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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     By jrpo11 0 0
This review is for: Square One Prep Premium Service
Consultant: Joan Ronayne

I will begin by saying that I was accepted into each of the six schools to which I applied including Stanford, Harvard and Wharton. I was apprehensive about using an admissions consultant because of the cost and what I perceived as an impersonal formulaic approach. All of my fears we assuaged after I spoke with Kathryn, the founder of Square One Prep, for a free consultation and fully understood the value of the Square One Prep process. Kathryn was completely real with me about the difficult journey of achieving my goal of getting into a top business school with a lower than average GMAT score but she was encouraging and immediately able to pick up on my strengths versus peers.

For months I worked with my advisor, Joan, to dig deeper on my story and career goals. It was not an easy process. I worried about my narrative not being good enough, I cried when sharing personal stories and I spent a significant amount of time reworking my essays. During this entire period both Joan and Kathryn were there every step of the way, providing thoughtful feedback and getting back to me quickly so we could meet deadlines. Their advice and structured process was invaluable to ensuring I met deadlines for school applications and felt confident when hitting submit.

Ultimately, as I stated initially, I was accepted into all of the schools to which I applied. I received a $75,000 scholarship to Kellogg and $95,000 fellowship to Wharton. Schools were interested in me due to the strength of the applications that Square One helped me to hone despite my lower than average GMAT score. I am overjoyed to say that I will be attending my dream business school, Stanford, in the fall!

If you're considering Square One, do it! There is no better investment you can make in yourself and the process of getting into the business school that best fits you.

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Finally Admitted
January 31 | 2017
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     By ntnstrt 3 8
This review is for: Square One Prep Premium Service
Consultant: Kathryn Lucas

I have to say Kathryn is a gifted admission consultant. I was a re-applicant and she was referred by a friend. I had talked to other admission consultants too but Kathryn was totally beyond my expectation since the very first call. She is very professional and intelligent but at the same time very caring and encouraging too, a combination hard to find, especially in an admission consultant. During the whole process, rather than being just an advisor, she became a stakeholder in my success and with her guidance I was able to secure a fellowship of $40K. In my opinion, her most outstanding professional attribute is her ability to consistently refine and super-efficient turnaround time. Moreover, her detailed and thorough mock interviews prepared me to walk into any admissions interview with complete confidence. I must say that investing in a partnership with Square One Prep was without any doubt one of the best decisions I ever made. Without any doubt, I would recommend Kathryn to all my friends.

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January 24 | 2017
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     By MBAAdmitNYC 0 0
This review is for: Square One Prep Premium Service
Consultant: Joan Ronayne

When I embarked on this process, I wasn't even sure I had a shot at business school much less a top 10 program. So I knew I wanted a guide through the process. When I was looking for an admissions consultant to work with, I was impressed by Kathryn’s willingness to discuss my candidacy in detail, which was in stark contrast to other companies that rushed me off the phone after an impersonal fifteen minute conversation. I could tell that Kathryn not only believed in me, but wanted to ensure I aimed high. However, what really sold me on Square One Prep was my conversation with Joan, one of the company’s consultants. By the time I spoke with her I had spoken to many consultants about my b-school candidacy and received almost the exact same feedback on my strengths and weaknesses. However, Joan presented a unique point of view of my strengths and how I could market them that took even me by surprise.

Kathryn has put together a great set of tools for guiding b-school candidates through the process and knows when to jump into the process to inject her expertise. These tools and Kathryn and Joan’s expertise and support are what led me to be successful in an uncertain and anxiety-inducing process. They were willing to get on the phone with me whether I wanted advice on whether I should completely re-write my essay or how to deal with the stress of waiting for interview invitations.

Thus far, I have been accepted to two of the four schools I applied to (with a sizable scholarship at one), and am waiting on the decision from a final school. I know that I would not have been as successful in the process without Square One Prep, and for that, as well as Joan and Kathryn’s continued support and advice as I decide on a school, I am deeply grateful.

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     By jmjp 0 0
This review is for: Square One Prep Premium Service
Consultant: Katherine Hatter

I went with Square One Prep’s Comprehensive Service for the 5 schools I applied to, and, looking back, I honestly can’t imagine going through the process without their help.

When I was trying to decide which company to work with, I narrowed it down to Square One Prep and Stacy Blackman Consulting, mostly based on GMAT Club reviews. After my initial consultations, the unique selling point that stood out to me about SBC was the “insider” information they seemed to have through experienced and well-connected staff, while SOP gave off the impression of providing a very tight-knit and personalized experience. I ultimately decided on SOP because I realized that having someone who was more available to me and understood me on a deeper level would be more beneficial to me personally.

My consultant was Katherine Hatter, whom I chose for 3 reasons:
1. She had experience in my specific field (not that common), which meant she understood the things I dealt with and could help me utilize those in my application.
2. She was an alumna of one of my top choice schools.
3. She was extremely personable, and I felt comfortable talking to her on our intro call.
All of these reasons indeed ended up being important as we developed a great relationship. We also got into a good working cadence: I sent her a draft late at night, then she would send me her suggested edits and comments within 1-2 days (most times the very next day), then I would send her a new draft that night (and repeat). This was critical in completing applications for 5 schools in less than 2 months without sacrificing all the iterations that good essays require. I imagine this was possible due to the fact that I was Katherine’s only client at the time. While this may not be the case for everyone, SOP caps its consultants at 3 clients each, which is still lower than other companies (if I remember correctly, SBC’s max is 6).

Another huge plus of SOP’s comprehensive services is that the founder (Kathryn Lucas) reviews all your “final” drafts (“final” because she will provide feedback that you will then need to incorporate). She is extremely blunt in her written feedback, so be warned when you open up that first attachment from her. Some comments may come off a bit harsh but don’t take it too personally; she is passionate about her work and cares deeply about the success of her clients (something you’ll likely sense in your conversations with her). It is invaluable to have another set of eyes (and an experienced set, at that) on all the essays.

I applied to 5 of the M7 schools and was admitted to 4, all with scholarships (ranging from ~25% to 100% of tuition) – a result much, much better than I ever anticipated. Could I have had the same result without Square One Prep? Maybe. Who knows. Measuring the true effectiveness of admissions consultants is literally impossible. What I DO know that is that SOP helped me produce submissions that were much stronger than those I would have produced on my own and therefore enabled me to go through the application process with an increased chance of success. You can’t really ask for more than that.

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January 22 | 2017
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     By mbaaspirant456 0 0
This review is for: Square One Prep Premium Service
Consultant: Melissa Cha Estrella

After I finished my GMAT, I started the search for an admission consultant. I had no idea about the MBA process and knew no one who had been through this process to talk to. I first called another consulting firm. I was shocked when I had my first call with them - within 10 minutes of listening to my story, the person I spoke to suggested that I not apply for an MBA this year at all. As I was from a tech background with limited experience, the lady also strongly discouraged me from applying to any of the top 30 schools. Not one to give up - I pored over online reviews and found Square One Prep. What struck me first about Square One was that a lot of people had talked about how their first call with Kathryn was so different from their calls with other consultants. 

Not sure if I would be turned away, I set up a call with Kathryn. And it was nothing like I imagined - she listened patiently to my story. She showed genuine interest in me as a person beyond just my work profile and she was also confident that I should apply this year.  The best advice she gave me when I asked her doubtfully if I should apply to top schools was that I would never know if I didn't try. She spent over 2 hours talking to me to find out details about my story and encouraging me. 

At the end of the call, I was sure that choosing Square One was the right choice for me. Kathryn sent me the profiles of all the advisors I could work with and set up calls with 3 of the advisors whom I chose. After talking to all 3 of them, I decided to work with Melissa. She immediately connected and saw the story from my perspective. Right in that first call itself, she offered many suggestions to help me better distill my story.

We started out with the resume. With Melissa's insights and feedback, the engineer's resume I started out with slowly transformed. The technical jargon was gone - instead the resume very simply and clearly conveyed all the achievements and extracurriculars.  Once we had the resume nailed down - we went through my goals, working with Kathryn to come up with a strong career vision that aligned with my interest in switching to an entirely different industry. I had an idea about where I wanted to be but was unclear about the specific short and long term goals. Melissa and Kathryn gave a lot of industry specific insights and pointers to help me think through my goals. As for the essays, Melissa ensured that I was presenting the best points of my story relevant to each school. I lost track of the rewrites - we would go through as many drafts as it took me to nail the essay. One particular incident that comes to mind is the video essay we did for a school. Melissa went out of her way to share creative insights about lighting, camera set up, props and visuals. Her suggestions were invaluable - although this was the first time I was shooting a video, we had a perfect video ready to go in 3 days! At each step of this process, Kathryn reviewed all the final material and provided her suggestions for each school. It was wonderful to get valuable insights from 2 amazingly experienced people! Hence, when I hit the submit for each school, I was confident that this was the best I could put forward. 

Whether it was through the mock interviews and feedback or the encouraging emails, Melissa was with me through the entire process. What really touched me was the positivity she had - even when I received rejects she encouraged me to hold on till the end. Both Melissa and Kathryn were really invested in seeing me succeed more than anything - that really made a big difference! I ended up getting into a top 10 MBA program. This was beyond what I had expected! I am sure that I couldn't have done it without Melissa and Kathryn. I would strongly recommend their consulting services! 

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A Partnership Worth the Price
January 19 | 2017
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     By cerealseller 1 5
This review is for: Square One Prep Premium Service
Consultant: Sunny Edmunds

I started the MBA application process with little to no idea about my candidacy, what to write on essays, who I was going to ask for recommendations and what ways to interact with schools. I called several admission consulting firms for consultations, and felt each one was trying to discourage me from applying. They did nothing more than simply offer pre-packaged talking points and I did not see the value they would be adding. I was a younger applicant, and did not have a large network of friends or colleagues I could turn to for guidance.

That is when I came across Kathryn and Sunny at SOP.

They immediately worked to become deeply involved in my story, and helped personalize my approach to applying to business schools. They guided me from day one on how to approach my recommenders, how to interact with schools, how to craft a strong vision for my career and how to select topics for my essays that would set me apart. The reality with the business school application process is that it is extremely tiresome, long and complicated. SOP made sure I was extremely informed and knowledgeable about every step of the process, and they became my biggest support system while applying. My consultant, Sunny, knew my story with a ton of detail, and I felt she cared as much about met getting into a top business school as I did myself. I worked with them comprehensively on only one school - the toughest to get into (Stanford). But everything I learned in my conversations with Sunny proved critical in every essay, LOR, and each interview at all my other schools. I got into several: Haas, Ross, and Tuck. I couldn't be happier. I was very fortunate to find SOP, and highly recommend them to anyone who wants to succeed with this complicated process.

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January 19 | 2017
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     By toppukuma 0 5
This review is for: Square One Prep Premium Service
Consultant: Suyash Mishra

"I am a reapplicant. A few months after I received rejection letters, I still did not know how should I tackle my next applications. I contacted Square One Prep and a few other admission consultants to help me figure things out. Kathryn, SOP’s founder, responded to me right after I submitted the free consultation form on SOP’s website. It was the most insightful talk by far, compared to those with other consultants. Her advise during the free consultation was far beyond my expectations. She addressed all my concerns, told me how to address other concerns I'd not thought of, and made me confident to apply to business schools again. But they were expensive so I didn't move forward with them even though I wanted to.

Then Kathryn reached out to me a month later and told me that her firm was doing a Three Schools free competition - that it was tailored for people just like me who deserve the best shot at getting into a top school but may not have the money to pay for their level of service. I applied (was a very easy app) and was stunned when I was selected as one of the three winners.
We began with an agreement on our framework, schedule and school selection. Suyash was my advisor. He is also a top school MBA alumni , like Kathryn, so he is very knowledgeable about the process. He pushed me to draw a clear picture of my goals, which is one of the most important pieces in an application. In fact, he, Kathryn and I worked together on defining my career vision. We then went through numerous drafts of my resume and then essays for each school. Throughout the process, he pushed me to think more deeply about myself and turned that into content in the application. Kathryn also followed up the application and directly gave her comments on all the final works. As an international applicant, I also needed a lot of work to prepare for my business school interview. Suyash helped pointing out flaws and gave comments that greatly benefitted my interview prep. I had far more confidence in my application this year, compared to last year. As a result, I am going to my dream school Ross this fall.

I encouraged everyone who is seeking help from an admission consultant to contact SOP. Thank you SOP, Kathryn and Suyash for all the work. I couldn’t have done it without you."

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     By japco 43 8
This review is for: Square One Prep Premium Service
Consultant: Kunal Moudgil

“Sorry but top 10 schools are out of your league” – this what I heard every time I talked to an admission consultant until I found Square One Prep.

From the beginning I knew I would need some help with my applications. First, I have never written any essay in my life; the education system in my country was very focused on exams and tests rather than essays. Second, my extra curriculums where rather weak as students clubs did not exist at my university. Finally, I am not acquainted with any MBA alumnus or alumna meaning that I would be totally alone going through the whole process.

For some months I had a list of my top 3 dream schools on my mind – Berkeley, MIT and INSEAD. Before I chose SOP I talked with at least five different admission consultant companies including those big ones. They all told me that with my profile (an engineer, week extra curriculum, working in a startup) there is not a slightest chance getting into any of above mentioned schools. They were happy to work with me but if I choose schools from the top 30. Because I am not the youngest candidate I believed that only a top school will get me closer to my goals. Kathryn was the first and only person who really believed in me although she acknowledged that it would not be an easy ride.

I was offered four consultants to choose from, but after talking with Kunal, I felt chemistry between us. I was sure that with him I can’t fail! He was very devoted – on a few occasions he called me at midnight his time, due to time difference. When many other consultancy companies offer you up to four reviews of an essay Kunal went thru some of my papers over ten times. He was not only an advisor but also a mentor for me and he was as much involved into the whole application process as I was.

Honestly, I never thought I would have a privilege of choosing between Berkeley and MIT. Thanks to Kunal, Kathryn and Square One Prep team I was admitted to both of them.

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1 Commented by Dec.dream on January 25, 2017

What was your GMAT score and can you tell us about your work experience
Highly recommend!
January 16 | 2017
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     By pauc 11 6
This review is for: Square One Prep Premium Service
Consultant: Joan Centanno

When I started my MBA application journey, I was cognizant of the glaring weaknesses in my profile – my sub-3.00 GPA and seemingly disjointed work experience (experience in ~3 industries). I reached out to different consulting firms and had intro calls with a couple of senior consultants. My biggest observation is that the other firms are quick to lump you into a bucket based on your weaknesses. In my case, I was immediately advised at the start of our calls to aim for lower schools because of my background, without even giving me a chance to talk about my story.

Enter SOP – upon my intro call with Kathryn, I was very impressed by the fact that she gave me a chance to talk about my past experiences and why I wanted to do an MBA, before giving her expert assessment. She was very honest in telling me that certain schools may be a far “reach” for someone with my profile, but that my story had enough substance in it to get into some of the top programs I had selected. We identified a consultant (Joan) I would be comfortable working with, and mapped out a time table for the whole process. I had decided to engage their services quite late (a month before my first deadline), so I’m thankful their turnaround was quite fast. From fine-tuning my story (over 10 edits per essay!), to selecting my recommenders, identifying which achievements to disclose in my resume, and prepping for my interview, Joan and Kathryn made sure I included things that will help tell my story, and left out those that didn’t. All the hard work paid off. I got into my no. 1 choice, an M7 school, with a generous fellowship to boot!

I can’t recommend SOP highly enough. If you’re looking for a partner who will be as driven as you are to get into your dream program, who will look beyond the numbers and understand your personal motivations, reach out to SOP and get on an intro call with them. You won’t regret it!

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The game changer!
January 10 | 2017
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     By deute 0 0
This review is for: Square One Prep Premium Service
Consultant: Crystal Nwokorie

Reaching out to Square One Prep was without a doubt the best decision I made during my long and challenging MBA application journey.

I reached out to Kathryn months before I was ready to apply (I was actually still preparing for the gmat).She had helped a friend succeed the prior year, so she came highly recommended and didn't disappoint. She made herself available right away for a call , I told her that my dream school was Wharton and that I needed help. She honestly told me that I needed to improve my gmat score and even provided me with gmat prep tips!
I was not even committed to Square One Prep yet, but Kathryn freely offered advice and did check-up calls with fme or months. Once I got a decent score, the time to put my application together arrived, and I can tell you, Kathryn and Crystal were as committed as I was throughout the whole process. always available , rooting for me and helping me every step of the way. Without them I never would have crafted a career narrative that had such thoughtfulness, ambition, and honesty. I knew what I wanted to do generally. but I didn't know how to materialize my goals to help my home country using my background skills. With Kathryn and Crystal's help, I came up with the perfect solution. They pushed me to really dig deeper and introspect, not just with my narrative but with all aspects of my application.

When I got the interview invite , Kathryn and Crystal were there up until the night before the interview to tell me that Icould do it and help me prepare.

Today , i have been admitted to my dream school , Wharton-Lauder !!
It simply would not have happened without Square One Prep.

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