Status: First-time applicant
Pre-MBA industry: Investment Banking/Hedge Fund
Years of experience at time of matriculation: 10
GMAT/GRE score: 740
Undergraduate GPA: 3.71/4.00
Admitted to: Haas, Stanford MSx
I applied to 3 schools and got accepted to 2 including my top choice program. I agree with one of the reviews I read here; if you want a consultant who would provide sugar-coated feedback to make you feel good, then Kathryn / SquareOne may not be right for you. Kathryn and the advisors at SquareOne are honest and direct when working with you and constantly push you to take a rigorous approach to find a focused narrative for your applications. I had thought I had a pretty good career, academic record (GPA: 3.7) and GMAT (740) – so approached the process with an unhealthy dosage of arrogance. My initial interactions with SquareOne were a humbling reality check where Kathryn tapered my expectations. It was something that I needed and something that proved to be true.
My initial call with Kathryn (free consultation) was over an hour. My follow-up call with her was as long, and she took the time to walk me through the application process as well as how the advisor selection works. The advisor I worked with (John) spent close to 4 hours during the introduction call, going through every aspect of the application (academic, professional, extracurricular, outreach) and provided instant feedback on where I would need focus; after a couple days, he sent me a very detailed report of his assessment of my candidacy.
The first couple weeks were spent on drafting my career narrative detailing my near-term and mid-long-term goals as well as why an MBA degree would matter in achieving those goals. This took a few iterations that included Kathryn’s detailed feedback. I was initially getting very frustrated with this part of the process because (i) John / Kathryn repeatedly pushed me to further finetune my narrative (really have my near-term as well as mid-long term goals in synch with why I wanted to get an MBA degree) so this process took much longer than expected and (ii) John / Kathryn didn’t want me to work on the actual application or essays until we finalized the details of the career narrative. However, looking back I appreciate the detail-oriented, rigorous process they enforced which really expedited the application process post hammering out the details of the career narrative; once I had the narrative locked down, it was much easier to find a focused voice throughout different school applications.
During the essay process, John was there every step of the way; we brainstormed a few topics and John helped me find a topic that best highlighted my core competency / strengths. He helped me find focus / desired voice in the raw drafts. Afterwards, we sent the drafts to Kathryn who came back with detailed feedback; these weren’t just minor edits as she really took a detailed look at every single essay – in one incident, we had to revise most of the essay, but John and I did agree that Kathryn’s feedback was valid despite the subsequent “turn” process being onerous. The essay process was rigorous every step of the way, John / Kathryn approached every short / long answer questions as well as the brief application questions (i.e. Job description) with an equal amount of attention. At the final stages of the application, John did a final detailed review of each application and questions (including grammar / spelling check).
Kathryn was available for close to 3 hours during the interview prep where she gave very detailed feedback. Based on her experience dealing with a variety of candidates and interview situations, she provided effective tips to improve my interview skills and helped craft some of the answers to be consistent with my application. The interview prep process was a confidence booster and was very helpful during the real interviews.
Post acceptance, Kathryn has connected me with her former clients who are currently at the schools I was accepted to. I expect these connections to help my decision when choosing the program.
Overall, SquareOne has a very rigorous process that yielded great results. Appreciate the consistent, detail-oriented approach John / Kathryn took throughout the process. I highly recommend SquareOne.