|All Reviews > Kathryn Lucas > Kathryn Lucas Reviews|
Joined: Jun 28, 2019
Square One Prep was crucial to my success. From the beginning, the team provided a detailed timeline that broke down the daunting application process into a manageable schedule that I could balance while working full-time.
The entire process was extremely professional and methodical. With guidance from my career narrative expert Luis Bellon, I was able to reflect deeply on my career and passions and articulate my goals into words. This introspective process was essential to my application process: plotting out my short and long term goals allowed me to be very intentional in envisioning what I wanted out of my MBA.
I worked with Jessica Bell van der Wal as my day-to-day advisor, who was a phenomenal advisor. From the beginning, Jessica took the time to understand me holistically as a person. She helped me tie together and highlight the elements of my personality and background thoughtfully into different parts of my application. The end product was an application that I was very proud of that accurately represented me as a whole.
The interview process with Kathryn Lucas was outstanding and helped me land the offers once I had interview invitations. Having worked at the same place for several years, I felt anxious about my rusty interviewing skills. The mock interviews and detailed debriefs gave me the confidence I needed to succeed during this final step.
Throughout the process, the entire staff was always very responsive and helpful, no matter what the hour. Even through the holidays, the staff was with me every step of the way. Everyone I worked with was extremely passionate and invested in my success.
I recommend SOP to anyone seeking business school application guidance without hesitation. I truly believe there cannot be a value assigned to the guidance I received through this deeply personal and introspective process. Thank you to the whole SOP team for your help!
Joined: Apr 27, 2020
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SOP was recommended to me by another client through a mutual friend. To be honest, I was quite unsure what I was looking for or if I was even MBA material at the time. From my first meeting with Kathryn (the founder, who is very present throughout the whole process), SOP was instrumental in providing clarity and support throughout my journey. This included tangible tools such as a personalised timeline and thorough essay and interview guides, multiple edits and reviews by the leadership team, as well as advice on what to consider when selecting schools and choosing essay topics. They were also incredibly accommodating with the time difference, as they have advisors based around the world.
In my experience, SOP's leadership team (which includes a career coach) takes the time to truly understand their clients' motivations and draw out a narrative which rings true in the applications. Though the team had minimal experience with the industry I was targeting for my career path (I chose a track that was rather nontraditional), they patiently arranged multiple Skype meetings, learned about the industry, and provided valuable direction and challenge. The career narrative we crafted together would be the backbone to all my subsequent applications and interview prep, and I believe my biggest competitive advantage.
Although I only engaged SOP with a three school package, I was accepted into 5 top tier business schools (4 in were in the top 10 MBAs on US News 2021 rankings, and 2 of which offered me full tuition fellowships) using the foundational work we built together. I could never have imagined such success, and I credit the team here for helping me make that a reality.
Joined: Apr 26, 2020
I began working with Kathryn after getting waitlisted from the two schools I interviewed at during Round 1. The waitlist process felt like a demoralizing black box and I did not know how to navigate it strategically. Moreover, I was afraid that after months of work on applications and interviews, I would not get in anywhere.
In our first session, Kathryn described what she saw as the key points I needed to clarify in order to go from the waitlist to an admit decision. Through her feedback, I was able to recognize some key flaws in my application, as well as how I could take action to clarify them. She not only helped me develop my narrative for business school, she helped guide critical thinking about what I really wanted and what was realistic with my background. I believe that her process was useful not just for my application, but for business school itself.
Not only was I immediately impressed by Kathryn’s incisive and experienced feedback, I was also very comforted by her efficiency. For those who are concerned by the price of a consultant, I would highly recommend Kathryn and engaging her early on. Firstly, I believe that if I had worked with her from the beginning, I would not have gotten waitlisted and had to spend all the additional time and money associated with that process. Secondly, when Kathryn works with you, she is quick and thoughtful in her feedback. Her efficiency in reviews made me feel like I was getting incredible value for the investment I was making.
Getting into business school is not easy, and I feel lucky to have been recommended Kathryn. Now, I am attending my dream school in the fall, and even received a fellowship.
Joined: Apr 12, 2020
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My experience with SOP began with a free consultation with Kathryn, the founder. I assumed it would be brief and impersonal. I could not have been more wrong. Kathryn spoke with me for over an hour, taking time to discuss my background, my goals and potential application strategies. Her honesty was refreshing. She didn’t hesitate to point out potential weaknesses in my application, but was also quick to suggest strategies to mitigate those weaknesses. I found this honesty and expertise to be constant throughout the process, and present in all members of their firm.
SOP was a critical, invaluable resource to guiding me through the ENTIRE process. They helped me articulate a career narrative, create an impactful resume, craft high-quality essays, and navigate the letter of recommendation process. Wendy, my career narrative expert, sharpened my narrative by asking tough questions. Darcy, my day-to-day advisor, constantly challenged me to dig deeper and provided untold value to my essays. Bailey, SOP’s chief of staff, ensured the process was moving along on-schedule. All the while, Kathryn remains actively engaged in the process. Every step of the way.
I would have never gotten into Wharton without SOP. There is zero doubt in my mind. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience – including even learning some things about myself along the way. To Kathryn and the SOP team, navigating the MBA admissions cycle is not a job, it’s a passion. If you’re going to apply, you’d be crazy not to work with them.
Joined: Sep 10, 2018
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Most of the reviews that you will read about Square One Prep will rave about the free consultation with Kathryn. There’s a reason for it. Kathryn is special. She is passionate about what she does and that reflects in the interest she takes in getting to actually “know” each applicant. When I began my application process, I believed I had decent stats and a good shot at the Top 10 B-schools. However, my consultations with the more well-known firms destroyed my confidence when each one of them asked me to lower my expectations. Kathryn was the only one who cared to look beyond my stats and spent 1.5 hours trying to fully appreciate my profile and my story. However, as admissions consulting is a significant investment, I spoke with 11 admissions consulting firms, watched several P&Q videos, and read hundreds of testimonials on GMAT Club, before confidently signing up for SOP.
Quite frankly, SOP has a no-nonsense business model. They will not lure you with attractive discounts and last-minute offers, will not compel you to sign up for a multi-school package right away at a special price, or charge you hidden fees. They have a transparent pricing policy and are slightly expensive than larger players who play of economies of scale to drive down prices (and perhaps the quality of advice). It was all worth it.
SOP gave me multiple options to choose an advisor (someone who will directly work with you on your applications). I chose to work with Kathleen who is undoubtedly one of the nicest persons you’ll ever meet. She gave me great advice on how to think about my stories and was super quick to respond to my queries over email or on the phone. She’ll never let you feel that you are alone in this journey and will give you the much-needed moral support at each stage of the process. She has a hands-off approach to consulting and will not spoon feed ideas. Instead, she will urge you to be original and reflect on your life stories. I preferred this approach as I had done significant research on the admissions process before signing up and I wanted my essays to be authentic - just fine-tuned with some expert guidance. However, if you require more hands-on guidance, I’m sure you’ll get that too. Also, the leadership team will review your essays and resume too before finalization, which helps to get additional perspective on your ideas/stories.
No matter which school(s) you choose to work on with SOP, getting your career narrative right is going to be critical. Here, Wendy provided valuable advice which helped me on ALL my applications (every B-school wants to know about your career goals either through an essay or during the interview). Another important aspect of developing your applications alongside a full-time job is to stay disciplined and adequately informed, Here, Bailey ensured that all my applications stayed on track and I had access to all the resources I needed to craft a solid application.
Overall, I had a great time working with Square One Prep and would highly recommend them to all prospective applicants. Thank you Kathryn, Kathleen, Wendy, and Bailey. I couldn't have done this without you.
I am sure you would have read several reviews like I did and will most likely forget the specifics. So, if there is one thing that I want you to take away from my experience, it is this: in admissions consulting, like in life, it helps to work with those who believe in you and the power of your dreams.
All the best!
Joined: Jan 20, 2020
I was referred to Kathryn and the Square One Prep team by my cousins who had worked with Kathryn directly, so I had the benefit of some prior knowledge of how the process works, but I can definitely say that the work and help lived up to and surpassed the hype!
I was a bit nervous about applying to business school, and HBS in particular, due to me perceiving that my “traditional” career path in finance was uninspiring, combined with what I was told was a low GPA for HBS. However, after an introductory call with Kathryn, I quickly decided to not only apply, but also work with Square One and Kathryn directly. What impressed me so much on that call, and continued to be the case throughout the entire process, was Kathryn’s thoughtful questions, encouraging yet honest feedback, and ability to uncover the “why” and help me realize things about my past career/academic/extracurricular experiences that I didn’t even appreciate at initial reflection. Most importantly though, Kathryn always told me what I needed to hear even if at times it didn’t line up with what I wanted to hear. While it was frustrating at times, looking back on it, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. This tough love was all geared towards creating a compelling, genuine, and strong candidacy.
The Square One process as a whole is extremely well-crafted and ensures that everything builds upon itself to really create a wholesome application. From the initial assessment to the school selection to the resume building to the recommender selection/recommendation package preparation to the career narrative crafting and finally the essay brainstorming/iterating, everything was so thoughtfully done and allowed me to deeply reflect on myself, my past experiences, my business school ambitions, and my ultimate career goals. Kudos to Kathryn, Bailey and the rest of the team for creating such an effective process!
Kathryn was also always available to chat and help on short notice and most hours of the day (sometimes I would wonder when Kathryn sleeps!). I had my initial intro call with Kathryn about 6/7 months before the Round 1 deadlines while I was preparing for the GRE. She was supportive and provided sound advice during that process, checking in as well to make sure that substantial progress was being made since without the GRE/GMAT there’s no application to be done at all. She was then available to chat almost weekly – at times twice a week – once we started officially working on the applications and essays themselves about 3 months ahead of the deadlines (in addition to the dialogue over the phone, we were always in constant communication via email and Kathryn was very responsive). She was always there to help me if I got stuck in my thoughts; her extensive and broad experience consulting in these applications processes was evident by how quickly she was able to absorb information and then ask the right questions to help me find clarity and/or advise on the correct path forward.
Once I received interview invitations, Kathryn’s help and guidance was invaluable. The interview prep guide helped me get ready to articulate my thoughts and experiences in a concise manner, which I can struggle to do as evidenced by the above. The mock interview debriefs were also super helpful – after each mock (we did one general behavioral one and one for HBS), Kathryn would go question by question and in a very detailed manner break down the strengths and weaknesses of each answer and provide the thoughtful and necessary feedback (again, sometimes conflicting with what I wanted to hear, but ultimately it was for my own good!) in order for me to succeed. These mocks helped me get the kinks out of my system and perform my best – and importantly be myself – on the actual interview days and eventually secure the admission offers.
I never thought HBS would be an attainable option for me, but thanks to Kathryn’s help that dream has now become a reality! I could not be more thankful for all of her guidance, and yes, the tough love too!
Joined: Jan 02, 2020
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I can't thank Kathryn and the team at Square One Prep enough for all their help and support. From finding which were the best schools for me, to crafting a plan on how to get the most out of school visits to ultimately brainstorming and creating a full MBA package, Kathryn was there every step of the way and I can't imagine going through the process without her help. The candid and thorough feedback I received throughout the process allowed me to create the best application possible. Kathryn worked tirelessly and was incredibly hands on as we created essays and letter of recommendation packages. Her commitment to helping me was boundless as she knew how much it meant to me to get into the right MBA program. She knew how to get the best out of me and highlight my strengths throughout the application. I owe so much to Kathryn and the Square One team!
Joined: Dec 20, 2019
I had worked with several different consultants who told me that my GRE score was too low to even apply to my desired schools. Kathryn and her team not only helped to build up my confidence to consider applying and improve my GRE score, they coached me through a highly organized action plan to set me up for success. Kathryn made herself available to me 24/7 to walk through any questions or concerns, and continued to fill me with positivity helping me realize my goals were within reach. They helped me feel confident throughout a rigorous process. I would recommend her a million times over.
Joined: Sep 22, 2019
I began the bulk of my MBA applications just months from Round 2 deadlines, along with a lower than average GRE for the programs I was aiming for. Luckily, a friend referred me to Kathryn. I had spoken to several consultants in the past, but Kathryn was unique: she encouraged me to aim high and was convinced I could succeed with a thoughtful application strategy.
Once we kicked off the process, Kathryn wouldn’t hesitate to reinforce a timeline, provide difficult feedback on an essay, or let me know when an aspect of my narrative wasn’t making sense. She was probably tougher than some of my most demanding bosses :) Her honest, yet encouraging approach pushed me to submit materials that reflected my best possible work.
With her guidance I was also able to weave a career narrative that truly excited me. At the end of the process, I knew that even in the event I wasn’t accepted to an MBA program, I would still have an invaluable outcome: a clearer vision for my life and a stronger understanding of my values, interests and goals.
Ultimately, I received invitations to interview with HBS and Wharton, and was accepted to Wharton with a scholarship. I’m excited for my next step and glad I chose to work with Kathryn!
Joined: Nov 01, 2018
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I enjoyed working with Kathryn throughout the entire application process. Her experience dealing with both students and admissions committees was invaluable and definitely gave me the edge I was looking for.
Kathryn and her team have an ability to compartmentalize the administrative part of the application process, while also supporting in the creation of the applicant's story for the writing sections.
While the fees are high, I believe that working with Kathryn was a worthy investment - especially when considering the entire tuition and non-tuition fees of a program. I truly believe I would not have gotten accepted into my program without her help.