|All Reviews > Square One Prep 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: May 09, 2020
There is simply no way I would be going to Wharton or have had my choice between there and Sloan, Kellogg, Tuck, etc. without using Square One Prep. I actually started my process pretty confused about what type of graduate program to even apply for or what career path made sense for me. If not for my first free consultation call with Kathryn, where she listened to my story and my confusion about what my next step should be, I would have never been pointed in the right direction or realized how much business school made sense for me. Square One came highly recommended to me by two previous clients, and I am so grateful that I took their advice!
Once I signed on with Square One, I had my choice of excellent advisors and chose Rahul, who was there with me every step of the way. We’d talk through all the ideas I had for different essays before I began writing, where he’d work with me for as long as it took to figure out which direction made the most sense and how to craft that specific story for each individual school. He then helped me through the many drafts of each essay, quickly giving substantial constructive and detailed feedback, which resulted in strong essays that I could truly be proud of. He was incredibly helpful with my interview prep, drawing on experiences I had mentioned in essays or on the phone with him to help me think of specific answers to questions and providing me with detailed personalized advice. I felt totally confident in Rahul’s ability to make my applications as strong as possible (and clearly it worked!).
A big part of the process was first figuring out my career narrative – the story of what I want to do in the near-term and long-term and why, and where business school fits in that. As mentioned, I was confused at the start of my application process – I mean, TRULY all over the place with figuring out what I wanted to do next in my career. Over numerous calls with Wendy and the team, where I was always met with patience and provoking questions guiding me towards a more and more clear story, we crafted my narrative. This was crucial for the application process, but it was also personally and professionally so valuable.
With Square One, you are going to get always attentive, incredibly personalized advice, no matter where you are in the process, how many questions you ask, or how many drafts you need to go through to get to the final best version. Bailey will keep you on track with a very detailed schedule, helping to make an overwhelming large process become manageable and attainable. I thought top 10 schools would be just a pipe dream for me, coming from a science background without a stellar GRE score, but with the endless wisdom and encouragement from Kathryn and her team, I got into numerous top schools with some humbling scholarship options. Make this investment in yourself and your future – it will pay off!!!!
Joined: Apr 17, 2018
I started engaging with a number of admissions consultants a year before applying. After completing numerous 30min consultations it became evident that Kathryn and her team were the way to go. As others have mentioned, there was a degree of honesty from the get-go but what really set SOP apart for me was their willingness to leverage their expertise and impart advice before any payments were made. My initial call with Kathryn was scheduled for 30min but lasted over an hour, during which she engaged with me as if I was a client already - providing feedback and suggestions for improving my profile in the year I had before applying. When asking other consultants what I could do to better my profile, they all pitched me on some early bird package or mentioned they would be happy to provide such advise once I signed up/ paid the fee. This demonstrated the values with which SOP operated with.
Fast forward to R1: I took a four school package and was admitted to a T10; rejected after interviewing at an M7 and outright rejected at two other M7's. The quality of my application; the resume, essays, recommendations and overall narrative/ story (not to be discounted as this was crucial in the interviews) was well above what I could have crafted on my own. At the outset I definitely had my doubts given the price point of these services but in hindsight it was definitely worth it. Everyone is in a unique situation and should reflect on where they stand and what resources they have at their disposable;. For me I was an ORM coming from Finance with a 720 and a okay undergrad record, I had no close friends or family members who went through the process/ whom I could rely upon heavily. A few friends/ colleagues were attending my target schools and were great resources for learning about the programs/ culture but their time was limited for reviewing and revising materials. I knew I was also an absolutely horrible writer. As such - I believed I could greatly benefit from these services and I did.
What I liked most about working with SOP was 1. The structure 2. The Team. Starting with the structure - SOP has a well defined process that starts with a series of conversations to learn about you as a person i.e. goals, interests, career, background etc. This then evolves into a spreadsheet/ evaluation of your candidacy, with strengths and weaknesses laid out from the get--go. This is followed by career narrative development (again all written and revised numerous times by you, Kathryn, your consultant and the career narrative coach/ expert). Then comes the resume and the and recommendations and THEN each school's application/ essays. All the written materials that were actually submitted were revised 10-15 times. Second is the Team - it's not just you and your individual consultant going through the whole process. The leadership team reviews all final materials and will also make multiple revisions. This is valuable because your work doesn't just reflect the opinion/ thoughts of one person but a group of experienced individuals.
The guidance and support they provided throughout the process was also invaluable - outside of the main process Kathryn and her team were always available to talk. For me this included discussing a potential job change and how that might impact my application, dealing with rejections, strategizing about a potential R2 effort .
Joined: May 07, 2020
Yes, people can and have done the application process without consultants. But SOP’s timeline driven approach broke down this stressful process and gave me the confidence to complete high-quality applications on time. I fully utilized each day for application creation instead of worrying that I missed a step or getting distracted by life. I strongly recommend working with the SOP team with at least a portion of the schools you plan to apply to. I decided to do less than half of my schools with SOP, and they were mindful of this during the process. I never had to obscure my complete application plans from them because they cared that I had enough time to craft high quality applications. In fact, Krasina and Kathryn worked to complete portions of my application sooner so that I could apply them independently to applications that were not with SOP.
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: Mar 13, 2018
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Right from the start of my experience with Square One, I loved having the ability to talk with multiple different day-to-day advisors on the phone and then choose which one I felt most comfortable moving forward with. It made me feel in control of the whole process. But I was also surprised (in a good way!) of just how hands-on the leadership team is from the first day all the way through application submissions. I was nervous at first about using an application consultant because I knew that I would be traveling and moving across many different time zones during this application process. However, the team was amazing at creating a detailed schedule that worked around my constraints and allowed plenty of time for feedback and many iterations on all of my application components.
Coming from a non-traditional background, the team at Square One first went above and beyond to help me wrap my head around my own career goals (both long-term and short-term). They did not let me get away with being vague, acting as a forcing function for me to reach out to people and do real research about roles and industries that I would actually enjoy being involved with. From here, also with their help, we were able to craft a detailed and compelling narrative that would be the driving force for both my application essays and my interviews. As my recommender choices were also slightly non-traditional, I was able to use Square One (and their resources) to provide these recommenders with all the information they needed to write clear, interesting, and honest recommendation letters for my schools. This was especially useful given the fact that every school I applied to had different requirements for these letters
After I got into multiple of my desired schools, Kathryn even took the time to help talk through this decision with me on the phone so in order to get an additional perspective beyond talking to current students! Overall, I think Square One did a phenomenal job of challenging me on things that needed to be challenged while also being accepting of my individuality and respecting the things that I felt passionately about. Instead of them using a template to tell me what to say or write, we were partners throughout my experience
Joined: Apr 24, 2020
As a white male working in finance, I was nothing new or interesting to top business school admissions committees, or so I thought. Kathryn and her team at Square One Prep helped me craft an application narrative that was unique to me, which resulted in getting me accepted to my first choice: Columbia Business School. I firmly believe that without the SOP team's guidance, support, and encouragement there would have been little chance of success.
The SOP process has been refined over several years and the results speak for themselves. SOP's plan is tailored to each client in order to produce your optimal application. To put it simply, if you are going to use an admissions consultant, you are doing yourself a great disservice by choosing anyone but the SOP team.
Joined: Apr 18, 2020
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Square One Prep offers a dedicated and personalized support to help you identify your career goals and build a plan to identify and get into the schools that will help you achieve these goals.
I was particularly busy during my application process and my SOP team helped me navigate conflicting priorities between work, pro bono and exam prep. My team was available 24/7 for me when I needed to re-adjust my timeline and set a path forward to meet my application deadlines.
Without SOP’s support, I doubt I would have been able to navigate through the application process in time and have such and amazing outcome – I got into my dream schools with scholarships!
Joined: Dec 17, 2019
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My experience with Sq1P was shaped by the fact that I was reapplying. Before I started to work with Sq1P team my aim was to apply to HBS and GSB only. Thanks to Sq1P I understood how complex and difficult the application process was and that in fact I didn’t realize this. I think that the most important recommendation I personally received from Sq1P was to reshape my list of targeted schools.
Sq1P team helped me to build my application, one piece after another. We started with detailed analysis of my career and personality which later helped us to create consistent application. Working with their team was a pleasure – they were very responsive, providing me their support for 24/7 and flexible as they always were ready to fit to my schedule.
Sq1P presents open communication. They simply tell you what they think, as they truly believe that’s the only way to help you craft outstanding application. This truth is not always easy and comfortable, but that’s the way it is. Sq1P will push you to think harder than you think but deliver results. After they helped me prepare my written application they spend enough time preparing me to my interview. I think around 90% of questions were repeated during my interview what proofs their knowledge and experience with recruitment processes to the most important MBA programs.