Maria Wich-Vila Reviews

Company: ApplicantLab

5.0 /5 Average Rating
Based on 90 reviews
October 28, 2019

Joined: Nov 10, 2014

Posts: 3

Kudos: 0

Verified score:
650 Q47 V33

Helpful, cost-effective and genuine advice



I subscribed to ApplicantLab based on the suggestion of a friend for my SOP and recommendation letters last year i.e. for the admission to Mannheim Business School (Germany) for admissions in 2018. I had applied at the last moment (June, 2018) and so wanted my essays to be perfect. My GMAT score was 650 and I had over 10 years of IT Consulting experience. The tool 'ApplicantLab' was very helpful after an initial payment of $300. This also gave about an hour of consulting time with Maria (Founder of ApplicantLab). ApplicantLab application really helped me to brainstorm on various achievements from my past experience. I paid another $300 for an additional hour of Maria's consultation to help me with the structure of my SOP and recommendation letters. She was very helpful in guiding me and being frank about what might work and what might not. I finally got the interview call and made it to Mannheim Business School that year. ApplicantLab is especially very helpful if you are applying to many schools. You don't have to pay every time for every essay. Maria's inputs are very genuine and if you are really willing to spend some effort from your side for preparation of your SOP, Resume and Recommendation letters, I would definitely suggest ApplicantLab as a satisfied customer. This really made a difference to my application process.

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January 04, 2020

Joined: Jul 15, 2017

Posts: 0

Kudos: 0

Verified score:
740 Q49 V41


I learned a lot about MBA programs and admissions from ApplicantLab. Maria walks you through all the pitfalls and really helps you understand how admissions officers think about a student. She explained every step of the process, helping me to build a foundation of knowledge and then slowly building that up until I was really happy with my submissions.

I bought this product thinking it would be a cheaper way to learn about admissions but once I finished it I think it's actually better than hiring a consultant, at 1/20 of the price.

Maria and Carin (Maria's number 2) are fantastic to work with, always responsive and hard working. I couldn't recommend this enough.

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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.
December 28, 2019

Joined: Jun 04, 2018

Posts: 690

Kudos: 494

Verified score:
730 Q47 V44

Even 10x as expensie, it would still be great value for money


ApplicantLab is an amazing tool to make sure you tick all the boxes of your application.
The amount of material and guidance is pretty breathtaking considering the reasonable price tag.

The tips offered for a large range of b-school are very specific, recent and most importantly unique. (e.g. very different guidance for Columbia as opposed to Tuck).

As a note of caution;

ApplicantLab does not do the work for you. To fully utilize the potential AL offers, you do have to put in quite some time, however, the investment will certainly be worth it.

I used the tool to apply to both Cambridge Judge and MIT Sloan and got into both schools.

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December 12, 2019

Joined: May 21, 2019

Posts: 0

Kudos: 0

Verified score:
740 Q48 V42

tl;dr: I got into Stanford GSB using only Applicant Lab; I watched hours of videos of Maria's advice on everything from career vision to specific essay questions to interview prep - wayyy more than I would be able to afford from typical admissions consultants. ApplicantLab is a good fit for people who meet the following characteristics:
1) not trying to use your entire life savings on admissions consulting
2) want a ton of detailed info on each part of the admissions process
3) don't want/need hand-holding

Longer review: I'm currently working in int'l development work, so as you can imagine I do not have thousands of $$$ to throw around on admissions consultants. However, I knew that I'd go crazy if I tried to tackle the massive MBA application process without some guidance or advice (esp. since my initial plan was to apply to 8+ schools...). I came across ApplicantLab on one of these forums and was skeptical - even though it's much less expensive than other companies, the $270 still seemed like a pretty large commitment on my current budget. (note: I know I know, how am I going to pay for b-school? that's a problem for tomorrow...)

Despite my skepticism, I'm very glad that I chose to sign up! Applicant Lab has been super helpful at each step of the MBA admissions process. As someone who gets a little obsessive over things, Maria's hours of video advice were a godsend. She has 10-30 min. videos on every possible aspect of the application - including career vision, "why MBA?", specific school essay questions, interview prep, recommendations etc. What I appreciated most is her candor and frankness. For instance, I still remember the moment when I got to the Post-MBA Career Vision module, where I indicated that I wanted to change both industry and function. Her video response was basically like "WRONG GOAL, GET A NEW ONE" - a bit shocking at first, but it forced me to reconsider how I presented my goals, and I came out with a much better career story because of it. What you lose in individual advice, you gain in terms of breadth - I estimate I've listened to over a dozen hours of her advice, making it a pretty decent bargain. If you think you can listen to advice and figure out the implementation of that advice on your own, then this is definitely the way to go.

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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.
November 19, 2019

Joined: Mar 10, 2013

Posts: 166

Kudos: 251

Self-reported Score:
620 Q44 V31
690 Q47 V37
610 Q47 V28
700 Q50 V34
700 Q49 V36
690 Q48 V35
750 Q49 V42
730 Q50 V39

ApplicantLab was a Lifesaver


ApplicantLab was truly a lifesaver for my MBA applications. It had all of the inside information that I needed to get into business school. One piece of information that I did not know was that the top reason qualified candidates get rejected from top schools is that their post-MBA goal is not realistic enough.

I realized that this was the reason that I did not get into CBS last year (going in now).

ApplicantLab is completely worth the money. Maria is kind, frank, humble, and knows her audience; she will tell you the truth needed to craft the best application for b-school. This will toughen you up and help you see yourself in the correct light.

ApplicantLab is for people who are self-disciplined and don't need hand-holding. You basically reap what you sow when using this tool. If you do things at the last minute, you will get
the result that comes from that decision. If you put in your best work, you will at least have no regrets regardless of your MBA decision.

ApplicantLab also has just the needed information for applying to business schools. There are no frills or bells and whistles of any kind, but the information given is gold.

One main drawback that I saw in ApplicantLab is that the interview questions given were not all asked in my interviews for CBS and Booth. I think more work could be done there.

Regardless, I will completely recommend ApplicantLab to anyone who needs low-cost but high-value MBA consulting.

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November 08, 2019

Joined: Jul 12, 2019

Posts: 0

Kudos: 0

Best money I've ever spent

REVIEWER IDENTITY VERIFIED by school email address [?]

I bought applicant lab on a friend's recommendation and I am SO glad I did. I had no idea where to start with my applications and this program helped me figure everything out. There is school-specific advice on what each program is looking for, what traits to highlight and how to write about yourself effectively. Almost more importantly than explaining how to structure essays and what to write, this lab also explains what NOT to write and how to avoid pitfalls. I definitely would have made some of these mistakes had I not checked with applicantlab.

This program is an absolute steal and I highly recommend it. I got into my top choice school (M7)!

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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.
August 17, 2019

Joined: May 22, 2018

Posts: 3

Kudos: 7

Verified score:
730 Q47 V44

ApplicantLab made helped me complete my apps in 1.5 month


I decided to apply to b-school with a very short timeline. I didn't achieve the GMAT score that I wanted until Dec. 4th and I applied round 2 in Jan of the following year. I didn't start my applications (other than asking for recommendations) until after Dec. 4th. ApplicantLab's aggregation of research on the 4 schools that I applied to helped speed up the essay writing process immensely. Instead of clicking around websites, I was able to go to one place and customize the message and examples of my essays for each school with ease. I also used the interview prep module to quickly prep for 3 interviews. The interview was an easier part of the process for me, so I don't think the interview prep section of AppLab would be great for those who need a lot of help. But it did the job for me.

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July 25, 2019

Joined: Jul 22, 2018

Posts: 28

Kudos: 20

Verified score:
730 Q47 V44

Great for Self-Starters


When I began looking at consulting services to help me with MBA applications, I couldn't believe how expensive they were. As someone who is trying to save up for grad school, it just didn't make sense to spend thousands. After looking around a bit, I came across ApplicantLab. I tried the free trial for a few days and found that it had lots of helpful advise and would really help me complete my applications without a huge price-tag. I have to mention that you really need to be a self-starter to thrive using ApplicantLab, as there is no one who will be pushing you to do stuff like there might be with an actual consultant. Also, every time I have had a question, Maria has responded to my emails within 24 hours, which I find incredible. I used the "sanity-check" to check my resume and goals/why MBA info and found it extremely helpful in cleaning up my resume and putting the finishing touches on my goals. I also plan to use the essay help. I'm getting all of this without having to pay thousands of dollars, so I'd say its easily been worth the money.

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June 23, 2019

Joined: Nov 04, 2018

Posts: 11

Kudos: 0

Self-reported Score:

It was end of January and I had just taken my GMAT and not even looked at any of the essay prompts for the applications. I had a of couple things to address in my application: Low GPA, Below 700 GMAT, and a career path that did not really seem to add up (Undergrad Major Health Science, Post-College WE: US Navy, and Post-MBA Career Path: short term – Consulting Long term – Sports Industry). On top of all of that, did I forget to mention, my first application was due in ONLY 5 weeks!! I did not even know where to start or how to tell my story.

I didn’t use Applicant Lab in a linear manner (you can use it in whichever sequence/parts you prefer, that’s the beauty of it!). It was difficult for me to connect the dots for my career vision in the beginning, so I decided to skip that part and come back to it later. I drafted my resume and wrote the essays first. How Maria, breaks down each essay prompt for every single MBA program out there (I cannot THANK YOU enough for that!) into smaller questions that are easy to answer and create the structure and flow of some of the best essays I have ever typed. Talking about different past experiences in my essays really helped me self-reflect and connect the dots in my career vision/story.

Having ApplicantLab instead of a consultant, allowed me to reread and re-watch her advice over and over again something an actual consultant would have not allowed at random times of the night. Also, instead of having a consultant to call and rely on to answer my questions about a specific school and possibly edit my essays, it really forced me to connect to students at every single school I applied and get answers and tips from them (someone who had recently made the transition to where I wanted to be next year/in a couple of months). Few of them even went above and beyond my expectations and were generous enough to give me mock interviews. Trust me, I was nervous at first and did not know how to properly reach out to current students either. But, Maria does such a great job giving practical advice that is easy to implement and use to network with current students who end up becoming your allies and rooting for you in this admissions process.

The entire admissions process and ApplicantLab were a great learning experience to prepare me for business school. To be able to use the resources I have available, network with others, and deliver a final product that meets the needs of both parties (the business school and myself). I would have not been able to get that same learning experience and growth if I would have used an admissions consultant, instead of ApplicantLab. I literally talk about this product to every current or prospective MBA student I meet and highly recommend it to anyone reading this right now. My results: I ended up getting accepted to NotreDame, Emory, Tepper, and Cornell all with scholarships and in the FINAL round of the application cycle. Thank You Maria for creating just a great product and helping me make my dreams a reality!

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April 17, 2019

Joined: Mar 07, 2018

Posts: 38

Kudos: 15

Verified score:
720 Q47 V41

Short on funds, a negative outlook from traditional consultants for your dream schools, consultants talking in a language you think is nonsense - if any one factor out of these resonates with you, read on!

I got to know about ApplicantLab through a GMATClub scheduled webinar Maria was giving wherein she talked about how and what of the MBA preparation. The moment I started listening to her, the candid nature of her advice made a difference to me. I thought I cannot afford this, coming from India and this being a running experiment (I only had one chance at this before everyone got me married, right? ) I was just half-listening like I had to put my attendance to the session. My ears got perked up only when I heard there is some trial coupon being shared. This made it safe, right? I wouldn't need to burn two months worth of rent to sample it. I noted the coupon, tried it for a few days and I was only till the career goals part but I loved it. There was guidance for each application+interview only for this much amount and if I went even to Indian consultants, I will easily be burning 5x of this price. The price made sense, as did the reviews on GMATClub which I read only post this stage. None of the few people around me had heard of this buzz, so it was my leap to take. And leap, I did.

I was worried that I might also need a real person for a sanity check and I couldn't afford to buy there time again (International!), so I did get a one application package from a traditional consultant. Wise decision? Yes! The glaring difference between their pieces of advice made me see my application myself from the point of view of the adcom at times. The insight Maria guides you through maks you understand the entire process as if you were driving it. Since it's no longer a magic black box of '10 ways to talk impressively', it helps.

School selection: She really doesn't give you a cooked advice. Find people, do your research, find syncs and know for yourself where you can go and where you want to go. A traditional consultant might restrict you here, based on their experiences even if they have their hearts at the right place.

Basic skeleton: The first few sections which make you start talking about your real story, your future story and the gaps in your story and how to fill them - helps. A big deal. You cannot start putting a face to something which is hollow right?

Application advice: Break each question word-by-word, go for school's values and link everything together. The questions that Maria breaks each essay topic into is so comprehensive that it's sufficient to check and cross-check if you have answered it completely. They are also pretty exhaustive so you could pass them on to a friend for proof-read.

Interview prep: A lot many people take interview advice from Maria which must have its own perks. But if you choose not to, the interview advice in the Lab is pretty exhaustive as well! I went through the advice and then a few mocks with friends and seniors. That served me well.

The only part I think could be included is some samples for applicants to understand what successful applications look like. I saved each and every screenshot Maria shared, however concise and there is a floating idea that you shouldn't see other people's work lest you get narrow in your approach. But I really felt more confident when I read those samples and it helped me curate better stories because talking about my life is something I haven't done ever and a lot many cultures tend to belittle their life story and a lot many tend to glorify.

To sum up, if you are thinking whether to go for Lab and will it be a personal enough advice, go for it. The advice doesn't need to be personal. It's the same for everyone. The journey for self-exploration is one's own and that's what you'll make individually through Lab.

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