March 20, 2015

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Square One Prep was pivotal to my success. With an EXTREMELY tight timeline, I was concerned that I'd missed the R1 window. I started with only two weeks to prepare applications for 4 schools - HBS, Stanford, Wharton and Booth. In hindsight, that was a big mistake. I had talked with several consultancies when I still had about 3 months to work on my apps. I couldn't decide who to move forward with (or if I saw the value in working with them) and then got busy with work. A few firms stayed in touch with me, one of them being Square One Prep. Something about the owner's correspondence with me struck a chord. I felt like she actually cared about my success and worried that I was letting the R1 window pass me by. I liked that she also told me she felt I may be underestimating what the process takes and sent me application schedules - customized for me - so I could see how timelines were tightening. Her correspondence was personal, whereas the other firms' emails to me felt like boiler plate text. That is why I decided to work with Square One. I worked with them on two schools - Stanford and Booth. I thought HBS and Wharton were so straight-forward I could do them on my own.
Truthfully, if time hadn't become such an issue I would have done all the schools on my own. Because I was from Singapore, went to an Ivy League undergrad school, had done well, and was excelling in a management job with a world-class company in Japan where I'd learned the language on the job, I really thought every business school would want me. I didn't have the strongest GMAT score, but I thought everything else would more than make up for that.
I butted heads with Square One a lot because I was stubborn and uncomfortable with being introspective. Many things they urged me to do, I wouldn't - whether it was about following the schedule they put together for me, using different recommenders than I did, choosing different essay topics for Stanford than I did, talking about some of my work experiences differently on my resume, etc. Each and every time, they rolled with the punches. They dealt with me not following the schedule (I took two days off one week in I was so tired by how taxing the process was), they helped me with my LORs when both of my recommenders failed to take the endeavor seriously (getting LORs came down to the wire), they helped me make my Stanford essay ideas work even though they felt I should have explored other ideas, and they accepted it when I wouldn't change resume wording per their advice. I wasn't an easy client in the written app. work. I became a dream client once we got to the interview stage because by then I had developed humility and perspective about the process. All stuff that Square One tried to give me from the first day they talked to me.
Because Square One provided the structure, consistent guidance, and ability to adapt to my ever-changing needs and demands, I will be joining Chicago Booth with a merit-scholarship in hand!
Square One Prep was a terrific investment to say the least! I could kick myself for not working with them on all my schools and for being so resistant to their guidance. But I'm a big believer in not having regrets. Plus, again. I'm going to Booth with a scholarship!

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