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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"I would say do not even think of applying to M7 schools. Duke, Ross should be fine", said Stacy Blackman Consulting during their 30-min free evaluation call, without even listening to my "what matters most?" story for once. I was dejected.
From that moment just over a year ago to getting into Stanford GSB on a full tuition fellowship, has been an amazing journey!
But it all started when Maria "listened" to my story after I reached out to her as one of the 50 finalists for the Stanford Reliance Fellowship (given to 3 Indian students every year).
Being the first one to pursue a proper college education in my family, let alone applying to a business school, I had no clue about the admissions process, and I wanted someone to guide me - and not spoon-feed me like most Indian consultants do, for exhorbitant rates! - on what the admissions team expects from applicants. And Maria was willing to be the mentor I was looking for!
I wanted to take a DIY approach with some expert inputs along the way - something ApplicantLab offered in a unique way as Maria has listed specific advice for each school in terms of short write-ups and in-depth videos...and with a good dose of humor!
The best thing about the ApplicantLab platform is that it guides you to do a lot of "pre-work" before getting to write essays. Be it about your career journey, leadership traits, extracurricular stuff, future goals - it all comes into a matrix form once you are done with the pre-work steps. And then, it is very easy to pick and map the important points for a particular essay prompt. More importantly, this pre-work gives you enough time for self-reflection, something that eventually helped me bring out my most personal and authentic stories in the "what matters most" essay.
Towards the R2 deadline (I applied to 3 schools all in R2), I was lagging behind and so I even availed a few hours of help for AL's premium services, where each of the conversations with Maria were very helpful, especially for my MIT and HBS MS/MBA applications.
On the platform, the video guides for essays of all schools are in-depth and you'll have enough guidance to write the best essays on your own - that's what ApplicantLab stands for: "Be your own admissions consultant!".
In all, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working with ApplicantLab/Maria and would HIGHLY recommend anyone to go for it. ApplicantLab will be your best guide if you are taking the DIY approach!
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I strongly recommend ApplicantLab to anybody considering an MBA! I come from a fairly vanilla work background and was worried about differentiating myself among applicants in my "bucket". I utilized ApplicantLab for every aspect of my application (resume, essays, interviews, recommendations, etc) as the tool has advice for anything you could think of, as well as things you may not think of! Before using the tool, I had no idea that MBA admissions committees look for resumes that highlight experiences that generally aren't the focus of traditional professional resumes.
Within the tool, you are encouraged to map out experiences in your personal/undergraduate/professional life that demonstrated key traits that MBA programs look for in strong applicants (leadership, mentoring, innovation, overcoming obstacles, etc), and then allocate those experiences/stories to your essays, application boxes, as well as your interview question responses (especially useful for elaborating more on stories that you could not include within your essays). Most of this advice is included in extensive videos that Maria has recorded for each specific section of the application process.
In terms of essay advice, Maria includes specific advice (both written and videos, which often include much appreciated humor) for each required and optional essay for a school. I can't stress enough how detailed the advice is for these essays. Maria includes hyperlinks to specific offerings that each program is particularly proud of (and thus, very good to reference in your essays). There is advice for basically any top-50 program and Maria will add schools if there is interest.
I also purchased a mock interview with Maria. Maria’s advice was incredibly detailed and the interview itself simulated my actual interview to a tee. She spent about 1.75 hours speaking with me; she recorded the interview, and then discussed her feedback on the responses I gave to each question. I found the small tweaks she suggested to my answers particularly beneficial (putting less emphasis no my technical experience vs interpersonal experiences). I definitely felt like my interviewers were impressed with my responses.
Ultimately I was accepted to CBS + another top-15 program, and received interview invitations to the other 4 schools I applied to (withdrew my applications as CBS was my top-choice). Not only that, I received a generous fellowship from CBS, which most people told me was a significant reach for me!
I strongly believe it would be beneficial for every MBA applicant to utilize ApplicantLab; Maria has put a great service together, and the price is almost certainly cheaper than any other admissions consultant service.
Maria goes above and beyond for her clients and without her, I wouldn't be having the time of my life at business school (with a Consortium fellowship!)
I had no idea what I was doing when I was applying to business school, but working with ApplicantLab and Maria was so crucial to putting together a strong application. The whole process was made easier by Maria's extremely organized and straightforward approach. The ApplicantLab modules provided a guided way to really dig in to applications across all the schools I was applying to.
After going through the modules, Maria then personally reviews essay drafts and application questions. She was AMAZING. She's able to give out tough love, and then guide me to really telling stories with impact. She dug out some stories from me that I personally wouldn't have thought to tell (and that I am now using for behavioral interviews for consulting recruiting!). All of this takes time and energy on her part, but you can tell she cares so much about making sure you put your strongest application out there and its insanely motivating during the application process.
I was also able to do a mock interview with Maria, which was also incredibly helpful. She covered questions that were exactly what I was asked at the real interviews, so I was able to focus on telling my story instead of being nervous about what questions were going to be asked.
All told, I would work with Maria again in a heartbeat. She challenged me and guided me to put my best application forward and I could not be happier with the results!!
MBA application process is really a stressful process. One of the key things you always look for is guidance and mentor. A mentor, who can help you introspect about strengths, weaknesses, journey so far, and what you want to achieve next. Also, you are already paying so much money in applications fees, GMAT, GMAT preparation, and if you get admitted a huge sum to the school. The last thing you want to pay more than $ 4000 to consultants who help you build a great story. Well, there are no free lunches but there is lunch option with great price value- Applicant Lab.
If I look back, the investment I made on Applicant Lab has given me the highest ROI during this entire process.
People who are looking for help to build a great story, do check out this platform, I think you won't regret.
ApplicantLab got me into Columbia Business School!
When initially considering applicant lab I thought it might potentially be a waste of money but that I'd give it a shot before a gave a consultants a couple thousand dollars or more to help me through this process. I never ended up using a one on one consultant because ApplicantLab helped me organize my thoughts and goals in a way that put together a compelling business school application.
Maria from applicant lab spent time helping me through the parts of the application process that I did not understand and even letting me know what parts of my career vision needed to be reshaped.
I would recommend ApplicantLab to anyone! Def give it a shot before shelling out thousands for a consultant.
Almost exactly a year ago (2017 October 2) I was rejected from CBS early decision, my dream school (since forever). I applied with what I thought were OK stats (e.g., 730 GMAT, 3.8 GPA from Southeast Asian Uni, MBB + PE). Dinged without interview.
So I did what any rational re-applicant would do and immediately hone in on a higher GMAT score (which I was able to bump to a 750). The NEXT thing I did was go on these forums and find myself an MBA admissions consultant.
At this point - we're practically on the same boat - and I found that Applicant Lab seemed to fit my needs (low risk $-wise, self-paced, school-specific help). I ALSO looked at these reviews myself (and thought that there was NO WAY these reviews were LEGIT). Funnily enough, upon writing this review, I realized that you had to submit a valid GMAT score to even WRITE a review (so yeah, these reviews must be largely legit). Now that we're past the whole fear of 'fake reviews', you have to believe that this is LEGITIMATELY THE BEST MONEY I HAVE SPENT ON MBA ADMISSIONS.
The lab (which is practically a web-based application dashboard) really sorts everything out for you from start to finish (YES, INCLUDING THE INTERVIEWS). The videos that accompany each stage per school were very insightful and really put things into perspective.
For me, the most useful part of the Lab was the interview preparation part. It combines external tools (where to find the likely questions) with internal tools (like what things would which schools be concerned about) and how to position your story to address those questions. It ensures that you have an excellent framework for dealing with the entire gamut of questions you can be asked.
FULL DISCLOSURE: Literally no one in my entire family has EVER attended an MBA program. In my country, only 10-15 people go to a top 15 MBA program EVERY YEAR. So there is almost NO ONE to ask advice from. Hence, almost everything in the Lab was news to me. I realized some very specific things that I would never have figured out in my lifetime (e.g., leave a lot of the point-blank bragging for the recommendation letters - so at least it's someone else saying you're the world's best at X; or don't focus on a SINGLE STRENGTH throughout your application).
I swear to God the Applicant Lab really fixed my re-application package. really fixed my interview prep. really helped me FINALLY get in CBS.
Let me be 100% clear, you will not find another person who cares as much personally for your success on a consultant level. Maria is dedicated and will prove it to you by going the extra mile. She simply missed an email from which she got to a week later, and gave me a free 30 minute (more like 45 minute) interview practice prep for any school. I choose Darden, and through her interview prep and advice through the application process I got admitted.
I understand some people may not be sure 100% certain since this is mostly online, but let me clear, the tools she provides as well as her personal touch WILL help you get into a top program for an extremely competitive price. I'm telling you guys, use applicantlab. Even if you're not planning on using a consultant, 200 bucks is nothing for this.
In short - ApplicantLab covers all aspects of an application, has personalised advice to address the weaknesses in profile and an in-depth analysis of all the essays of the school and writing advice that caters to all kinds of MBA applicant profiles.
ApplicantLab is a complete product for MBA admissions - with help on brainstorming, strategising, essay writing, resume writing and interviews. There are sections that help jog your memory to draft life stories and make your application come to life. The analysis of each of the essays is very intricate and mentions exactly what the school expects. There are video tutorials on how to navigate the schools' website to dig for material in terms of clubs, electives etc. There is a diagnosis of your profile, highlighting your strengths and weaknesses and how strengths can be leveraged and how your weakness can be addressed. I was a job hopper, had a sort of average GMAT and below average undergrad grades and all these concerns are addressed in the modules.
Maria and Carin have also always replied to my questions within 24 hours. I also booked a "Sanity Check" session with Carin, and it was the best review ever. It was crystal clear on things I needed to write and things I needed to remove from my essays, how my story could be enhanced and there were suggestions for editing as well. There was also a detailed review of my resume in the sanity check session and I was able to bring down my resume to 1 page, highlighting all the best parts. I absolutely needed no other tool/consultant after the video review. I was struggling with the "Why MBA" part and there is a whole section on ApplicantLab dedicated to this. It will help you frame a story that starts with your past/current position, ending with your Long term goal and fitting the MBA perfectly in between.
ApplicantLab has also helped me with the interview process since doing the extensive modules on the motivation for an MBA and the particular school created the content for all my answers. Why MBA? Why not a different path to your goals? Why MBA Now? Why a particular school? Why not some other school? Why should we admit you? All these questions became much easier to answer!
I recommend ApplicantLab to all the MBA applicants. It is really cheap, user-friendly and a complete tool addressing all aspects of an MBA application.
I'm heading to Wharton this Fall - the ApplicantLab was the secret sauce that got me in. (In fact, Maria's/the Lab's advice "let's not bury the lede" has played out right here! :)
For context - I'm an Indian male engineering - a special snowflake - just like everyone else. Additionally, my number of years of work experience was relatively "light" when compared to the rest of the cohort and the company I work for usually begs the question, "Where do you work, again?" By the way, did I mention that my GMAT score was slightly below school averages, and way below standards for engineers from India?
While initially shopping around for consultants, the feedback I received was usually dismissive ("aim-lower"). However, with ApplicantLab, I felt more confident to give the top schools a shot.
The Lab's modules are self-contained, if you're the kind of person who is self-directed, you’ll find all the advice you need. I was blown-away by the video guidance in the Lab -- it's like talking to her face-to-face, and you get to rewatch them to let the message sink in.
The interview module is also great -- not only for the standard interviews, but her advice for the Wharton TBD is also spot on. (this is an entirely different beast from the HBS interview, and is probably the "nicest team-discussion" that you'll have in your life - see the Lab for details!).
Hands-down, ApplicantLab is the future of affordable admission consulting. Maria has done a fantastic job of making expert admission advice, services that typically cost high four-figure / low five-figure $ amounts, accessible to a broader audience.
Belonging to an over-represented applicant pool (Indian male candidate working in an IT industry) and scoring an average GMAT score (700), I very well knew that the chances of getting into a top-tier B-school were slim. Almost all the admission consultants whom I approached pretty much dissuaded me to apply to any of the top 25 B-schools .But Maria was probably the only one who said – “Lets give it our best shot” and actually encouraged me to do so. I ended up getting wait-listed in two universities and got an admit from HEC Paris (one of my top choice schools). I can safely say that the Applicant Lab and Maria were the primary reasons because of which I could get into such an esteemed B-school even after having a low GMAT score.
I basically used all the features of the Applicant Lab including the add-on services such as the strategic feedback sessions, editing services and the mock interview session with Maria. My views regarding the product and the services are as follows:
Applicant lab as a tool: I feel , the applicant lab is a very innovative and intuitive tool which has succinct and complete advice segregated school wise. I was pretty much amazed by the detailed advice available on all the schools and specific suggestions for each and every essay question that is available in the Lab.
Strategic Feedback sessions: Booking the strategic feedback sessions for each school proved extremely helpful in my case. Maria used to give me a personalized feedback on the essays and even the short answer questions from the application forms. In many cases Maria actually chalked out the central theme of the essays which would best portray my candidacy. I strongly believe this was a game changer for me. Getting such a personalized and elaborate feedback from a Harvard alum was indeed a steal at the price at which it was offered.
Editing Services: Applicant lab has a tie-up with Admissionado for the essay editing part. The turn- around time is pretty good and you really get better versions of your drafts in practically no time. Maria was kind enough to do the editing herself for some of my essays during the strategic feedback session itself.
Mock Interview session: The interview prep section of the Lab is by far my favourite segment. Maria has uploaded video advice for almost all the possible questions that someone could get in an interview. I extensively followed the advice posted on Applicant Lab for all the interview questions and I believe it worked pretty well for me. I also took a mock interview session with Maria and I can’t emphasize enough upon how much this helped me. During the course of 90 minutes Maria fine tuned all my answers and made sure I was touching upon all my highlights within the 30 minute interview. I remember one of my interviewers specifically told me that my answer for the question ‘Walk me through your resume’ was one of the best he had heard during this year’s application season. The entire credit for this goes to Maria. During the mock interview session she practically framed this answer for me by recollecting the data she had read in my essays during the strategic feedback sessions.
To sum it up I would just like to mention that Maria and the Applicant lab were instrumental in getting me admitted to my top choice B-school. I can’t thank Maria enough for the support throughout the application season. In short I will recommend Applicant Lab to all the prospective candidates who want to get into a top b-school.
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