I had strong test scores (GMAT 770), some interesting experience, top 5 undergrad school, but also average grades (3.2 GPA) and had bounced around in my career a lot. I was pretty much clueless about where I had a chance of getting into. Ultimately, I would described my results as mixed, but Kathryn gave me tons of confidence and working with her was a joy.
I called 10-15 consultants for free consultations since I knew I would need a lot of help presenting a clear, succinct narrative about my varied experiences. Almost all of them told me I had no chance at HSW (and maybe they were right) and discouraged me from applying. One even told me I should wait a year and then maybe I'd have a chance at a top 15 school. My feeling was that most consultants are highly motivated by their acceptance rates, so they're incentivized to take fewer risks with their clients.
The thing that really struck me about Kathryn was that she actually encouraged me to shoot above my expectations, and she conveyed a real conviction that she could help me get there. The fact that she was willing to risk hurting S1P's acceptance rates by having me apply to HSW convinced me that I could trust her 100% and that she really thought we could accomplish those goals together. This was in stark contrast to many of the other consultants I spoke with, and convinced me she was the advisor I should work with.
Kathryn is extremely diligent and accessible. She helped me at crazy hours day and night, and she was immediately responsive if/when I wanted to make last-minute changes on due dates.
She makes you feel challenged throughout a tough, extensive, honest reflection process, but you come out with lots of confidence and a better understanding of yourself. It's a surprisingly introspective process. She asks questions you might not have thought of, and uncovers experiences from your past you forgot about or didn't realize were relevant. She does a remarkable job of helping you discover what's important to you and what will be important to present about yourself.
Kathryn was helping me craft a narrative about my experience in the human capital space, which I suspected might be challenging at some places but unique/compelling at others. I was disappointed to be rejected without interview at H/S/W + Sloan -- I thought S1P and I had done a great job putting my best foot forward, but of course I knew all of these might be reach schools for me. The good news is that I was accepted with a $25K fellowship at another M7 school, which I was thrilled about. Again, my career background was non-traditional and I got a huge range of feedback from different consultants, so it really was difficult for me to gauge how strong a chance I had at each of these schools. That said, Kathryn helped me build strong applications I was confident in, and even though I was rejected from 4 of my 5 schools, I think the unique case she helped me build really stood out and paid off with a big win at one of my top choice schools.
The fellowship more than paid for the cost of S1P's services, and I suspect without them I would have been either rejected or accepted without fellowship. So I think the investment in S1P actually saved me money in addition to helping me get in.