MBA Applicant™

3 Choices

We offer three options to help you get into business school:

  1. Develop Your Strategy
  2. Develop Your Strategy and Cover Your First Application
  3. Develop Your Strategy and Cover All of Your Applications

Most applicants we work with choose Option 3 because they want a comprehensive solution that will help them get into an MBA program that will change their lives. Given the cost of business school and the rewards that come with being admitted to a top-tier program, it makes sense to gain every possible advantage in the admissions process.

But occasionally we encounter applicants who are accomplished writers. They don't need help with the art of storytelling or with the mechanics of composition and copyediting: they need a viable strategy that will make them appealing to admissions officers. Those people — though rare in the applicant pool — can get by perfectly well with Option 1.

When deciding whether to work with us, keep in mind that our services build on each other and that payment in a lower option is applied to the cost of an higher option. In other words, you should start with Option 1 and decide as you go which services you need.


Develop an admissions strategy that's appropriate for your work background.
Every engagement begins with a thorough analysis of your background and an assessment of your potential to succeed in the competitive MBA admissions process. This is the case for any of our three options. As an applicant, you need to respond to an extremely comprehensive background questionnaire designed to help us determine how best to position your candidacy in the essays. (Don't be surprised if it takes two or three days to complete the questionnaire. It's challenging, but I need that much information if I'm going to provide you with accurate guidance.)

In assembling a class, the first priority of MBA admissions officers isn't academic excellence, it's professional diversity. Schools need students from a wide range of backgrounds if they're going to assemble classes of people with diverse perspectives and different areas of expertise. So if your specialty is nonprofit program management or public education, you aren't going to compete for seats with invesment bankers and management consultants — two of the most competitive applicant categories. You're going to compete against other nonprofit and education leaders. Schools sometimes deny this obvious reality, but their numbers tell a different strory.

Frankly, if admissions officers made decisions based on grades and GMAT scores alone, their classrooms would be filled with aggressive Type-A personalities from banking and consulting backgrounds. The dynamics would be terrible and the schools would be able to cultivate only narrow swaths of influence within a limited number of industries. No MBA school with such a narrowly focused student body would be able to maintain a position in the top tier. 

Our first step is to access your candidacy and determine which silo is most appropriate for you. More accurately, in which silo can you compete most effectively, and what parts of your story can make for the strongest candidacy? You'd be surprised how many different ways there are to brand a single candidate, but it takes insight and writing skills to tell the story effectively.   

In Option 1, I tell you whether your candidacy is a viable one and whether your initial instincts regarding what to write about are off the mark. (They usually are.) Basically, I get your "brand" in order by reading your responses, and I tell you how best to position your candidacy given your professional background, personal life experiences and post-MBA career aspirations. These three pieces of the puzzle need to make sense to an admissions officer or you won't be admitted.

My Work Product

In a written report, I'll tell you what admissions officers will find appealing about your candidacy and explain why it fits their needs, or doesn't. My report is a narrative on all elements of your candidacy — your work experience, your school selection, your GPA, your GMAT score, your resume. But the core of my narrative is dedicated to how best to position your candidacy so admissions officers will find it valuable. In other words, I'll tell you how to respond to the application questions given your particular circumstances — what to emphasize and what to avoid.

Perhaps most importantly, I'll talk about your proposed post-MBA career goal. The most common mistake that keeps applicants out of elite business schools is listing a goal that fits neither your background nor the needs of the schools. It's critical that you get this part right, so after reading your file, I'll explain how your proposed goal will play with the admissions staff and why you might want to change it to improve your chances of getting in. Keep in mind that you can always choose a different goal once you've been admitted, but you won't get in if you say the wrong things in your applications.

My work product to you is a written narrative on how to pitch your candidacy in the applications, but I sometimes also post videos on private links, explaining your candidacy and how you might address specific issues. (These videos are private and can't be found without the exact URL.) You're welcome to communicate with me via email or phone (or even private videos). I want to be sure that you understand my instructions before you sit down to write essays. After writing them, you're welcome to move on to Option 2 if you like or to submit what you've written.


Develop an admissions strategy that's appropriate for your work background. Then work on every document you submit to your first school.
Option 2 is a natural progression from Option 1. In this phase, I work on the actual drafts you submit, rather than simply advise you on what to write. This is important because writers often stray from their assignments or get lost in expressing their ideas. (As a long-serving editor, I can assure you that this is true even of professional writers.) We can go through anywhere from 2 to 20 drafts before an essay is right. There's a great deal of back and forth as we first brainstorm ideas and then refine drafts.

It's critical that you have the right content in the essays you submit, but years of experience with MBA applicants has taught me that the writing voice is also important. Most people are surprised to find that the essays I work on have a writing voice that's professional but very informal. The informality conveys a sense of confidence, which translates into a stronger candidacy.

I'll work on every document you submit to your first school, ensuring that the content is right from a branding and marketing stanpoint, but also getting a writing voice that's consistent across all of your documents. As a professional editor, it's very easy for me to determine who many people have worked on a document. We need to submit work that's not just strong, but stylistically consistent from page to page. I'm so obsessed about style that I've been known to write in varying degrees of accents from different countries in order to sound authentic.


Develop an admissions strategy that's appropriate for your work background. Then work on every document you submit to every school you apply to.
More schools will reject you than admit you. That's just the reality of the admissions process at elite business schools, and it's the reason why you need to apply to at least six or seven programs. Out of seven schools, a qualified applicant who is submitting effective essays can expect one or two admits and perhaps a waitlist. That's typical, and it's the reason why you should never apply to just three schools, no matter how strong you may be as a candidate. Applying to too few schools means running the risk of being shut out for a year.

In Option 3, I work on everything you submit for every school. That means essays, your resume, the information forms you submit and even your recommendations if you can get them. I want to see everything you submit to make sure it's correct from a strategic perspective and to ensue that the writing voice is appropriate and consistent across the entire application. Option 3 means we work together throughout the entire application season (including your interviews), but it also results in the best applications and it gives you the best chance of being admitted. It's a long process but worth the time and effort.

I used to be comfortable with six applications, but business school has gotten more competitive over the years and I now recommend seven. That's a manageable number and far from my personal record -- which is 27 schools.  This was a guy who I became friends with when he was my student. Ironically, he's now in a program that that includes free housing, free education and even free food. That's because he's in prison. He's a good guy, though, and I expect to hear from him when he gets out.

Feel free to write me if you have any questions. You can find my email address on the contact page.

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Option 1 is the brainstorming phase in which we assess your candidacy and produce a report on what you should write about. You then use that report to write your essays. The goal is to make sure you're using the most advantageous strategy for your particular background and objectives.




Option 2 takes the work product we developed in Option 1 and uses it to write the essays and refine your submissions for your first school. Together we work on everything you submit to that program. This includes editing your essays, resume and even recommendations if you can get them.




In Option 3 we expand on our work product from Options 1 and 2 and widen our focus to include every document you submit to every school. The first school is usually the toughest. After that, we've established a brand, a strategy and a writing voice, so each subsequent school is a little easier.


Got Questions?

Email me directly if you have questions or if you'd like to get started with Option 1.