|All Reviews > ApplicantLab > ApplicantLab On-Demand Admissions Guidance Tool Reviews|
Joined: Sep 03, 2017
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.
Joined: May 06, 2015
750 Q49 V44
Good day everyone.
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.
Joined: Sep 25, 2013
710 Q48 V40
REVIEWER IDENTITY VERIFIED by score report [?]
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.
Thank you Maria for everything! Cheers!
Joined: Sep 02, 2017
720 Q50 V38
REVIEWER IDENTITY VERIFIED by score report [?]
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.
Joined: Jun 02, 2017
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.
Joined: Aug 02, 2016
REVIEWER IDENTITY VERIFIED by score report [?]
"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!
Joined: Sep 09, 2015
700 Q49 V36
REVIEWER IDENTITY VERIFIED by score report [?]
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.
Hey, so i see that you had applied to HEC paris. I just was to understand if ApplicantLab is as good with Non USA universities applications as it is with the USA universities?
Joined: Mar 19, 2012
760 Q50 V42
As I was left with zero admits in 2017, I was scared, nervous and pretty distraught. Insecurity is a funny thing - it totally destroys your self-confidence and makes your do things you would never do if your self-esteem were intact. I was also having a terrible time in my relationship, so all in all, I was a ball of depression. Impressed by their efforts in marketing themselves, I reached out to a big admission consulting firm. I spend thousands of hard-currency-converted-dollars and it was, to say the least, the most uninspiring experience in admission consulting. I was getting really varsity inputs on my essays, and there was no strategic push (I had signed up for only two schools). Also there was only one call involved and most of the stuff were on emails, which is pretty useful, but at same time leaves much to be desired for a real conversation. The thing with big consulting firms is that it can always be a hit or a miss. You might get an incredible consultant who really likes your story and wants to help you more strategically, or, like mine, your experience could be vanilla. This consultant was [i]very[/i] prompt, super nice and cordial, but when it came to the meat of their work - the protein just wasn't there. Anyway, I was not super happy and was looking for a better experience. (Also, just FYI, I was dinged at the both the schools I used this consulting company for, despite getting interviews and admits in higher ranked schools without their help).
I was just randomly getting into calls with other consultants at the same time (hello! I was applying to 10 schools remember? I also did not have money to throw away, but I saved everything from the previous year to make sure I am financially capable of utilizing every opportunity I can possibly get). A few interesting, and a few downright obnoxious calls later, I found Maria. Maria is the founder of ApplicantLab and let me just go ahead and say it - Maria saved my 2016-all-dings-butt this year. At the risk of sounding like a promotion, I would just go on to list the things she did for me.
1. I first used the Career Vision module. If you have not seen it before, it gives you some ideas about whether your goal will stick. I realized my original goal was crap when I watched her video on super-common goals. For example, I was applying with a consulting goal and I have not had any formal consulting experience at all. For some reason, that did not seem strange to me (or my former consultant) at all last year 9 The career vision module will also [b]force you[/b] to explain your transition and push you to think about whether your goal logically stem from what you have been doing pre MBA or is it a far-fetched idea that your parents (and your neighbours) want you to do.
2. Once my career goal moved away from plain-vanilla consulting, I thought more about what I really enjoyed about my current work. My present job was at the confluence of education and tech and I was bootstrapping an EdTech project to scale our organizational impact. I had really enjoyed the work I did, but for some reason (well, I know the reason - it was peer pressure and preconceived notions of what business schools were supposed to be all about) I chose to ignore it. I rehashed my goal to joining an EdTech firm and I could write about my own expertise and long-term vision much more effortlessly than talking about leading a practice at a consulting firm without any experience in consulting (go figure…)
3. Once the foundation of our goal was set, I used the lab to figure out how to classify my stories according to several brand traits. ApplicantLab has many brand traits with explanations (both text and video for all you folks with different learning styles). The lab will force you to reflect and write stories from your past that would fit certain brand traits. This was incredible, because once I had 12-15 stories set up, the skeleton for almost all my essays, interviews and even short answer questions were pretty much set. DO NOT AVOID THIS STEP. A lot of folks write random stuff to move on to the essays. BAD IDEA. DO NOT DO IT. DO NOT. DON'T. STOP IT.
4. After figuring out my stories, I moved on to the essays. ApplicantLab has detailed explanations (and videos) of how to frame each essay and also which brand traits to focus for which essays. It was amazing because it is directly mapped (the aptly named section is called Mapping), to the stories I have created before so it takes the brainstorm part of writing essays out of the equation. Maria also hashes out extremely detailed explanations in her essay advice - from big picture stuff to even things like where to find what on the school website which, I guess, must have taken her hundreds or thousands of hours - well it did end up saving hundreds of hours of mine.
5. Lastly, in the interview module, she handles 15 most popular interview questions which are framed generically enough to overlap with almost the entire spectrum of business school interviews. Each section has a video from Maria where she goes on excruciating details about how to answer each question, how not to answer each question, and most importantly, how different answers make you sound/look. Brilliant stuff.
6. Also, I purchased a few additional hours for her to review my essays because I was insecure af, and needless to say they were amazing.
Could I be more resounding in narrating my experience with ApplicantLab? Probably not. But it is worth the praise it receives. Anyway, another point to note which was [i]bigly[/i] important to me is that Maria cannot function without humor. So every video she makes or paragraphs she writes she can't help but throw in a joke which always makes me chuckle. In all the stress and depression, I have been in back in September, the laughs took the edge off.
Thanks for writing such a detailed review.
This phase of application is way more important than GMAT and I'm more nervous about it than I was for GMAT.
Congratulations on making it to your dream MBA program!
I wanted to understand how did you reach Maria for personalized sessions and reviews?
I've tried emailing her about setting up an appointment but haven't heard back.
Will I receive a response only when I purchase a tool?
Please let me know what could be the best approach.
Joined: Jun 11, 2017
770 Q50 V44
Coming from a background where MBAs are rarer, I went into the whole MBA process pretty blind, and I am certain I wouldn't have been able to put my best foot forward without the essay, resume, and interview tips that Maria laid out. ApplicantLab was intuitive, easy to navigate, and provided the key info that I needed in a tailored format for each school - amazing!
More than just her thorough platform, Maria was warm and responsive when I sent her emails and
actually gave me the push I needed to retake my GMAT and re-focus my application strategy. Unlike some other consultants I had spoken to, in our back and forths, Maria never downplayed my questions and I could see that she truly cared about bringing out the best for each applicant - this translates to her product as she's program agnostic and doesn't have skin in the game whether or not an applicant gets into a particular program vs. traditional consultants.
I ended up receiving acceptance to Wharton, Kellogg, and Yale with scholarships at 2 of these schools. ApplicantLab was hands down the best ~$300 I spent throughout the application process. Thank you Maria!
Joined: Dec 15, 2017
ApplicantLab was the only tool I used when I applied for R2 this year and was instrumental in helping me get accepted to Wharton, Yale and Darden in the end.
Long story short, I decided very late to apply for business school last year and only had 1 month in December to prep both for the GMAT and to write essays. I had no interest in shelling out US$4-5K for traditional consultants and also had no time to meet with them. By some miracle I stumbled upon ApplicantLab and signed up to give it a shot; this was probably one of the best decisions I've ever made. The ApplicantLab tool was very systematic in outlining the crucial components of a good MBA application and then provided great guidance in helping me flesh each of these components out. The tool was easy to use and well-designed; I mixed and matched ideas across modules and it really helped me to brainstorm and finally to form my "story" in a tight timeframe.
The tool was not just helpful for the brainstorming phase of the process, it also gave very insightful advice on how to tackle each school's essays specifically. For example, I wrote the essays for an M7 school in 2 days with minimal prior knowledge about the school. I was able to do this because the Lab laid out all of the "unique" aspects of the school (i.e. school motto, reputation, special clubs, interesting leadership ventures, etc.) in one place. Not just that, sometimes the Lab even provided in-depth analysis on changes in essay topics between years to try to really get at AdCom's psyche.
One more thing, the Lab really is a all-in-one tool. When I received interview invites (or even before them), I read up on the interview tips module. ApplicantLab provided detailed advice on almost every interview question I could imagine and more. What was more impressive was that it also offered school-specific advice for team-based interviews that were only done at a few schools; this really helped with the Wharton interview.
Overall, if you don't want to spend US$4-5K on a traditional admissions consultant that very well may not get you in, ApplicantLab is your best bet. There was no "fluff" in what it offered.