Confessions Of An MBA Consultant

I’m looking down the barrel of, what could be, a client’s colossal error. She’s about to make a life altering, could cost her admission to B-school choice. The only appropriate response I can think of is: F&#k.

You should know that I am pre-disposed to disliking gimmicks in general, but especially when it comes to applying to graduate school. I know, I know. Some gurus think a gimmick is cute, sets one apart from the crowd and even makes a better, more memorable candidate. But since my clients are applying to a professional setting, not a reality show, I always suggest they let their stats and their story stand for themselves. The essence of a client is what makes them stand out, not an essay that reads like a late night comedy routine.

We all loved the scene in “Legally Blonde” where Elle Woods makes a totally inappropriate “video essay” as her application to Harvard Law School and it (surprise, surprise!) gets her in. In real life, a stunt like that would get her a date long before it would get her acceptance to any reputable institution not run by Hugh Hefner.


So here I am, a B-school admissions adviser who firmly believes that you should be the star of your own application. There’s no need to pepper it with a neon sign that says: Look At Me! Yet here I am with a client who wants to begin her essay with language best suited for a sailor, not a banker. Adding insult to bad taste, my client was actually well positioned to get into a top-tier school, maybe ever her fist choice, The Stanford Graduate School of Business. So I wonder why someone with so much going for her would do the essay equivalent of pulling an Elle Woods and mess up her chances of getting in. This is real life, not the movies.

Almost for my own amusement, I continue to read her essay. I finish. Honestly, I’m totally shocked. Her essay is, in a word, brilliant. Her use of an expletive as an opener, genius. Why? Because the word itself was the only accurate description of the situation she goes on to describe in detail, which leads her into a lengthy discussion of freedom and the use of freedom to enable one to take risks, the whole thesis of her essay.


Genius, I think to myself.  What better way to show you’re a risk taker than by taking a risk in your essay?  And since her intention was to really show who she was, a risk taker at heart, not to pull a stunt to get attention, it worked. This was her story, foul-mouthed, and all.

It’s rare that I second-guess my own advice, but in this case I’d be remiss if I dug my heels in just for the sake of being right. So, for the first time in my professional career, I advise my client to begin her essay with the word F%#k.  It’s who she is and isn’t that the point?

An MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, Stacy Blackman founded Stacy Blackman Consulting in 2001 and has helped thousands of MBA applicants gain admission to the most selective business schools in the world. The Stacy Blackman team, comprised of MBA graduates, former admissions officers and expert writers, editors and marketers, helps clients develop and implement a winning marketing strategy. Stacy’s previous confessions story.

Our Series On Business Schools’ Most Challenging Essay Questions

Part I: Smartly Handling Harvard’s Setbacks Essay

Part II: Smartly Handling Wharton’s Most Challenging Essays

Part III: Stanford’s Mind-Boggling Essay

Part IV: Kellogg’s Most Challenging Essay Question

Part V: MIT’s Most Challenging Essay Question

Part VI: INSEAD’s Trickiest MBA Essay Question

  • Right

    Because I know how to write an essay, and know it is not worth $6000. I got into bschool without a consultant, as have countless non-suckers. 

    So, I’m $6,000 up on all the gullible applicants like yourself out there. 

    Most people applying to all other grad schools don’t need or hire consultants. Admissions consultants know that bschool applicants have the most disposable income (due to the work experience we have), so they prey on us.
    I’m sorry you fall for their marketing, but thousands and thousands of med school, law school, and yes, bschool, applicants, get into great schools without paying extortionary consultant fees. They market to insecure or incompetent people, and insecure and incompetent people hire them.

  • D. Patock

    At the risk of stating the obvious, why wouldn’t you hire a consultant? You’re going to apply to Business School once in your life, a consultant has advised hundreds of people. You wouldn’t hire a first time surgeon nor would you hire a first time contractor so why assume you know everything about a process you’ve never gone through.

    At the very minimum, they’d  probably advise you to lose the unpleasant chip on your shoulder. 

  • Bill8711

    Bullshiet – ur an idiot get a clue

  • Daren K.

    Hey Bullshiet, 
    I’m rubber, you’re…unemployed.

  • Bullshiet

    Hi Stacy!

  • William Stockton

    You may be right, it’s a waste of money, but is that Stacy’s fault. Free market. She is a sharp woman and has many great suggestions and ideas for helping people. I paid $25 for her resume guide and it was very helpful. No-one else was giving me that resume help for MBA applications, surely not for $25. Their personal consulting service is pricey, but if you are up a creek and feel like you don’t have a paddle, then who’s to say it’s not worth it to someone to get some hand holding. Getting an MBA is a big decision, and last I checked no one but me, myself and I really cared to thoughtfully help me.

    I disagree with her acceptance of that type of language, in any setting, but I think she was making a point. Perhaps edgy, so what? All you haters get off your high horse and go out and do something to make a difference for the economy, other people, and yourselves instead of criticizing someone who is providing a service for which there is a high demand. And heaven forbid they charge people for it! When did it become such a sin, per se to make alot of money by providing a product or a service that other people want? Aren’t you late to your Occupy Wallstreet weekly meeting at starbucks?

  • Bullshiet

    Right, another bschool consultant claiming to get their anonymous client into GSB. Where can I send my $6000 check? I wonder how much you pay to get your article printed here. 

  • derk123

    You’re so edgy and cool Stacy tell us more about nothing ! 

  • Tenlobaadmit

    Great post!

  • She is now a proud GSB alum.

  • Hbsadmit

    did she get into Stanford?