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Square One Prep Admissions Consulting Reviews
    Number of reviews [200]
    Average Rating:       (4.9/5)
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Square One Prep Premium Service [176]
    
Square One Prep Hourly Service [24]
    
 
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 fefonpe 0 0
This review is for: Square One Prep Premium Service
Consultant: Mary Huffmann

At least for me the search for an admissions consultant company was not easy. It’s not only a large financial commitment but also finding the right company can make a world of difference. I spoke to more than 10 firms and from the first time I talked with Kathryn from Square One Prep I felt they were completely different from the rest. I was looking for a personalized service that could cater to my specific needs and not a service that made me feel like I'm only one more. The individual attention I got from Square One Prep was exactly what I was looking for. My consultant, Mary, was always available even on odd hours and she also replied to all my e-mails quickly. I couldn't believe she never took more than 24 hours to correct something. This kind of treatment made a world of difference and allowed me to apply to 6 schools in only 2 months.

The entire application process with Square One Prep was simple and painless. You work closely with a consultant that is always there for you and then all your work is reviewed by Kathryn to get that high level, fresh perspective. This system generated positive results for me.

Another thing that I think is worth mentioning is the invaluable knowledge that having an American consultant brings. I’m from Brazil and I was in doubt if I should take a local consultant or an American one. Every interaction that I had with Square One Prep was seamless (probably even more productive than an in person meeting (you lose time with traffic, strict appointment times, etc…), Also, the knowledge that you get by having someone on the ground in America in direct contact with admissions, that knows the culture and what they want, is really precious.

In large part thanks to Square One Prep I got accepted in Columbia Business School, my first school choice. Thank you all!!!

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6 out of 6 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.
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     By Anonymous 0 0
This review is for: Square One Prep Premium Service
Consultant: Kathryn Lucas

I started the b-school application process thinking I knew exactly how I would need to craft my applications. I felt I was a competitive candidate, with a strong GMAT score and resume, and would be (at the very least) well-positioned in my applications to HBS and Stanford GSB. After just one or two sessions with Kathryn, I quickly learned how naïve I had been. Kathryn helped me from start to finish:
- Resume: Transform my resume from a corporate/professionally-oriented format to one that most effectively highlights my undergraduate/professional/extracurricular accomplishments and activities. With Kathryn’s help, I was able to better convey my experiences and their impact
- Personal Narrative: Critically think about what I wanted to get out of my business school experience before I started to even think about drafting my essays, so that I could have an honest, passionate, and compelling narrative to tell the admissions committees. Going into the process, I had a sense for what I wanted out of business school, but Kathryn constructively challenged me to refine that to make my application stronger
- Essays: Provide key feedback on my essays and a fresh point of view. After you read your own writing enough times, you can’t help but to lose some perspective. Kathryn’s honest and direct feedback style made for a highly value-add and time-efficient essay crafting process
- Interview Prep: Prepare for the interviews with mocks that gave me peace of mind that I was ready. After Kathryn has helped you refine your narrative through the resume/essay writing part of the process, the interview also just feels less ominous
I should add that I was also starting my application process relatively late and (to make things more complicated) was traveling internationally while preparing my HBS application. Despite these obstacles, Kathryn was extremely accommodating, moving things around on her own calendar to help me get it all done. We had about 10 days to do what normally required 30 – including resume creation, narrative development, and essay drafting. (Thank you again, Kathryn!)
I’m headed to HBS in the fall, and I’m very grateful to Kathryn for everything she did to help get me here. What is most special about working with Kathryn is the relationship you develop with her. She “pushes” / challenges you to tell your own story more effectively and provides feedback on how you present yourself – all of which go well beyond the b-school application process. I certainly feel that after working with Kathryn, I speak about my goals more confidently and better understand my own strengths/weaknesses.
Kathryn also played a critical role in my application to the joint degree program between Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School. Despite the different timelines for those school admissions processes, it was key that I emphasize my dual interests across all my applications, and Kathryn helped me do that effectively.

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     By Anonymous 4 2
This review is for: Square One Prep Premium Service
Consultant: Kathryn Lucas

“Wharton! Seriously?? Tuck? Come on. It only accepts a few Indians per class. These are super dream schools for you. Get Realistic. You are an Indian Engineer Male, Non – IIT background, Working as a Software Developer, and with only two years of experience under your belt. Thinking about any top school is insanity.
This is what I heard without fail from 8 admission consulting firms (in their 30 minutes sessions). I was extremely demoralized . Amongst the last two consulting sessions I had, one was with Kathryn, SOP. Honestly, their name wasn’t on the top half of my list. It didn’t even appear on the first two pages of Google Search for “MBA admission consultants”. Still, I went for the call, half-hearted and ready to listen to the same old advice.
To my surprise, it wasn’t the same. We talked for more than 2 hours in the free consultation call. We not only discussed my credentials, but even my interests and passions, and also my goals. Kathryn wasn’t impressed by my goals, but I was impressed by her knack for understanding my personality. She strongly urged me to scrap my goals because she didn’t find the right intent/motivation behind them. Not only that, going by my interests, initiatives, and personality, she suggested I research other possible career paths that I had never considered and didn’t think business schools would ever appreciate. To add to it, she agreed to connect a couple of weeks down the line to discuss the research she asked me to do. I wasn’t sure she would talk to me again given she’d already given me so much time and I was so hesitant to believe what she was saying. But she stayed in touch and two weeks later, we were on the phone again.
We talked for close to 7 hours before I officially started my consulting services with SOP. I was a little worried about the prices (the combo packages that other consulting services were also distracting because they were much cheaper than SOP). But no other company really cared about me or my success. SOP said they wouldn’t partner with me unless I went for goals that I actually felt passionate about and trusted them to guide me. Kathryn actually had to tell me more than once to stop distrusting her. She even told me to start with only a couple of schools, and only take other school packages, if needed. She didn’t upsell!. Further, even though I kept saying that i thought top schools were too risky, she encouraged me to believe in myself, and believe in SOP. So I did trust her when she suggested Wharton, my dream school that I had not had the guts to even mention I thought it was so far-fetched.
The brain-storming sessions before each essay, and then the following edits helped me put the best face to my story. I won’t deny, but at times, I lost hope of getting into a top b-School, possibly because the other consultants’ words kept haunting me, and because I kept looking at the LinkedIn profiles of selected candidates. They all had stellar professional and personal credentials. But Kathryn was always there to motivate and help me get back on track.
Eventually, we completed the application process. I received interview invites from a couple of Ivy Schools. Kathryn helped me prepare for them by taking mocks and advising on the tone, content, and length.
And voila! Fuqua, Tuck, and the school of my dreams Wharton presented me with their admission offers for their upcoming class.
My colleagues were pretty skeptical of me spending quite a few thousand dollars on admission consulting. I can say with confidence that it was well worth. I have recommended SOP to some of my friends, and they are already working with SOP for the upcoming rounds.
I would highly recommend SOP to any serious MBA aspirant who is looking for a compassionate, inspiring, and result-oriented admission consultants.
SOP’s application strategy, diligence, time management, and above all the genuine care for their clients are unusual. They made sure that “a non-IIT Indian IT male (largest cohort) with two years of experience.” got his dream B-School.

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     By Anonymous 0 0
This review is for: Square One Prep Hourly Service
Consultant: Mary Huffmann

I was skeptical coming into the MBA application process about hiring an application consultant. Applying to business school itself is expensive (test prep for GMAT/GRE, application fees, flights and hotels for visits to schools and maybe again for interviews). As an employee of a nonprofit organization, I didn't have $12,000 and oodles of Starwood points to throw at the process (a verbatim quote/estimate I received from another application consulting firm).

I also had smart, thoughtful friends who had volunteered to read draft, after draft, after draft, of essays.

So why did I choose Square One? After interviewing six of the top application consultants, Square One stood out from the pack for the following reasons:

1) My consultation phone call with Kathryn was nearly two hours long. Everywhere else, I talked to a salesperson who gave me exactly my 30 minutes, and no more. Kathryn had clear and specific advice for my application, answered all of my questions, and effectively challenged my strongly held notion that it wasn't worth working with a consultant who had not previously been an admissions officer.

2) Their pricing is very reasonable compared to all of the other companies. Kathryn worked with me to create an a la carte package that met my needs and my budget. I never felt upsold or the pressure to go "all in" on a single (or more) schools.

3) As someone who prides myself on my own expertise, it became clear that although there were not always "right" answers, some answers were more right than others. Only experts who had read hundreds of essays, built relationships with the adcoms, and/or had some experience on the inside could tell me how to put my best foot forward. Friends and family did also read my essays for authenticity, but my application strategy was developed by my consultant and me.

So what was my experience like? Again, focusing on the parts that were of particular value to me:

1) The resume re-write was extremely helpful. We captured the most important data and presented it in the most compelling way. A small but pertinent example: rather than list my titles as XXX Associate, YYY Manager, and ZZZ Director, Mary reformatted it to list the "level" first (Associate, XXX / Manager, YYY / Director, ZZZ). Like magic, my two promotions and increasing level of responsibility was suddenly immediately clear from a quick glance at the left hand column of my resume.

2) Mary stayed on top of me. I started the R1 process very early (in June), but struggled in the beginning to build momentum and get into my essay writing groove. But I knew that if I missed a deadline, I would have a polite email in my inbox from Mary checking in to see when she might get the next draft. Nothing like guilt/shame to motivate you to get those essay drafts in.

3) Mary and Kathryn helped connect the dots in my application. I had the GPA and GMAT score to be a contender for top ten programs, but as a nontraditional candidate with nontraditional reasons for wanting an MBA, presenting an application that allowed a reviewer to check as many boxes as possible was key. The two-step review process was helpful for winnowing out interesting but irrelevant information and making sure my application was intelligible to a reader who hadn't been in the trenches with me.

4) The mock interview was a lifesaver. Just getting a list of the 30 most common interview questions helped relieve my anxiety about being thrown a curve ball. Getting the feedback from Mary about what was thumbs up, thumbs middle, and thumbs down for my answers was also crucial.

So how did I do?

I suppose you could say I buried the lead here, but I was admitted to my top choice program - the 60 person dual degree MMM program at Kellogg - with a full tuition, $130,000 scholarship. In other words, a game changer that makes an MBA possible for a candidate like me.

And I couldn't have done it without Mary or Kathryn. So thank you to Square One Prep for seeing me through the first step of my MBA journey!

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Great Experience
January 06 | 2016
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     By Anonymous 4 5
This review is for: Square One Prep Hourly Service
Consultant: Mary Huffmann

I engaged Square One Prep for hourly services and could not be more thrilled with this decision! Kathryn and Mary were crucial to my acceptance into Chicago Booth and phenomenal to work with throughout the application process. There are a few key items that made my experience with Square One Prep truly fantastic.

Availability & Response Timing: Mary responded to my questions and provided advice 24/7. For example, within three days of my initial outreach to Kathryn for a consultation, Mary helped me revise my resume nearly 10 times. Her discipline and energy with these edits gave me a great sense of momentum and trust as I began to tackle my essays. Overall, I never waited for more than a day for her response or feedback, which is not the case with all MBA consulting firms.

Brainstorming Process: Mary was focused in her approach to fully getting to know me, helping me brainstorm my essay outlines, and eloquently crafting my narrative. The time we spent up front discussing my application holistically and the points I wanted to convey in my essays helped me work efficiently and get on the right track from the get-go. Furthermore, she was extremely knowledgeable about brand management, the industry I hope to transition into post-MBA. The insights she eagerly shared with me during the brainstorming process were valuable to my essays and in-person interview.

Editing: It was very impressive that Mary was able to provide two types of feedback depending on the task. There were times she provided me with very granular and hands-on editing, and other times when she provided me high-level guidance or advice to let me shift my focus in my own words. Throughout it all, her advice was extremely detailed and honest. She never hesitated to critique my work and had an awesome personality in the way she approached this. When I hit submit, I was confident that I had submitted the best application possible, thanks to Mary's advice and editing.

As a side note, Kathryn's hourly proposal was transparent and extremely accurate. I appreciated her honesty during my consultation and the additional perspectives she provided throughout the process. It was a great value add to have more than one expert's opinion and advice. I also really appreciated Mary's proactive approach reaching out to me on Booth's decision day to check in. It shows she genuinely cared about the outcome of my application and was my partner throughout.

I could not have asked for better consultants than Kathryn and Mary, and sincerely thank them for everything. They are the absolute best!

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Satisfied Square One Customer
January 06 | 2016
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     By Anonymous 0 0
This review is for: Square One Prep Premium Service
Consultant: Kathryn Lucas

Applying to business school is a tiring process, and one that doesn't have a clear beginning. I am sure many people were in the same position as I was; I hadn't gone through an application process in years and needed help figuring out where to begin. Which school applications should I pick up first? When should I begin my interview prep? Square One was incredibly helpful in finding the answers to these questions, and many others, which made this process seem manageable.

As I reflect back on my experience, the biggest benefit I got from both Mike and Kathryn was that they were not afraid to provide the hard truths. If you want a consultant who works like a "yes-man" than this isn't the group for you; instead Mike and Kathryn told me when I needed to think of a new approach to an essay, or if I needed to rethink my rationale for applying to a specific school. It was because of Square One that I truly got in touch with myself and my reasons for applying to B-school; in fact my initial discovery call with Mike was probably one of the most introspective experiences I've had over the past few years.

Having completed the application process, the biggest piece of advice I would offer to anyone thinking about applying to business school (whether they plan to use Square One or otherwise) is that you need to do what you can to eliminate the confounding factors that could become a reason you do not get admitted to a school. The worst thing you can do is misunderstand an essay question, or not prepare for a key moment in the interview, and then think about that for months afterwards. With Square One I was able to check all the preparation boxes -- they helped me get to the root of every question and the mock interview I conducted with Kathryn felt like a word for word facsimile of the real deal. Regardless of how my applications turned out I felt confident in what I had put forth, and this made all the differences as you play the waiting game prior to a decision.

I would happily recommend Square One to any aspiring business school attendees

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     By rascimkk 0 0
This review is for: Square One Prep Premium Service

For the sake of your future, please choose Square One Prep. Not only did I get admitted into London Business School but I also got a scholarship based on the strength of my application.

Square One won me over with the very first call I made. I had just attempted my GMAT and hadn’t scored well. To take advice, I talked to 3 other admission consulting companies but all of them felt uninterested in hearing my story. I felt I was being lured into a business deal with them. Kathryn was different though. My first call with her, before which I knew nothing about MBA applications, transformed into a prolonged discussion on the GMAT, MBA in general, schools, application procedures and timelines. And even though I felt certain I was going to consult with Square One, Kathryn also told me why some of her competitors were worth considering as well. She also introduced me to a brilliant GMAT tutor.

And how can I forget to mention Sarah? I am certain I would not have been successful without her. She worked wonders to turn my run of the mill application into something gilt edged. She guided me all along and worked tirelessly on my essays and resume, drafting and redrafting both till she was satisfied. She even went out of the way to make sure I met an application deadline. Sarah inspired confidence in me and tutored me during my interviews. She was always available even though we had a 10-hour time difference. I cannot thank her enough.

To sum it up, if you are seeking admission into your dream MBA programme, there is no one more bespoke, helpful, honest and sincere than the people at Square One Prep. Period.

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     By Anonymous 0 5
This review is for: Square One Prep Premium Service
Consultant: Erik Yazdani

I definitely love Square One Prep. Kathryn left a very good first impression when I first talked with her. During our first free consult, she responded to my request right away and answered all my questions attentively. I have called more that 5 consultants before but I got hooked with Square One Prep. Kathryn has proven to me that she values her clients' success on top of everything and that's very important to me. I have worked with two other MBA consultants last year and the experience with Square One Prep is totally different, better in all aspects. Not only did my consultant helped me figure out my strengths and goals, he also motivated and encouraged me to have more faith in myself. As someone from Asia, sometimes it is hard for me to see the good values in myself because the society here always push and expect me to do better. This makes it so much easier to undermine my own achievements. However, my consultant helps me to shine through my application. It's like he is able to see a pearl covered by the mud. He ensured that all my applications have a strong point and a consistency in all the applications (resume, essays, and short answers). I have not only been accepted to my dream school, I have also discovered more about myself, get more mature in the process, and improved my writing skills. Square One Prep definitely worth the effort and the money.

I highly recommend Square One Prep to anyone who wants to go the extra mile in pursuing his/her dream school.

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     By Anonymous 100 31
This review is for: Square One Prep Premium Service
Consultant: Michael Crosby

I had started building my story in December last year. During that story building phase, I spoke to more than 10 consultants both in the US and in India. Not one consultant appeared as enthusiastic and emphatic in their initial assessment as did Kathryn!

Although SOP's services sounded expensive because of the Rupee-USD exchange rate, I chose to work with them purely because of the confidence Kathryn exuded in my candidacy. In the hindsight, I can safely say that working with Square One Prep has been the best investment of my life till date!

I worked with Michael Crosby (Mike) on 4 applications. We selected the schools in a manner that provided me the most diverse coverage in terms of essay-types, thus enabling me to easily work on the remaining apps on my own. Mike's elaborate comments on each change made me learn new things every day. It was important because as an Indian candidate, I had little idea about how Americans think and perceive various sentences. I also learnt that GMAT sentence correction section is of little use when writing essays. The sentences in essays need to be short, comprehensible, seamless and logical. We spent close to a month on my first application, i.e. Kellogg, and I'm so glad we were able to convert it.

The best part about Mike was that he used to provide a brief commentary at the end of each review and encourage me to make the specific improvements myself. This method really helped me improve my writing style and grow in confidence as I moved from one essay to the other. The best thing I did was to approach Mike's assistance as a learning exercise, and not just as an engagement to finish 4 applications I signed up for. The result was that I converted 1 (Columbia) out of the 2 applications I wrote myself.

For the interviews, Kathryn provided me great insights into how to answer various questions. After the mock interview, she provided me specific inputs into what was good or bad about my responses, and how I could improve them. The confidence I got after incorporating her inputs was essential in helping me nail the 90 mins long Kellogg interview.

For Indian aspirants contemplating applying to the top US MBA programs, I would strongly recommend the services of SOP. Indian consultants, although less expensive, are not always able to provide you those cultural inputs that can be pivotal in the message you eventually convey. Among the US based Consultants, SOP led by Kathryn came across as the only one that genuinely cared for my success. I'm pretty sure that with SOP's services, a few thousand grands will soon appear to be a very small price for significantly lower stress and greater confidence because of the quality of your applications.

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