The Presentation Only Elite MBA Applicants See

by John A. Byrne on Print Print

Jana Blanchette, founder of Inside MBA Admissions

Every year, many of the most elite companies bring into their offices B-school admission officials and MBA admission consultants to give their two-year analysts the skinny on the MBA admissions game. These insider seminars are a common perk at McKinsey & Co., Boston Consulting Group, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and other organizations that pretty much require the MBA degree for advancement.

Jana Blanchette, founder and president of Inside MBA Admissions, has traveled around the country, giving two-hour-long presentations to top-tier consulting firms and Ivy League alumni groups. The sessions cover what happens after a person hits the submit button on his or her application, bringing you inside an admissions office to show how Adcom staffers evaluate applications.

Blanchette should know. In 2007 and 2008, she was a senior director in the admissions office for the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. While at Ross, Blanchette benchmarked the application processes and admissions criteria at other top business schools so the system at Ross could be reengineered. Then, in 2008, she left Ross to launch Inside MBA Admissions, an admissions consulting firm.


Blanchette received her MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. After graduating from Kellogg in 1999, she worked as a management consultant for A.T. Kearney and later became a principal with the firm.

Readers can attend a one of several free webinars on “Understanding How MBA Applications are Evaluated” by Blanchette. They will be held on July 30, Aug. 7, and Aug 30. You can register here.


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  • Roger Goodell

    Students have an understand of THEIR own culture and THEIR own class’ culture. Who has a better understanding of a business school’s culture than someone who has seen half an MBA program? Someone that has spent 10-20 years on adcom and has seen 20-40x as much as that 2nd year student.

    I think the adcom brings a far more mature perspective and one that provides consistency. Also… MBA students are very impressed with sparkly credentials like being a Rhodes Scholar, being a staffer at the White House, making boatloads of money at Goldman Sachs or KKR… adcoms are more desensitized to the glitzy pedigree factor and try to look through these things to understand what an applicant’s true potential rather than what they have done to date.

    I’ve encountered a fair amount of MBA at top schools tend be rubbed the wrong way by some of their Wall Street classmates or otherwise wealthy classmates that don’t have to worry about debt/expenses. Some people feel left out of some events/trips because they have a more restrictive budget and their point is “the b-school experience isn’t about exclusion, even if its inadvertent via financial hurdles to do certain things.” Oddly enough they don’t consider this when having events/dinners/trips that are more moderate but still prohibitively expense to some of their classmates.
    I’ve seen this a lot… there is definitely a sour grapes factor, so I certainly see the point made above.

    Lastly, students also have a vested interest in making the school look selective or pedigreed, thus having a bias towards nuts and bolts stats that can be communicated in media and poets & quants to show how selective a school is — and not accidentally, how much of a star the current students are (including the one reading apps). I would think that have a higher median GMAT, higher median GPA and more pedigree would not do much for the class. Its about more than that.

  • GoalieLax

    i’m sorry, but this just read as a whole lot of “well, duh” to me

    how can we consider someone and “elite applicant” if they can’t, on their own, understand that managing people is a differentiator?.

    is it interesting to know students read applications? i guess. but when I was applying to (and getting in to) top 20 b-schools, they weren’t my audience.

    here’s my tip – go for an in-person interview. if you’re good there and meet the hurdles, you’re in. if you’re awful at talking to people, work on it…a lot. you’re gonna need that skill day 1 out of b-school.

  • PLN

    Its typically Indian IT, Wall Street and Consulting that are overrepresented

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