|All Reviews > ApplicantLab > ApplicantLab On-Demand Admissions Guidance Tool Reviews|
Joined: Feb 22, 2019
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As a nontraditional business school applicant with public policy experience and no GMAT score (I only took the GRE), I initially thought I didn't have much of a chance at getting accepted to top MBA programs. I balked at the prices of most private admissions consultants, but fortunately one of them referred me to ApplicantLab.
ApplicantLab was a godsend: it taught me how to describe my story and experience in a way that would appeal to business schools, and eventually helped me land interviews and acceptances to some of the top programs in the country, including Sloan and HBS! I also bought a few hours of review time (as well as interview prep) from Maria herself, and her advice and guidance was absolutely indispensable. Her unparalleled insight into the business school admissions process helped me identify and fix a number of weaknesses in my application, and I would not have have found a way to translate my policy experience into a business-oriented career vision without her expertise.
Considering the affordability of ApplicantLab versus other private consultants, the value you receive is off the charts. Whether you consider yourself a standard applicant with a business/consulting background or someone like me who comes from an entirely different world— it's a no brainer! I cannot recommend ApplicantLab and Maria highly enough.
Joined: Aug 02, 2017
I would like to share here my story.
GPA 3.9 out of 5
masters in economic cybernetics and PhD in economics (Russia)
I have prepared my essays and applications using the ApplicationLab and have an interview training with Maria.
First and most important about the applicantlab:
it helps you identify how to present your story in a better way, what to highlight and what is not at all important.
it helps to identify the examples you should give in your essays - which are valuable to the admissions.
it shows what each school is looking for in their students (it saves a lot of time for the applicant, you have all the information at hand)
Finally, it is a great value for money. Other consultants charge by hour and it takes much more budget to allocate.
Regarding the interview: Maria was great asking the most severe questions and giving great feedback. After this trial real interview was really easy, because Maria covered almost all the questions I was asked.
So, I got admitted to Stanford, MIT and Chicago. And HBS executive program.
Thank you, ApplicantLab. It is our common success!
Joined: May 31, 2017
710 Q48 V40
Just like so many others, I am a long time (1.5 years) lurker.
First, some background to put my story in context.
I, like so many others here, had always wanted to do an MBA. However, my exposure to international options was limited. I never appeared for CAT/ XAT or any other Indian competitive exam either.
I felt comfortably settled in my job with early promotions and decent hikes as milestones.
Fast forward to April 2017, my husband calls me in office and says – the visa application results came through. I am flying off probably by June.
Okaaayyy.. what now? I love my job!
The voice at the back of my head said – this is your chance!! What could be better timing, it has fallen in your lap like a gift, now Go and Get IT! Now is when you can realize your dream of an MBA and become golden.
My husband and I had always discussed what will we do when he moves to US – the plan was always for me to go for an MBA. But all of these talks were on the dining table, I had never studied for it or taken any serious action.
Until I just had to.
While helping him pack and move, I enrolled in a local GMAT coaching centre, with a dream to go to H/W/S.. lol. Excuse my lofty aspirations, I was naïve and ignorant.
I studied at the GMAT coaching centre, while also researching about the process and the requirements.
My office – however mundane you might imagine it to be considering that I am an IT analytics consultant - is very demanding. I have to put in 60+ hour work weeks at intervals – not regularly though.
Fast forward to me juggling office and GMAT – I appeared for the exam 1.5 months into my initial introduction to it.
To be fair – I had scored only 640 on GMATPrep1 and 680 on GMATPrep2 right the day before exam (both on same day one day right before the real GMAT – I know, stupid).
However, I was greedy and hoping that I would miraculously score a 730. I kept reading stories of people who only got 600s on GMATPreps and scored 720+ on the real exam and prayed and hoped that something like this would happen to me too.
I was not one of them.
I was, however, determined. I cried in the cab on my way back home. I mourned and cried and pitied myself for exactly 1.5 days and got back into the game.
Purchased GMATClub tests for quant. Studied verbal by doing and redoing the official GMAT guide.
28 days later – appeared for the exam again.
Received a 710.
I was not happy. I was not sad. I broke the 700 mark. My husband was ecstatic. But I, having read so many debriefs, knew that it was not enough (and they said 720 is the new 700, so no trophies there).
I did not go to an IIT. Did not work for a fantastic glamorous firm. My undergrad college is not even among the top 100 (dare I say 200) in the country.
I did not have amazing extra-curriculars.
I, however, had a lifelong dream of finally becoming golden with that silver bullet of an MBA.
I decided to go ahead and apply with my dismal 710 score. I worked with 2 consultancies, applied to 5 with the first one, and 3 with the other one. I was invited for interview by 3 schools. One of them was Kellogg (doesn’t it interview everyone anyway), Tepper (they had a Women’s weekend – I received the invite 3 days after hitting submit on my application - did they get time to read my application?), and ISB. I was also waitlisted without interviews by 2 schools.
None of the offers were converted.
I was adamant to break through the top 20 schools. I had read about how hard it is for an IT Indian, but really had no idea how cut-throat the competition in-doing was.
When the last decision came through in March-end 2018, I was in a very dark place. To say that it was rock-bottom is an understatement, I could not sleep and could not eat. I took the rejection very badly.
Which in itself shows how ‘un-ready’ for business school I really was.
Tip – you can practice getting rejected while you’re at it to fare better in this process. I, for example, started asking for random upgrades in flights and hotels. I was almost always rejected (almost – because I wasn’t once). And it helped rewire my brain to take rejections as part of my daily life. They may say yes, or they may say no – but really, you’re not doing that bad right now either.
A new opportunity to travel to international client location came through to me at that time. Since I was looking for a change, anything to break through the night, I said yes straightaway.
After the initial sting of rejection subsided, I started to reflect on my applications and interviews. First things first, the goal – I had said MBB on my applications. For someone like me, with 710, no golden undergrad, no prior management consulting experience, it was downright stupid. The 2 consultants that I had worked with did not find that goal unrealistic at all.
Second - my essays weren’t really that honest either – they were doused in what I thought I should say, and what I thought would make me look like a winner in front of the adcom – aka – no sincerity (came through even to me during those re-reads). Nothing from the 2 consultants on THAT either.
I decided to discuss what I thought with one of the more ‘intimate’ consultancies of the two – I said that I thought that my goal was probably too ambitious/ unrealistic for someone without a golden pedigree.
The response came – “we are happy to work with you this time (no feedback on the goals statement) – however, having said that, you were punching above your weight in the last cycle, and looks like you are trying to do the same this time too. The schools you are targeting are all……jksdnjsvjheg” – translated to me as – ‘you have no shot, apply to lower colleges kiddo’.
It felt like a punch.
When I went into that first application cycle, I was delusional, sure. However, I had realised how difficult it really is during the process. The reason I paid so much money to these consultants was for them to help me realize this dream – I already know its hard. But can you help me?? Or if you cannot, can you be honest during or before the process, and not after-the-fact?
If there is just one thing that you consider while choosing to work with a consultant, it is –
• They should believe in you.
Now to all you brilliant people, it might sound too romantic and perhaps even stupid. But for me, the belief is the only secret ingredient. The consultant should be a person who holds nothing back and gives you all the advice that they think will help you. Regardless of your undergrad, or your work ex, or your GMAT score.
I think the consultant who works with any applicant should not know about these details at all. One person can do the identification of the schools they think are right for you based on your profile, but the one who helps with your application should know nothing; except you as a person and your essay story. (business advice for you all boutique consultants).
Anyway – as I settled into the new international location, I started studying again for GMAT.
Appeared for the test a month later. 710 again (Q48 V40). Felt like a loser.
But decided to go ahead with applications again, to work harder on them, and apply to ‘lower’ ranked schools.
I did not want to pay thousands of dollars to any consultant.
But I still wanted to make sure I don’t miss the mark by 100000 kilometres. I had read reviews of ApplicantLab, and decided to go for the trial version of the application.
It blew my mind.
And considering that the cost was almost only as much as 1 school’s application fee for UNLIMITED applications, I decided to go for it straightaway.
Maria is brilliant. If you just go through with the tool and see the amount of hard work that she has done – for EVERY school’s application form – you will understand and marvel at her brilliance.
In one of her advice videos (in some relevant context) she says – ‘these schools are good, but they are not HOGWARTS’. I disagree – hers has definitely contributed in making her a magician - and ApplicantLab is pure magic.
What distinguishes ApplicantLab in my opinion –
• Price - I mean, seriously?
• Quality of advice is just plain spectacular – here’s the thing –
o the tool does not know if you scored a 780 or 650. It does not know if you are Minister of Foreign Affairs or a software engineer.
o the tool does not – cannot – hold back. The advice remains the same for a 780 and a 650 person.
o The tool gives you advice EVEN FOR THE other APPLICATION COMPONENTS – which, IMHO, tend to make or break your chances. So fine, you did brilliant with your essays using that 780-score advice from the ‘consultant’. What about the rest of the 12 pages you need to fill on the form? The adcom goes through all of it while making their decision, not just your essays.
o Maria is brilliant.
• Step-by-step process –
o You get started, and you build upon your strengths and weaknesses.
o You have everything documented, from what you can leverage to where can you show improvement, and how.
• Interview advice –
o Does not charge extra for it.
o And it is just plain brilliant (you know, Maria).
• Turnaround time –
o Ok, so you may think that working with a ‘real’ person gives you more intimate/ quicker/ personalized advice. But in my case atleast, the ‘consultants’ had a turnaround time of 3-4 working days. ApplicantLab has a small box at the right-hand side corner of her tool – you just type in your question, and ladies and gentlemen, I kid you not, Maria or someone from her team, HAS ALWAYS responded within 1.5 days (working or not).
o And the advice is pure gold.
I can go on and on, but I am already close to 2000 words and I should really get back to work.
As parting words - I have cracked into 3 of the top 10-20 schools with big sums of scholarships, ISB, a top 10 school without scholarship, and have 4 top-15 waitlists. Two schools have rejected me – which was my wrong-doing – I rushed the application for one of them and recorded the essay for another in ‘not-a-right-state’ of mind.
And, I am a reapplicant to all of the above schools.
The above is just my perspective, and my journey.
There will be many bumps on your road, and you will meet many people who will tell you that your dream is unrealistic. For all that its worth, it might be – but it might also not be – and it is our duty to do justice to ourselves, and try just one more time.
The night is dark and full of terrors – but hear this, young men and women, the earth is yours and the fullness thereof. Be kind but be fierce.
Joined: Jan 02, 2017
Full Disclosure: I am a first gen college student, first gen grad student. This entire process was something I had no prior resources to leverage.
The first step when thinking about grad school is getting a sense where you stand. First instinct is to check school sites, and at most you can see GMAT/GPA/Work experience. After asking students I enrolled, I learned that that doesn’t pain the whole picture. I knew my GPA, my work experience, and was in the process of studying for my GMAT. I was afraid of going into the application process without all the facts.
It was a tough pill to swallow when I did research and saw that most resources were several thousand dollars to get that “secret insight”. I was fortunate enough to hear about Applicant Lab during my time in the Riordan MBA Fellows Program. I spent an entire afternoon inputting my background, and the feedback really transformed my entire trajectory. It grounded me with proven information as to where I stood, what things I could do to improve my application, and help me frame a game plan. I had planned to apply to school the following year, but with the insight provided to me by ApplicantLab, I felt confident to do so that very year, and I was blessed to be accepted into several top 10/15 schools.
The greatest resource that Applicantlab is the customized, and simple to use portal that provides meaningful feedback for a fraction the cost. Missing math in undergrad, low community service, etc any issues that you may face, Applicant lab has the answer. Logistically, it also helps keep everything together. Once you have many drafts of essays and deadlines going, having a portal to circle back to and stay on track of things makes a world of a difference.
Control your own path, with the help of the Applicantlab tour guide. Don’t let your dreams hinder on not being able to afford thousands of dollars for someone else’s advice.
Joined: Aug 12, 2017
I am usually not the person who takes time to review services; however, I couldn’t stop myself from sharing my amazing experience with ApplicantLab and Maria.
I have a competitive GPA and GMAT score in addition to strong international and diverse work experience. I didn’t think I needed help with my MBA applications and applied to my first choice MBA program on my own. I was rejected in the first round. It caused me frustration and disappointment. I didn’t know what I did wrong and started looking for advice. After researching about several MBA admission consulting services, I decided to go with ApplicantLab to help prepare my application for my other choices. In the first few minutes of using ApplicantLab, I knew exactly why I didn’t get in before.
I had no idea how to frame my stories or what the schools are actually looking for until I went through modules in ApplicantLab. The instructions are very detailed and thorough. Maria has done tremendous research for each school and what you need to showcase to strengthen your profile for the admission committee. There was no way for me to know these details without the help of ApplicantLab. You cannot find these things on google.
I am a MBA student at University of Cambridge, Judge Business School now and I give a huge credit of me getting into this school to Maria and ApplicantLab. I wouldn’t have gotten in without using ApplicantLab. It is absolutely the best investment (and it is relatively very inexpensive) you can make towards your MBA. So, if you are struggling with your MBA applications, ApplicantLab is one-stop solution.
Joined: Oct 27, 2017
740 Q51 V39
REVIEWER IDENTITY VERIFIED by score report [?]
Did you ever feel, ' He finally heard me. Things are falling into place.' This was exaclty my feeling when I heard from Darden's admission office that I'm being offered a place in the class of 2021. You'd expect me to think of my loved ones first after hearing that. Well, quite literally yes. I thought of Applicant Lab and Maria.
Applicant Lab is want I needed. I was an MBA aspirant who wanted a shift in industry using an MBA but had no idea about admissions process. After my GMAT, I started talking to different consultants and taking free profile evaluations. The funniest part was, I couldn't get a proper genuine evaluation from any one of them. Some of them tell me I should be applying to HBS and Stanford. When I tell them I myself donot believe that I could get into HBS they start selling their service. I was fed up with everyone. But suddenly I came across someone who for the first time gave me an honest review of my profile,didn't try to sell me her product and genuinely wanted to help me. @Maria.
I came to know about Applicant lab from an e-gmat webminar. Thanks for Rajat and Payal. In my first interaction with Maria over e-mail. She clearly told me not what I want to hear but the actual scenario in admissions. She told me where I should go and not where I can go. There's a lot of difference. She only talked to me about my post-MBA goals and life ambitions and not where I want to study. She then told me how I should select my schools. I never thought I'd say this, but I started thinking, "Nah! I would choose Darden over Wharton" She recommended me no schools but taught me how I chose my schools perfectly.
This is exactly what's great about applicant lab. Applicant Lab makes you competent to say your story the best way possible. In my experience with applicant lab, forget about writing MBA essays. I learnt a lot about myself, my traits, my stories, my character, my strengths and my weaknesses. It was like a 2 month introspection into myself.
Applicant lab's process is the most streamlined I ever saw. It is as smooth as it can get and you'll never feel stressed. All the material in the lab is hand crafted specific to each school by Maria and it is amazing to see specific strategies for each essay question in each school. You'll get surprised by the amount of detail that's put into the material.
The best thing about Applicant lab is, you are doing everything. Today I have the satisfaction of writing my own essays and still getting admitted into one of the best schools. Applicant lab doesn't craft your essays. It makes you capable of writing the best essays. Applicant lab helps you choose which one of your stories to go with which essay. This will in turn make it easy for you in your interview, because you are going to be the same person on writing and in person.
Applicant Lab's greatest strengths are it's process and school specific material. I can assure you, you can never get so much information and guidance from anyone other than Maria.
For people like me, who couldn't afford a full time MBA admissions consultant for thousands of Dollars, Applicant lab is a boon. You may have to put in a little more effort than you would with a full time consultant. But for what you are saving economically and mentally, it's not even a tradeoff that you should think twice about before making.
I very strongly recommend Applicant Lab to everyone, especially those who are starting your application from scratch. Believe me, you'll never regret your decision. Applicant Lab and Maria are the best thing that happened to me in my MBA admission process.
Joined: Dec 12, 2018
730 Q48 V42
I first applied for Fall 2018 admission to top business schools in the US. At that time, I didn't know about Applicant Lab and all the consultant services available cost thousands of dollars. So I applied solo with no help and thought I did a good job! Until the decisions came in and I didn't get into most of the schools.
I applied again for Fall 2019 and this time I found Applicant Lab. It changed how I felt about my previous years application. It's easy to think we are answering questions right but when you get the perspective provided my Maria for each and every school - you realize how all the questions could've been answered better! This time I got into NYU, Cornell, UCLA and Tuck with scholarships on some.
Please do yourself a favor and try this service as early as possible in your application process and you wont regret it. The value is outstanding and the price point is just ridiculously cheap when you compare other consulting services!
Good job and thank you Applicant Lab Team!
Joined: Oct 28, 2015
710 Q47 V39
To give you some context, I applied to a bunch of schools last year with the help of a traditional admissions consultant. I ended up with a total of 8 rejections (7 without interview, 1 after interview & waitlist). The bad part of my profile - Indian, male, 4.5 years of work experience. No great brand names or real feeder companies on my resume. Fairly mediocre grades for an Indian (6.6ish GPA). The good part - Slightly diverse work experience and background, lots of ECs and community involvement.
After I was rejected last year, I contacted Maria and offered to pay her for a "ding analysis." I had already bought the tool, but figured a ding analysis would help me figure out what went wrong. Maria responded to my email and refused. She said that I should go through all the modules, and I'll be able to figure out exactly why I was dinged. She said that if I couldn't, I could get back in touch and pay her to get it, but she didn't believe I would need it if I finished the modules within the Lab. She was right. I not only figured out where my application fell flat last year, but also knew exactly what parts of my background to highlight this time around. The Lab has a section on how to address potential weaknesses (I obviously had a lot! :) ). Additionally, the career module of the Lab is pure gold. It really forces you to think through your story, how realistic your goals are and what you want out of business school. I'd say that my entire narrative going into applications this year was due to the career module on the Lab. Absolutely fantastic stuff.
The Resume section is pretty amazing. It had the characteristics of a "bad" resume, and my previous year's Resume seemed to fulfill all these characteristics. I ended up making my own Resume format based on the advice given here and it worked wonders for me. The school-specific and essay advice is incredibly detailed and useful. Maria really walks you through what the school/question is really looking for, what resources you should touch on and how to make your essay strong and genuine. Each essay question has a video of Maria walking you through all these details. The effort she's put in is fairly obvious, absolutely nothing is superficial.
I could probably go on and on about ApplicantLab, but the best way to see if its right for you is to sign up. It is a fraction of the cost of a traditional consultant. Buying it is a no-brainer if you want world-class admission help without the heavy price tag.
P.S - Just wanted to add that I got into Tuck and some other schools this year with ApplicantLab, but my traditional consultant last year told me not to even bother applying there. She felt that I did not stand a chance at all at Tuck and actually refused to work with me on that application. This should tell you enough.
Joined: Nov 23, 2016
770 Q49 V47
REVIEWER IDENTITY VERIFIED by score report [?]
After coming off an unsuccessful application season, I wanted to make sure I utilized all avenues to not repeat my mistakes this time. After hearing some positive word-of-mouth, I signed up for Applicant Lab to see for myself. I used the Lab in addition to working with actual real-world consultants, and it turned out to be an immensely useful guiding tool through the application journey.
I must say that Applicant Lab was the most value-for-money item in my entire MBA application expense list. Maria's inputs and ideas often were the starting point for all my school essays. I did 8 applications in the entire season and utilized the Lab for all of them. Maria has a great understanding of the entire process and freely shares her knowledge through the Lab. Its almost like having a close friend who you can bank on in this stressful journey.
For the two additional questions posed by Booth after interview invite, the Applicant Lab team (hello Carin!) was quick to update the portal with their thoughts. Overall, I highly highly recommend this tool to everyone, even those working with consultants on full packages. The additional perspective, tips & guidance is worth much more than the cost.
Joined: Nov 08, 2017
I got accepted by ie business school in 2017 because of Applicantlab, and I’d like to share my fantastic experience. Before I purchased her service, I’d done a lot of researches and saw a millions of great feedback about Applicantlab. However, I had a concern which was actually the unique application process used by my target school, ie business school. As you may know, ie's admission process is quite different than the other schools and you are tasked to create video content on top of an essay to answer questions provided by the school. Although I had the concern above, many good reviews had me purchase the service and it turned out to be the best service I've ever bought.
The well automated algorithm she created is indeed perfect. I was skeptical as to how it worked, but it’s very intuitive to go through all the required processes such as brainstorming, preparing for essays, and interviews. She embedded her own video explaining everything step by step in order for users to understand what to do on the tool. What amazed me the most was she also put her video specifically for each school including ie business school. There are more than 10 questions that ie asks you to write about (you need to choose 3 of them) and she basically covered everything in the multiple video. She even advised that which questions I should answer and shouldn't, and most importantly why I should answer them.
To me, the most useful part of the service was “how to prepare for interviews”. Based on her advice, I prepared for all the questions, and surprisingly 80 – 90% of the questions that I was asked during the actual interview were what she told me to prepare before the interview. Interestingly enough, the interviewer even told me that all the adcoms thought my video, which I created based on Maria’s advice, was the best among all the candidates in my intake.
Again, I was a bit skeptical at the beginning but now I cannot believe she is still providing applicants with this level of service at ultimately low cost. If you get scholarship at the end, the fee for this service would be almost nothing. I strongly recommend to purchase her service before you waste money on cheap MBA consulting service.