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     By bananagramlady 1 0

I applied to four top B-schools in 2016, on my own, and was dinged from all of them without interview. After this difficult outcome, I decided to investigate consulting services to get an idea of how my application could be improved the following year. I spoke to a few other services, including the MBA Exchange and mbaMission. In the end, I decided to go with Stacy Blackman because of how helpful my free consultation call with Bill Chionis was. I did a ding analysis with Caryn Altman. Her feedback was so direct and actionable that I decided to do an all-in package with her for a number of schools.

Throughout the daunting process, Caryn's expertise and support was extremely valuable. Caryn was efficient, direct, friendly, and supportive. I applied only to top 10 programs, and stubbornly didn't add any 'safety' schools to my list, despite my scary results from the previous year. When I asked Caryn what my chances were, she candidly told me that it would be a stretch for many of them. Despite the odds, Caryn worked with me to ensure that I had a solid application and that I could showcase myself in the best possible light. She laid out a strategy which allowed me to understand how all the different parts of my application worked to tell a cohesive story.

Some aspects to my admission that I had to overcome:
- I had a pretty low quant percentile on my GMAT, which I tried to mitigate with the GRE, but in the end I still couldn't get my score up to the average of my target schools.
- I had a nontraditional background for an MBA (start-up). I was aware this could give me a 'uniqueness' advantage, but without Caryn's help I struggled to highlight the leadership experiences I had.
- Lack of focus with respect to my long term goals and how my MBA would get me there.

The All-In Package is quite pricey, but if you feel lost with the application process, I'd say it's worth it (recall that I had come off four brutal dings!). Especially because of my test scores, we knew that the rest of my application, especially essays, had to *really* shine. I consider myself a strong writer, but even so, Caryn had tons of feedback on my essays and was always ready to do another draft. The mock interview gave me such a boost of confidence, and when I did my first real interview I was surprised by how similar the questions were. The flight test feedback that I got from Lisa Anderson was very helpful. Another benefit to the all-in was that I could ask Caryn any general MBA questions I had (ex. interview-related etiquette, what to do when I get a confusing email during the application process, etc).

I also did a mock interview with Erika Olson for HBS, which was excellent, and helped me prepare correctly for the unique HBS interview.

I applied to seven schools in round 1, got interviews with four, and ultimately received offers of admission from two. I am happy to say that I will be attending Harvard Business School next fall. It wouldn't have been possible without Caryn's assistance - thank you to Caryn and the rest of the SBC team!

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