Stacy Blackman Consulting - MBA Admissions Consulting Winning Marketing Strategy for Business School Admissions Mon, 30 Mar 2015 16:49:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Checklist for Admitted MBA Students Mon, 30 Mar 2015 12:38:14 +0000 ]]> Reactions to an offer of admission seems to universally include calls to loved ones, social media updates, a spendy dinner or two to celebrate, and some form of happy dance in the privacy of your home or office. Once the euphoria over your acceptance to the b-school of your dreams has subsided slightly, it’s time to refocus your energies to all of the big and little details that make up your admitted MBA student “To Do List.”

MBA to do listHere are some of the specific tasks you’ll need to take care of promptly:

Give notice gracefully.  If your supervisor already knew of and supported your plans to attend business school, sharing the great news of your admission won’t be awkward at all. However, if you had to keep the news quiet so as not to jeopardize your employment, now is the time to let your employer know that you’re leaving. You should explain your reasons, give plenty of notice, and offer to help train your replacement if applicable. Make every possible effort to leave on good terms in order to keep this part of your professional network intact.

Obtain financial aid/loans if needed. Schools are committed to working with both domestic and international students to find a solution to financing school through a combination of loans and scholarships. (At CommonBond, for example, MBA Student Loans start at 6.40% APR.) Contact your school’s financial aid office as soon as possible once accepted. These seasoned professionals have seen it all, and they will work hard to ensure admitted candidates can pay for the degree.

Set up a budget. Get your finances in order, avoid credit card debt, and save, save, save as much as you can in the months before school starts. Now is the time to forgo unnecessary purchases and live slightly below your means, if possible. Remember, your projected budget should factor in expenses beyond tuition and living costs, such as travel, student clubs, and those study abroad trips that greatly enrich the b-school experience.

Make housing arrangements. This aspect varies depending on the school. For example, at Harvard Business School, 80% of MBA students live on campus, and housing in residence halls is assigned by lottery. Other schools offer limited on-campus housing and refer new students to rental houses or apartment complexes nearby. You can visit apartments and houses throughout your new city during Welcome Weekend, and start the process early. Schools have strict deadlines for campus housing, so make sure to find out those important dates early on if you prefer to live on campus.

Brush up on quant skills. Business schools regularly report that a fair number of soon-to-be first-year students lack some basic quantitative skills. Review the course syllabus online and purchase textbooks in advance if you can. Many top MBA programs offer so-called “math camps” for accepted students during the summer as a refresher of critical concepts. If you have any weak spots in this area, sign up so that you’re ready to hit the ground running once school starts.

Consider a pre-MBA program. A growing number of admits are doing pre-MBA internships to explore a new field of interest, gain training insights, and begin networking with recruiters months before the formal recruiting process begins. Others participate in short, company-sponsored programs, such as the J.P. Morgan MBA Early Advantage Program or Google Student Veterans Summit. Still other admits take advantage of pre-term, non-academic travel programs, such as Kellogg Worldwide Experiences & Service Trips (KWEST), which unite more than 80% of incoming students through social, site-seeing and community service activities.

Reach out to fellow classmates. Schools often host receptions for admits where they can mingle and network with alumni and their fellow admits. Welcome Weekend is another prime opportunity to begin the process of connecting with your future cohort, and if you’ve followed the MBA forums, and blogs of MBA applicants, then you may already have a head start on building relationships with other admits.

Find out if your program hosts a Facebook group for your class, and if not, offer to help set one up. Business schools make it easy for classmates to get to know each other pre-term, so take advantage of these social opportunities, and you’ll arrive on campus feeling already at home.

Finally, enjoy some quiet time before things get crazy. Cross a few items off your bucket list, connect with family and friends you won’t see much of during the next two years, and dive into those hobbies and extracurriculars that made you a desirable, well-rounded candidate in the first place. The months leading up to the start of business school is an exciting time, a time that flies by in a flash. Knowing what to expect and laying the foundation for a smooth transition to student life will make your first year less stressful and even more rewarding.

]]> 0
Stacy Blackman’s B-School Buzz Fri, 27 Mar 2015 16:37:46 +0000 ]]> Buzz Badge-1

Welcome back to Stacy Blackman’s B-School Buzz, our periodic check-in with some of the MBA blogosphere’s applicant and student contributors. The burning topic on just about everyone’s mind: round 2 notifications. Some people have had their dreams come true, while others are still on hold or were denied admission to their school of choice. The feelings this week are definitely bittersweet. For those who have been waitlisted: Don’t lose hope! You’re still in the running, and there are definitely things you can do to manage the waitlist experience.

On getting back on the horse—After an extended period of radio silence following media coverage of his failed attempts in Fortune, GrantMeAdmission returns with news of an amazing career change, a renewed perspective, and fresh determination to apply to business school again this fall. Resilience is a key characteristic of success, and we’re so glad to see Grant plans to rededicate himself to his MBA dreams.

The wait s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s on and on—We love how positive Top Dog is staying upon hearing that his waitlist status at Wharton has not changed with round 2 notifications. From his prior post it sounds like he has a sound waitlist strategy, and we hope his patience is soon rewarded with an offer of admission. Meanwhile, keep “enjoying the ride”!

On what not to do—Although applicants know that recycling essays from other schools is a no-no, PTMT confesses that that’s exactly what she did for her Tepper application, and was therefore not surprised by the ding she received this week. “They can see right through a last minute application, so even if your stats look good on paper, you will have a tough time of it,” she says. Fingers crossed things go better with UCLA Anderson.

Full or part-time?EF Essays shares some thoughts on the pros and cons of a full-time versus part-time MBA program experience. “At the end of the day, no matter the method, you’ll have the same degree. And while that’s true, you won’t have the same experience,” he writes. While there’s no right answer, once you figure out whether you’re a career switcher or a career enhancer, the choice, he believes, should become more clear.

and finally….

On not giving up on the dream—“After two years, three attempts at the GMAT, and five rejection letters, I have been admitted at HBS,” writes Scott Duncan. Bravo!

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

]]> 0
Take Control of Your GMAT Performance Thu, 26 Mar 2015 13:35:27 +0000 ]]> We won’t bury the good stuff: from now until April 9, you can win a free copy of the new GMAT® Enhanced Score Report and the GMATPrep® Exam Pack 1, valued at $74.94.

If you’re planning to take (or retake) the GMAT before the 2015-16 application season kicks into high gear, you’re going to find these resources indispensable. With diagnostics in GMAC’s prep materials, the score preview on test day, and now the Enhanced Score Report, you truly do have the control to get the score you want.

Here’s a little more information about exactly how these tools will help you:

  • The enhanced diagnostics in GMATPrep Exam Pack 1 give you detailed information about your performance on your practice exams—from format and timing to section content and study tips—before you take the real exam.
  • Score Preview gives you more control reporting your score to schools. You can take a look at your unofficial GMAT score at the test center and then decide whether you want to report it to your target programs or cancel it.
  • The new GMAT® Enhanced Score Report provides detailed analysis of your test performance, and makes it easy to see what question types you spent the most time on, pinpointing your strengths and weaknesses by subject and section. Every test taker can use the report differently. If you’re considering retaking the exam, your GMAT Enhanced Score Report can give you the information you need to reach your personal goals.

Enter to win your free set today, because the MBA application process is stressful enough. If there’s an opportunity to make any part of it easier—while also making your candidacy more competitive in the process—it’s kind of a no-brainer.

Think of it this way:

Never neglect an opportunity for improvement


Do you want to stay on top of the application process with timely tips like these? Please subscribe to our weekly newsletter and you’ll receive our expert advice straight in your mailbox before it appears on the blog, plus special offers, promotions, discounts, invitations to events, and more.

]]> 0
Getting Ready for Round 2 Admits Wed, 25 Mar 2015 12:27:25 +0000 ]]> It’s Round 2 admit time for the MBA Class of 2017! The Wharton School released R2 decisions on Tuesday, March 24th, and Harvard Business School, UV Darden School of Business, and Stanford Graduate School of Business are just a few of the top schools notifying successful candidates today. Future Chicago Boothies, meanwhile, will have to wait until Thursday to hear the news they have been waiting for from the admissions team.

We want to say good luck and send our best wishes to all the applicants out there waiting anxiously for good news this week; we hope your journey thus far has been both enlightening and exhilarating—and not too exhausting! For those who are waitlisted, or unsuccessful in this round, it’s time to turn your focus to the three P’s: stay positive, be proactive, and above all, persevere. As the saying goes, few things worthwhile come easy. And also…


You may also be interested in:

What to Do When Waitlisted By Your Dream School

Pay Less for Your MBA

]]> 0
Pay Less for Your MBA Tue, 24 Mar 2015 14:44:31 +0000 ]]> Whether you’re a new admit (congrats!), current MBA or alum, your degree has probably come with a price tag of roughly $200,000. Oy. Figuring out how to pay for such a large sum can be intimidating and challenging.

The good news is that CommonBond is here to help. They’re a student-lending platform founded by Wharton MBAs who knew there had to be a better way to finance their degree than through the costly, confusing student loan system. They’ve funded over $100 million in student loans, helping students and graduates like you navigate the complex student loan industry. Here are some tips on how you can get the best deal on your education:

If you’re headed to school or a first-year MBA…
Your financing options are, broadly, scholarships, savings/personal accounts, and student loans. If you’re considering financing through student loans, CommonBond’s MBA Student Loan can be a great option for you, with rates as low 6.24% (6.40% APR) for U.S. citizens and permanent residents attending one of the eligible MBA programs.

The MBA Student Loan, combined with the federal government’s lower rate Direct Stafford Loan program, is a great way to keep costs down on your degree. You can also take advantage of options like interest-only repayment—paying just the accruing interest on your loans while still a student—in order to leave school with less debt.

If you’re a recent or soon-to-be graduate…
Refinancing your student debt offers you a chance to pick the rate, term, and type of loan that’s right for you. You can refinance your federal and private student loans into one new loan with rates starting at 1.92% APR for variable options. CommonBond has variable and fixed rates across various loan repayment options. Their average borrower saves over $10,000 through refinancing!

They’re more than just a low rate, though. They have an incredible customer care team that can answer any questions you have about the student loan process in general or specific questions you may have about your situation. Just email them at or give them a call at (800) 975-7812, and they’ll be happy to help.

And don’t forget these wise words as you approach your student loan financing:

shatner quote saving money







Do you want to stay on top of the application process with timely tips like these? Please subscribe to our weekly newsletter and you’ll receive our expert advice straight in your mailbox before it appears on the blog, plus special offers, promotions, discounts, invitations to events, and more.

]]> 2
The Do’s and Don’ts of Reapplying to Business School Mon, 23 Mar 2015 16:33:32 +0000 ]]> This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on

Many business schools, even the most elite and well-ranked ones, welcome re-applicants. Reapplying to school shows you are very serious about your interest in the business school program.

The best way to approach the reapplication process when you’re targeting the same schools is to highlight how you have improved your candidacy. Take a closer look at the following aspects of the MBA application package to determine where you should focus your energies to improve your odds next time around.

Decide How Many and Which Programs to Target

If you received multiple dings in your first application attempt, add new schools next time in case the problem was that you applied to schools that didn’t match your profile. Make sure your focus is on fit over brand strength, and match your preferred learning style to the school’s style of instruction.

Do: Apply to at least four schools to maximize your chances of success. These programs should represent varying levels of competitiveness.

Don’t: Apply to too many schools – usually six or more – believing that hedging your bets in this way will guarantee admission somewhere. While that strategy sounds logical, in reality your efforts will become so diluted with each successive application that there just won’t be enough passion there to sway the admissions committee.

Do: Include your dream school in the mix. It may be a real reach, but go for it anyway and you’ll have no regrets later.

Tweak Letters of Recommendation

Unsuccessful applicants sometimes don’t realize that they were rejected because their letters of recommendation came across as weak endorsements at best.

Do: Make sure whomever you ask is willing to write a very compelling recommendation for you. Since it’s not a given that you’ll see the letter once it’s written, it’s perfectly OK to come right out and explicitly ask for what you need.

Don’t: Choose a recommender for superficial reasons. I’ve seen too many applicants dinged for committing this mistake. Asking the president of a company, an alum of your dream school or any other bigwig won’t do you any good if they cannot speak intimately and enthusiastically about your many virtues

Do: Remind your recommenders to address specific examples of your accomplishments and leadership abilities, and to discuss your work ethic or team-building skills. Writing a strong endorsement requires some effort, so make it easy for your recommender by providing a list of the accomplishments you want to highlight.

Pump Up Your GMAT

Business schools always stress that test scores are just one metric of admissions decisions, but they are important because the admissions committee has to make sure the people they accept can handle the quantitative work. If your initial scores don’t come close to those of an average student’s at the schools you’re applying to, you need to make significant gains on your GMAT score in subsequent sittings or have other, extremely impressive qualifications.

Do: Allow time to take the exam again. Nerves or lack of preparation might have torpedoed your first effort, and the familiarity of taking it a second or even third time will often lead to a higher score.

Don’t: Wait until the last minute to take your GMAT. Take care of it early in the year, before you have to juggle the other aspects of the application.

Do: Consider alternative preparation methods to see if they yield better results. If you studied on your own last year, see if a formal class or working with a GMAT tutor helps you improve your weak areas more efficiently.

Don’t: Cancel a score when the option appears upon completing the test, even if you’re pretty sure you’ve blown it. Schools will evaluate your highest score, so don’t worry about a low score reflecting negatively on you.

That initial score provides valuable feedback about your testing strengths and weaknesses. You may also find out that your performance was not as bad as you imagined.

Rock Those Essays

Sometimes applicants get hung up on writing the perfect essay, when in reality they should focus on writing a compelling essay instead. MBA blogger Scott Duncan applied to five schools last year and was rejected by all of them. This year, he wrote, he let go of perfectionism and changed his strategy to deliver a simple, clear message and add color to his application where possible.

The new tactic worked, and he’s been accepted at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, wait-listed at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and awaits news from Harvard Business School, where he recently interviewed.

Do:  Use the additional essay question to explain what’s changed in your situation to make you a stronger candidate this time around. Make sure to address both professional and personal advancements, but show that you are realistic and self-aware. Revealing your humanity in the form of quirks, weaknesses and flaws can often help the admissions committee to like you.

Don’t: Recycle essays from the first time around, and don’t use the same essay for multiple schools. At best, the byproduct of being all-inclusive is that you will sound generic. At worst, you might accidentally leave the wrong school name in the essay and be rejected out of hand for your lack of attention to detail.

Finally, take comfort in knowing many people in business school right now were dinged the first time they applied. The MBA admissions process requires resilience, so take some time to recover, reassess and dive back in.

]]> 0