April 07, 2015

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3 for 3: Accepted by Wharton, Kellogg, and Haas


Without reservation, I give my highest recommendation to Stacy Blackman Consulting and, particularly, my consultant Bill Chionis. I signed up for the "all-in" package, and although SBC was one of the more expensive consulting companies I considered, I ultimately chose SBC because of the fact that their consultants work full-time on MBA admissions, offer unlimited contact, and put their clients' application materials through a pre-application "flight test" with a former admissions committee member.

After having worked with Bill for the past 4 months, I can enthusiastically say it was well worth the money I spent. Bill helped me in numerous ways, but I'll specifically list the areas in which he provided the most value to me personally:

• Identifying Strengths: I have a somewhat atypical background for someone seeking an MBA. Prior to signing up with SBC, I had doubts about whether top programs would be interested in someone with my skill set. After a couple of phone calls, however, Bill was able to identify a number of strengths that would interest the admissions committees and make my application stand out. Some of the strengths he focused on were ones that I never would have thought to highlight in my application.

• Solidifying Career Goals/Telling My Story: I had a handful of ideas for why I wanted to pursue an MBA, but Bill was able to probe my interests in a way that allowed me to more fully develop my ideas. He also helped me tie my background to these ideas so that I could tell my personal story in a very compelling fashion.

• Identifying Realistic Target Schools: Initially, my knowledge of the differences among business schools did not extend much beyond the rankings and various snippets I had found online. Bill was able to provide me with perspective on each school's strengths, weaknesses and unique culture. Then, based on my background, personality, and goals, Bill identified the schools he thought would be the best for me. There is no way I could have gotten all this information through my own research. Only someone with years of experience in the industry can provide this type of intelligence.

• Time Management: I have a demanding job and made the choice to apply to programs roughly two and a half months ahead of the application deadlines. Despite the tight time constraints, Bill put together a schedule that kept my stress level to a minimum throughout the process and kept me on track to submit my applications well ahead of the deadlines.

• Essay Direction: This may be the area in which Bill's help was the most valuable for me. For each essay, Bill was able to give me specific direction as to the type of response each school was looking for. While I consider myself to be a capable writer, most of the questions are open-ended enough that it is difficult to discern what the admissions committees truly want to know. Additionally, even though some schools have similar questions, Bill knew the unique pieces that each school was looking for. Had I answered these essays on my own, I probably would have re-engineered the same material for each school and simply changed the school references. Finally, I had concerns about how to deal with certain weaknesses in my background. Bill advised me on how to thoughtfully and intelligently address those areas in my application.

• Interview Prep: Bill walked me through the full range of questions to expect for my interviews. Then, after I prepared answers for all of the questions, we did a mock interview over the phone and he provided feedback for each of my answers. I went into the interviews feeling very confident and was prepared to answer everything the interviewers asked me—including a few curveball questions.

• Deciding Between Programs: I was fortunate to be accepted by all three programs that I applied to. Bill did such a good job in directing me toward programs that fit me that I had a really hard time deciding which school to choose. Having worked closely with him over the last few months, Bill was able to help me filter everything down to determine the program that would give me the best chance to meet my personal and career objectives.

BOTTOM LINE: Bill was an incredible resource to me throughout the application process. He saved me an enormous amount of time and stress. I was able to focus on the important aspects of my applications and avoid a lot of wasted time spent researching online and asking for opinions from others. To anyone looking for an MBA admissions consultant with proven results, I highly recommend SBC and Bill Chionis.

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