|All Reviews > Square One Prep Reviews|
Joined: Apr 30, 2013
In spring 2014 I was looking to apply to business school. I knew I was getting a late start and applying in late rounds, but I thought I was ready. Since I'm an international applicant, I decided to work with an admission consultant in order to help me with the twists of the process and to polish my resume and essays. I came across Square One Prep. They offered a free consultation, so I decided to take the opportunity and talked with Kathryn Lucas. The call lasted almost 1h30, during which Kathryn tried to understand my personality, my professional experience, my goals and my target schools. In addition we also discussed my GMAT score, which was in the low 600s. Surprisingly, after a 2nd call - also free, she suggested I retake the GMAT and target the 1st round of application for the following year instead. Even though hearing that advice was tough, it increased my confidence in Square One Prep, because it showed that they were interested in my success and not just in my money.
Following Kathryn’s recommendation, I retook the GMAT but I didn't manage to increase my score. Regardless, we decided to build a strong application and apply. I was paired with Manisha Shahane from Square One Prep as my admission consultant. Manisha helped me recall stories and actions from my childhood, which really helped me understand my personal journey. This was so crucial when it came to writing the essays. As a result we put together essays that were reflective of my personality and more importantly that told my own story with my own voice. In addition Manisha was so thorough and detail oriented that we needed seven drafts in order to come up with the final version of my resume.
After several months of hard work, I applied to three schools. As a result, I have been admitted to one of the three to which I applied. I have also been waitlisted by the others.
I essentially attribute my admission to Square One Prep. Their support, patience and knowledge of the twists of the admission process were tremendously valuable. I highly recommend Square One Prep for everyone looking to succeed with this process.
Joined: Apr 26, 2016
REVIEWER IDENTITY VERIFIED by school email address [?]
When I first started thinking about business school applications, I remember scoffing at the idea of hiring a consultant - shouldn't these schools see the real me and accept me based on that? Now that I've worked with Kathryn and received admission to my top choice schools, HBS and GSB, I am immensely grateful and relieved that I hired her as a consultant. The problem with these applications is that there is limited space to convey who you are and Kathryn, with her special ability to discover the depth of your personality and years of experience with what these schools are looking for, is an expert at helping you craft together an application that conveys who you are and why you are interesting. I come from a "traditional finance" background and studied business as an undergrad, so I naturally felt that my deficiency was not being unique enough. However, in my first session with Kathryn, she spent over 4 hours simply getting to know me beyond just the resume and it became clear to her that there was more than just meets the eye. She has a great memory and takes detailed notes, and I felt comfortable getting advice from someone who I felt had truly gotten to know me as a person. She thinks about how every piece of the application, from the resume to the essay to the letters of rec, reveals a different side of you yet fits together. I had written a draft of an essay before I decided to hire a consultant and the difference between the before and after versions were startling: my before version was bland and impersonal and repeated professional accomplishments that were already mentioned in my resume. Thank goodness I found Kathryn who put me on the right track! She was also always available and would respond quickly, something I really appreciated during this stressful process when miscellaneous questions would frequently pop up. I am deeply grateful for Kathryn's help and would highly recommend her as a consultant.
Joined: Apr 25, 2016
Working with Square One Prep and Kathryn was a game changer. As a typical ‘investment banker’ with limited extracurricular and community involvement, I knew it would be difficult to distinguish myself from the many other applicants with similar backgrounds. Square One Prep took the time to understand my background, develop my story, and guide me through the process from beginning to end. Their unique approach and unwavering support helped me complete 8 applications in just a month! The results speak for themselves – multiple acceptances at top 15 schools and in at my dream school and first choice, Fuqua! Thank you Square One Prep!
Joined: Oct 09, 2015
720 Q44 V44
REVIEWER IDENTITY VERIFIED by score report [?]
Square One Prep was an invaluable resource in my getting into my top choice MBA program, and securing a scholarship. Specifically, Kathryn, helped me from day 1, with crafting my story, editing my essays and preparing packages for my letters of recommendation. She provided not only excellent insight and tips on how to approach each school, but more importantly, much needed structure and discipline into approaching the (quite hectic) application process! She is extremely dedicated with her clients and through a busy Round 1 process and a shoulder surgery(!), she never let me feel like she wasn't always there to help with my questions and edits. She was extremely helpful in honing in on my strengths and weaknesses as an applicant and how to best present them in my applications.
In short, I couldn't have done it without Kathryn, and I have and will continue to refer her to anyone applying to business school!
Joined: Jun 28, 2015
If you thought the GMATs were tough, think again. The application process will push you, make you doubt your dreams, despise word limits, and feel unprepared to compete against thousands of other equally qualified candidates.
This is where Square One prep comes in. I’ve gone through 8 free consultations and didn’t feel confident with any of the other companies selling this “service”…that is until I spoke with Kathryn. Her passion to see me succeed was authentic as well as her desire to go above and beyond. While other companies were prompt to end the free 30-minute call, Kathryn and I must have spoken for over an hour.
My partner, as this is a partnership, Sarah was a key factor in my success. Don’t let her sweet personality fool you. I quickly found out that she’s surgical with her words and will push you and make sure that your “story” makes sense. She was always there to answer all my questions, most of them likely silly and trivial as I had no experience in applying to graduate schools. But she patiently guided me throughout the process to ensure that I don’t make mistakes – mistakes I would’ve definitely made without her.
Speaking of “stories”, I think this is one of the most important aspects of this process. Applying to school isn’t just about trying to impress the adcom with what they want to hear. This process, or rather journey actually should help you clearly define your goals, realistically, and put them into words so that others can understand them. Without Sarah, I’m not sure if I could’ve realized my own unique “story” to share with the adcom and now, with my future classmates.
In the end, I ended the first step of my journey getting into one of my top choices.
Request you to please drop me at email@example.com or share your details so that we can connect regarding the admission counseling for my profile.
Joined: May 01, 2016
Coming from a smaller firm in finance where there is not a structured program after which many participants every year apply to business school, SOP and specifically Kathryn Lucas provided me necessary structure to my application process and invaluable insight into what admission committees at the schools I applied to look for in applicants. After introductory calls, SOP provides you with a detailed schedule of how long your application writing process will take, including specific resume/essay deadlines for brainstorm sessions, reviews and final draft submissions by school. Words can’t describe how helpful this was especially when working a full time job that takes up most hours of the day.
Apart from keeping me on track with deadlines, the advice and recommendations SOP gave regarding my essays and overall ‘story’ were fantastic. There are so many different aspects I learned about myself that I wouldn’t have thought of before the brainstorm sessions with Kathryn, let alone things I would write in an essay! That being said, perhaps the most valuable part of working with SOP to me was the interview prep. Kathryn is an unforgiving interviewer who is great at imitating real scenarios and provides excellent feedback directly after mock interviews. Some of the vital interview advice Kathryn shared helped me narrow broad and meandering answers, generate an awareness of how fast I spoke at times and come up with a strategy if there were particular questions in my interview I couldn’t answer.
Overall, working with SOP met my expectations and was a great decision as I was accepted to my top choice! Some of the descriptions above may seem general, but it comes down to this -- if you want to put yourself in the best position to be accepted into top business schools, consider working with SOP.
Joined: Sep 12, 2015
740 Q50 V40
I initially researched various consultants during my MBA application process. With Kathryn and Square One, i felt a personal connection and genuine concern for my application that the others didn't really offer, and that sold me on Square One Prep.
She coached me throughout the process, ensuring that I find my inner voice and that I project myself as confidently as possible while providing pointers on how to improve my profile. Whenever I needed some tough love to keep me grounded and focused, she was there too. And finally if I had any urgent requirements or changes to my schedule, she managed to find a way to adjust to suit me.
Kathryn and Square One really do strive to make sure you put your best foot forward in the MBA application process and I eventually got into two top-5 schools!
Joined: May 10, 2016
740 Q51 V38
I picked Square One Prep among all once I decided to pursue MBA because it was highly spoken of among my friends. I was lucky to have the owner Kathryn’s help. She led me thinking about who I am, what I really want and what I would like to achieve clearly. She made great application plans for me beforehand when I targeted to apply for different schools in order to have at least one offer. We had successful cooperation thanks to Kathryn’s experience and her precious time. I got offer from several schools and I doubt any of it would be successfully achieved without Kathryn’s comments. Thank you! :)
Joined: May 01, 2016
600 Q46 V27
To give a best shot at Top business schools, I wanted to work with a MBA consultant who not only provides application advice but also provides strong time commitment to client. From the very first phone call (before hiring Square one prep) Kathryn Lucas spent a couple of hours on the phone to hear out my story unlike other MBA consulting firms which will give you only 30 minutes time slot for an initial phone call. I was immediately hooked to Square one Prep by this strong time commitment to clients, before they are even clients. This time commitment was there throughout my application process with Square one prep. I applied to Columbia and Yale and for both applications I worked with Sarah Caputo. Initially, I thought I had a good grasp of my profile and presentation for top business school applications but Sarah helped me realize that I had several gaps and shared her expertise to fill them. One of the things I liked about her was her quick responses to questions/essay edits. This made my application process faster and better. Throughout my application process I felt a strong commitment to excellence from Square One Prep. I strongly believe that without their help I would not have gotten into my choice of business school. Thank you for your awesome guidance!!
Joined: Nov 10, 2015
After I decided to attend a B-school and started to choose among the schools and opportunities, I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of information I received by talking to people. When I started the research, I knew the schools I wanted to apply to and I knew what my goals were but after talking to so many people...let's just say that I ended up worse than when I began. Honestly, I was confused and lost. That's when I decided I needed a consultant. I started to ask around and I was referred to a couple of them here in India. Very soon I realized they wouldn't be very helpful to me as I wanted more than school names and a goals list. I was looking for a personalized approach. Then I came across many US consultants (including Square One Prep) that offer 30 minute free consultations. To be honest, at that time I wasn't really looking to hire someone. Being a cost conscious Indian I thought their services were out of my range. I just wanted to run my profile with them during the 30 minute free call and get some information. I think the call with Kathryn was my third such free call. My agenda for the call was to come out with something that would help me finalize the school list and career goals.
The first thing I realized while talking to her was that she wasn't holding back any information. She was genuinely interested in my success rather than landing me as a client. Take school selection for example. While many consultants might push the clients to go for safer choices, Kathryn pushed me towards tougher ones. At the beginning of the call, I had Tuck, Darden, Kenan Flagler and Johnson in my list of choices. Kathryn convinced me to remove the last two from the list and change it to include Kellogg and Yale. Moreover while talking about school choices, she was looking beyond my resume. She was looking at the fit, not just rankings. I realized I finally found someone really interested in my success at the school, rather than just providing me a service.
I'd say I have a slightly unconventional profile. I have an engineering degree and I worked in O&G before making a career switch to Finance. At the time of applications, I had close to a year of experience in the industry. I was very confused about how I would convince adcoms about my career switch and to my post MBA goals (with my little experience in the industry). Kathryn took great interest in listening to my concerns and made my goals look presentable and simple to understand but strong enough to convey passion.
The call went for about 90 minutes (a good one hour beyond the free 30) and at the end of the call I told her I wanted to work with her. Given my financial status I worked with them only on Tuck application but that was still a very big decision for me to make. Even though I was working with them on only one application, in fact I received help for all the applications that I submitted. In hindsight, I made the right choice. I'll never have second thoughts about that.
Once I became their client, Kathryn quickly drew schedules and assigned me to one of her consultants Chi. Most of her team, including herself are Wharton MBA's. They are truly top class. The best part about Square One is that even though I worked mostly with Chi, it was not exclusive. Every part of material - Resume, Essays- has to go through Kathryn for final approval. That way I actually worked with the two of them. When I say two, it wasn't just for name sake that she has to approve the materials. I would find a hundred edits and comments from Kathryn every time she reviews an essay. That is one area where she can get really tough. She doesn't approve anything sub standard.
Moreover the brain storming sessions and other supportive materials (understanding my situation, Kathryn shared a lot of resources of the other schools I applied to) helped me comfortably manage my work and my applications easily in the very short time I had. Also, she understood my financial status and allowed me to make the payments in installments, a couple of them after the work was finished. Such is the trust she places in her clients. By the end of December, my Tuck essays probably went through 10-12 revisions and when I read them one last time before submitting, I knew I made the right choice. To prove it right, I received interview call from Tuck within a week. While I couldn't make it to Tuck, the brainstorming sessions and lots of supportive materials certainly helped me prepare for other interviews. Now I've received admission from Darden with a big scholarship and to say the least, I am sure without Kathryn and her team it wouldn't have been possible.
Long story short, I recommend Square one with all my heart.
One final tip: If you can work with Kathryn directly, don't think twice though she is a little expensive. Her team is really good, patient, kind, talented and all but Kathryn is simply exceptional.