Status: First-time applicant
Pre-MBA industry: Public Sector Consulting
Years of experience at time of matriculation: 4.75
GMAT/GRE score: 710
Undergraduate GPA: Top 5%
Graduate GPA – MBA: Top 15%
Admitted to: Columbia, Kellogg
I had started building my story in December last year. During that story building phase, I spoke to more than 10 consultants both in the US and in India. Not one consultant appeared as enthusiastic and emphatic in their initial assessment as did Kathryn! Although SOP’s services sounded expensive because of the Rupee-USD exchange rate, I chose to work with them purely because of the confidence Kathryn exuded in my candidacy. In the hindsight, I can safely say that working with Square One Prep has been the best investment of my life till date!
I worked with Mike on 4 applications. We selected the schools in a manner that provided me the most diverse coverage in terms of essay-types, thus enabling me to easily work on the remaining apps on my own. Mike’s elaborate comments on each change made me learn new things every day. It was important because as an Indian candidate, I had little idea about how Americans think and perceive various sentences. I also learnt that GMAT sentence correction section is of little use when writing essays. The sentences in essays need to be short, comprehensible, seamless and logical. We spent close to a month on my first application, i.e. Kellogg, and I’m so glad we were able to convert it.
The best part about Mike was that he used to provide a brief commentary at the end of each review and encourage me to make the specific improvements myself. This method really helped me improve my writing style and grow in confidence as I moved from one essay to the other. The best thing I did was to approach Mike’s assistance as a learning exercise, and not just as an engagement to finish 4 applications I signed up for. The result was that I converted 1 (Columbia) out of the 2 applications I wrote myself.
For the interviews, Kathryn provided me great insights into how to answer various questions. After the mock interview, she provided me specific inputs into what was good or bad about my responses, and how I could improve them. The confidence I got after incorporating her inputs was essential in helping me nail the 90 mins long Kellogg interview.
For Indian aspirants contemplating applying to the top US MBA programs, I would strongly recommend the services of SOP. Indian consultants, although less expensive, are not always able to provide you those cultural inputs that can be pivotal in the message you eventually convey. Among the US based Consultants, SOP led by Kathryn came across as the only one that genuinely cared for my success. A few thousand grands will appear as a very small price for significantly lower stress and greater confidence because of the quality of your applications.