SBC Scoop: Balancing Realism and Optimism

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

Applying to an MBA program is an intensely emotional process. Before you even start putting together soul-searching essays you need to undergo some self study to discover where you measure up in the competitive application pool. This may include a third party evaluation of your candidacy, like the Stacy Blackman Consulting consultation. As you take your own measurements in terms of GPA, GMAT, work experience and extracurriculars and compare it to your dream schools, it’s easy to have strong emotional reactions.

Some candidates, like Rahul, are over confident because of high GMAT scores that seem unbeatable. More often we work with applicants who have a lot to offer to even the most competitive schools, and are intimidated by the competition. If you are feeling a lack of confidence in your profile, perhaps the story of Henry will help you reconsider your chances.

Henry approached Stacy Blackman Consulting because he wanted every advantage in the competitive application process for Harvard, Stanford and Wharton. When we initially spoke, Henry undersold his tremendous accomplishments: nearly perfect GPA, high GMAT and impressive leadership at work and outside of work. While no candidate is perfect, Henry seemed tailor made for a top 10 MBA education. What Henry needed from our services was the confidence to showcase his accomplishments without going overboard.

In further discussion it was clear that Henry lacked some perspective. His peer group at a top tier investment bank was how he compared himself, yet he didn’t know the details of their goals, extracurriculars, or even GMAT scores. Work experience is only one part of the application, and it’s easy to think everyone else is putting together the perfect profile. Certainly no one knows exactly what goes into anyone else’s MBA application, and something like a poorly conceived set of essays or less than helpful recommendation can sink the candidacy of someone who may appear excellent. We reassured Henry that we would help him do everything in his power to put together a strong application package.

We approached Henry’s application strategically with him, first evaluating his work experience in the context of his goals and key strengths. We chose stories to tell that showed his ability to rally a team in crisis, and to provide leadership without authority. Selecting key accomplishments outside of work added another dimension to his story, and making sure that his recommenders considered him the best of his peer group mitigated the competition he faced within his own firm.

With an already impressive set of credentials, and a well-crafted application Henry gained admission to Harvard and Wharton, two of the three extremely competitive set of schools he applied to. This was an impressive accomplishment, and provided a boost to Henry’s confidence overall.

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