January 10, 2015

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I was initially hesitant to engage a professional consultancy. I had planned to ask my friends for tips based on what they had learned from their own application processes. I ultimately invested in the comprehensive package with SBC after a current Wharton student told me that I risked putting myself at a disadvantage otherwise. This was great advice.

I was paired with Margaret Strother, a great match for my personality and work style-- in her words, we're both "hard-assed perfectionists." Margaret's help was invaluable every step of the way, from developing my story and polishing essays to tactical questions regarding recommenders and school-specific minutiae. She exchanged hundreds of emails of the summer and she reviewed scores of drafts of my various essays, always promptly and incisively. During the long interview season in the fall, she helped to coach me on my standard responses and generally prepare me to excel in interviews. After she discovered I love cooking (which featured in my applications) we even exchanged a few recipes.

With the comprehensive package, I also had access to a "flight test" of my application by a former MBA admissions committee member, and after I received an interview offer from Wharton, I was able to practice their unusual group interview with other SBC applicants over Skype. My real Wharton interview went almost exactly the way it did in the practice session, which helped me to stay calm and confident despite the unusual format.

Ultimately, I was accepted to Booth with a scholarship and to my dream program at Wharton. Based on that alone, I'd say SBC is well worth the investment as a way of reducing downside risk. But I'd endorse them even if I hadn't been as fortunate in what is ultimately a capricious and subjective process. SBC's consultants act as mentors and coaches, and when it matters Margaret can be as demanding as my former investment banking bosses. I gained valuable experience and I learned practical and tactical lessons about positioning myself as a candidate, which I will apply to my post-MBA goals.

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