Stacy Blackman Consulting - MBA Admissions Consulting Winning Marketing Strategy for Business School Admissions Tue, 25 Nov 2014 18:58:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 3 Challenges Facing B-School Recruitment Tue, 25 Nov 2014 18:58:15 +0000 ]]> Top MBA programs worldwide value diversity because the presence of distinctly different points of view usually leads to more enriching discussions in the classroom and beyond. However, there are challenges to creating a diversified cohort, as Diana Sloan, director of Graduate Marketing & Alumni Relations at the College of Business, Iowa State University, points out in a recent article for Graduate Management News.

In this excerpt, Sloan presents three key challenges business schools are facing, along with suggestions for beginning to address them.

    • Demographics of Business: Gender inequality in the business arena, starting with enrollment in business school, is the byproduct of barriers that have hampered the efforts of generations of women to join the workforce.(…) While a paradigm shift is necessary, business school recruiters can start by educating prospects about opportunities and resources available to them, and presenting a much needed update in expectations regarding gender roles and work-life balance.
    • Geographic Location: Some regions are very demographically homogeneous, making the recruitment of under-represented minorities much more complicated due to the sheer low volume of diverse ethnic groups residing in the region. And, while ideally it should not be a deciding factor for choosing a business school, weather does end up influencing decisions, especially when candidates are choosing between comparable alternatives, one located on a warm sunny coast and the other buried in winter weather for more than half the year.
    • Socioeconomic Factors: Typically, immigrant parents come to the United States seeking a better quality of life for their family, often with the ultimate goal of having their children become first-generation college graduates. (…)Knowing the struggles that their parents went through, these first and second generation Americans may be hesitant to burden the family with additional student loans and related costs to finance their education. In these specific cases, researching and providing clear information on partnerships and resources to aid in their success during and after business school may be the best course of action.

Many business school students express a desire for greater diversity when it comes to issues of gender and sexuality in the workplace, as well as extending the concept of diversity to include a broader socioeconomic range. Although there is no magic bullet to create the ideal, diverse learning setting, groups like The Consortium and Forté Foundation have partnered with schools and are making a concerted effort to reach out to women, the LGBT community, and applicants of color. It will be interesting to see how the landscape shifts over the next decade.

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2014 Best Business Schools for Hispanics

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New MOOC Partnership Between Coursera and ISB Tue, 25 Nov 2014 17:52:47 +0000 ]]> Coursera, the US-based online education provider, and the Indian School of Business (ISB) signed a partnership agreement earlier this month to develop courses for Coursera’s 10-million-plus learners. A course on “A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment,” designed by Professor Raj Raghunathan, visiting professor at the ISB, will be the first to be offered in the series.

ISB will also be Coursera’s first Indian partner to produce and own content. India is Coursera’s largest user base outside the US with over 700,000 learners, and it’s a country with enormous unmet demand for higher education and skill development.

According to researchers, India currently has the capacity to serve 28 million undergraduate students — only about 20% of high school graduates — and faces challenges in adequately preparing graduates for jobs.

“With Coursera participating actively in the India education market, we believe we will be able to provide access to quality resources that will enable generations, now and in the future, to compete in a global economy,” says Dr. Vivek Goel, former Provost of the University of Toronto and Chief Academic Strategist at Coursera.

In recent years, ISB has introduced technology in different ways in its bouquet of programs. The school has a Technology Entrepreneurship Program for young engineers, a course on Business Analytics that combines online as well as classroom learning, and was the first amongst B-schools in the country to adopt a “flipped” classroom model of learning.  The two campuses at Hyderabad and Mohali are connected by smart classrooms and video conferencing making it function as a single entity seamlessly.

“ISB will enhance its footprint in the online education space globally through its association with Coursera,” says Professor Arun Pereira, Executive Director of the Centre for Teaching, Learning, and Case Development at the ISB.

“Having introduced several technology based initiatives that have enhanced the learning experience of its students—including blended learning and smart classrooms—ISB will now leverage the expertise of its world class faculty to design and deliver cutting edge courses that are accessible to the world,” Pereira adds.

You may also be interested in:

Indian School of Business Prof on ‘Flipped’ MBA Classrooms

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Do’s and Don’ts of Convincing MBA Programs You’re a Good Fit Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:49:56 +0000 ]]> This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on

Focusing on fit is one of the most important elements of finding the right business school. This can seem like an abstract thing to determine at first glance. After all, many students assume they’d be just as happy at Harvard Business School as they would at University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business or MIT Sloan School of Management.

This might be true, but these top business schools really aren’t one-size-fits-all.

Your job, then, is to find out what is unique about each program, determine what about the program will most benefit your career goals, and persuade the admissions committee to take a chance that you will be a vibrant addition to its community. Many schools ask a version of the essay question, “Why Us?” – so here are some do’s and don’ts for addressing that prompt either in your application essay, or later on during the admissions interview.

Don’t: Regurgitate the well-known characteristics of the program as a way of explaining your interest. I’ve read countless first drafts of essays that cite the “unmatched student body, world-class faculty, and committed alumni network” as the reasons the applicant has chosen a certain MBA program. The admissions committee knows what the program’s strengths are and doesn’t want to read essay after essay of its own marketing messages.

Do: Show what you’ve learned about the program, beyond what you’ve read in the brochures and website, that makes it stand out for you. Your first point of entry will often be by participating in information sessions online or in your area, but the best way to really get to know the school is by visiting the campus and sitting in on a class. There’s no replacement for spending time in that environment to soak up the energy and get an authentic feel for the student experience.

Other ways to obtain a deeper understanding of the program include contacting the student clubs you are interested in, becoming a regular reader of the MBA student blogs many programs have and speaking to alumni. The feeling you walk away with after having personal contact with students past and present will speak volumes about whether the choice is a good fit for you.

[Follow these exercises to help MBA applicants develop a personal brand.]

If you can you already see yourself learning alongside the students at the MBA program you’re considering, or if your coffee chat with an alum gave you a great impression about the strength of the alumni network, make sure you say so in your application.

Don’t: Make the common mistake of extolling the superiority of the program you’re targeting over all other schools. The admissions committee isn’t interested in declarations of eternal love and will likely suspect that you’re professing the same adoration for every school to which you’re applying.

Do: Focus on how your career goals, interests and educational needs are a good match for the program. Whether the school is known for its emphasis on the case method, experiential learning or lecture-based learning, explain why you too favor that format. Discuss which specific courses would help you develop some of the skills that are missing from your toolbox.

Applicants usually have a clear picture of where they want to work after graduation, so let the admissions committee know if you think the program’s geographic location is an ideal place to launch your post-MBA career.

If you love the fact that the program provides ample opportunities for working and studying abroad, explain how having that experience ties in to your plans. Also, if you discover there is a club on campus dedicated to one of your hobbies or passions, show how you would participate and contribute to that side of the student experience.

[Learn how to stand out in a competitive business school application pool.]

Don’t: Assume the admissions committee will immediately understand why you want to do an MBA based on your previous career experience.

Do: Explain in great detail why the degree is the next logical step in your career trajectory, and provide concrete examples of how a particular program will help you reach those goals. Perhaps the program is known for its strengths in an area you wish to specialize in, or offers an intriguing dual degree program.

If there’s a particular industry you want to break into, or a company you really want to work for, research placement stats through the career services office to find out if they recruit heavily at your target program. After all, the school wants to make sure they can help you find work after you graduate.

As you can see, there are many ways to determine a genuine interest in a program that goes far beyond the latest MBA rankings. Going to business school is an expensive yet rewarding experience, and arming yourself with as much information as possible will go a long way toward making an informed decision.

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Targeted Tips for Women MBA Applicants Thu, 20 Nov 2014 13:12:33 +0000 ]]> Are there specific tips and tactics just for women who are applying to business school? While it’s tempting to dismiss the existence of any gender differences in the application process or in student life, you don’t have to look back very far to see just how controversial the subject still is.

Harvard Business School celebrated 50 years of women at the school in January 2014, and the occasion drew massive attention for the unexpected apology issued by HBS dean Nitin Nohria to female students and professors past and present for any sexist or offensive behavior they experienced at the revered business school.

Given this reality, I happily shared some of the advice we offer female applicants at Stacy Blackman Consulting for MBA Channel’s recent article, Applying to business school: What’s the right approach for women?

Obviously, these tips won’t apply for every female applicant. But there are certain demographic stereotypes that persist, and being on the lookout for these red flags just makes good sense.

I have had several clients with recommenders who have told them that they received calls from the admissions committee to probe on certain points.  In particular: “is the applicant confident, will she speak up in class discussions, is she timid, etc…”  Almost all of these anecdotes have occurred with female clients.

In the application process, it is critical to make sure that they exude that comfort and confidence.  Essays, interviews and recommendations need to indicate a comfort level with speaking out, defending points of view, collaborating with all types of people.

An interview coach I worked with also had direction for women: don’t play with your hair, don’t fiddle with jewellery, don’t adjust your clothing – just focus on looking your interviewer straight in the eye and answering questions with complete focus and confidence.

Business schools have made significant efforts to increase female enrollment in recent years, and the numbers are much higher than when I was at Kellogg School of Management. Some male-dominated post-MBA career paths, such as finance, are more hungry for women as well.  So a woman targeting finance may have an advantage over one pursuing a role in brand management.  This is true in the MBA admissions process as well as in the job search.

If more women become interested in business school earlier in the pipeline, I think we’ll see the numbers continue to rise. Ultimately, better representation in the C-suite means more equality, which contributes to a stronger economy and ultimately a positive effect on society and the next generation of women.

You may also be interested in:

Gender or Social Gap: What’s the Real Issue at HBS?

Enrollment Flags for Women Pursuing the MBA


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Make the Most of Each Application Component Wed, 19 Nov 2014 13:07:36 +0000 ]]> As you pull together your MBA application materials, try to think of each component as an opportunity to tell the AdCom something new about yourself.

What we mean is, don’t simply copy and paste bullet points from your resume into your data forms. Offer up new details when you supply responses for fields such as “role responsibilities,” “key accomplishments” or “biggest challenge.”

Similarly, if you focused on your volunteer work in one of your essays, highlight a different extracurricular activity in your data forms or resume. And don’t have your recommenders tout the exact same “significant achievement” in their letters that you already covered elsewhere.

Certain aspects of your package, such as your GMAT/GRE score and your undergraduate GPA, are truly data points in the most literal sense of the word. But everything else should be viewed as complementary chapters of an interesting story—a story about you. After the AdCom is finished reviewing all of your materials, they should have an understanding of your personality, what you’ve achieved, what your goals are, and what you could offer their program.

Your test scores, transcripts and GPA will tell them something about your capacity to handle their curriculum. Your resume shows your career progression, increased responsibilities and demonstrated results. Depending on the school, some data forms offer a chance to add color to personal and professional achievements. Your recommendation letters can offer even more proof of your leadership potential. And your essays can give them a sense of your “voice,” as well as provide insight into what makes you tick or what you’re passionate about.

It’s a good thing that the AdCom will be judging you on your entire package, though, right? We’re all so much more than just our jobs, our grades, or our volunteer experience.

Think of it this way:






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USC Marshall Introduces MS in Marketing Degree Tue, 18 Nov 2014 17:58:42 +0000 ]]> MS in Marketing at USC

The USC Marshall School of Business has announced the launch of a new Master of Science in Marketing  that will help develop and enhance students’ innovative marketing skills. This degree is designed for managers and those with a few years of work experience who are eager to earn an advanced degree in a one-year, full-time program, or a two-year, part-time option.

The program establishes a strong foundation in business fundamentals, including marketing management, marketing strategy and business analytics, or market demand and sales forecasting.

Students will then build on that foundation with other marketing courses, including advertising and promotion management, branding strategy, consumer behavior, marketing and consumer research, marketing channels, new product development and pricing strategies.

Expanding into other business disciplines, students can choose from electives ranging from data warehousing, business intelligence and data mining, to technology commercialization.

Marketing crosses all disciplinary boundaries, and the modern marketer must have polished technical skill and deep topical knowledge, says James G. Ellis, dean of the Marshall School of Business.

The MS in Marketing curriculum takes full advantage of the breadth of offerings at USC, with cross-disciplinary electives including case studies in digital entertainment, visual storytelling, the television industry, digital technologies and the entertainment industry, foundations in health education and promotion, public health policy and politics and health care ventures.

“We want our marketing students to be able to tailor their study to their particular interests, whether that is in digital entertainment, health care or public policy,” says  Diane Badame, academic director of the full-time MBA Program and professor of clinical marketing, who is spearheading the new degree program.

“Students in our marketing program will gain artistry and analytics that will position them for success in this rapidly evolving discipline,” Badame adds.

As a culminating experience, MS in Marketing students will collaborate to craft an innovative marketing strategy for prospective employers.

The marketing program is now accepting applications for summer 2015 from working professionals with bachelor or advanced degrees and at least two years of experience.

For additional information about the program please go to:

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