An Interview With Our Own: Dr. Rebecca Blustein

 Learn more about Rebecca Blustein and how she can help you get accepted!

Rebecca and Alex Trebek. Rebecca was a contestant on Jeopardy in March 2012. She came in second place!

Curious about the life and times of our spectacular admissions consultants? Please enjoy our newest blog series in which we interview the fabulous people who make up the staff. First up is…Dr. Rebecca Blustein.

Accepted: Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? Do you hold any graduate degrees?

Rebecca: I earned my BA at UCLA (with a double major in English and Comparative Literature). After that, I went to Ireland for my MA in Old and Middle Irish. Then I returned to UCLA for my PhD in Comparative Lit. I’m a California native – I grew up in Oakland and now live in Los Angeles with my husband and two cats.

Accepted: What’s your favorite non-school/non-work book?

Rebecca: Hmm…that’s tough – there are too many to choose! I read almost constantly. (My Kindle is my insomnia buddy!) For light reading, I like mystery novels. To cheer me up if I’m having a bad day, PG Wodehouse is unbeatable. (I have a shelf full of his books.) And every once in a while I come across a book I think is so good I flip right back to the beginning and read it again as soon as I finish it. (Most recently: Hilary Mantel’s Bring up the Bodies.)

Accepted: How have your travels around the world influenced you as a writer?

Rebecca: In addition to living in Ireland for a year, I spent a summer in Russia and a month in Israel, and backpacked around Europe. I think that studying languages made me a better writer, and traveling made me a sharper observer.

Accepted: Can you talk about the road that led you to becoming an admissions consultant for Accepted? What jobs and experiences led you to this point?

Rebecca: During grad school, I took a job working as a counselor at the scholarship office on campus. That work – leading workshops, coaching students on their personal statements, helping them find funding for school, etc. – made me realize I really love working one-on-one with students to help them improve their writing and achieve their goals.

Accepted: What’s your favorite thing about consulting?

Rebecca: I enjoy working with people who are really excited about their plans for grad school – and it makes me happy to be able to help them through the process.

Accepted: How did funding applications become one of your specialties?

Rebecca: I worked at UCLA’s Scholarship Resource Center for four years before joining Accepted. I also successfully applied for various types of funding myself – so I know, first of all, what goes into the process, and second of all, what a big difference scholarships can make. With tuition rates what they are – across all disciplines and at all levels of study – scholarships are a great way of lowering loan debts and increasing access.

Accepted: What sorts of applicants do you mostly work with?

Rebecca: Master’s and PhD, across all fields. I also often work with medical and dental school applicants.

Accepted: What are your top 3 admissions tips?

Rebecca: Research your options. Plan ahead. And stay organized.

Learn more about Rebecca and how she can help you get accepted!

Download our free guide: GET YOUR GAME ON: Preparing for Your Grad School ApplicationAccepted: The Premier Admissions Cosultancy

Related Resources:

Graduate School Admissions Consulting and Editing Services
Med School Admissions Consulting and Editing Services
Plotting Your Way to a PhD: 6 Topics in PhD Admissions, a free admissions guide by Dr. Rebecca Blustein

Selling Yourself Short?

Get advice for writing exemplary personal statements.

Don’t sell yourself short!

“I founded a small candy company.”  I could see in the faces of my fellow admissions committee members that they were not that impressed with the candidate; none of them had ever heard of “Del Sol Candy,”* and Roberto’s modest description did not make it sound all that impressive an accomplishment.

Many times while interviewing international MBA candidates, I have found that some of them sell themselves short, particularly with regards to their work experience. Whether it is because of culture or family upbringing, there is a certain type of candidate who finds it hard to present his or her own professional accomplishments in the best light.

This contrasts dramatically with what is expected from MBA applicants; committee members expect candidates to present their best case and promote their accomplishments. This mismatch between the candidate’s culture and the committee’s expectations can sometimes harm the candidate’s chances of admission. A second layer of complexity also arises for some international students: if an American applicant mentions that he or she is a regional manager at Hershey’s, for example, the adcom would have at least an idea of the size of the operation, the level of responsibility, and the selectiveness of the company. If, on the other hand, you come from abroad and your company is not well known in the U.S., the adcom may have a harder time evaluating your work experience.

Just by chance, I had been to Roberto’s home city the previous year on a recruitment trip, and I happened to know that the company he had started from scratch was not only the biggest candy maker in the country, but that it exported millions of dollars’ worth of goods to international markets as far away as the Middle East. During the interview I asked him a couple of probing questions about it, and once he started talking about specifics (sales figures, market share, etc.) he became more comfortable. More importantly, the committee was able to assess the magnitude of his accomplishments.

If you, like Roberto, feel hesitant to promote your achievements for fear of sounding boastful, you need to be aware of those emotions and make a determined effort to overcome that tendency. It is up to you, the candidate, to provide the school with enough information to evaluate your accomplishments.

A good way to overcome any qualms regarding self-promotion is to be ready to provide the adcom with hard data that will document what you have done. If at all possible, do research and be prepared to provide them with a benchmark, a point of comparison with an American company, or at least some details of the level of the operation, but most importantly, the size of your responsibilities. By preparing yourself with facts, you will dramatically improve your chances of admission and, later on, your employability prospects for internship and beyond.

Learn how to use sample essays to create an exemplary essay of your own!

Esmeralda CardenalBy Esmeralda Cardenal, previously the Associate Director of Admissions at Yale SOM, Director of MBA Admissions at MSU Broad, and consultant at Cardiff Business School in the UK. She is happy to help you showcase your achievements in your MBA application.

Related Resources:

• The Quick Guide to Admissions Resumes
• 4 Application Strategy Tips: Stand Out AND Fit In
• 4 Ways to Show How You’ll Contribute in the Future

Will the Final 4 be Your Top Choice Schools?

Click here for the 5 fatal flaws to avoid on your essays

Are college sports more than a game for you?

One story-line that pops up frequently this time of year is the idea that a school that does well in the NCAA tournament will see an increase in application numbers, or in the number of students enrolling. This is popularly known as the Flutie Effect, after Doug Flutie of Boston College, whose dramatic game-winning Hail Mary pass in a 1984 game has been credited with raising the college’s profile among applicants and leading to a dramatic increase in applications.

A 2009 study by economists Jaren and Devin Pope suggested that participating in the NCAA basketball tournament does translate into higher undergraduate application rates the following year: a 1% increase for teams that make the tournament, 3% for teams that make the Sweet 16, 4-5% for teams that make the Final 4, and up to 7-8% for the champion.

A 2013 working paper by Doug Chung at HBS also explored the relationship between college athletics and applications, and found that applications do rise at schools that experience success in basketball and football. Chung regards athletic success as a form of advertising for universities.

Is athletic success a factor in your decision-making process?

If you’re applying to graduate school, are you interested in a field related to athletics, such as sports management or marketing, or sports medicine? Were those interests shaped by your experience of intercollegiate athletics? Let us know!

grad 5 Fatal Flaws

Rebecca BlusteinBy Dr. Rebecca consultant since 2008, former Student Affairs Officer at UCLA’s Scholarship Resource Center, and author of the ebook, Financing Your Future: Winning Fellowships, Scholarships and Awards for Grad School. Dr. Blustein, who earned her Ph.D. at UCLA, assists our clients applying to MS, MA, and Ph.D. programs. She is happy to assist you with your grad school applications.

Related Resources:

• Athletic Appeal in Admissions
Preparing for College in High School
• From Example to Exemplary

New to The Team: Carol Drummer

Click here to check out Carol's profile!We’re excited to welcome Carol Drummer to our staff. Carol brings over 20 years of experience in higher education, including 10 years as Dean of Graduate Admissions at Hofstra. She has coached and mentored thousands of prospective MBA, Ph.D, MFA, MA/MS and Pre-Med Post Baccalaureate graduate students through the application, admission, and enrollment process. And as Dean, she reviewed admissions decisions for thousands of applicants. She knows what committees are looking for, and can help you put together the most effective application possible.

Carol is also a professor of communication and rhetoric, and is co-writing an “Admission 101” book for parents.

We’re thrilled to welcome her to our team!

Check out Carols Profile!
Accepted: The Premier Admissions Cosultancy

March Madness and Story Time

Can your application tell a story?Is your bracket busted yet? (Probably.)

One of the things that draws even casual sports fans to March Madness is the storylines—the last-minute excitement, the players’ personal stories, the upsets, the Cinderella runs deep into the tournament.

And during the tournament, absolutely everything becomes a story. As I write, one of the top stories on Yahoo Sports is about the chair that GA State coach Ron Hunter fell out of in excitement when his son hit a game winning shot. Yes—the chair, which is now a treasured object of superstitious reverence. Of course! But another great story (and one of the enduring images of this year’s tournament, even after GA State was eliminated in the next round).

Stories make the game more exciting by giving us a personal connection to it. That’s how we tend to relate to the world around us. And I think it’s a useful thing to remember when you’re writing application essays: stories matter.

Your personal experiences add depth and interest to your application essays, helping you stand out and illustrating the qualities and goals you’re explaining. As you prepare to write, think about the stories you want to tell. It can be helpful to do some prewriting—think through some of the experiences you want to write about and what you learned from them, as well as how they relate to what you want to do in the future. This will give you some good material to draw on in your essay(s).

And…Go Bruins! (If they’re eliminated by the time you read this—better luck next year.)

Learn how to use sample essays to create an exemplary essay of your own!


Rebecca BlusteinBy Dr. Rebecca consultant since 2008, former Student Affairs Officer at UCLA’s Scholarship Resource Center, and author of the ebook, Financing Your Future: Winning Fellowships, Scholarships and Awards for Grad School. Dr. Blustein, who earned her Ph.D. at UCLA, assists our clients applying to MS, MA, and Ph.D. programs. She is happy to assist you with your grad school applications.

Related Resources: 

• 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your Application Essays
• Telling Your Story in Your Application Essay
• MBA Application Essays: All You Need is a Story