Status: First-time applicant
Pre-MBA industry: Banking
Years of experience at time of matriculation: 5
GMAT/GRE score: 700 (V: 37 Q: 48)
Undergraduate GPA: 3.64
Admitted to: Stanford, Wharton
Prior to applying to business school, I had conversations with many consultants to assess who I would entrust to guide me through the daunting process. I worked at a bulge bracket investment bank and was certain that I did not have the capacity to navigate the process alone. I connected with several advisors and diligently did my homework to figure out who could help me tap into my potential and get me across the finish line into my dream school. After an initial conversation with Kathryn, I felt that she understood who I was as a candidate and, equally as important, as a person. Our original consultation conversation spanned multiple days, and I was impressed with her dedication to my process even prior to my full commitment. I was also encouraged by her sound knowledge on everything related to the MBA process and business school landscape.
I believed the biggest weakness to my application was my GMAT score, which was a 700. While other consultants pressured me to re-take the test and caused me to narrowly focus on and stress about my score, Kathryn instilled in me the faith that I could still be a successful candidate beyond my test number. She helped to build out my story so that my GMAT score did not define me.
Once I decided to work with Square One, Kathryn provided me the biographies of several advisors who I would work with on a day-to-day basis. This process allowed me the agency to choose who I would work with — to choose the advisor whose interests and career path aligned most with my own. I ultimately chose to work with Amalia della Paolera; she and I developed a strong bond throughout the process, and I could not have gotten through without her. Amalia forced me to think outside the box, helped mitigate my stress, and dependably provided the upbeat, positive attitude that I needed. Amalia was incredibly patient and invested in my process — and made me a top priority even in the thick of Round 2 holiday season. The two-tiered structure allowed for both Kathryn and Amalia to opine on my work, and I felt secure submitting my applications knowing they had the blessing of not only one but two scrutinizing pair of eyes.
I applied to three schools — Wharton, Stanford and Harvard. I was admitted to Wharton and waitlisted at the latter two. Kathryn and Amalia worked with me to develop a game plan and encouraged me to fight myself off the waitlist as if it were a battle. Indeed I fought, and I was ultimately admitted to Stanford (my number one dream school!) within two months of my waitlist notification. As a result, I subsequently removed myself from the Harvard waitlist — but I know that Kathryn and Amalia would have supported me to fight that battle as well, if it had been something I was interested in. I greatly appreciated that their dedication to my candidacy did not wane, but in fact strengthened, during the painful waitlist period.
Importantly, Square One focused on ironing out my broader narrative before I rushed to put pen to paper with my essays. This initial framework for deeper, existential thinking enabled me to lay down important groundwork before jumping the gun. Once this process was complete, I found the depth and breadth of Square One’s materials incredibly useful as I crafted my essays. Both Kathryn and Amalia pushed and challenged my thinking and made sure that my true voice was always shining through. Square One does not foster a cookie cutter applicant mentality, but one that encourages and celebrates you for being you.
I couldn’t be happier with how the process wrapped up and am endlessly grateful for all that Kathryn and Amalia did to help me arrive at the optimal outcome I had always dreamed of. Stanford here I come!