Stacy Blackman’s 2019 Year in Review

2019How is it possible that we are saying goodbye to 2019 and ready to turn the calendar page to a brand-new decade? You know what that means…resolution time! Once again, we resolve to push ourselves to learn and grow. This fresh start spurs us to rededicate ourselves to both personal and professional goals.

With that in mind, we’re highlighting the SBC blog posts that resonated the most with our readers in 2019. We selected each to help you better prepare as you journey along the road to business school.

Now, without further ado…

Heed This Advice

Tips for a Killer MBA Recommendation Letter

Many applicants don’t invest time and attention in their reference letters. They select their references, direct them to the proper forms, and hope for the best. You can influence the quality of your recommendations. These are the key elements to keep in mind when choosing who should write your MBA recommendation letters.

Background Checks in MBA Admissions

Background checks in MBA admissions are more common for some schools than others, but their overall use is growing. Last season, one of our clients shared, “I am a little worried about the background check process.  How detailed is the search? How do they verify earnings, for example?”


Two former MBA Admissions Officers on the SBC team–from Harvard HBS and Duke Fuqua–had this response: “It depends on the company the school hires. But, they will verify undergraduate degree and GPA as well as dates of employment, positions held and salary with the HR departments and/or direct supervisors.”

That X-Factor

Character Prevails for Stanford and Harvard Double Admits

We’ve worked with many top applicants this MBA admissions season who achieved this impressive feat—some with scholarships to boot. Here we analyze eight cases—and we have eight specific takeaways to share. Their unique admissions stories can offer some very clear lessons for prospective MBA applicants.

Successful Reapplicant to Harvard Business School, Stanford GSB

Many applicants face this crossroads—whether to forgo business school completely and focus on their current career path—at the end of an unsuccessful admissions cycle. No one can answer that question but you. However, the important takeaway is that one failed attempt does not mean you’ve blown your chance forever.


See how SBC helped Ed Redden fix three common mistakes in his applications. These improvements ultimately lead to admissions offers from both elite schools the second time around.

Rock Those Essays

Stanford GSB Essay Tips for 2019-2020

Here at SBC, we have worked with hundreds of applicants over the years who have successfully gained admission to Stanford. As one of SBC’s former GSB Admissions Officers notes, “Stanford is looking for people who will make a big difference AND have a better shot than most in being able to execute. Stanford GSB students also seem to have this ‘X’ factor associated with them. Almost like an ‘unexpected’ trait, talent, or experience.”

Wharton School Essay Tips for 2019-2020

Beyond your credentials and experience, fit is important at Wharton School. Are you excited to join the Wharton community? How will you contribute? Wharton values diversity and teamwork and wants a class that will work well with each other.

One of the former Wharton Admissions Officers on our SBC team also shared that Wharton is seeking, “Solid applicants across all dimensions with emphasis on strong performance in GMAT and professional experience.”

Harvard Business School Essay Tips for 2019-2020

The most challenging part of the Harvard MBA essay is remaining disciplined. One of the former HBS Admissions Officers on the SBC team notes that “The essay really is make or break for HBS – so many applications have acceptable credentials up to that point of the application and it is the essay that sets the overall application apart and earns it the interview.”


Kellogg School Essay Tips for 2019-2020
The Kellogg School is a close-knit community that values diversity and philanthropy.  Caryn Altman, a tenured consultant on our SBC team, previously served as an admissions officer at Kellogg and also holds an MBA from the school. Caryn describes the importance of pinpointing “unique points of difference” throughout your entire application—essays, resume, interview, etc.—since it can be challenging to distinguish yourself from other applicants of similar backgrounds.

Columbia Business School Essay Tips for 2019-2020

The kind of MBA student who is a good fit for Columbia and its setting in New York City will be those that plan to take full advantage of the unique opportunities on offer. As one of SBC’s former CBS Admissions Officers notes, “With CBS, it really is a holistic approach, but the fit is VERY important.  They want to know why CBS- that is a big part of their culture. They want to know you’re going to fit in.”

Smile for the Camera

MIT Sloan Cover Letter and Video Advice for 2019-2020

Students at MIT Sloan School of Management are engaged, creative, and thinking outside the typical MBA frameworks. One of the former MIT Admissions Officers on the SBC team shared that MIT seeks applicants who can navigate, “problems of progressive complexity, ability to adapt to ambiguous situations, independence of thought, humility/consideration for others.”


Thank you so much for making the Stacy Blackman Blog a top destination for your b-school research. We hope this resource continues to serve you well as you embark on what is definitely a life-changing, career-boosting journey. On behalf of the entire SBC team, I wish all of you success, health, joy, and continued growth and learning in 2020. See you here next year!



Let us help you achieve your MBA dreams. Contact us for a free consultation to request time with an SBC Principal.

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