When you were in grammar school, we were pioneering MBA admissions consulting as a professional service. At the time, the only person in the country helping MBA applicants in any organized manner was a woman in Minnesota, whose name I forget. She did seminars for groups of employees at companies, but she wasn't a writer and she offered no hands-on essay development service.
By contrast, the three of us who developed
MBA Applicant™ (Charles, Kerith and Adam) were teachers helping
students master the GMAT exam at the Princeton
Review office in Los Angeles. But we were also
writers and professional editors, so after
spending months getting our students
over the GMAT hurdle, we naturally wanted to see what they were writing in their applications.
It wasn't pretty.
Our students were exceptionally bright and—with a little help—they had mastered the GMAT exam. Their academic credentials were strong, and most had made significant progress in their careers. But none of them wrote for a living, and it showed.
They clearly didn't know how to compose an impactful personal narrative. Storylines were fractured, the voicing was all wrong, and even their writing fundamentals were often subpar.
But the biggest problem was their content. Students were writing about the wrong things. They didn't understand how MBA student bodies are assembled at leading business schools and, consequently, they wrote essays that ruined their chances of being admitted. Time and again we saw the same mistakes—wrong strategy, wrong content, wrong voice, and wrong career goals.
So that first year we offered to work for free with about a dozen students. Together we developed essays that branded each candidate as an expert in his or her professional field. We highlighted experience that reinforced their brands and made clear how they could contribute valuable insights to class discussions should they be admitted. And perhaps most importantly, we listed post-MBA career goals that were appropriate for each candidate's work experience and played to what we knew to be the job placement needs of admissions officers.
The results? Everyone was admitted to a top-tier school.
Over the years, we've honed our craft and become true experts
in pitching applicants to top business schools. We've now been building successful candidacies longer than most MBA admissions officers have been evaluating them, so we're pretty well informed about what makes a great MBA applicant profile.