The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to: Some, but not all
After having read profile after profile on the forums, I knew there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with my application. I was a bit on the older side but there were no flags. But, that said, I read some amazing profiles too. I figured having a little help – ok, a lot of help – was probably a good idea. I chose another firm to work with on my Round 1 applications – after all, they seemed to have good reviews. It was a costly mistake - 0 for 8 in Round 1 with the Top 15 schools (not even one interview invite).
After a demoralizing Round 1, I decided to take the advice of a trusted acquaintance and utilize the services of Critical Square for Round 2. Hands down the best decision of my life!
Critical Square helped identify where I had went wrong with my Round 1 apps – mainly focusing on my career goals and objectives. At 31, my professional experience had been mainly in Financial Services and Consumer Products, but both heavy in business/data analytics/operations. That said, my story in Round 1 focused on venture capital and finance. Both were far-fetched given my lack of any direct work experience in those specific job function(s) and lack of the tools needed to have a shot at attaining these goals. Critical Square wasn't afraid to call me out on these problematic issues. So, we honed in on my best skill-sets, rather than more general industry experience, and crafted my Round 2 apps to highlight these skill-sets and choose career goals that would incorporate them. Looking back, not only were my Round 2 applications better in the stereotypical ways (better resume, better essays, etc.), but they were also more “me”. My consultant forced me to dig deep into what made me who I am. What I brought to the table. He didn’t just package some common story up with a bow and throw it across the wall. We really worked hard to figure out that specific aspect that set me apart. I hadn’t thought to ever look at my story that way and, without my consultant, I never would have.
At the end of the day my consultant read through the B.S. and never sugar-coated his commentary...this direct and honest feedback is invaluable. They write comprehensive reviews of your essays and have great “adcom” perspective. It was hard work – when a consultant pushes you to think harder or rips apart your essays, it means more work. A lot of it. So if you’re looking for someone to pat you on the back, fix some grammar, and send you on your way, this is definitely not the firm for you. In the end, the results speak for themselves.
While my application journey was a rocky road, I did considerably better in Round 2. Of the 4 top 15 schools we applied to together, I was invited to interview at 3 of them resulting in 2 acceptances. I’m heading to the Bay Area this fall and I am really excited to be starting this next chapter!
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