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 Accepted.com staff. Next up is…Michelle Stockman.
Accepted: Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? Do you hold any graduate degrees? What’s your favorite non-school/non-work book?
Michelle: I studied at Brigham Young University for my undergrad and majored in history. A few years later, I earned a Masters in Science in Journalism from the Columbia Journalism School in New York City.
As a history nut, I love reading non-fiction. My favorite recent read is Empire of the Summer Moon – a fascinating, poignant look at the rise and fall of the Comanches, the most powerful Native American tribe in the United States. It illuminates a violent chapter in American history that featured new military technology as the Comanche rose to prominence largely through their prowess as fierce warriors.
Accepted: What was your journey like – from NY, all the way out west, and then back to NY? Was NYC your final destination? Where do you currently reside?
Michelle: My connection to the American West dates back to my childhood. My father is from Salt Lake City, and we would drive cross-country from New York to Utah every other summer to visit my grandmother. Nestled amongst the Rocky Mountains during college, I had the opportunity to quench both my intellectual curiosity and thirst for outdoor adventure. Ultimately, my penchant for storytelling drew me back east, at first to New York City. Eight million people – so many stories to capture. As a video journalist, I covered everything from rooftop bee keepers to the attempted Times Square bombing. I went on to work for a French media company – Agence France Presse – where I covered events at the White House and met nearly all the candidates on the 2012 Presidential campaign trail. Next I moved to Islamabad, Pakistan where I linked up with CNN for occasional presenting work and also returned to admissions consulting. Just a month ago, I relocated to Berlin where I will be living for the foreseeable future.
Accepted: Can you map your path towards becoming an admissions consultant for Accepted?
Michelle: When I first moved to New York, I got a job coordinating interviews and reading applications at the Columbia Business School Admissions Office. I gained an insider view of the admissions process, and decided to combine my experience with the writing and editing skills I honed in journalism school by joining Accepted.com in 2007.
Accepted: What’s your favorite thing about consulting?
Michelle: Of course, I love the “I got in!” emails from my clients. But there’s so much ground work that we’ve laid together before that moment. I love when clients start to “get” the process. They realize that my coaching is improving their message. Then they catch on themselves, and surprise me, within a matter of weeks, how much more concise their writing and interviewing skills have become.
Accepted: How do you think your journalism skills contribute to your work as a consultant?
Michelle: Messenger + Target Audience + Content = Persuasion.
That’s the formula I learned as a journalist.
If my applicants tell the truth, then they are a trusted messenger. But will the admissions committee listen if that truth doesn’t resonate? If it’s just a bunch of boasts and industry jargon? I know how to choose and tell stories that signal leadership and transformation. I also have an inside understanding of my applicants’ target audience: the admissions committee.
Finally, journalists always have limited space to tell their stories – one of the toughest hurdles to overcome when putting together an MBA application. I can edit like a champ!
Accepted: What sorts of applicants do you mostly work with?
Michelle: I generally work with MBA and graduate school applicants.
Accepted: What are your top 3 admissions tips?
1. This process is as much relationship driven, as it is about having a cogent message. Dig into your network and try to create connections to your school of choice.
2. Make your essays about personal relationships that illustrate a theme.
3. Start early. The best applications are built on a strong foundation of deep thought.