|All Reviews > Avanti Prep > Avanti Prep Tier 3 Package Reviews|
Joined: Nov 05, 2017
REVIEWER IDENTITY VERIFIED by school email address [?]
Basic Profile Info
I am a 2011 pass-out from a Tier 2 Indian college (GPA of 3.3/4.0 in Computer Engineering), and have worked in Finance industry for 3.5 years before having an Employment Gap for 2 odd years. In this time, I was employed at Early-stage investment funds (one for a voluntary unpaid position) for a discontinuous period of 9 months. Since then I have been working for an Asian focused investment fund.
While I believe that I have strong work experience, the Employment Gap loomed large and my CV lacked major brands. I had worked at 5 finance shops with only 2 of them having global brands – but those weren’t my longest tenured roles. I was also a bit on the older side of the average student’s age or work experience for my target schools.
I was introduced to Greg by one of his Round 1 clients, and after our first call, I took a reference call with another Indian client (a Kellogg graduate) who worked with Greg. I am aware that the first client has also done well and is going to a T10 with decent scholarship. I owe them a thanks for the introduction/ vetting, and I am glad in retrospect that they were made. Greg was very forthcoming with such references.
Our Work Together / My Results
Greg and I started off by working across 5 schools with a Tier 2 package (two M7s, one T10, one T15, and a leading Canadian program), and with 2 schools on hourly basis (one M7 and one T10/15). All of these schools were in Round 2. I was invited to interview at one T5 program and Tuck, and I was waitlisted before interview at Stern.
After that, I used Greg’s Interview Prep services and was Waitlisted at the T5 and Tuck, post which I took more services from Greg to help navigate the Waitlist process. After many steps and great efforts, this ultimately resulted in acceptance to the T5 program. I withdrew my candidature from Tuck once my plans with the T5 program were settled.
What Stood Out (with Examples)
1) Overall Approach & Impact: The first thing I want to highlight here is Greg’s earnestness to make your profile win. He truly brings a lot to the table. While I had unsuccessfully applied to an M7 (in Early Decision) with an Indian admissions coach, I thought my application materials were mostly ready when I onboarded with Greg. And I couldn’t have been more wrong!! Greg made me redefine and re-nuance my goal, worked very very very hard on my stories and rehashed my CV entirely again. It was clear the competence and professionality he brought to the table was enormous.
Also, regarding Greg’s efforts, he offered to work with me on a pro-bono basis on my Interview Essays (where required), despite the Package originally being Tier 2, which ends with submission. This included multiple iterations in 5 working days. He literally measures every word, every sentence and remembers every detail of your story.
2) Main Essay Work: The in-depth nuancing and opening essay strategy sessions we did gave me a skeleton for each essay, but there were many times where we would improvise as needed, and Greg was super accommodative on that (again, the general theme is his keenness for you to submit your best possible version). I really liked this balanced approach and his deep knowledge of the DNA of the school in question. Multiple times, Greg pointed me to the right resources to research and reference.
Even when we were adapting stories/ anecdotes from one school to another, Greg helped me think through and re-position them with an eye on the newer schools. Given the nature of the industry and people’s tendencies to streamline, he could have easily approved the older versions and saved his time and efforts. But that wasn’t the case.
To International Applicants, I would also like to point out that Greg sometimes helped me avoid fatal mistakes on the grounds of handling and quoting sensitive issues. We (i.e. internationals) need to understand that the reader is from a very different socio-cultural background, and sometimes, our manner of presenting a situation/ idea can be taken in a somewhat offensive manner. I was happy to have Greg on my side for this.
On Goals Essays, we molded my career goals to fit the strength of the school in the best manner possible – another example of the thoughtfulness and customization.
3) CV Work: Although I thought I had my CV “done” from an Indian admissions consultant, Greg and I worked extremely hard on it, review after review, and we re-built every single bullet point basically from the start. He also provided me one extra review than was in my original Package. Greg’s way of building the CV was much different than my previous consultant and much more in-depth too. Post 2 reviews we were still at 1.5+ pages of CV which was eventually trimmed into single page in a manner well-done.
Also, Greg’s CV reviews didn’t end after applying to first school. I remember once merely 3 days before the application deadline, he pro-actively offered to review the CV again and adapt its presentation for some schools specifically. I was amazed not only by his efforts but more so, by the timing, to prioritize this final pro-active and pro-bono review just to put the best foot forward. (There was no change in my job experience, but just one story which came forward, which led Greg to recommend re-balancing the CV.)
4) Application Review: Greg’s application reviews (i.e. review of online application submissions) were in-depth and water-tight. He helped me to elaborate on CV points wherever needed, helped bring out job responsibilities where needed. And he really made it a point to not leave anything on table (in terms of information and explanations).
5) School Strategy: While Greg and I did not specifically work on school selection together (as I started with a Tier 2 Package), he did offer me resources online to help guide me. To be honest, Greg felt my choices of schools were aggressive with my kind of profile – and he wasn’t wrong at all, as he was going with past trends and results (which any rational person would do). I do want to clearly highlight here, and quite explicitly too, that his work was as intense (always intense) no matter the school or chances of getting in, whether a riskier application or safer one. Coming from a background where potential winners are given more support than underdogs, it was a very heartening moment for me. In fact, seeing his professionality led me to double downing on riskier options, and I chose 2 more M7s than I initially intended to.
In an industry where no one can say for sure what’s a “good enough” application, Greg put a lot of his efforts and time and even some unsolicited additional reviews to help me deliver my best and rise to the challenge of harder applications. And in a good irony – almost like a movie – this Fall I’ll be attending the most difficult program I applied to.
6) Post Interview Invites: I took Greg’s Interview Prep services for both schools I was invited to interview to (one session for each). My initial reaction was a shocker when I realized how under-prepared I was. After going through long mock interviews in each school’s style, Greg offered me detailed feedbacks on the way to answering questions, presenting myself and handling curve-balls. I had very little skepticism when I thought of purchasing the second Interview Prep package. My effort with the second school improved, but still further nuancing and feedback were re-introduced by Greg for that school. Greg’s combined effort of interviewing and feedback was much beyond the 2.5 hour per package offer. These made me more adept not only in answering the core interview questions and articulating goals and fit in line with the specifics of each program, but also in handling each school’s mini-curveballs during the actual interviews.
7) Post Waitlist Efforts: I was waitlisted at the two schools I interviewed (Top 5 program and Tuck), post which Greg was very accommodating in allowing me to upgrade from Tier 2 to Tier 3 Package (as the late upgrade is not technically allowable).
One of the most important parts was Greg’s openness to accept what could have been done differently, i.e. how to be self-aware and identify and address the needed areas for improvement. Waitlists are tricky and create a lot of what-ifs and second-guessing in the candidate’s mind. I felt very happy that we both took the result in a positive manner and were open to accepting the outcome and developing an approach to move forward.
After some Waitlist Strategy discussion, I was surprised to see Greg ending up doing 3 reviews of each Waitlist Letter submission (I submitted 2 of these per school). Yet again, he guided me in nuancing the emails and letters to the right tone of the school.
Finally, I am grateful that a couple of colleagues/ alumni of certain schools agreed to write an Endorsement/ Letter of Support for me. Greg offered more pro-bono help by offering advice for these letters as well. This was definitely a piece of work that I didn’t explicitly sign up for, but Greg was much more than happy to help in order for me to win.
At the risk of sounding repetitive and giving unsolicited advice, I truly believe that application success is a quite grey and can’t be predicted. Your GPAs/ Your work experience/ Your age/ Your undergrad institutions/ (to some extent of your GMAT – after all we all want that 760-780!)/ Your Extra-Curriculars/ Who your Recommenders likely will be are often well beyond your control by the time you decide to apply.
What is in your control are your essays and your stories and their presentation. While one can’t say how the applications results would have looked if I had used a different consultant (BTW my first application with an Indian consultant was very terrible and cost me a chance at an M7 which was very well geared towards my goals), I would advise the following parameters as **must have** in your consultant – **the ability and the willingness** to do deep reviews, see the application in comprehensive manner, and not be penny pinching on time. Of course, the onus is on the applicant to give decent drafts for review and ahead of time; Greg was on many occasions able to rapid-turnaround reviews (at no cost to the depth of the review), in some cases as early as the same day.
I have heard (and had one bad experience myself also) of several shenanigans of other consultants including: reviews which are done in a manner to push work – stories where even international consultants follow stereotypical skeletons of essays, superficial essay and CV reviews that offer little more than general comments, 5-10 mins of work done on Application Entries review, or consultants pushing their thoughts on to the candidate to save time and effort. None of that ever happened here. Quite the opposite instead.
There were very few times when I was in disagreement with Greg (including the topic for an Interview Essay, some mentions within a main essay, and even how to articulate some points during the interview prep). But we would always have constructive debate and end up on a much stronger middle ground than where we started. This is a big testimony to his sincerity and his mandate – to get the best out of you, and to get the best for you. I can assure you that this is one thing that has been constant in our seven full months of work together. I strongly feel that your probabilities of success increase several-fold when you take someone of his caliber and more importantly his dedication.
Please feel free to reach me for any references etc. I would be more than happy to help.
Joined: May 11, 2017
700 Q49 V36
REVIEWER IDENTITY VERIFIED by score report [?]
Hiring an admissions consultant is never an easy task – especially with the plethora of options in the market and the significant cost involved.
I approached Greg when I seemed to have lost direction regarding my MBA process and he turned out to be my best investment till date. My first attempt at GMAT landed me a disappointing 640 followed by a second attempt a month later which got me 700. I was confused and doubted my chances to land a good school with that score. Greg was warm and friendly and offered to hear my story over the first free consultation. Although only the first consultation is usually free, Greg voluntarily spent another session with me just to understand my background and what factors mattered to me while picking schools. He was methodical and helped me analyze what mattered to me and what were my priorities. He helped me understand, very realistically, that a top 15-20 school would be quite challenging with this profile. I appreciated his honesty in not making over-arching promises, unlike what most consultants would do to land clients.
Few things regarding my background:
- Age: 24
- Indian IT Engineer
- 700 GMAT
- Under 3 years of work ex
- Applied to all schools in R2
I decided to hire Greg after our second meeting. I signed up for a Tier 3 (Comprehensive) Package for five schools, and added about 14 hours of service on top of that to handle three additional schools.
Working with Greg:
1) Quality of advice and coaching – Greg brings with him years of experience working with people across the world. His expertise in decoding one’s story and presenting it in a way which catches attention, uniquely enables him to interact with diverse clients with ease.
2) Quality of reviews – Greg’s review comments were elaborate and descriptive. He gave careful attention to every word and reviewed a document iteratively, until it was perfect. Be it resume reviews, to essay reviews, to reviewing abstract submissions like presentations, Greg was thoughtful and valuable in his insights.
3) Essay and editing skill – A story has to sound convincing and appealing. Greg brought out the uniqueness in my story – he could identify and highlight what is a differentiator in a seemingly plain storyline. He helped me prioritize what needed to go in the essay and what could be sidelined. His editing skills are impeccable. Greg can concise a lengthy essay into the set word limit, without compromising on the details and impact.
4) Video essay work – We worked on two video essays together – one for Kellogg and another for Georgetown. Both times, Greg supported me end-to-end. He would get very involved in the whole process and his inputs were valuable. He guided me not just on the preparation of the content of the video essay and my delivery, but also with being mindful about aesthetic factors like the attire and light and sound conditions.
5) Extreme attention to detail – Greg gives extreme attention to detail in all aspects of his work – from resume building, to essay edits, to composing emails, to formatting a document. Greg is tireless and diligent in his work and never compromises on quality even with the stringent timelines.
6) Depth of our mock interview-and-feedback sessions – Greg initiated video calls to simulate the interview experience. He was prepared with a set of questions for each school I was to interview with, and the whole experience helped me tremendously. Greg customized the interview prep for each school and did not make it generic. He was up to date with the research on each school and even scheduled more than one mocks when required. I felt so well prepared going into the actual interview because I had practiced with Greg.
7) Ongoing Q&A assistance – Greg is always available over mail to answer any query. He goes beyond his immediate role to assist you if he can help in any manner – like sharing information which he thinks might interest you, assistance in filling the application forms, and continued support through the whole process.
8) Other factors like availability, response time, professionalism, friendliness, positive energy – Greg was very professional and yet approachable and accommodative. There have been times when we have overshot the agreed time by an hour, but Greg would never leave me feeling like we have not concluded the conversation.
His energy makes one feel comfortable and that in turn makes brainstorming smoother. I shared a great rapport with him and I should give him most of the credit for it. His response time has been top-notch. At one point, we were to submit three applications in one day and Greg worked around the clock with me, at times running late into the night.
I applied to 8 schools, all in Round 2: Kellogg, Columbia, Cornell, Ross, UNC KFBS, CMU Tepper, USC Marshall, and Georgetown McDonough. I got admits from all three schools I interviewed with: Tepper, Marshall, and Georgetown. To top it, I got strong scholarship offers from both Tepper and Marshall. I am currently enrolled with Tepper with a $60K scholarship. I am extremely pleased with these results in context of my profile.
This fantastic outcome after nearly nine months of working tirelessly with Greg was a sheer delight! I felt Greg’s support throughout the process. He was always with me through successes and failures and cared genuinely about my success. We were true partners. Not only was he an excellent consultant, but he also went beyond his paid services to mentor me on few interviews which were not a part of the package. I thoroughly enjoyed working with Greg and would strongly recommend him to anyone who is considering an MBA consultant.
Apart from the fabulous outcome for which I shall always be grateful to Greg, I have also grown as an individual at many levels – I now compose better essays, can edit and review work more skillfully, and have also been able to define my post-MBA goals in the whole process. This preparation will hold me in good stead as I start MBA recruiting.
Hiring a consultant makes a huge difference to your candidacy, and I can vouch for Greg’s work! He is worth every penny!
Joined: Jan 13, 2014
660 Q44 V37
740 Q49 V41
*Please note that I worked with Greg Guglielmo while he was a consultant with Critical Square*
I cannot recommend Critical Square enough.
I had known I wanted to pursue my MBA since the day I graduated college, but after taking the GMAT I was uncertain how I would put my best foot forward. I reached out to three consultancies with the hope that I might gain guidance on how to craft an application strategy and help me sort out my thoughts as I wrote my essays. After the free 30 minute consultation with Critical Square I knew I wasn't going to be sold a one-size-fits-all template.
I chose Critical Square's comprehensive package for all of my schools and believe the investment to be worth every penny. When I was provided with the initial questionnaire, I started to appreciate how thoroughly they wanted to understand who I was, what my goals are and what makes me tick. From that, Greg, Bhavik (the two consultants assigned to me) and I constructed a strong narrative that tied my previous experiences from my youth, undergraduate career and early professional career with my desired post-MBA industry, goals, and how an MBA was the missing link. The part of my applications I was most nervous about were essays. I am neither a skilled nor expressive writer and so I knew articulating the thoughts in my head onto paper would be challenging. Between all six of my applications I think we worked through close to 50 drafts. They were not afraid to rip into my essays, and that's exactly what I needed. Although they were tough, Greg and Bhavik were always professional and enthusiastic about bringing to life the best possible essay I could write. They were able to help me elicit thoughts and insights and help me structure them in a way that managed to not only answer the prompt well but also make a compelling case for my candidacy all within the word limit (it's a lot to do!).
Another great part of my experience was the level of correspondence I had with my consultants. Essay edits/comments were always sent back within 24 hours and I was not afraid send a text or have a quick call with Greg to bounce around ideas. Lastly, as part of the comprehensive package I was offered interview prep for my schools and cannot speak highly enough of my experience there. Working with someone who has both interviewed for a program himself as well as interviewed prospective students gave me a great foundation for how best to answer certain types of questions as well as additional practice to ease my nerves.
At the end of the day I was lucky enough to be admitted to three schools and am excited to be headed Tuck this fall with a substantial scholarship! I can honestly say that I would not have been nearly as successful as I was without Critical Square's help along the way.
Joined: Mar 20, 2014
750 Q49 V44
REVIEWER IDENTITY VERIFIED by score report [?]
*Please note that I worked with Greg Guglielmo while he was a consultant with Critical Square*
"It all started back in June 2015 when I gave my 2nd GMAT. I scored a 690 and knew I had blown away my chance of getting into a top 10 MBA school. I come from an overly represented group of applicants. Thus, a GMAT score less than the higher end of school averages will not cut it for me. Even though I knew what the consultants will be saying about my profile with my current GMAT score, I posted my profile for evaluation on GMATCLUB. I got replies from many distinguished admission consulting firms. Of note, were 5 replies that caught my attention by the depth and clarity of their replies. This then created my shortlist. Now I had to select that 1 and postponed this decision to after my final GMAT attempt. I scheduled my next GMAT for August and was hoping to close GMAT for good then. Luckily, I was able to get the desired score and posted the update to my already-replied-to post on GMATCLUB. The next day onward I scheduled 30 minute free consultations with 6 admissions consultancies over the course of next 1-1.5 weeks. I vetted out major consultants and zeroed in on critical square based on the depth of their responses on my profile evaluation post on GC, clarity and process as explained to me by my would be client manager. The following points made my decision for me:
1. One question that clinched for me was the answer to "based on my profile etc, what are the chances to these (my list of 5 schools)." Response from Critical Square's client manager (Greg Guglielmo) was the most honest and straightforward one. I didnt want to work with a company that will give me false hopes, only to come crashing down later. Greg told me that the schools of my choice (all M7) will all be extremely difficult but not impossible given my educational and professional background. That being said, I understood the process on the very first call, leading to a better clarity on what was expected to get in a really great application package. The call lasted 1.5 hour instead of the scheduled 30 minutes and the client manager made sure that all my doubts were answered.
2. When I told Greg Guglielmo during our free consultation call that another ABC firm is offering with 40% discounts on their regular pricing, I was told that Critical square is aware and confident of its methods and thus there wont be any discounts. This only showed to me that these people do not waste anyone's time and as a paying customer, I went in with their 5 school package.
3. Pricing structure is very easy to follow and does not have the hidden costs, very transparent with addition of schools (1 price that does not change with number of schools added and when in the process!) and they do not have a "rush hour" pricing unlike other competitors (more on this later in the review).
4. Greg Guglielmo did not try to talk me out of the choice of my schools but made sure that we will have a good method of attack for whatever schools I want to apply to.
Applications: As mentioned before, I come from an overly represented group and as I was very interested in doing everything I can in getting that admit, weaving my past experience of an engineer in aerospace industry to go into a consulting role post MBA would play a massive role in how good a candidate adcoms will consider me. As an aerospace engineer, I was leading geographically, culturally and functionally diverse teams of engineers on multiple projects. This provided a good platform in talking about how MBA will help me in achieving my goals. I had the major variables already in place, it was just a matter of coming up with a coherent application story that will provide confidence to the adcoms of my success post MBA.
Now to the crux of this review, Greg Guglielmo’s process.
Once I decided on Critical Square, I was assigned the same client manager with whom I had spoken to during the free consultation call. This saved me a day or two (important in the grand scheme of things as I only had a month to submit 5 applications in R1) in bringing a new manager upto speed with what my thoughts. I went ahead with a purchase of their 4 school comprehensive plan (I was planning to add 2 schools later and I would have been fine doing this as Critical square follows a 1 price school addition price model). I went for the comprehensive (Tier 3) package as I didn’t want to be constrained by number of edits or number of times I can reach out to my client manager.
Do note that none of the admissions consultancies will write anything for you. As an applicant you must do the work yourself. At most, the consultants will help you in using the correct verbiage and provide the best way of putting the same thought forward. I made sure to choose what I thought was the main idea and tone behind the different essays. It will always be your work and not of your client manager's. As I had given my GMAT in August, the list of schools that I had gone ahead were Kellogg, Booth, Wharton, CBS, MIT and NYU. I was told in our first conversation that as Booth's deadline is less 3 weeks away, I had to push Booth to R2. We dropped MIT as a combined strategic decision while bringing in Ross for R1. I was clearly explained that by keeping Booth, we will end up messing up the other R1 applications. After this strategic session, there were a couple of more calls with the client manager to chalk about a plan of attack as there were 3 weeks left for the first application. I was also provided a very detailed questionnaire that had ~30 questions and took me close to 8 hours to complete as I knew doing this exercise will help me understand answers to questions such as why MBA, why now, strengths and weaknesses.
Once we had that figured out, I was asked to start bringing my recommenders up to speed with the process. Greg Guglielmo helped me in compiling a list of questions (most of the schools now ask same questions although with different word limits) and typical responses. I did tell my client manager that I wont be helping my recommenders in writing the recommendation as it is against the sanctity of the process. All these things had taken another week out of my applications leaving me with almost 2-2.5 weeks for 4 schools (Kellogg, Wharton, Ross (all R1) and CBS(ED)). The client manager and I created a very aggressive schedule in which I worked on close to 50 drafts of essays, and 5 drafts of resume. All these drafts were required as my initial drafts were either not answering the essay prompt or were too verbose. Although Greg Guglielmo was working with me as his 1st client (he did work in admissions at his bschool), I was fine with not working with a more experienced consultant as new hires usually work the hardest to impress the clients (professional experience!).
Few points that only made me more confident and glad that I had the support of Greg all along:
1. Comments on my drafts by Greg were top notch; very particular and even included links to places where I would be get the desired answers. I was very ably guided all along via regular and prompt emails. Without these comments, it would have taken me atleast twice of what it actually took to submit even 1 application. Prompt email replies is something I truly appreciate as a working professional as it alleviates stress to a very large amount.
2. The most important point: the time-frame for getting the comments back usually used to be <1 day (sometimes even a few hours). I never had any round of comments sent after 2 days. Critical square and Greg did not charge me extra for providing such prompt service. I used to work on my drafts till 1 AM and would get up at 6 AM only to find comments back from the client manager.
4. Greg Guglielmo would schedule weekly calls as the schedules were tight to discuss plan of action for the next week. We would discuss at length any of his comments that I would think should be answered in a different way. I did not use to incorporate all the comments but will have a good conversation with the client manager as to what should be provided to convey what I was thinking.
5. The mastery of language and ability to reduce my initial drafts by more than 400 words even was just amazing.
At the end, I did not miss a single deadline and made sure that all my documentation (essays, online applications, and recommendation letters) were submitted on time and were of highest quality possible. Greg completely understood the urgency that was required in meeting my application goals.
After submitting my R1 applications, we started working on R2 applications (Stern and Booth). In the meantime, I got interview calls from CBS, Wharton and Kellogg. Greg Guglielmo made sure that I was well prepared by scheduling 2 mock interviews before each school with 2 different people from the company so that I get to know different perspectives. Good thing is that the feedback that you get is actionable and can even ask for more sessions if needed. Final result was that I was admitted to Kellogg for class of 2018. Although, I was dinged after interview at CBS and Wharton, I am sure that the help provided to me by Greg Guglielmo was instrumental in getting those interview calls in the first place; especially at Wharton and Columbia where they have tons of engineers with my background applying every single year.
This review will not be a complete evaluation of Critical Square, unless a few suggestions/recommendations for improvements are not provided.
To summarize, my investment in Critical Square and Greg Guglielmo was worth the cost, effort put in all along made me more aware of the entire application process and provided me better insights into my strengths. Definitely and whole heartedly recommend Greg Guglielmo for MBA applications.
Joined: Nov 27, 2014
770 Q50 V47
I couldn't be more thankful to the team at Critical Square for helping me realise my goal.
I engaged a very well-known admissions consulting firm for my round 1 applications. I was rejected from three M7 schools, and received a waitlist invitation to a top 20 school. My objective metrics were reasonably strong (3.5 years' work at top tier law firm, 770 GMAT, strong extra-curricular involvement). While I felt my consultant did provide some useful pointers, I felt that perhaps his reviews were rushed and quite high level. He did not drill down into the content of my essays or provide meaningful suggestions; and I did not feel I put my best foot forward.
I dusted myself off and re-applied in round 2, this time to a further three M7 schools and one more top 15 school. After an initial free consultation (during which my consultant spoke with me for nearly 90 mins - well over the allotted 30 mins), I engaged Critical Square. Even though I had only purchased hourly services, I could immediately tell my consultant was completely invested in my cause. The feedback on my essays was wholly different to what I'd previously encountered - I could tell that my unique position had been critically and carefully analysed, with extremely insightful recommendations made. My consultant was incredibly responsive (even over the Christmas period). He delivered difficult advice candidly, but also warmly and professionally. I completely reshaped my career goals, and framed my past experience far more effectively.
Ultimately, I was fortunate to be admitted to two M7 schools, with significant scholarships, as well as the top 15 school to which I applied. I honestly believe I wouldn't have had this success without engaging Critical Square, and I'm forever indebted!