Stacy Blackman Consulting - MBA Admissions Consulting Winning Marketing Strategy for Business School Admissions Tue, 30 Sep 2014 16:39:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Applications Rising for Two-Year MBA Programs Tue, 30 Sep 2014 14:38:31 +0000 ]]> For a third straight year, applications to full-time, two-year MBA programs showed marked growth, according to the 2014 Application Trends Survey, released by the Graduate Management Admission Council. By comparison, the survey reported a flattening or decrease in applications to other graduate management program types.

The survey also highlighted trends observed in GMAT testing that show a growing number of students seeking to study outside their country of citizenship. These candidates make up a significant portion of the talent pool for many MBA and non-MBA master’s programs and are driving changes in year-on-year application volume globally.

The increasingly global talent pool has been emerging for more than a decade, and has shaped the development of management education — both in where it is growing, as well as the in the mix of programs types offered to meet the needs of global students.

“Viewed in tandem, there is good news for both students and schools in this survey, as well as in our recent Corporate Recruiters Survey [released in May 2014], where 4 out of 5 companies said they planned to hire MBA graduates in 2014,” says Sangeet Chowfla, GMAC president and CEO.

The 2014 Applications Trend Survey found that 61 percent of global full-time two-year MBA programs participating in the survey reported application growth — up from 50 percent of programs in 2013.

Among other findings of the 2014 survey are:

  • The percentage of professional MBA programs (part-time, flexible, online, and executive MBA) reporting increased application volume was higher this year than in 2013, however, the majority of programs is not yet experiencing growth.
  • Results for 2014 are mixed for the specialized business master’s (non-MBA) programs. Growth in application volume is seen among Master in Marketing and Communications, Master in Information Technology, Master in Management, and Master of Accounting programs. Master of Finance programs are experiencing declining volume for the third year in a row.
  • In the United States, 65 percent of full-time two-year MBA programs report receiving more applications from foreign candidates, while demand also continues to improve among domestic candidates (up for 48% of programs in 2014 compared with 22% in 2012).
  • The following programs reported a majority of foreign candidates in their applicant pools:
    • Master of Finance (82% of applicants)
    • Master in Management (73%)
    • Master in Marketing and Communications (69%)
    • Full-time one-year MBA (56%)
    • Full-time two-year MBA (52%)
  • Citizens of countries in East and Southeast Asia and Central and South Asia make up the majority of foreign candidates applying to programs in Asia-Pacific, Canada, India, and the United States.
  • Programs located in Europe received their largest share of foreign candidates from East and Southeast Asia and from other European countries.

“For schools, the rise over the last three years in two-year applications is welcome. This echoes other research that tells us how highly students value their two-year MBA degrees for the personal, professional and financial advantages it conveys,” says Chofla. “For students, GMAC’s Corporate Recruiters Survey may very well signal a change in hiring from a cost-driven, recession-driven organizational focus, to a growth-driven focus utilizing the skills that MBA programs are designed to develop.”

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Beyonce Profiled in New HBS Case Study Tue, 30 Sep 2014 12:45:04 +0000 ]]> Harvard Business School will publish a new case study next week examining Beyoncé’s stealth release of her self-titled 2013 “visual album” from a variety of business-related perspectives, the Harvard Gazette reports.

To refresh your memory, Beyoncé and her entire management team and corporate partners kept the album a secret until its release just after midnight on December 13, 2013, and fans had to buy the entire album—no individual song purchases allowed.

HBS students will look at what it took to pull off this ambitious campaign, market conditions at the time, the structural and technical obstacles, and the many difficult decisions that cropped up for Beyoncé and her team along the way, the Gazette reveals, adding that the case asks MBA students what they would have done it they were working for the pop idol.

“She’s clearly among the most powerful people in the music industry at the moment … so to understand the operation behind such a powerful figure is always very interesting,” says Anita Elberse, the Lincoln Filene Professor of Business Administration at HBS who co-wrote the case study with a former student, Stacie Smith, MBA ’14.

The study will be taught in Elberse’s course “Strategic Marketing in Creative Industries” in early October, the Gazette reports.

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Tuesday Tips: London Business School MBA Essay Tips Tue, 30 Sep 2014 11:42:48 +0000 ]]> London Business School is a close-knit program with an international focus, set in one of the most exciting centers of culture in Europe. Among one of the top-ranked programs in the world, LBS is equally valued by recruiters in both the US and Europe. LBS is an excellent choice for MBA hopefuls who have international experience, a goal to work in London or other parts of Europe, or just an interest in attending school outside the US.

LBS has significantly slimmed down the essays required for the application this year. It will be a challenge for you to present everything you may want about your career, extracurriculars and personal attributes. Make sure you formulate a clear game plan for this set of essays so you can maximize the questions and the space permitted to make your case for admission.

Essay 1
What are your post-MBA plans and how will your past experience and the London Business School programme contribute? (500 words)

Defining your post-MBA plans may be difficult as you approach your question. Most MBA applicants are pursuing the degree for a specific career goal post-MBA, but if you need a bit more reflection to answer this question it is worth doing the work. Self-awareness about your strengths and interests will help you refine what you want. To take your research deeper it may be incredibly helpful to talk to colleagues and alumni who have MBAs in your field to see what your career path options are. Make sure that your career goals are both realistic and aspirational. An MBA will certainly open doors for you, and also may define a specific career path. Make sure you are well-informed about what others have done before you.

Your past experiences have certainly informed your post-MBA plans, and touching on those most relevant will be helpful to setting the background for your current pursuit of an MBA. To make this essay more than a rehash of your resume, think about explaining the rationale for your decisions throughout the essay. Why did you pursue your past experience and what has been the impetus behind subsequent career choices? At this point, why are you choosing LBS? If space permits, you will want to discuss why you have made the choice to pursue an MBA at this time, and why you want to attend LBS.

Essay 2

How will you add value to the London Business School community? (300 words)

Thorough research into the London Business School community will be crucial here, whether online or in person. Consider both the academic community and the extracurricular communities. Reaching out to the clubs and organizations you are most interested in may allow you to interact with a current student who can provide context for you. To be most effective in answering this question you will want to be specific and logical in your choices of activities you will impact. What activities make the most sense in the context of your career and industry interests? What about your hobbies? Any community involvement you are currently pursuing and plan to continue could start to demonstrate your value to the groups you plan to join or lead at LBS.

International experience may be another asset to the LBS community you can touch upon in this essay. Since LBS is a particularly international program they are certainly seeking applicants who are well traveled and thoughtful about the rest of the world. If you focus on an international background make sure you are able to explain what you have learned from interacting with cultures that are not your own, and relate your experiences back to what you will bring to LBS.

Essay 3
Is there any other information you believe the Admissions Committee should know about you and your application to London Business School? (300 words)

This essay can be used to explain possible weaknesses in your application like a low GPA or GMAT score, or could be another opportunity to reveal an aspect of your candidacy that has not been covered in the previous questions.

If you use this space to explain a less than stellar aspect of your candidacy make sure you are offering explanations and not excuses. Keep all background information succinct and factual (no whining!) and explain the concrete steps you have taken to improve your candidacy and to be ready for an MBA programme like LBS.

If you are in the enviable position of having nothing to explain, this can be a great opportunity to touch on a personal story or add color to your career goals. Especially if you have a unique background or an experience that has shaped your outlook on life and career this could be a place to discuss that personal aspect of your candidacy.

Challenged by the LBS essay questions? Contact us to learn how Stacy Blackman Consulting can help.

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Michigan Ross Students Launch Private Equity Club Mon, 29 Sep 2014 17:01:45 +0000 ]]> Two students at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business have started the school’s first private equity club to strengthen the relationship between students interested in the industry and professionals.

The group, called Michigan Ross Private Equity, was formed by founder and co-president Greg Sanker. He is joined by co-president Ann Brophy, both MBA students at the school. The group is advised by Professor David Brophy, who serves as the director of the school’s Center for Venture Capital and Private Equity Finance and is Ann Brophy’s father.

Michigan Ross Private Equity has attracted close to 100 members so far, each of whom pays about $100 to join. The money will be used primarily to run the club’s upcoming events. “We’re one of the more expensive clubs on campus, [so] it’s great to see so many people sign up,” Sanker says.

The club has organized several events and plans a full-blown private equity conference, akin to those held at Wharton School and Harvard Business School, in 2016. Other events include a panel during the Michigan Private Equity Conference on Oct. 17.

The club’s conference will be “for students, put on by students, for everyone’s benefit,” Sanker says, describing the difference between the group’s event and the existing private equity conference.

Also, Michigan Ross Private Equity will run a “Private Equity Advisory” program for students to work directly with private equity firms.

The club is working to grow its alumni members and build awareness outside the university. Michigan Ross Private Equity wants to bring on more advisory board members who are private equity professionals and University of Michigan alumni. Also, the group also wants to find private equity firms looking for students to work with them during the school year, Sanker says.

Both Sanker and Brophy have private equity experience. Sanker worked for about two years prior to business school at River Cities Capital Funds focusing primarily on control equity investments in healthcare service companies. Brophy worked this summer at Huron Capital Partners.

“Working in middle market private equity was a great learning experience. It’s a profession that combines disciplines from entrepreneurship and finance, two fields I’m very passionate about,” Sanker says. “Michigan Ross is one of the best business schools in the world without a private equity club. I want to help students discover what I did at River Cities and build the school’s presence in the industry.”

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Know Parents’ Role in the MBA Admissions Process Mon, 29 Sep 2014 12:56:44 +0000 ]]> This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on

If Mom and Dad are actively involved in your MBA application process, then it might be time to rethink their role at this critical career crossroads. The admissions committee wants to see applicants with demonstrated leadership and maturity, which is hard to convey with parents chiming in at every step along the way.

So-called “helicopter parents” may have the best intentions, but their interfering actions could unwittingly jeopardize their child’s chances of admission to a top business school. Millennials, defined roughly as anyone born between 1980 and 2002, have an upbringing rooted in play dates, involved parents and constant feedback and praise for their accomplishments.

[See how authenticity can support an MBA application.]

Millennials typically enjoy a cozier parent-child relationship than any previous generation, but it’s important for parents to strike the appropriate balance between taking an active interest in their adult child’s education and career choices and hijacking the responsibilities those choices entail. This is true even if parents are fully or partially footing the bill, which is more and more often the case, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council’s latest Prospective Students Survey Report.

Business schools certainly welcome parents when they come to visit their enrolled students, and tolerate those who join their children on a general admissions tour. But unlike undergraduate admissions, where parents are assumed to be heavily involved, the expectation in MBA admissions is that students are independent, fully formed professionals. When parental involvement becomes intrusive, it raises a serious red flag about the candidate’s ability to be successful in the program.

[Find out how a personal brand can help an MBA application.]

So what level of parental involvement is appropriate when it comes to the b-school admissions process? In my view as an MBA consultant, it’s perfectly all right for parents to get in touch with my company for information about how admissions consulting works, to chip in or cover the costs of consulting, or to provide helpful insight or act as a sounding board for their children’s essays – if they request it.

Parents should not attempt to guide the process themselves, however. I’ve had parents ask for conference calls to discuss their child’s issues without the applicant on the phone. Getting on a call without my actual client on the line makes no sense.

We’ve also known cases of parents impersonating their child when contacting the school admissions office with questions about financial aid, application status and more. If discovered, this deception will cause irreparable damage to the applicant’s candidacy.

The truth is, parents may know their children very well in a certain light, but they don’t necessarily know how to reveal the aspects of their child that will be most appealing to business schools. In some cases, their opinions are slanted in completely the wrong way and can actually be harmful.

[Learn how to stand out among b-school applicants.]

We have had many incidents of parents nearly derailing the process when they critique and tear apart the applicant’s MBA essays that my consultants have already determined are pretty much good to go. When that happens, we’re left wondering why they paid for expert consulting in the first place.

The urge to insert themselves into the admissions process likely stems from a desire to protect their children from failure or disappointment, but parents can serve their children’s needs better by cheering from the sidelines and offering moral support if a setback or ding does occur.

Even if they still rely on Mom and Dad for advice and financial support, graduate-level students are adults who are expected to be capable of making independent, adult decisions. If you’re the student in this scenario, make sure you set limits with your parents’ involvement so as not to jeopardize your candidacy by creating a poor impression of your decision-making capacities.

And parents: Trust that you’ve done a great job and that your child is responsible enough to make the right decisions for his or her future.

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Stacy Blackman’s B-School Buzz Fri, 26 Sep 2014 18:20:53 +0000 ]]> sbc-badge-1808.gif

Welcome to the latest edition of Stacy Blackman’s B-School Buzz, our periodic check-in with some of the MBA blogosphere’s applicant and student contributors. This week, MBA bloggers look forward to a sleepless first year, lay out their essay strategies, and think up an entirely new approach for conquering the GMAT.

The whirlwind begins—Now a few week’s into her first year at Harvard Business School, Defying Gravity realizes the hustle and bustle of the start of the program pales in comparison to the next rising wave of activity: the start of student clubs.  Despite severe sleep deprivation, she says, “I’m still ridiculously excited about what’s ahead of me for this first year at HBS.”

The nuts and bolts of R1 essays—For the curious, of which surely there were many, Scott Duncan provided a detailed recount this week of how he tackled each of the essays for the schools he submitted for in Round One: HBS, Kellogg School of Management, and MIT Sloan. Coming up with essay material was a challenge last season, but on the bright side, it seems to have laid the groundwork for stronger essays this year.

Argh, technology!—When things happen too smoothly, sometimes a closer look is warranted. Luckily for PullingThatMBATrigger, the systems glitch that occurred when he submitted his application for Duke Fuqua‘s Early Action deadline was sorted out in time. That’s two applications down, and possibly two more to go. Finger’s crossed for a Duke interview invite October 7th.

An allegory for the GMAT—Most of us are familiar with the tale of David and Goliath, the classic underdog story. Efessay decided to apply the strategies suggested by this allegorical tale to his test prep technique. “If I approach the GMAT like Goliath would want me to – attempting to ‘win’ with brute mathematical and grammatical skills alone – I’d be (and have been) pummeled. If I change the game, however, and think my way through the test, I’ll have a better chance,” he explains.

Do you have an MBA-centric blog? Want it featured in an upcoming B-School Buzz post? If so, email me at

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