Square One Prep Admissions Consulting Reviews
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Square One Prep Reviews
We have been where you are now - square one with the application process for business school. We know this juncture is critical to you and can help you just as we've helped hundreds of other MBA applicants since 2009. Our approach is immersive, methodical and proven

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7 out of 7 people found the following review helpful
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     By Anonymous 0 0
This review is for: Square One Prep Premium Service
Consultant: Erik Yazdani

I hired Square One comprehensive consulting service last year and it was a horrible experience.

the Consultant back then was Erik Yazdani. I never found a smooth cooperation with him. Sometimes he got pissed at me reaching out to him at some thing i need him to answer quickly. I got an interview from wharton and wanted his advice on choosing the time slot. He was pissed that i reached out him without advanced notice and refuse to return my call.

I got into none last year with Square One and interestingly, I heard no words from either Kathryn or Erik after that.

This year, i hired Stacy Blackman and my consultant was Caryn. I got into both schools i applied - University of Chicago and Kellogg with 100k Scholarship. the process of application was super sweet and smooth. Caryn offered very insightful and professional advice. I trusted her on all her advice.

If anyone is considering hiring a consultant, please stay away from Square One. I had horrible experience and they were not responsible. Lack of structure.

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1 Commented by Squareoneprep on January 15, 2016   Edited on January 15, 2016
I just read your post on GMAT Club. I am really sorry you feel the way you do about your experience with us. I am confused by what you wrote because it is factually inaccurate from beginning to end - as supported by emails, phone logs with notes, and your files. You did have structure (per a customized day-by-day schedule I crafted and sent to you on 8/13/2014) and I did stay in touch with you and Erik throughout your process. Your goal was to apply to Stanford, HBS, Wharton, and Columbia R1, despite my urging that you diversify your list to mitigate risk. If you recall, at first you only wanted to apply to HBS and Stanford. You got started with us on 8/16/2014 with a 1-school package - Stanford. Both your timeline and schools were aggressive. I was personally very clear with you about those facts before you signed on with us. I made sure your eyes were open. You said they were, that you were very motivated and felt the worst case would be that you'd have to re-apply. You said that you loved your job and would be ok with that, though of course it wasn't desirable. We felt comfortable working with you because I had spent 5+ hours talking with you on calls (all started after midnight to accommodate your schedule) to ensure you were in fact motivated, aware of the risk you were taking on, and the right client for us. We only work with folks we believe we can lead to success. We are right 86% of the time.

Due to the demands of your work, you applied only to Stanford R1. You asked to add a second school, HBS, and then a third, Columbia. On 12/14/2014, when you reached out via email to add a fourth school, I expressly asked you if you wanted it to be Kellogg instead of Wharton. I wanted you to take a little less risk. You said you wanted the fourth school to be Wharton.

You got an interview with Wharton. The fact that you got an interview there showed that your written application was strong. When you did not get an offer, Erik suggested debriefing on a call, which you two did. We were there for you.

As it regards Erik's availability to you, he was never upset when you reached out to him. Perhaps you are referring to when you requested to have a 1030pm est slot in his calendar every weeknight for a call. He would not do that, which I supported him on, as no client should need to talk with us nightly. That can create co-dependence; that does not yield productivity.

Last year you applied to the toughest programs in the world to get into: HBS, Stanford, Wharton, and Columbia. This year you applied to Booth and Kellogg - the hurdle to get in there is lower. We in no way say that to slight your work with Stacy Blackman Consulting, as we have great respect for that team. We are extremely happy that you had the success that you did. You deserve it. Just please be aware that we would have liked you to apply to Booth and Kellogg last year, but you would not. You have misrepresented your experience with us.

This business is my life. I put my soul into it, and the success of our clients. I sincerely care, as do my advisors. I had no idea that you at any point were unsatisfied with your experience with us. Had you been why did you add three more schools, one at a time? As you know, at any point in time you could have reached out to me to talk about things, and I would have availed myself to you----as I did on many occasions after midnight when you called me on my cell, unscheduled. I answered 100% of the time and was happy to talk with you. On each of those calls, the topic revolved around you needing encouragement - to know we believed in you; not once in all of those hours of calls did you say that you were unhappy with our level of service. You in fact emphatically and repeatedly stated just the opposite.

Again, this review is disheartening, due to both its factual inaccuracy and your emotional perception of your experience with us. That said, we are thrilled that you will be heading to b-school later this year.
7 out of 7 people found the following review helpful
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     By Gioak88 0 0
This review is for: Square One Prep Premium Service

I am still reeling from the second denial notification I received from NYU Stern (which follows the rejection from Columbia just few weeks before) two weeks ago and as such, my dream of attending an MBA in NYC has been wiped out (at least for this year). Now, if I told you that I applied with a 650 GMAT score , you may say that I should have expected such an outcome. Fair enough. But what you may not know is that I hired the consultants of SOP Advisory service to help me through the application process. I fell for their wonderful website where they brag about their incredible, high admission success-rate for their clients as prospective MBA candidates. Unfortunately, I experienced that their service was not wonderful at all: I can't know whether my poor GMAT score was the deal breaker in my application, but I can definitely say that the SOP ambition, to make your application as strong as possible and make up for other weaknesses in your profile, (among others a low GMAT score, it is one of first mentioned...take a look at their website under the most common application challenges list) has totally failed.

On top of this, every time I sounded the consultants out on any advice, I was treated with haughtiness and talked down to, both in the emails sent to me and during our Skype conversations. For example, I sent an email to my consultant last week saying that I has also been rejected from NYU and I am still waiting for his reply!!
On the other hand, the monthly payment reminders were sent like clockwork.

All in all my personal experience with SOP has been disastrous, not only for the very questionable service standard but also because of the poor customer care .
The service was very expensive and not value for money at all (LORs, essay and resume advisory for two business schools totaled 5,700 USD). Furthermore, the service should have included interview training as well. In the end I was rejected and did not benefit from the service. On top of this, I have never received even a partial refund from them.
I discourage future applicants to resort to this service: in hindsight I would never ever hire them!

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1 Commented by Squareoneprep on October 29, 2017
Gio, I am sorry that you failed to succeed with the process. You applied to only two programs. When we did your free consult on 6/22/2016, you explicitly said to me that you know you are taking a risk by applying to only two programs.

Your dream school was Stern, and before we started our work with you, we shared that Stern in particular is tightening up their GMAT requirements for international applicants based on what we could see empirically. Your verbal score on the GMAT was 32.; your quant score was 48. We did what we could to open your eyes to the fact that a 650 could be problematic; we also said we would do all we could with you to highlight all of your other strengths with the goal to mitigate the GMAT issue. We did do all we could. We worked heartily with you. Your advisor was extremely accessible to you, as was I. I got on several calls with you on my own. Additionally, I did calls with you and your advisor to ensure things were progressing and that we weren't making missteps. I also got on calls because we at times found it tough to compel you to take our advice. We appreciated that you had strong opinions about how you wanted to present yourself; we also were confused about why you would resist advice you were paying for. I saw that resistance when I reviewed the essays, which I reviewed 2-3 times, even getting involved with helping you re-select the topic for Columbia essay 3 because I simply did not find the topics you wanted to cover surprising or additive to your application. Your advisor cared deeply about your success and grew to care a great deal about you as a person, as did I. You were in fact one of our more memorable clients because of your effervescent personality. We did all we could to not only highlight that, but all of your other great metrics. With Stern, I have no doubt they liked you as a person - how could they not based on the video you crafted for your personal description essay? It was great, albeit long which we shared with you. That aside, the school has to believe that you are capable of excelling with the coursework and your verbal score gave them pause; it’s possible your quant did as well – in combination that is tough when you are applying at this level.

In terms of saying we were not accessible or that your advisor didn't have contact with you after Stern's rejection, that is factually untrue. Below is my email to you on 12/16/2016:

"How are you? I just reached out to James to get an update on your news from Stern and he shared that you were rejected from Stern as well. I am really sorry to learn that, especially after that powerful video you crafted for your personal description that, while long, was very effective. XXX said that you are now going to refocus on your GMAT to raise that to a 700+. We are here for you if you have other questions as you focus on GMAT prep. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us - XXX or me."

Your advisor knew what your next steps were because he was in touch with you. Further, in an earlier email to your advisor you explicitly said that you are sure the only reason you didn’t get the offer from Stern was due to your GMAT score – not our work with you.

We again are sorry that you failed with the process, and that you feel we failed you. We guided you with care and we there for you every step of the way - our phone logs, emails. and body of work with you illustrate that. We hope that with time, you will see that was the case. We understand that in the moment it can be very painful to get a rejection and that we are an easy target. We accept that. But we do not accept being factually misrepresented when we did for you what we do for all our clients. You were in the 13%, and in your case, we actually know what went wrong – as did you – that is expressly why you told your advisor that you would be focusing on your GMAT to get your score up. To be frank, in most cases you don’t know why a client doesn’t get offers because that is how subjective the process is. We hope you got your GMAT score up and are now in business school.
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     By Jak75 5 0
This review is for: Square One Prep Premium Service
Consultant: Krasina Koleva

Coming from a non-traditional background, I knew that I would need guidance throughout the MBA admission process. I managed to prepare for the GMAT by myself, but I was clueless regarding the other pieces of the admission forms.

My salary as a civil servant meant I couldn’t afford the premium rate of admission consultancy firms. One day, I noticed that SOP offers a 3-schools free package for 2 applicants based on their need and merit. I ended up being one of the 2 lucky folks. To my knowledge, SOP is the only firm that does this.

I cannot begin to describe how valuable Kathryn and Krasina’s help has been to me. It wasn’t easy though; SOP pushed me further than I expected. My consultant’s advice was critical to my success. The introspection and the career narrative process made me ask myself the right questions. I never would never have been able to do this by myself. I believe that going through those steps with SOP will even help me in my future career!

On top of strategizing with me, SOP also made sure that my resume, essays and interview shine without sounding off. Thanks to SOP, I was admitted to Judge with merit scholarship and INSEAD.

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Thank you Square One Prep
November 24 | 2017
1 out of 1 people found the following review helpful
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     By anakin07 0 0
This review is for: Square One Prep Premium Service
Consultant: Melissa Chan

Given the time and monetary commitment that an MBA demands, I was very clear that I wanted to apply only to the top B-schools. After talking to 2 consultants, both of whom had suggested going with ‘safer’ options, I was a bit disappointed. The initial consultation with Kathryn stretched well beyond the designated time, during which she talked realistically about my case, yet reinforced my confidence in my application. I realized that with SOP’s help, I stood a chance at my target schools. She helped me come up with a strong strategy around which schools to apply to.
Melissa got on a 3-hour call with me to thoroughly understand my background. We then methodically brainstormed each element of my application – resume editing, building the career narrative, recommendation strategy. She helped me refine all parts of my application – with very quick turnaround times – which left me with a lot of time to work on my essays. She patiently guided me through the process (with each essay undergoing several iterations) and helped me transform facts and figures into interesting narratives. The several mocks Melissa and I did prior to my INSEAD interviews made the actual interview experience much smoother.
In the end, I secured a place at INSEAD – thanks to SOP!

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1 out of 1 people found the following review helpful
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     By lucky666 0 0
This review is for: Square One Prep Premium Service
Consultant: Kathryn Lucas

Summary in one sentence: without Kathryn my MBA application success would not be possible.
Before I started my MBA application with Kathryn, my target school was any of the S16 schools.
But at the end, I received Columbia Business School's admission!

I did research on many consultants and used their free consultation. Kathryn was the first one I contacted. During the 40 minutes of the consultation, she didn't waste even one minute talking about her or her company: every minute was spent on me, on MY case. She listened carefully when I talked about my background, career goals, target schools and so on, taking notes. And her immediate responses on my case were already deep and thoughtful. Most importantly she provided her truthful analysis without any hesitation, even I was not her client yet.

Later on, I contacted at least 5 other top rated consulting companies on gmatclub for free consultation, expecting the same kind of services as provided by Kathryn. However, none of those free consultations came even close. For some of them, they might spend the first 15-20 minutes talking about their "superb" services and then another 10-15 minutes asking about me. For one of them, the consultant was only selling their services for almost 30 minutes! And I had to interrupt to redirect the discussion to my case!

At the end, the choice was quite obvious. I contacted Kathryn again to use her service. When Kathryn asked me if I would use her or one of her consultants, I said "you" without any hesitation, although her price was quite a bit more expensive, because I knew she was the only one that I can trust 100%!

The choice proved to be absolutely correct and worth it. From the 3+-hour deep walk-through of experience, to resume editing, to essay brainstorming and editing, to recommendation strategy, to interview mocks, every single time, Kathryn was so professionally accurate, sharp and efficient, with great care and thorough understanding of my case. She made sure my story is complete and logically making sense, and I don't divert from it, especially in my interview. I think this focus made the core message much stronger to the admission officers and the interviewer, a key to our success.

At the end, I would like to thank her again. As I said, without her, CBS is not possible for me. And I would recommend her to any MBA applicants without any hesitation, as actually I already did to a couple of potential applicants in my real life.

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     By anon23 0 5
This review is for: Square One Prep Premium Service
Consultant: Collin Brady

After deciding to apply to b-school with less than a month before deadlines and with an extensive target list of schools, I quickly was overwhelmed with the application process. I reached out to Square One and from the initial consultation through each school's deadline, I was impressed with their ability to help me navigate this complicated journey. Kathryn and Collin provided honest and real feedback (with a quick turnaround at any hour), while consistently making sure that my application had a clear narrative that uniquely represented me. Their ability to help me connect a career trajectory that was disjointed along with their ability to push me to think past the superficial details of my experiences enabled me to not only grow personally, but also prepared me incredibly for business school. I could not have asked for a better partner and I highly recommend them.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review helpful
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     By shawnxu90 0 0
This review is for: Square One Prep Premium Service
Consultant: Kathryn Lucas

I hired Square One after doing due diligence on 6 different admissions consultants (Scott at Personal MBA Coach, Debbie at MBAMission, Judith at Fortuna were the other top contenders for me). I needed help telling my story in a concise way (public ivy, 5 years in consulting and tech, 3.4 GPA, 740 GMAT).

I'm happy to report that, with Square One's support, I was accepted into Wharton's Lauder program (MBA/MA International Studies joint degree). This is a program I've been dreaming about for the last 5 years, and they made it happen.

Before Square One, I actually started working with Stacey Blackman, who set me up with Paul, one of their veterans. The guy was totally unprepared for our first call - he was late, did not set an agenda, and was reading my resume for the first time as he rambled. I bailed after he completely missed our second call. Unforgivable at $300+ per hour.

Thankfully, Square One was another level of professionalism. I was set up with Josh, who was really patient and spent hours with me to refine my business school story.

Key areas that he excelled in, in order of importance - helped set up my recommenders so that their letters could thoughtfully add more to my story, completely reformatted my resume, and shared essays from a ton of previously successful admits to my top choice schools (inspired my own writing).

Key areas that he needed to improve - Josh wasn't a huge value add for my essays. Writing these are more of a personal journey anyway, but it would have been better to have his frequent input. Josh became less and less available as time went on, often taking days / up to a week to respond (when we started, we were in touch over text and he would have updates for me within literally seconds), as he had a side business that he worked on while advising me. When Kathryn got this feedback, she let Josh go. I then worked directly with Kathryn, the founder. She helped me get through the finish line, and she is by far the best admissions consultant I have worked with. Her insight on what's important to the schools really showed. If you have the chance, work with Kathryn.

One area that I went to someone else for - Judith at Fortuna ran an incredible mock interview for Wharton's Team-Based Discussion. Judith previously worked at the Wharton adcom, and it showed. A group of us jumped on a conference call, and walked through a real-life TBD facilitated by Judith. She gave us really solid individualized feedback after the fact. If I had not done this, I would not have had nearly the same confidence in the real TBD. Kathryn at Square One did not offer this service - I wish she did!

Final takeaways - I think the polish on my rec letter requests, resume, and interview prep all contributed to getting my acceptance letter. My advice is to spend a lot of time finding the right consultant who is backed with the right resources. I found that with Square One, and am pretty thankful for it.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review helpful
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     By MNKellogg 0 0
This review is for: Square One Prep Premium Service
Consultant: Kathryn Lucas

Prior to working with Square One Prep I interviewed numerous other consultancies and went with SOP as it was clear that it was the best place to get the most individualized advice to get into my dream schools. I cannot reaffirm strongly enough that my initial rationale was validated after working with the SOP team. I worked numerous hours hand-in-hand with both my consultant and Kathryn herself. This includes spending hours on the phone with Kathryn from my hotel in Evanston the night prior to my interview with Kellogg. I can unequivocally say that working with Kathryn helped me open the doors to getting into my dream school. I received such tailored advice to highlight the uniqueness of my qualities despite coming from an overrepresented demographic. I was pushed to soul search and write truly genuine essays that actually helped me progress personally, in addition to getting into Kellogg.

Key takeaways:

I had subpar performance on my GMAT and was able to get into Kellogg despite the unflattering score. Kathryn helped me articulate my unique story in such a way that adcoms were able to look past my GMAT score to see the valuable addition that I would be to their class and their alumni base.

I was waitlisted originally yet, once again, Kathryn gave me the insight to navigate the process from everything to writing follow-up correspondence with the admissions department to getting additional and follow-up recommendations. Had it not been for her guidance, I am confident that I would have made missteps that could have resulted in me not getting off of the waitlist.

I cannot recommend a partner to help you navigate the entire process from resume construction through waitlist follow-ups more strongly than Square One Prep.

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Highly Recommend!
July 13 | 2017
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     By kravi19 0 0
This review is for: Square One Prep Premium Service
Consultant: Kunal Moudgil

I shopped around quite a bit before choosing SOP and working with Kathryn and Kunal, and I am 100% sure I made the right choice. Thanks to them, I got interviews at all 5 schools I applied to (HBS, Stanford, Wharton, Booth, Haas), and I got into 3 of them (Wharton, Booth, Haas)!

Some highlights about my experience:
- Going in, I did not really have a clue about why I wanted to pursue an MBA, or what I wanted to do longterm. Kunal and Kathryn took an incredible amount of time to get to know my story - personally and professionally - and helped me brainstorm in order to get to fundamental truths about myself and what I was passionate about. This then led to a much more compelling story I could tell in my application, with pride and authenticity.

- Kathryn planned a thorough schedule and really helped me stay on track so that I would not be scrambling last minute to submit applications. As someone who is a compulsive procrastinator, I was particularly impressed by how they were able to push me to meet their deadlines and make sure I wouldn't be overly stressed as the school deadlines approached.

- Kathryn and Kunal provided honest feedback on my essays throughout the process, and only signed off on something when they thought it was truly ready. In one case, I had to go through 7+ essay revisions before they were happy with the product, and that made me feel very confident in what I was submitting.

I highly recommend working with SOP - they helped transform my candidacy into one that was competitive for the top schools, and they helped me learn valuable insights about myself in the process!

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     By forrestwaierduo 0 0
This review is for: Square One Prep Premium Service
Consultant: Kathryn Lucas

Yale SOM!! I still can’t believe my dream has just come true!!

When I started thinking about my business school application, I knew the process was not going to easy. Fighting the battle yourself could be very intimating; therefore I decided to work with a consultant. I did weeks of research and due-diligence, calling more than 10 admissions consultant firms. I finally decided to work with Square One Prep! Starting from the first call, Kathryn is the only person that showed genuine care about my application. I felt confident like never before going into my application. Just by speaking with me for 30-40 minutes, she spotted highlights in my life/career and came up with a great theme for my application story.

Here are a few instances that show Kathryn and her team is unbelievably amazing:

1. Coming in with a fairly strong academic background, I thought I was not going to have any problems with the GMAT. Turns out that was not the case. I took the GMAT several times and the highest score that I could achieve was still about 40 points below the average at the schools that I wanted to apply to. While other firm consultants may advise you to go for a less competitive school, Kathryn encouraged me to still apply to my interested schools! Both Kathryn and Faryn worked with me to strengthen all other components of my application and minimize my weaknesses. At those extremely competitive schools, there is usually no room for errors. Kathryn reviewed everything Faryn and I created and definitely made sure that my applications were as perfect as they could be!

2. Waitlist Experience – Another wonderful experience with Square One Prep! Kathryn and her team never, never give up on you!! Kathryn, Faryn and I immediately jumped into action! There were hours spent with me during the 4 months of waitlist period for additional interest letters, and waitlist advice! Not once did I feel like they were giving up on me. I had submitted several various updates to the school and every single one was right on time, before the school conducts another waitlist reductions. Kathryn’s guidance on timing was just incredible! And the additional materials that I submitted were all high-quality (my admission confirms it). They really meant it when they said they are there to guide me to success. Their sole purpose is to help clients reach success, not to beat around the bush and try to earn more profit.

For business school applications absolutely go with Square One Prep!
In the years to come you will realize that it is one of the best decisions you have made for yourself!

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