Status: First-time applicant
Pre-MBA industry: Marketing in Technology Industry
Years of experience at time of matriculation: 6
GMAT/GRE score: 750
Undergraduate GPA: 3.64/4.00
Admitted to: Booth, Columbia, Haas, Wharton
I went with Square One Prep’s Comprehensive Service for the 5 schools I applied to, and, looking back, I honestly can’t imagine going through the process without their help.
When I was trying to decide which company to work with, I narrowed it down to Square One Prep and Stacy Blackman Consulting, mostly based on GMAT Club reviews. After my initial consultations, the unique selling point that stood out to me about SBC was the “insider” information they seemed to have through experienced and well-connected staff, while SOP gave off the impression of providing a very tight-knit and personalized experience. I ultimately decided on SOP because I realized that having someone who was more available to me and understood me on a deeper level would be more beneficial to me personally.
My consultant was Katherine Hatter, whom I chose for 3 reasons:
1. She had experience in my specific field (not that common), which meant she understood the things I dealt with and could help me utilize those in my application.
2. She was an alumna of one of my top choice schools.
3. She was extremely personable, and I felt comfortable talking to her on our intro call.
All of these reasons indeed ended up being important as we developed a great relationship. We also got into a good working cadence: I sent her a draft late at night, then she would send me her suggested edits and comments within 1-2 days (most times the very next day), then I would send her a new draft that night (and repeat). This was critical in completing applications for 5 schools in less than 2 months without sacrificing all the iterations that good essays require. I imagine this was possible due to the fact that I was Katherine’s only client at the time. While this may not be the case for everyone, SOP caps its consultants at 3 clients each, which is still lower than other companies (if I remember correctly, SBC’s max is 6).
Another huge plus of SOP’s comprehensive services is that the founder (Kathryn Lucas) reviews all your “final” drafts (“final” because she will provide feedback that you will then need to incorporate). She is extremely blunt in her written feedback, so be warned when you open up that first attachment from her. Some comments may come off a bit harsh but don’t take it too personally; she is passionate about her work and cares deeply about the success of her clients (something you’ll likely sense in your conversations with her). It is invaluable to have another set of eyes (and an experienced set, at that) on all the essays.
I applied to 5 of the M7 schools and was admitted to 4, all with scholarships (ranging from ~25% to 100% of tuition) – a result much, much better than I ever anticipated. Could I have had the same result without Square One Prep? Maybe. Who knows. Measuring the true effectiveness of admissions consultants is literally impossible. What I DO know that is that SOP helped me produce submissions that were much stronger than those I would have produced on my own and therefore enabled me to go through the application process with an increased chance of success. You can’t really ask for more than that.