class addressing topics in term of how often they were able to see their children, when they started their company, what was the initial pay they took. I found the male and female perspectives valuable.”

The course name may dissuade male students who assume it’s a class for women, but Professor Mandelbaum hopes that will soon change because the topics are important for future business leaders of either gender in order to create inclusive work environments.

Men may not think business school is the place to learn some of the personal aspects covered in the class, but, says past participant Johnson Ci Yu Fung, “What better way to generate innovation than to see it from a perspective that the other half of the population experiences?”

You may also be interested in:

Stanford GSB Expands Course on Female Entrepreneurship

New Georgetown MBA Course Focuses on Women Leaders

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