Pre-MBA industry: Engineering/Financial Analysis
Years of experience at time of matriculation: 4
GMAT/GRE score: 760
Undergraduate GPA: 7.22/10.00
Admitted to: Darden
After I decided to attend a B-school and started to choose among the schools and opportunities, I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of information I received by talking to people. When I started the research, I knew the schools I wanted to apply to and I knew what my goals were but after talking to so many people…let’s just say that I ended up worse than when I began. Honestly, I was confused and lost. That’s when I decided I needed a consultant. I started to ask around and I was referred to a couple of them here in India. Very soon I realized they wouldn’t be very helpful to me as I wanted more than school names and a goals list. I was looking for a personalized approach. Then I came across many US consultants (including Square One Prep) that offer 30 minute free consultations. To be honest, at that time I wasn’t really looking to hire someone. Being a cost conscious Indian I thought their services were out of my range. I just wanted to run my profile with them during the 30 minute free call and get some information. I think the call with Kathryn was my third such free call. My agenda for the call was to come out with something that would help me finalize the school list and career goals.
The first thing I realized while talking to her was that she wasn’t holding back any information. She was genuinely interested in my success rather than landing me as a client. Take school selection for example. While many consultants might push the clients to go for safer choices, Kathryn pushed me towards tougher ones. At the beginning of the call, I had Tuck, Darden, Kenan Flagler and Johnson in my list of choices. Kathryn convinced me to remove the last two from the list and change it to include Kellogg and Yale. Moreover while talking about school choices, she was looking beyond my resume. She was looking at the fit, not just rankings. I realized I finally found someone really interested in my success at the school, rather than just providing me a service.
I’d say I have a slightly unconventional profile. I have an engineering degree and I worked in O&G before making a career switch to Finance. At the time of applications, I had close to a year of experience in the industry. I was very confused about how I would convince adcoms about my career switch and to my post MBA goals (with my little experience in the industry). Kathryn took great interest in listening to my concerns and made my goals look presentable and simple to understand but strong enough to convey passion.
The call went for about 90 minutes (a good one hour beyond the free 30) and at the end of the call I told her I wanted to work with her. Given my financial status I worked with them only on Tuck application but that was still a very big decision for me to make. Even though I was working with them on only one application, in fact I received help for all the applications that I submitted. In hindsight, I made the right choice. I’ll never have second thoughts about that.
Once I became their client, Kathryn quickly drew schedules and assigned me to one of her consultants Chi. Most of her team, including herself are Wharton MBA’s. They are truly top class. The best part about Square One is that even though I worked mostly with Chi, it was not exclusive. Every part of material – Resume, Essays- has to go through Kathryn for final approval. That way I actually worked with the two of them. When I say two, it wasn’t just for name sake that she has to approve the materials. I would find a hundred edits and comments from Kathryn every time she reviews an essay. That is one area where she can get really tough. She doesn’t approve anything sub standard.
Moreover the brain storming sessions and other supportive materials (understanding my situation, Kathryn shared a lot of resources of the other schools I applied to) helped me comfortably manage my work and my applications easily in the very short time I had. Also, she understood my financial status and allowed me to make the payments in installments, a couple of them after the work was finished. Such is the trust she places in her clients. By the end of December, my Tuck essays probably went through 10-12 revisions and when I read them one last time before submitting, I knew I made the right choice. To prove it right, I received interview call from Tuck within a week. While I couldn’t make it to Tuck, the brainstorming sessions and lots of supportive materials certainly helped me prepare for other interviews. Now I’ve received admission from Darden with a surprisingly big scholarship and to say the least, I am sure without Kathryn and her team it wouldn’t have been possible.
Long story short, I recommend Square one with all my heart.
One final tip: If you can work with Kathryn directly, don’t think twice though she is a little expensive. Her team is really good, patient, kind, talented and all but Kathryn is simply exceptional.