Allison Nelson Reviews

Company: Square One Prep

4.9 /5 Average Rating
Based on 7 reviews
January 15, 2023

Joined: Jul 22, 2020

Posts: 5

Kudos: 1

Amazing Team! Highly recommend for HSW.

REVIEWER IDENTITY VERIFIED by school email address [?]

I had the fortune to be mentored by Kathryn and Allison in RD 1 of the 2022-23 application cycle. I could not recommend SOP enough. They really delve deep into the applicant’s life, encouraging them to embrace their individuality and share inspiring stories from their life experiences with the adcom. The time you spend with SOP is an investment in yourself. They force you to self-reflect and get clarity on your motivations, an exercise that will come to define your future. By the end of the journey, you will really know the answer to two questions everyone will ask you - Why MBA? And Why Now?

After consulting a few firms, I chose SOP because of Kathryn’s honest and straight forward approach. She not only expressed confidence and enthusiasm in my profile, but also backed up her recommendation to focus on M7 schools with statistical data, sharing the probabilities for success based on past results – an approach I found unique to her. However, she was also brutally honest: cautioning me that especially for schools like HBS/GSB/Wharton, no one is a shoo-in, and while SOP team can help me craft the best possible application materials, there is still an inherent element of luck in the highly competitive process.

The Career Narrative that you build with SOP before working on any aspect of the applications may seem like extra work, but, it will make you question your goals and motivations, and come up with a conclusive, air-tight career plan. It will help you beyond MBA admissions.

I could not have imagined myself going through the process without the generous support from Allison. She is responsive, caring, and is always ready to lend her hand. Her level of commitment is evident from the fact that at one point, we were working on 8 essays simultaneously! And as an Indian applicant, managing applications even though we were in different time zones felt like a walk in the park because of her efforts. She would stop me from overworking on my essays and over prepping, instilling in me the confidence I needed most also as a re-applicant. Allison has established herself as a trusted advisor that I look up to – and I know the lessons I learned from her were not only helpful in the application process; but will also carry me forward in the professional world, where effective communication and storylining are so crucial to one’s success.

I could not recommend SOP enough – SOP’s unwavering support, commitment, and human touch are the reasons why I was able to succeed in a highly competitive season (as a re-applicant, admitted to 1 of HSW, interviewed at 2)

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February 24, 2023

Joined: Feb 24, 2023

Posts: 0

Kudos: 0

The best MBA admissions consulting team!

REVIEWER IDENTITY VERIFIED by school email address [?]

I was referred to Square One by a friend pursuing his MBA at Wharton, and working with Kathryn and Allison was pivotal in me securing admission offers and scholarships from Booth, Kellogg, and Stern Business Schools.
From our very first interaction, the energy and meticulousness that Kathryn and Allison brought to the admissions process amazed me. I initially had no idea what I wanted to do with my MBA, but Horatiu and Allison helped me explore careers that interested me and then craft a narrative based on it. I also had no practice in writing for almost a decade so I needed a lot of hand holding that Allison graciously offered. By the end, I was able to independently write my essays that got me an interview from the Wharton EMBA program.
In the middle of my application process, I had a family issue followed by my own illness, which prevented me from working on my applications. Throughout the challenges, the team was always empathetic and supportive of me that helped me get back on my feet successfully.
I also found the application process in itself to be incredibly enlightening. The deep self-reflections that Allison and Kathryn guided me through while writing my essays helped me develop a clarity of purpose and confidence in my own abilities. It has helped me take better charge of my career and perform outstandingly well in my current role.
Square One truly feels like a family that helped me improve continually and I highly recommend working with them.

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This reviewer has not participated on GMAT Club but it is a REAL person and a REAL review. GMAT Club has verified this test-taker's identity through GMAC/Pearson Vue Score Reporting system or .edu email address and confirmed that this reviewer indeed took the GMAT, is unique, and has not submitted multiple reviews.
February 12, 2023

Joined: Feb 12, 2023

Posts: 0

Kudos: 0

Verified score:
760 Q47 V47

Methodical system for managing a complex process


I worked with SOP for Round 1 applications (Fall 2023 intake), on a Premium package for 1 school. I thought Allison, Kathryn, and Horatiu were good partners and found their process and advice very helpful for managing the various parts of the application, especially my recommenders. I was admitted to the M7 school we worked on together, and much of the work we did together helped me get 2 other offers (T15) and a waitlist (T10) in R1. I also applied to 2 more M7s in R2 (HSW), and received one invitation to interview (TBD on the remaining school).

Things that were great:

1. SOP's work on my resume was excellent. I would have not considered crafting my resume the way we did together (b-school resumes are very different from professional resumes), and the upfront work I did with SOP carried through to all my applications across rounds 1 and 2. As a corollary, the discovery call and worksheets that I completed with my consultant were helpful both for self reflection and for getting specific advice/input from my consultant throughout the process.

2. I loved SOP's recommendation management process. Again, I wouldn't have thought to organize the process in the way SOP did, and it saved me and my recommenders a lot of time and hassle. Both my recommenders had to write letters for 6 schools, some of which had no overlap at all, but SOP's structure made it easy to navigate and feel confident about what my recommenders were submitting.

3. The career narrative work was excellent. We did this very early in our process, and at the time I didn't necessarily view this as a very important exercise. But having a detailed, data driven career plan before I even started writing my first essays made it very easy for me to answer all career related questions in applications and interviews throughout the application cycle.

Areas for improvement:

1. Iterating on written work was sometimes a struggle - I personally work better with live feedback and discussing why something works/something doesn't work, but I typically received feedback as track changes in my word doc. As a result, I sometimes received edits that changed my intended meaning, and the back and forth slowed us down. I would've preferred comments and actionable advice over inline edits, which would've allowed me to absorb the feedback and implement it in my own way. Along the same lines, I wish we'd spent more time brainstorming on essays before starting to write - I work better that way.

2. SOP's document library is massive, but difficult to navigate. I would've liked to have a smaller selection of curated essay/resume samples, or at least to have gotten a few relevant highlights for me instead of trying to skim through 50-70 files by myself.

I recommend SOP, and specifically applaud them for their methodical approach to applications. I think applicants who have some familiarity with the MBA application process, and already have a somewhat strong POV about their candidacy, stand to benefit the most from working with Allison and Kathryn. Best of luck on your B-school application journey!

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This reviewer has not participated on GMAT Club but it is a REAL person and a REAL review. GMAT Club has verified this test-taker's identity through GMAC/Pearson Vue Score Reporting system and confirmed that this reviewer indeed took the GMAT, is unique, and has not submitted multiple reviews.
January 24, 2023

Joined: Dec 02, 2022

Posts: 0

Kudos: 0

100% worth it


Square One Prep is unlike any other admissions service. There is immense value in having an entire team help you with your application. A career narrative coach worked with me to help me define my career vision and really pushed me to hone and improve both my ideas for next steps and the ways in which I articulated them. Then, Allison's responsive, dedicated expertise, combined with Kathryn's final approval and input on all of my application materials, set me up to have a bulletproof application. I am so so thrilled with my school acceptance results and my scholarship packages and I have the incredible SQ1 team to thank for it.

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June 13, 2022

Joined: Jul 27, 2021

Posts: 22

Kudos: 7

Verified score:
700 Q45 V41 (Online)

Square One Prep is amazing!


When I started my MBA application journey, I decided that getting an MBA Admissions consultant was worth the investment. I spoke to a few consultants at the large firms, and I settled with one advisor. Shortly after, I received an email from GMAT Club, and there was an ad in the email for SOP, saying that almost everyone that uses SOP highly recommends it. I was intrigued, so I checked the recommendations on GMAT Club, and they were glowing. I then explored the website, and I was shocked to find out that at SOP, a whole team looks after you - including SOP’s founder, Kathryn. This setup was unlike the large firms where the advisor you choose is the one you work with throughout the application(s). I was even more intrigued, and I decided to schedule an introductory call with Katheryn, which was unlike any other experience, mind-blowing and humbling.
Katheryn was more thorough than the several hours of calls I had already had with the other firm in just that first introductory call. She took such a deep interest in my story and knew exactly how to help me. I could tell from that first call how passionate Kathryn is about her work. I was so surprised by how she connected to me and my story in that call, and I knew right then and there that although it would be expensive to purchase a package on top of the one I had already purchased, I HAD to work with SOP. Katheryn is careful and thoughtful about the process - she even schedules a call with three different advisors that she believes will pair nicely with you/your personality/your story. This step makes so much sense, and it is entirely intuitive. The amount of work that goes into MBA applications is exhaustive, so it is great knowing that you ‘click’ with your advisor, who will be working most closely with you.

I am so lucky and grateful to have worked with Allison; she is friendly, efficient, and responsive. She pushed me to refine my work over and over. Sometimes I thought that a particular essay was good enough, but she suggested we change something to improve it.

The career narrative work with Wendy was one of the most valuable exercises that will be useful during the essay writing process, coffee chats with MBA schools, interviews… etc. I can’t emphasize how important and beneficial it is.

The editing team, the tracking system, the LOR process, and everything at SOP was efficient and yielded results. I am so grateful to Kathryn, Allison, Wendy, and the rest of the SOP team have helped me achieve a dream. Thank you so much.

After trying more than one admissions firm, I can confidently say that SOP is above and beyond. For any aspiring MBA student starting their MBA application journey reading this, I am not trying to convince you to use SOP right away, but I highly recommend you, at least, have a free consult with Kathryn - you have nothing to lose!

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February 14, 2022

Joined: Feb 14, 2022

Posts: 0

Kudos: 0

Verified score:
640 Q42 V36

Great experience, highly recommend working with Square One Prep!


My experience working with Kathryn, Allison, and Horatiu at Square One Prep was invaluable to my MBA application journey and admissions success.

I had a pretty short timeline to apply to schools, and the team at Square One Prep gladly opened their schedules to me in the middle of the busy first-round application cycle. They spent hours with me understanding my background, achievements, and goals, and were always quick to communicate valuable feedback about each piece of my application, while encouraging me along the way. Working with them helped me clearly articulate my full story to admissions committees and it gave me the confidence I needed when tackling, what would have otherwise been daunting, admissions interviews.

With help from Square One Prep, I was accepted to all of my schools with several full-tuition scholarship offers, Graduate Assistantship offers, and fellowship offers.

I would highly recommend working with Square One Prep to anyone who is considering applying to business school! Looking back, I would definitely work with them again.

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This reviewer has not participated on GMAT Club but it is a REAL person and a REAL review. GMAT Club has verified this test-taker's identity through GMAC/Pearson Vue Score Reporting system and confirmed that this reviewer indeed took the GMAT, is unique, and has not submitted multiple reviews.
February 05, 2022

Joined: Jan 28, 2020

Posts: 3

Kudos: 0

Self-reported Score:
660 Q44 V37

Completely Worth It – Be Ready to Work Hard


I am really happy with the process and results SOP offered. Now that I am already admitted into CBS, I can assure you that every service SOP offers is exactly the way they describe it and the execution is very methodical. I strongly recommend going into their webpage and checking the “process” chart since it is very accurate.

At the very beginning of the process, what attracted me to SOP was that they gave me the chance to have three free consultations (two with Kathryn and one with my future advisor Allison), something other firms didn’t agree to do. I already knew that I wanted to apply to HBS, GSB and CBS, and Kathryn gave me a thorough explanation of my strengths and weaknesses and described the areas I could improve to be able to get into those schools. During the first consultation, I told Kathryn I had a weak GMAT score and she honestly told me she couldn’t work with me if I only wanted to apply to those three schools. This surprised me and told me A LOT about the firm since she could have easily said yes knowing I didn’t have too many chances of success. So, after I retook the exam and got a better score, we agreed to start working together on my MBA application.

During the process I worked most of the time with my advisor Allison Nelson. What I liked about her was that she was completely to the point – no bs, no false expectations, always honest and succinct in her answers. She pushed me to write some of the best essays I ever wrote, prompting me to think about my past experiences and helping me build a strong story. She always reminded me to send the drafts back to her and kept me on track every time I was falling behind schedule. Something that caught me off guard during the process was the work I did with Luis Bellon. Luis is a master storyteller and made me think the most how I wanted to present and pitch my story. I struggled during this process because it pushed my confidence boundaries and I ended up taking more time that I was comfortable with taking.

Overall, I have to thank the three of them for giving me advice and emotional support in every single step. I recommend SOP to anyone who wants to apply to business school.

PD: I selected the three-school premium package

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