Bragging Rights: This MBA Admissions Consulting Firm Boasts The Most Former M7 Adcoms

A comic strip on admissions consulting from Menlo Coaching


In fact, he says, the firm tries to steer clear of former business school admission officials, listing a group of Menlo’s consultants with degrees in Linguistics, English, Classics, Journalism), and Literature. “This is why we don’t usually hire adcoms,” he says. “Instead, we hire for skill in coaching others and creating great stories.  Thus, most of our consultants studied the humanities.”

While conceding that point, Stiphany notes that a former Adcom who can’t be a good coach wouldn’t even get hired by Stacy Blackman. “Anyone who chooses to go into consulting not only bring the understanding of how it all works, they also have a.bit of a servant’s heart,” she says. “They want to give a high touch experience to their clients. This is in their heart. There is a passion for thinking through how this client will fit into the program. It is very personal. It is humbling. Not everyone should be a coach. It takes a special type of person. Stacy has figured out who the people are who have that heart and soul to bring that high touch ethos to life.”

White also takes a quick shot at his competitor. “A more important issue is whether consultants dedicate their full effort to their clients,” he claims. “Some SBC consultants have corporate jobs, including her former adcom.  Stacy Blackman herself is not full-time at SBC.  She is a co-founder of tween skincare brand Stryke Club (link).” Counters Stacy Blackman’s Magna: “Many entrepreneurs have side hustles nowadays. If that’s their only pot shot, SBC is golden.”


Jeremy Shinewald of mbaMission asks, “Who would you hire, a food critic or a chef to prepare a meal for your most critical professional dinner?”

Like White, however, Symonds of Fortuna is none too pleased by the analysis. “The company had overstated the roles and seniority of coaches in the past, claiming INSEAD admissions director titles for individuals in a regional office and continue to mislead.” He points out that a coach bio for a consultant named Andrea lists her as a former director HBS admissions misleads potential customers because she was an associate director working on student yield and marketing, while another Blackman consultant, Colette, is listed as a former director of MBA admissions at Kellogg when she was an associate director for Kellogg’s Evening & Weekend MBA.

Meantime, Jeremy Shinewald, founder of mbaMission, one of the largest MBA admissions firms, also says like White that the whole issue is beside the point. “While appealing at first, if you scratch beneath the surface, this approach puts the emphasis on the wrong skill,” maintains Shinewald, a former speechwriter for the Ambassador of Israel to the U.S. “We have rejected several high ranking admissions officers and admissions directors, because, while they can read a file like anyone else, they have not been creative minds who were able to coach an applicant toward crafting their best work and, of course, it is the crafting, not the reading that is critical to the applicant’s success.”

Shinewald uses a metaphor, one adapted in comic form by White of Menlo Coaching (see above), to make the point. “Who would you hire, a film critic or a director to get behind the camera of your film?,” he asks. “A food critic or a chef to prepare a meal for your most critical professional dinner?”


Even so, Shinewald concedes that his firm has had admissions directors and officers on mbaMission’s payroll for years and years. “We just don’t focus on it in our marketing because we see it as gimmickry,” he says. “The common refrain – ‘there are no admissions secrets’ – is true and substantiated by the admissions officers on our team and those who we are in touch with regularly. If you are paying a firm for secret guidance, you will be disappointed. MBA programs want to see values and potential – they can’t be ‘gamed’ by ‘insiders.'”

Besides, argues Shinewald, admissions experience is perishable, anyway. “When you put the emphasis on the individual’s admissions experience, then their experience is out of date the day they leave the admissions office,” he says. “When you hire someone who has experience with the Wharton admissions office ten years ago, is that relevant today? I think applicants should be asking the firms that make this their focus, “When were you last on an admissions committee – what decade?” We have chosen to focus on hiring a full time team of MBAs who are the strongest writers and editors and who fundamentally know how to coach and motivate others. We may lose out on a marketing gimmick but it is the best combination of skills to help applicants succeed.”

Stiphany, who last worked in Booth admissions in 2017, points out that business schools don’t change overnight. “The true core ethos of the schools doesn’t change. When you peel it all away, who they are at their core is who they are. A school’s core values don’t change. Schools may change the questions they are asking of applicants. But the basic goal of a business school is to get the best group of students in the same room together at the same time. That is the goal and that never changes. With the knowledge we have of the schools, we help our clients take their applications from the surface to a deeper level.”


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