ApplicantLab Admissions Consulting Reviews

Admissions is a tough game; we teach you how to win it. ApplicantLab is an on-demand series of interactive exercises that walk you through everything you need to craft a winning application. Created by an HBS grad with almost 15 years of experience, ApplicantLab takes admissions consultants’ tools and puts them in your hands. Learn more.
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ApplicantLab Admissions Consulting Reviews

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Maria Wich-Vila
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Carin Nelson
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191 Reviews
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May 13, 2023

Joined: Feb 03, 2020

Posts: 8

Kudos: 4

Self-reported Score:

HBS Admit with 2 Weeks Prep! I didn’t believe it either :)


Let me start this review by saying that I am a real person. I’m not paid by ApplicantLab to praise them in public spaces. I am an over-30 woman who has MANY weaknesses when it comes to MBA applications:

• On the older side of candidates
• Few promotions, never had a subordinate
• Engineering background – too common!
• Not really sure about my post-MBA goals
• GRE score is LESS than the average of HBS
• Financially constrained, could not afford personalized services

Given this, I initially did not plan to apply to HBS at all. One of my school selections has a small size of class and I was afraid that my GRE score would not be competitive, so I e-mailed Maria asking for advice. I didn’t send her my essay or anything, just a general question with a little bit of my background. To my surprise, she replied the e-mail (super detailed reply + morale boost). She pointed at the brand traits in the Lab's "Mapping" section that I could elaborate, then encouraged me to aim higher… to go for HBS instead! She also made me aware that there is a Need-based Application Fee Waiver, so even though it was 2 weeks before the R2 deadline, I could shoot my shot without losing money.

I’m glad I took that shot. Having used ApplicantLab for 3 months at that point, I could easily tailor my story for HBS even in a short period of time. Here are some modules in ApplicantLab that worked best for me:

• Career Vision
Every business school is going to ask you for a career vision. No matter how much they put emphasis on “we care more about your past performances”, it will look bad if you don’t know why you go for an MBA at all. ApplicantLab listed all possible scenarios that I could think of! This module also pushed me to think more than just “Consulting”, “Entrepreneurship”, but gave probing questions to reflect on the specifics according to my background. The “My Strengths & Weaknesses” module also addressed all the concerns I had on being too old, having few promotions, etc.

• Brainstorming, Branding & Mapping
When anyone asked, how could I put together an HBS essay a.k.a. the ultimate MBA essay in 2 weeks? This is the answer. These 3 modules made me brainstorm like crazy. I was probed to think deeper into my own experience of, for example, being innovative/persuasive, and they provided detailed guidelines on how to tell that story. In the Mapping section, I was asked to allocate the “evidences” that I had collected in Brainstorming and Branding sections wisely – different schools have different focus, and you need to tailor your story based on what THE SCHOOLS want, not what you think they want… which brings me to the next section…

• Essay Advice
ApplicantLab provides an EXTREMELY DETAILED essay advice for EVERY SCHOOL. I put this in capitalized words because if you have been window-shopping on admissions consultants, you will know that they charge for 1-school up to 5-schools packages. What if you wanted to apply to HBS 2 weeks before the deadline like I did? You cannot do that with a traditional admissions consultant. With ApplicantLab, I could easily hover over the “HBS” tab and access the plethora of information available there (the videos are plenty and 1 video can go up to 45 mins). I did it at 4 AM. No fuss.

• Recommendations
My HBS interviewer specifically mentioned that my Recommendation Letter provided a good look into my character, as my recommender(s) elaborated that: 1) I am the breadwinner of the family; 2) I bounced back after a painful layoff from my dream company. I have to give that credit to ApplicantLab’s Recommendation module. It provided a step-by-step instruction to make sure that my Recs complement what I try to convey in my essay, by cheering on my strengths and mitigate my weakness from an outsider’s point of view. You have to try the module and see it by yourself because it’s so hard for me to explain how it works here, but it works!

• Interview
Finally, the Interview module. This module contains great advice to tackle the oh-so-usual questions like “Tell me about yourself”, “Why MBA”, “Why this school”, but also the more advanced questions like “How do you deal with difficult people?”. There is also a module for school-specific interviews, like HBS Post-Interview Reflection, Wharton’s Team Based Discussion, MIT’s 2 additional essays, etc. As with the other modules, Maria provided an extremely detailed explanation for everything. I used this module to get a full scholarship too! (not from HBS – from a specific scholarship applicable to the citizen of my country, which has 12% acceptance rate, if that matters).

Having said that, I do want to be objective by providing some caveats for the MBA hopefuls here: ApplicantLab is not for everyone. I think it’s best to be used by:

• A self-motivated person
If you can pace yourself to finish all the modules and pay attention to the details provided, you will reap the most benefit from ApplicantLab. I watched Maria’s videos in between airport travels, made notes/reflect at 4-6 AM before work, then expanded the brand traits to become actual essays at 9-10 PM. I did it everyday for ~3 months. You need to be discipline.

• Someone who can self-reflect
I said it before and I’ll say it again: ApplicantLab is not a personalized service. It is created by an admissions expert who replicates herself through the videos. It gives you pointers and probing questions, but you are required to reflect upon your own experiences and put it into the “Mapping” section to craft your story. I do think you need to have enough self-reflection prior to an MBA, regardless of which consultants you choose, because the components of MBA applications require you to do just that.

• A financially constrained person
If my mum and dad make $$$ per year, of course I’d love to have a 5-school package from a traditional admissions consultant. I want my essays to be reviewed. I want to rehearse for mock interviews. ApplicantLab provides those services for small extra fees too, which some of the reviewers here have used and loved, but I could not even afford it. For me, this video-based learning is as best as I could get with my limited fund. No other $340 is as worth it as ApplicantLab, really!! If you have extra money though, you can definitely make ApplicantLab more personalized by using the extra services, as they are much cheaper than other providers.

• Someone who can get an outside help for essay reviews/mock interview.
I am fortunate enough to have a mentor who reviewed my essays, 2 HBS alumni/student who were willing to help me with free mock interviews, and many good friends who applied to graduate school before. With the foundation that was set by ApplicantLab, I could come to them prepared, and have them sharpened the points that I might have missed. If you are not as fortunate as me, you can consider using the extra services provided by ApplicantLab.

So that's it... thank you for reading my reviews thus far! Try the free version first to see if you're a match for ApplicantLab. I hope I have provided an objective review to help you choose the best admissions consultant for you. ApplicantLab was certainly the best for me, and I could not thank Maria and her team enough for enabling me to secure a spot at this prestigious institution with minimum spending. Plus point: she has great sense of humor too :) it did help during the stressful weeks leading up to the deadline!

All the best for the MBA hopefuls out there in navigating your application journey!

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May 24, 2023

Joined: May 24, 2023

Posts: 0

Kudos: 0

Self-reported Score:
740 Q59 V58

Admitted to Kellogg!

REVIEWER IDENTITY VERIFIED by school email address [?]

ApplicantLab was crucial to being admitted to my top choice! The price is unbeatable, and Maria does a fantastic job of breaking down the different components of each essay for each of the different schools.

I cannot recommend ApplicantLab enough to anyone that is applying to business school. In addition to the online services, Maria was extremely responsive to ad-hoc emails and provided a perspective that helped me think about a unique and effective way to present my story. I can honestly say that I would not have been able to successfully navigate this process without ApplicantLab and all the services/resources provided. 10/10

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This reviewer has not participated on GMAT Club but it is a REAL person and a REAL review. GMAT Club has verified this test-taker's identity through GMAC/Pearson Vue Score Reporting system or .edu email address and confirmed that this reviewer indeed took the GMAT, is unique, and has not submitted multiple reviews.
May 08, 2023

Joined: Jun 12, 2021

Posts: 0

Kudos: 0

Self-reported Score:
770 Q50 V45

How ApplicantLab helped me in get into MIT Sloan in two weeks

REVIEWER IDENTITY VERIFIED by gmat club tests [?]

It was a few days before New Year's when I received my much-desired GMAT score. At that time, I was eager to wrap up the application endeavor quickly - after all, I got into a good school in Round 1 and I was hopeful my new GMAT could allow for scholarship. However, fate had other plans for me, and I'm glad I discussed my situation with Maria, who helped me understand the selling points of my profile better. Her encouragement and pep talk boosted my determination to aim higher in Round 2, and without her, I would not have dared to apply to MIT Sloan, which I always considered out of my league. With only two weeks left until the application deadline, I had to work hard, but ApplicantLab's resources were instrumental in helping me flourish. A few months later, I received the happiest call of my life from Sloan at midnight.

While I had already sorted out other parts of my application (resume, recommendation, behavioral interview etc) in Round 1 with the help of many resources and people that I'm eternally grateful for, including ApplicantLab, its detailed guide on the essay section was invaluable. I had never written a cover letter or made a video essay for a business school before, but the insider guide that ApplicantLab provided helped me focus on what to expect. Having appealing stories is still essential, but the guide gave me confidence in crafting essays that showcased my best self while ticking all the boxes. The guide also helped me choose between schools as it highlighted the qualities that each school values and how they aligned with my desired goals for an MBA experience. Overall, I highly recommend ApplicantLab as a great resource for anyone looking to apply to top MBA programs.

I want to give a special shoutout to Maria, Carin, and the whole ApplicantLab team. Without their support and resources, I wouldn't have been able to achieve my dream of getting into MIT Sloan. It's also important to note that the effectiveness of a self-guided tool like ApplicantLab course greatly depends on how you use it. If you find yourself feeling unsure or inexperienced as an applicant, ApplicantLab's consulting services might be fantastic complements to your journey. In any case, you can't go wrong with ApplicantLab - an exceptional and cost-efficient resource!

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May 04, 2023

Joined: Feb 08, 2022

Posts: 7

Kudos: 11

Verified score:
680 Q49 V34

Admission to LBS($$$) in less than a week!


Using ApplicantLab was a miracle that saved me in my application to B-schools! I was so concerned with studying for GMAT that I started working on my essays only one week before the first school's deadline (and I didn't score very well on GMAT either).
I applied to 8 top business schools over 15 days and I got admitted to 6 of them. The only rejections were from Harvard and Stanford, which were absolutely understandable.
If it weren’t for the step-by-step guide and helpful tips at each step of the process, I would definitely not be able to join LBS with 70% scholarship. ApplicantLab guided me at each step from brainstorming to creating a compelling resume and writing essays. In addition, the hidden humor in the explanations and Maria's smiling face at the videos made the process of preparing application materials way easier!

One of the important aspects of the lab was its psychologically-optimized process. I had a writer's block, but the smooth steps of the lab helped me to overcome this issue by helping me to do a single task at a time.
For me, the flexibility of the service was super helpful. Having limited time, I used the lab at any time of the day, from early morning to late at midnight. It was like having a consultant by my side at each time of the day.

And one the surprises while using the lab was that when I asked Maria a question, she answered my question with great detail, her email was about 1-2 pages long! I did not expected such an attitude

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April 25, 2023

Joined: Apr 25, 2023

Posts: 0

Kudos: 0

Helped me Secure an Admit to Booth with a Low GRE Score!


I'm like most who was extremely skeptical about online MBA admissions prep especially since ApplicantLab was less money compared to other platforms out there. Overall, I was extremely impressed by the format, responsiveness, and quality of the ApplicantLab. I spent a fraction of what would of have paid at one of those other expensive competitors but felt like I got my monies worth. The turnaround feedback for the resume + essay review was a very quick around (24-48 hours) and each document was marked up with the comments of the reviewer. Another highlight is that everything was pretty simple to navigate and go through online. I would recommend the platform to anyone who is looking for a cost effective option to online tailored MBA admissions help.

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April 12, 2023

Joined: Apr 12, 2023

Posts: 0

Kudos: 0

Verified score:
710 Q50 V35 (Online)

Highly recommend the tool for every application


I signed up with ApplicantLab just before R2 and applied to 7-8 schools (M7 & T15) using it. Absolutely loved the interesting and funny way in which Maria presented the relevant tips and guidance through her videos and how the tool provides very handy pointers to approaching the essays and other parts of the application.

The success ratio of my applications with ApplicantLab (4 Admits including Stanford, 1WL, 2 Dings) was better than the ratio with a much higher paid traditional consultant (1 Admit, 1WL, 4 Dings).

So highly recommend ApplicantLab over other traditional consultants. The low cost of the tool is just an added bonus!

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This reviewer has not participated on GMAT Club but it is a REAL person and a REAL review. GMAT Club has verified this test-taker's identity through GMAC/Pearson Vue Score Reporting system and confirmed that this reviewer indeed took the GMAT, is unique, and has not submitted multiple reviews.
April 11, 2023

Joined: Apr 11, 2023

Posts: 0

Kudos: 0

Verified score:
730 Q48 V42

This product is amazing, you can use as much or as little as you like. Maria lays out EXACTLY how to think about essays and interviews with specific discussion for a TON of schools. Even more impressive, I had a specific question or 2, and they took the time to give me good guidance/talk me down from stress by chat (the time that they were online) or email (the time that they weren't). I was pretty convinced that my low undergrad GPA would require me to either hire a $10K consultant or accept potentially ending up somewhere other than my dream school. I couldn't be more glad that I saved my money and went with Maria- you don't have to make either sacrifice!

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This reviewer has not participated on GMAT Club but it is a REAL person and a REAL review. GMAT Club has verified this test-taker's identity through GMAC/Pearson Vue Score Reporting system and confirmed that this reviewer indeed took the GMAT, is unique, and has not submitted multiple reviews.
April 08, 2023

Joined: Nov 06, 2015

Posts: 0

Kudos: 0

When I first decided to apply to business school, I had no idea where to start. But after some internet research, I saw that Applicant Lab has a huge following. I was a little unsure initially but the price point was what got me to sign up.

Maria is brilliant! I immediately got hooked from the start because of how user-friendly the site is (there are modules laid out very clearly about how to get started, the checklist you should have ready, etc). I especially loved her advice personalized to each school. She has clearly gone to great lengths to research each program, and because of her I was able to effectively tailor my essays to each school. I rewatched her videos multiple times and followed her advice. She was the voice in my head throughout the process. She gives you very pointed, honest and no-nonsense advice but she's also kind about it. Her jokes and sparkly personality also added much needed levity during such a stressful time. She felt like a true partner and friend in the process. She is also very quick to reply to emails if you have queries. Her replies are always thoughtful and insightful.

As an over-represented older candidate with below average test scores and an employment gap, I decided to keep my expectations low but I got into multiple schools with scholarships and will be going to a Top 10 school (one of my top choices) this fall thanks to her advice. I'm extremely grateful to her for making such an overwhelming process so accessible and affordable. Don't hesitate to sign up. It's well worth the investment. Highly highly recommended.

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April 04, 2023

Joined: Apr 04, 2023

Posts: 0

Kudos: 0

I couldn't afford the $10K+ USD that private consultants were charging, especially on an international currency, so I am so glad that Maria created ApplicantLab, a democratic product that evens out the playing field and is a great value for money. Applying to business school is an art, and Maria teaches that art, ensuring that it doesn't remain the domain for the rich who can afford the equivalent of some countries' annual living expenses.

I was a risky nontraditional candidate with no business background, little Q background, odd professional circumstances, and a GRE below my schools' averages/medians, but I credit ApplicantLab to be the single most important reason why I was able to secure interviews with 4 of the 6 schools I applied to and will be attending Fuqua with a merit scholarship and Forte Fellowship! The admissions officer who called me said the team "loved" my application and found it "refreshing" after reading so many others.

I came into the process lost and without knowing a single thing about personal branding, resume, recommendation packets, application writing, or interviewing from a business perspective--I'd never even interview prepped in my life before--and ApplicantLab walked me through every single aspect, explaining the hidden logic behind B-school admissions and essay questions, before providing structure and examples to tackle everything through efficient notes and videos. I could build a comprehensive strategy, write strong essays, and prepare for interviews on a compressed timeline. I was impressed by the in-depth dive into each essay question--each essay module offered everything I needed. If it weren't for ApplicantLab, I legit would not have made my deadlines or submitted applications I was proud of.

My application weaknesses could be preemptively addressed and my story and strengths being allowed to shine throughout my entire application, from essays to recommendation packets. ApplicantLab provides an excellent foundation, but of course I also recommend putting in the hard work on your end by asking peers to review your essays and preparing for interviews.

2 nice add-ons:

- You can email questions to Maria, and she'll respond in 2 business days. In late-November, I was still struggling with personal branding, but I emailed her my concerns, and she kindly wrote out 800 words in response, much more than I was expecting or have received from anyone. With that, I was finally able to finalize my personal branding. I was surprised to see this was offered--to have direct access to the founder herself, despite how busy she is running the company and answering everyone else's questions! There are plenty of private consultants who will take your $10K+ but shove you off to a more junior consultant. Even after applying, I still reach out to Maria for advice on questions here and there. Maria is a genuinely good person.

- Candidly, I was miserable while applying to business school, but Maria's fun descriptions and videos were a great source of levity, humor, and joy during this process. While I was sad, cold, angry, caffeinated, and alone in my room during the holidays and Lunar New Year, I found myself bursting out loud laughing watching her videos and reading her explanations. ApplicantLab proves that there can still be joy in the process, and writing essays throughout December alongside her contagious positivity was actually something I could look forward to because of her.

I was part of 2 MBA prep programs, and everyone found her webinars to be the most helpful and enjoyable to watch, and they were also singing ApplicantLab's praises. They've secured acceptances to M7, T15, T25 schools and beyond, many with full-tuition or significant scholarships. I have friends coming from URM and nontraditional backgrounds, who I will be recommending ApplicantLab to.

Thank you, Maria! :)

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March 30, 2023

Joined: Mar 30, 2023

Posts: 0

Kudos: 0

Admitted to HBS and Kellogg!


ApplicantLab was BEYOND helpful throughout the MBA process and to help me get accepted at my dream schools! Three specific reasons why if I were to do it again I 100% would leverage ApplicantLab's services again:
1) The structured step-by-step process is a huge help in reducing application stress which can certainly be overwhelming. I didn't have any close contacts who had done an MBA, and I was at a loss as to where to even start - ApplicantLab was perfect as it provided the exact steps and "homework" needed. Also the way the content is delivered is super engaging and Maria uses humour to help key points stick!
2) Personalized advice is available! There are additional services available (at a cost) for personalized help such as mock interviews. Maria conducted my mock interview for HBS and it really helped me prep as very similar types of questions were actually asked! I do want to shoutout that she also was very responsive to any specific questions I had over email right from the beginning of the process!
3) Low Cost - Perhaps one of the biggest perks is getting valuable insights and information at a fraction of the cost vs. most places.

Thank you again Maria and ApplicantLab team for your help!

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