Status: First-time applicant
Pre-MBA industry: Strategy and Operations in Technology Industry
Years of experience at time of matriculation: 5
GMAT/GRE score: 760 (V: 50 Q: 42)
Undergraduate GPA: 3.5/4.0
Career Gap: 5 months
Admitted to: Kellogg MMM, Sloan
I worked with Kathryn Lucas and Melissa Chan for my 2017 R1 bschool applications. I would recommend them to anyone hoping to succeed with the demanding application process.
INITIAL CALL – Unlike some other admission consultants who basically snoozed through the 30-minute initial assessment call, Kathryn dedicated over an hour listening to my “story” and providing feedback. A few weeks later, when I abruptly lost my job and was unsure if applying to bschool 2017 R1 cycle was even possible, Kathryn spent the next few months answering several emails and fielding calls from me as I tried to figure my life out. She was there for me every step of the way as I recruited for jobs and helped me assess if the job was a right fit for me and my post-MBA goals. She also did all this free of charge.
RESUME – Melissa and Kathryn helped me restructure my resume so that it was layman friendly and captured a bigger story about myself. Bschool resumes aren’t job-hunting resumes, and so they needed to be written to highlight certain things that a regular resume wouldn’t highlight. This fact gets easily missed, and SOP was very helpful in educating me about this and guiding me through recrafting my resume.
LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION – Letters of recommendation are a tricky thing to handle due to sheer amount of work you’re asking other people to do for you. A lot of applicants struggle with streamlining this process. SOP’s LOR framework is AMAZING. There are a lot of tricks and nuances to the LOR process that would be lost on the usual applicant; working with SOP definitely opened my eyes to all those nuances.
ESSAYS – This area is where Melissa was most invaluable. I’m not an inexperienced writer, and I have friends who are good writers. One would think that by leveraging the skills and network I already had, I could churn out decent essays. Wrong. Bschool essays are a special beast. Not only do you need to get the mechanics correct, but what kind of story you tell and the way you tell it is very hard to nail down correctly. Melissa asked thought-provoking questions that helped me draw out interesting and personal aspects of my story, while pushing me to be disciplined about editing out extraneous information that didn’t add to my application. I went through over a dozen drafts of each essay, and when I was flailing about navel-gazing, Melissa helped me forcibly steer the essay back on track. A lot of Melissa’s critical feedback was (amusingly) on-point. Melissa was also good about letting my essays reflect my voice. I have a particular writing style and voice, which Melissa recognized, and she didn’t try to force me into writing in a way that wasn’t me.
INTERVIEW – Doing a comprehensive run through with Melissa was helpful because it illuminated areas I needed to practice. For interviews, I would also recommend applicants to reach out to people at the schools they’re interviewing at to practice school-specific questions.
END RESULTS – I applied to 4 schools, admitted to 1, and waitlisted at 1. I’ll be working with SOP through the waitlist process and figuring out next steps. I am relieved and excited because I really questioned my chances when I embarked on this process.
SUMMARY (the tldr version) – I think almost every bschool applicant could benefit from engaging with a good admissions consultant. I have friends at all the top bschools, who went through the application process, and their feedback/advice was nowhere as comprehensive and nuanced as what I received from working with Melissa/Kathryn. Just on the essay part alone, the revisions I received from friends were completely lightweight relative to the revisions I received from Melissa. Also, no friend is going to work with you through a dozen drafts of essays, resumes, etc. (or maybe I need better friends). That being said, Square One Prep goes beyond merely good to superb. They’ll help you towards success, and through the process, you’ll learn a lot about yourself, personally and professionally.
If you’re applying to bschool, call Square One Prep. Your first call with Kathryn will be illuminating and will tell you that you’re in capable hands.