SBC Scoop: Homosexuality in the Application

Alex was a strong applicant in many ways.  He had an interesting job at a boutique consulting firm, excellent references and slightly above average numbers.  His career goals were clear, and everything flowed into a very solid story.  He was understandably ambitious, applying to Columbia, Lauder and Harvard.  Yes, he was a strong applicant in many ways, but his application was missing something.  When he told me he was gay, about a month into our work together, I knew exactly what that something was, and suggested he weave information about his sexuality into his essays.

He was surprised by my suggestion, asking me:
“do most of your clients discuss their sexuality in their essays?”
“won’t this seem like a ‘diversity’ gimmick?”

I understood where he was coming from, but after discussing his background and the very personal process of “coming out”, it was clear that this was:
– a major theme in his life
– integral to his identity
– had shaped him in many ways

All very good reasons to include it.

He ended up adapting one essay per school to his sexuality.  He discussed his own self discovery, and the process of self  acceptance, and then wrote about telling family and friends, their reactions and how that had impacted him.  The mechanics of his story may have been similar to others, but the way it shaped his outlook, and his involvement in mentoring activities, was personal. The balance of the essay discussed the impact as opposed to telling the story of what happened.

Alex was admitted to Columbia and Harvard.  Is it because he included this element in his applications?  Who knows?  But we both agreed that the application that he submitted was a more authentic  picture of him, and the person that the schools admitted was the real thing.

Stacy Blackman Facebook Contest Question (Please answer in the comments section of this post):

What other candidate case studies would you be interested in hearing about? Our favorite answer will be selected on 04/17 and the winning person will receive the new-and-improved Beat The GMAT Practice Questions ($100 value).

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

To read more SBC Case Studies, click HERE.


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6 Responses to SBC Scoop: Homosexuality in the Application

  1. Nicole Chan says:

    I think this specific client case study is interesting because “coming out” in a world that is just starting to accept homosexuality show courage and a very honest account of his beliefs and lifestyle.

    I’d be interested in hearing about case studies pertaining to the challenges and obstacles of your clients. An example would be a client who had a low gmat score and his/her efforts in independent study, taking gmat classes, getting a personal tutor and maybe even supplementing his “total package” by taking other quant classes.

  2. MBA22 says:

    First, let me congratulate Alex for his candidness and guts to share his true feelings to the world. I also want to thank Satcy for bringing out the best in him. I would be interested in hearing about success stories for people who come from a very common background because there is where the life is toughest now-a-days, I think.

    If u are an army officer at Iraq or an enterpreneur in Silicon Valley u definitely have an edge and the effort of the consultant is not correctly tested there. I want to hear about people who are from a very common background and how Stacy brought out the uniqueness among them. I personally belong from a very wide range of a typical pool of applicants — Indian IT engineer with nearly 5 years of work experience — would love to see how Stacy and her team has dealt with this tough challenge of bringing out the best story and create uniqueness among the wide range of Indian IT candidates applying to US B-schools..

  3. Nicole and MBA22 – thanks for your comments and suggestions. Will definitely be trying to cover more and more diverse topics in our case studies, so please keep the ideas flowing – we use them and appreciate them!

    Here is a link to a case study on an Indian Engineer:

    A low GMAT case study is coming soon…

    Thanks again for reading and for your feedback!

  4. Ryan says:

    We often hear of students with lower-than-the-lowest mean GMAT score getting admitted to prestigious colleges. Often, these students are from under-represented nations but is that the only reason? Somehow, I doubt that. What else is there on their application that we don’t know about?

  5. Pozun says:

    Would really love to read about a person who failed in his entrepreneurship ventures. People who gave it all for an idea but couldnt make it due to whatever reason. How do they tackle it? how do they show that in the admission process?
    How does a failed entrepreneur measure up against one who has succeeded?

    Also i want to read about people who move from for-profit backgrounds to non profit pre-mba but want to move to for-profit post mba. How does the ad-comm look at these applications?

  6. Very impressive. I think you are offering a great service to people. I have been spending time on your blog and you have a lot of great insite here. Congrats.

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