|All Reviews > Square One Prep Reviews|
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: Jun 12, 2017
Square One Prep was my secret weapon. Before working with them, I knew I wanted to aim high with a few reach MBA programs and Kathryn was brutally honest about what it would take to get there. 5 months later, I have received offers from all three programs I applied to, including my dream school and biggest stretch - LBS.
The entire Square One Prep team has been my rock throughout this process. Studying for the GRE, working full time and navigating the application process is not easy to do all at once, but they were there for me every step of the way and kept me on track. I cannot imagine embarking on this complex process without their guidance and expertise.
Additionally, their diverse list of advisors allowed me to find one that had a very similar background to me. She understood all the nuances of my non-traditional background and most importantly, how to leverage this to my advantage in all of my essays.
Thank you Square One Prep - LBS here I come!
Joined: Jan 15, 2020
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I cannot say enough about the Square One Prep team and the guidance they provided during what was a stressful application process. I was initially wary of working with a consultant on my application and thought I could do it on my own, however, after a recommendation from a friend, I decided to check SOP out. Kathryn was able to get on a call the same night the intro was made and spoke at length with me about my background and aspirations. It was clear from this first call she was trying to get to know me and honestly advise me on what made sense over just selling their services. From there, I had the option to choose to speak to any of the available consultants to see who I connected with most, which I found very helpful. I was also provided with an incredibly detailed 2-month plan for applying to the 4 schools I had in mind (all this over 3 days and before any payment was made).
Throughout the actual process, the team's level of engagement took me by surprise as they ensured I didn't miss a beat on any of the application work, despite my best efforts at procrastinating every step of the way. Most important to me was how invested the team was in helping craft a story and career narrative that was true to me. When they felt I was not fully engaged in the initial story I was building, they took extra time to take a step back and really help me self-reflect and get to the core of what I really wanted out of the MBA experience and in the years that followed.
I also want to give a special shout to Garry, my consultant, who was a pleasure to work with - from the multiple essay revisions to my countless questions to the interview guidance, I felt he was truly invested in my success as both a friend and mentor, and I really appreciate all the work and effort he put in for me during the process.
In the end, I got accepted to my top schools in HBS & Sloan, but can truly never imagine having been able to do so without the help of Kathryn, Garry and the SOP team. I'm thankful I chose to work with Square One and highly recommend it for anyone who is considering applying for an MBA.
Joined: May 30, 2019
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The SOP team’s guidance made my business school application process very smooth and gave me confidence at every turn.
Kathryn’s approach included a detailed calendar as well as regular check ins to ensure I was able to meet the tight timeline required.
I knew I was in good hands from the beginning when we began with a deep dive into my goals. The team probed into my past experiences and motivations and ultimately helped me craft a cohesive narrative that was the backbone of my application.
Lauren, my consultant, was incredibly prompt and her candid feedback on my essays was crucial to delivering a solid final product. Bailey, Wendy, and Kathryn each provided thoughtful advice in their respective areas of expertise. It was this full team approach the ensured I was in good hands.
I would recommend SOP to anyone!
Joined: Jul 04, 2018
I had calls with over 5 different companies and 15 consultants, but Square One Prep seemed the most thorough and detail-oriented company and they did not disappoint! With a below-average GMAT I got admitted into MIT Sloan and Wharton!
What surprised me the most about Square One Prep is the detailed methodology developed by Kathryn over many years - bringing in several experts like Wendy, the career expert, Bailey, who sets the pace of the work, Ram, my consultant and, of course, Kathryn herself, to get to know me and craft a strong and genuine story, focusing on what is relevant for business schools and leaving out the rest. The result was an application which I loved.
I mainly worked with Ram, for over 4 months, we had long phone calls and email exchanges during that period almost on a daily basis. Ram's quick-witted mentality and empathy allowed him to get to know me much better than anyone else has ever done in such a short time span. Those initial conversations for the Square One Prep assessment proved extremely valuable later in the process.
Over these 4 months, Ram helped me define my story and refine relevant content for each application to put together a compelling application. On some essays we made over 20 revisions and collaborated to refine my ideas and maintain my voice in the essays. He also conducted mock interviews over the phone and gave me tips that made me more confident with a business mindset that interviewers are looking for. He prepped me before the Wharton and Sloan interviews giving me tips from his extensive business experience. I walked into the interviews confidently and obviously did well.
His writing skills are superb; he is very eloquent and is able to express complex ideas in simple language. He is a tireless worker, expeditious and efficient, even when working with tight schedules. Ram does not need to prepare to do something; due to his broad experience, he can quickly understand any situation, and give the best advice on how strengthen a weakness or put an idea into words.
Ram and the Square One Prep process and team were the key to my success. Thank you!
Joined: Jan 05, 2020
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Working with SquareOne Prep was the best decision I made when it came to applying to business school. At first, I had my sights set on one particular school, but Kathryn and her team challenged me to research other schools which opened my eyes to other programs that were a better fit for me. One of my favorite parts of the process (although not at the time!) was developing my career narrative, where we literally spent a few weeks talking about what my different career paths could look like after graduating. Not only did this help me out during the application process, but it really helped me figure out what I was truly passionate about and why I wanted to get my MBA. Kathryn and my personal adviser, Yarden, helped me every step along the way and stuck with me even when me test scores came out much lower than we had originally hoped. I had an uphill battle applying to competitive schools with such low test scores, so we really made sure everything else on my application was flawless. Through the ups and downs of the MBA application process, I am truly thankful for all of SquareOne Prep's help and would not be in the position I am today had it not been for them.
Joined: Jan 04, 2020
I chose SOP because it was highly recommended by a personal friend and former client. When I started, I didn't have a strong reason for getting an MBA. Through their introspective approach, they pushed me and challenged me to bring my application to life. The entire mindset of my application changed. I started out as a CPA with little direction or understanding of what set me apart from other applicants. I eventually understood my own personal "assets" and how I was going to get the attention of adcoms. With SOP's help, I was able to craft a rock solid narrative of how I was going to use my CPA experience to make an impact in the manufacturing/operations space. By the end, they helped me place the strongest version of myself in front of admissions committees. I'm glad I trusted my friend and SOP.
Joined: Jan 03, 2020
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As my current job is very demanding and requires travel in short notice, I was thinking to hire an admissions consultant to help with the notoriously daunting MBA application process in Round 1 2020. At first, I was very skeptical about engaging a consultant as I was told no one cares more about my application success than myself. However, my SOP experience proved it wrong as client-centricity and professionalism is manifested in every step of the firm’s service. I couldn’t have received the three M7 offers without the unreserved help from SOP team!
I started due diligence on 20+ consulting firms in July after finishing GMAT exam. SOP founder Kathryn is the first I spoke to. She not only assessed my profile with candid opinion, but also helped me reflect deeply. I was uncertain about my application readiness, but I felt confident and deeply committed to pursuing an MBA degree in a top school after the call. This confidence seeded by Kathryn is key to persevere the 5-month intense process. All the free consultations I had later with other firms did not match the bar she set.
I signed with SOP right after speaking with my consultant Iris Tian, an intelligent, thoughtful and patient lady. She agreed to keep open communication and promised to push me to my limits, the very things I needed from a consultant. I can say she more than delivered that promise as she turned out to understand me even more than myself at the end of the partnership. Despite 12/13-hour time zone difference, Iris is always available for me via email/WhatsApp/call and accommodates my ever-changing work and travel schedule. As I applied for 7 schools in Round 1, deadlines are approaching at around the same time, but Iris was able to deliver with consistently high standard of quality, sometimes even with several hours of notice and I feel sorry for that (e.g. I sent her a draft before going to bed in Asia time, and received her mark ups before I went to work the next day morning so that we can send to Kathryn for leadership review before finalizing to meet the application deadline in 2 days).
What also set SOP apart is that I got a whole team to support me throughout the challenging yet rewarding journey. Apart from Iris, Kathryn gives candida advice at all critical moments to help me make important decisions and controls quality of all key deliverables. Wendy, the career narrative consultant, weaves my broken thoughts into a compelling career story that I leveraged to convince every school I applied for. Bailey, Chief of Staff, not only arranged logistics in the most organized manner, but also promptly addressed my random application questions to give me peace of mind. It is the unparalleled teamwork that underpins my application success. I sincerely appreciate the partnership with SOP and would genuinely recommend it to anyone who is at square one with applying for his or her dream schools!
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: Jan 02, 2020
I can't say enough about how much I enjoyed my Square One experience. Before I started working with S1, I didn't think I had a realistic shot at any of the MBAs inside the top 25. Kathryn encouraged me to think and dream bigger, and ultimately convinced me that top 10 programs were well within reach. Kathryn and her team (a big thank you to Bailey for keeping me on track and Wendy for helping me with my career narrative) did an amazing job of working hand-in-hand with me to make sure I found a coach (Annie) that was a perfect fit for my background and admissions goals. Annie pushed me every day to craft essays and personal stories that helped me stand out during the admissions process, and made sure I was 110% prepared for my in-person interviews. Even if I had been rejected by all of my schools, the journey of thinking critically about my future and my career would have been well worth the investment. To end up getting accepted to Ross and Michigan SEAS with a $10k scholarship is more than I could have hoped for going into this process. To anyone who is doubting their chances of attending a competitive MBA program or unsure about working with S1, my success proves that the S1 team can make miracles happen!