The “Business” of MBA Admissions Consulting

Last week there was an article published in BusinessWeek that discussed some of the concerns surrounding MBA Admissions Consultants. Although Stacy Blackman Consulting was referenced in the article, I hesitated to draw attention to it because I felt that my quotations were out of context and did not convey what I really wanted to say about the industry and my company.

After some thought, I thought I would share with you, through this blog, what I really want to say about what we do. To help explain the role we play, I draw a comparison to the business schools themselves. An important issue that should be considered when you apply to business school is the career center. The career center is a great asset for a top school and the career centers play an important role in most MBA experiences. What does a career center do? Mock interviews, interview coaching, resume review, help with career selection and target companies, assistance with company research, strategy and messaging. The career centers help an MBA applying for a job package him or herself. This is very similar to what we do for our clients. We do not draft essays or resumes from scratch, we do not sit in on interviews for them, we do not cross that ethical line. We act as a coach, helping our clients in the same way that college counselors, career counselors, athletic coaches, executive coaches, writing coaches and many more…do for their clients.

Our goal is not in any way to “trick” an admissions committee. The stories are all true, the numbers are legitimate. However, we do have some clients whose numbers or background may make them appear to be a “stretch” on the surface. Of course we do. If all of our clients were obvious admits, we would not be adding much value. We work with these clients, who are fantastic, interesting, hard working and ambitious people, to achieve their dreams. This may be in spite of less than perfect credentials. Nonetheless, I feel that our clients, who have earned seats at top programs, deserve these seats and are valued contributors to their respective programs. In no way do I feel that I have “pulled one over” on the admissions committees, or convinced them to “admit an impostor”. In contrast, I feel that we have served the schools by helping them to find the applicants that are truly a good fit for their programs.

Many of our clients were previously relying on misinformation they found online or through the rumor mill. They are competing against individuals who work at larger companies that have programs in place to help with the application process. Admissions representatives and companies like Stacy Blackman Consulting will visit companies and provide information to employees and alums will help with essay review; there is a lot of assistance in place. In this situation, the ability to work with an independent firm can level the playing field.

Admittedly, as with any industry, there are some services out there that may cross an ethical line, and help too much, crafting essays from scratch. This is why I am so excited about the formation of AIGAC, which I am joining, as it will help to establish and reinforce standards for our rapidly growing industry. The industry is growing because it meets a need, and we remain proud to ethically and responsibly meet this need for a great group of clients from all around the world!

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