Applying For Your MBA Through The Consortium: Best Deal In Town

Download our 'MBA in Sight: Focus on Management" guide, today!Our consultants receive a lot of questions from clients about applying to MBA programs through The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management.  I’ve heard myths flying around that applying to one (or more) of the 18 Consortium schools through The Consortium’s application is disadvantageous.  But as the former director at two Consortium schools, I can assure you that nothing could be further from the truth — provided you meet the Consortium’s minimum qualifications.

Though the requirements, the schools, and the corporate partners have changed over its 49-year history, the Consortium is not only the best deal in town; it also gives Consortium members an alumni network that expands throughout the 18-member schools.

Initially, The Consortium provided opportunities for young African American men to have a fair chance at rising up the corporate ladder via the MBA. Later, the Consortium added Hispanic Americans, Native Americans and women to its mix.  Membership came along with the fellowship.

However, after the Supreme Court decided on the Gratz vs. Bollinger and Grutter vs. Bollinger cases, the Consortium opened up its doors to offer membership to selected applicants that further the mission of The Consortium in providing inclusion of African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans in business.  Members and fellows do not have to belong to these groups. Thus, membership is no longer race-based, but rather mission driven.  Applicants must also demonstrate the ability to succeed in an MBA program.

Like the undergraduate Common Application, candidates can apply to up to 6 Consortium schools with only one application for a fraction of the cost the candidate would incur applying to each of these schools separately.  The catch:  the candidate must rank order the schools.  Having just attending a Consortium recruiting event, the Admissions representatives on the panel suggested that candidates rank order the schools from the most preferred to the least preferred.  However, in order to obtain a fellowship, I believe there is a strategy involved in the ranking.

To be sure, Consortium membership assures the candidate of access to the orientation and corporate partners.  In fact, many candidates receive internship offers prior to the start of school.   Membership, however, does not guarantee admission to the schools of choice, nor does it guarantee a full-tuition fellowship.

To summarize the benefits:

1. One application for up to six schools at one low cost.

2. Access to vast alumni network of 18 schools that includes mentorship from Consortium alumni (formal or informal).

3. If selected as a member, access to corporate sponsors at orientation

4. If selected as a fellow, full tuition and stipend

To learn more about applying through the Consortium and the strategy behind the rank order, please contact me for a free consultation.  Moreover, Accepted will offer Consortium applicants a special coupon code for 10% off all purchases of $2000 or more for services to help you apply through the Consortium. The best deal in town just got even better.

Download your copy of Navigating the MBA Maze
Natalie Grinblatt Epstein By , an accomplished consultant/editor (since 2008) and entrepreneur. Natalie is a former MBA Admissions Dean and Director at Ross, Johnson, and Carey.


Related Resources:

5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid In Your MBA Application Essays [Free Guide]
• The Consortium: Diversifying B-School and Corporate Management [Podcast]
• Approaching the Diversity Essay Question

Books To Read Before You Begin Your MBA Application

Check out our very own MBA Admissions for Smarties by Linda Abraham and Judy Gruen!I’m certain everyone knows that before you apply to business schools, it’s a good idea to read The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the Economist and Bloomberg-BusinessWeek to familiarize yourself with the jargon and the stories you will be discussing while in school.  I also believe its a good idea to read about MBA programs and the strategies experts suggest before applying to said programs.  For the latest in Bschool gossip and the best admissions tips, subscribe to this blog and keep an eye on Poets and Quants.

While I’ve seen a lot of books out there on the MBA admissions process including our very own MBA Admissions for Smarties by Linda Abraham and Judy Gruen, I think it’s important before you apply to schools to find inspiration outside the narrow walls of “MBA admissions.”  I’m hoping these books will get you thinking and tickle the left side of your brain when so many MBA applicants are right-brained thinkers.


The Five Levels of Leadership – John Maxwell

Talent is Overrated – Geoff Colvin

Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg

Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson


Great by Choice – Jim Collins and Morten Hansen

Inside Apple – Adam Lishinsky

The McKinsey Way – Ethan Raisiel

Creative Thinking:

Jumping the Curve – Nicholas Imparato and Oren Harari

The Art of Possibility – Rosamund and Benjamin Zander (catch Ben’s TED talks too)

The Singularity is Near – Ray Kurzweil

Creative Confidence – Tom Kelley

And if you can’t get away from your right brain try:

The Art of Persuasion – Bob Burg

Competitive Advantage – Michael Porter

The Essays of Warren Buffet – Warren Buffet and Lawrence Cunningham

Regardless of what you read, it’s important to read before putting pen to paper or finger to key. Using books as your muse for your business school essays will enable you to dream bigger and engage your own reader…the admissions committee.

Download your free copy of "5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in your MBA Application Essays" now! Natalie Grinblatt Epstein By , an accomplished consultant/editor (since 2008) and entrepreneur. Natalie is a former MBA Admissions Dean and Director at Ross, Johnson, and Carey.

Related Resources:

Navigate the MBA Maze
Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One
• MBA Admissions According to an Expert

MBA Letters Of Recommendation

Offer to do things like pick up dry cleaning or groceries, walk the dog, or drive carpool to make time in your recommenders’ schedule to write the letter

Offer to walk the dog to make time in your recommenders’ schedule to write the letter.

Selecting your recommenders takes a strategy. I like to begin with the basics: Who, When, What, Where, and How. I also like to suggest that you waive your right to access it. The waiver makes the recommendation more credible to the admissions committee.


Who are the best people to address the questions the schools are asking? Who are the best people to affirm what you say and also add information that you don’t have the chance to include in your essay? Many schools ask for supervisor. While it is best to ask your supervisor for the letter of recommendation (and ask if (s)he can write you a strong letter of recommendation), there are times when you just can’t ask a supervisor for a letter. If you find yourself in that situation, you’ll need an explanation.  For example, “I asked my mentor to write my recommendation because she knows my leadership, drive and work ethic better than anyone else I know.” Or, “I’ve asked a former supervisor to write my recommendation letter because asking my current supervisor would jeopardize my current project/promotion.”  Or, “I’ve asked a supplier to write my recommendation because my supervisor has only been on board for one month and I’ve known my supplier for three years.”  Regardless, develop a strong relationship with your recommender prior to “the ask.”


It’s best to ask your recommender to write the letter at least 6 weeks prior to your anticipated date of submission.  Everyone will face delays, so make allow for them. Six weeks should give your recommender enough time to

1.  Review your preparation materials (see what).

2.  Meet with the recommender for the request (in person if possible).

3.  Meet again to give the packet of information that you will provide.

4.  Meet again to answer any questions the recommender has for you.


Many schools ask similar questions, but it is best to use the unique e-form each school provides the recommender and answer the questions the school asks. You will add the recommenders’ information on your application, and the school will send your recommender a link. Many of these documents can be written in word and uploaded as a .doc, .docx or pdf.

Regardless of how the letter is delivered, you need to give your recommender a packet of information to use to help him or her answer the questions. Often the questions will ask about your leadership in relation to your peers or when did your recommender offer you criticism and how did you receive the criticism?  This latter question has been problematic for many recommenders.  I suggest that the recommender think about the question in a different way.  Rather than thinking about a weakness, think about a time the recommender “offered the candidate advice and how did the candidate act on that advice.”

A letter of recommendation is not your annual review; it’s your recommendation.  Your recommender may even ask you to write the letter and (s)he’ll sign the letter.  You need to stand your ground and say, “the school really wants your honest perspective, and I would be so grateful to you for your original work.”

However, you can coach your recommender by providing a list of the schools to which you are applying and why, a copy of your resume, your goals statement, and items you would like to your recommender to cover like your achievements or items that you can’t cover in your essays, but your recommender can elaborate on your affinity for paragliding or your talent with the cello (this is your packet). You can also ask your recommender to highlight achievements that may counteract a negative – like your communications skills if you have a low verbal score or a quantitative achievement if you have a low quant score.  I know when I write letters for my former students, having this information will remind me of the great things that the student did for the school or for me.  It gives me the launching point to tell a story and all the statements a recommender makes should be backed up with evidence (a story) to make it more interesting and hammer home the point of the recommendation.  Many recommendations also offer grids.  Your recommender should be honest, but I must say that if my candidates fell below the top two categories, it sent up a red flag.


If your recommender says (s)he doesn’t have the time to write the recommendation, I’ve suggested my clients book a one hour appointment (after they give the packet of materials needed to write the recommendation) and then call the recommender and say, okay, I’d like you to use this hour to write my recommendation.  You can also offer to do things like pick up dry cleaning or groceries, walk the dog, or drive carpool to make time in your recommenders’ schedule to write the letter.  Regardless, they need at least one hour of quiet time to get this right.


If your recommender says that (s)he can’t write a strong letter for you, you need to find another recommender.  If they enthusiastically say “yes!” make the task easy for the recommender by giving the recommender the packet to which I referred in the “what” section.

Please contact us if you have other questions regarding your recommendations and good luck.

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein By , an accomplished consultant/editor (since 2008) and entrepreneur. Natalie is a former MBA Admissions Dean and Director at Ross, Johnson, and Carey.


Related Resources:

• MBA Letters of Recommendation that Rock – an ebook
• Recommenders And Recommendations
• Quick Guide to Admissions Resumes

Show Me The Money

You may get accepted. You may get rejected. Either way, you need to answer one question: "Now what?"

I’ll give you a little advice…everything is negotiable.

On a day like today, I’m doing my happy dance.  My MBA clients have been contacting me with good news from the schools to which they applied.  Several of them have multiple offers with scholarships attached, which immediately present the question:  Can they negotiate their scholarship offers?

Since most of you have yet to take your MBA negotiations class, I’ll give you a little advice…everything is negotiable.  You have an offer of admission and unless you did something egregious that the schools discover in their background research, the school will not take that offer away from you.  In fact, the schools want you to come to their programs so much that they’ve offered you scholarships, tuition discounts, or graduate assistantships to entice you away from other schools.  You are in the power position, but you have limited time to act.

If you have multiple scholarship offers, you have even more power.  So play the schools off each other.  You will need to provide proof of funding and develop a clear statement of what it would take to have you deposit and attend that school.  If school A matches school B’s offer, go back to school B and ask for more.  Many schools have some wiggle room with scholarship offers.  And the worst-case scenario is that school A will say “no” to your request and then there is no harm and no foul.

Caution: While you may be in the power position, remain likeable, respectful and courteous. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by coming off as arrogant.  And if you have deposited at a school, you have diminished your position of power.

If you need additional consultation on this matter, we are available to help you construct the communication that in the words of one of my former clients made his “investment in a very positive ROI.”

Download your copy of MBA Admissions A-Z: 26 Great Tips

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein By , an accomplished consultant/editor (since 2008) and entrepreneur. Natalie is a former MBA Admissions Dean and Director at Ross, Johnson, and Carey.

Related Resources:

• How to Pay For Your MBA Webinar
• Alumni Funded Student Loans: An Interview with Daniel Macklin of SoFi
• MBA Choices: Dream School vs. Scholarship School?

Do Low Stats Sink Your App?

Got low stats? Join our webinar, Get Accepted to Top B-Schools With Low Stats!

If you have low stats, you’ll have to be strategic about your application choices.

Applicants and Admissions Directors almost always seek the same thing. Applicants want to be desired by Admissions Directors and Admissions Directors want their schools to be desired by applicants. Applicants want to optimize their ability to gain admission to the highest-ranking school that fits their education/career needs, and Admissions Directors want to optimize their ability to climb in the rankings, so that applicants will continue to find their schools desirable.

Logic has it that if Admissions Directors can change the input of the rankings by increasing test scores and GPA (a metric that fails to take into account the school of origin and the rigor of the curriculum), then the school should climb in the rankings. However, in a year like 2015, where 20% of the schools that consistently see 80% of the applicant pool all had double-digit application increases, we know the schools will stay relatively the same in the rankings. In fact, the USNews ranking hasn’t changed dramatically over the years for this very reason:  the schools move in a group.

It’s a vicious cycle that often leaves incredibly gifted and desirable applicants in the dust. It’s also a vicious cycle that leaves incredibly forward thinking/innovative schools in the dust.

If you are an applicant with high aspirations and low statistics, you need to be strategic about your actions and your application choices but there are also several things you can do to improve your chances of acceptance.

1. Request an assessment: Obtain a realistic assessment from an admissions officer or an admissions consultant.  The assessment should give you an indication of schools that would be stretch for you, schools that match your qualifications, and schools that you should select as safeties.  You would be surprised to learn the number of C-level executives and successful entrepreneurs who attended safety schools.

2. Cast your net widely: Note that the larger the class, the better an admissions director can hide his or her lower statistic candidates. Look at the Forbes wealthiest individuals and aside from the over-proportional number of drops outs (note: I believe in education opening doors and do not condone dropping out of school even if you are Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Marc Zuckerberg or Sheldon Adelson), you will see a lot of billionaires that attended schools that many prospective students don’t have on their radar.

3. Be proactive:  if your grades tanked, take classes to mitigate concerns before you apply.  If your scores tanked, obtain tutoring you need to bring your score up (tutors have helped my clients increase their scores dramatically in just a few hours of intense study).

4. Show your interest:  Visit the school.  Get to know students and alumni who can go to bat for you on your behalf.

5. Be interesting:  One-trick ponies don’t make for interesting reading. The Art of Admissions is very much like blind dating.  It’s up to you to get the admissions committee interested in eating a 5-course meal with you rather than speeding through a cup of coffee.

6. Make a compelling case of acceptance.  Show fit with the school’s culture, strengths, and values. Reveal leadership, contribution, impact, innovation, and a track record that will cause the admissions readers to say “Wow!”

As an admissions director, I was more likely to invite the person behind an interesting, well-written application for an interview – regardless of stats.  If a candidate could engage me in the interview, I would recommend a well-spoken, witty candidate over someone who had high numbers and offered only one dimension.

Of these lower statistics students whom I accepted, many have become successful business people – and some of the most prestigious alumni.
Download your free copy of Navigating the MBA Maze!
Natalie Grinblatt Epstein By , an accomplished consultant/editor (since 2008) and entrepreneur. Natalie is a former MBA Admissions Dean and Director at Ross, Johnson, and Carey.

Related Resources:

That GMAT Score: Implications for Your MBA Application, a free webinar
Low GPA? Don’t Panic…Yet.
MBA Rankings: Why Should I Care?