|All Reviews > Square One Prep Reviews|
REVIEWER IDENTITY VERIFIED by school email address [?]
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.
750 Q51 V40
“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.
760 Q49 V45
Product Square One Prep Hourly Service
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!
710 Q49 V38
Product Square One Prep Hourly Service
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!
750 Q49 V44
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
Joined: Jan 05, 2016
690 Q48 V35
REVIEWER IDENTITY VERIFIED by score report [?]
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.
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.
740 Q50 V41
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.
720 Q48 V41
Square One Prep was far and away the best decision I made during my business school application process. I first reached out to Kathryn at the strong recommendation of two friends who had both been admitted to top schools. This, however, was before I was sure I even wanted to attend business school. The fact that I wasn't sure about applying did not stop her from spending a great deal of time with me walking through my background, the potential strengths and weaknesses of my application, and how we could potentially craft my story. Once we agreed to work together a few months later, nothing changed. The entire process was one in which she was always available (almost immediate e-mail response was typical) and willing to offer her blunt, yet much needed feedback. She knew when to really push you to dig deeper in crafting your essays and her help with interview preparation was invaluable. I was extremely impressed with how easy she made a difficult process feel due to her organization and encouragement. You could tell that she truly cared about helping you achieve your goals and that she would not let you rest until you put forth the best application possible. I am happy to say that I received admission to both Wharton and Columbia! The support and guidance she offered were critical in making that happen.
1. Committing to $5,000 investment through e-mail
Yes, we live in this high-tech modern e-commerce era but bank-wire $5,000 to someone you've never met? Really? I guess this is where everyone, including me, is hesitant and there are reviews - I've read like 500 reviews of different companies on gmat club - that says some consulting firms didn't live up to what was expected. When buying something as expensive as $100 on Amazon, people usually read the reviews to see if the product delivers and even then, the reviews are subjective by nature; from glass half-full and glass half-empty to glass no drinkable water. Unfortunately, based in Korea, I didn't know anyone who had used an US consulting service and I had to rely on reviews. Reviews on Square One prep really seemed to come from heart of applicants and after initiation calls with 5+ consulting services, I felt Square One prep really cared - I mean really - about the applicants and that they really enjoy doing this.
2. Structured guide from experience
I've gotten my GMAT and TOEFL score by July and realized there were tens of thousands of other applicants with similar scores. Applying to 6 b-schools for round 1 just seemed overwhelming and I wasn't sure if I could do it all. I leaned towards another firm because of web-based schedule and documents upload/download management system but e-mails proved to be a more efficient way with instant access through smartphones. I was worried if I was going to get enough "air-time" or structured guidance but Square One had set up their system from experience and delivered manageable packages at right timing to keep me focused and assured.
3. Hop on a call from e-mail exchanges
Sometimes, dialogue is the most efficient way to communicate and that's exactly what we did. The whole process is based on e-mail to keep track of where we were but Skype calls were always welcome; Square One prep asked that we talk on Skype for a few minutes when we had 3-4 e-mail exchanges in a short period of time, to remove any ambiguity. I don't remember how many times we had talked but I'm sure it was more than like 20. It was up to me if I wanted more calls.
4. Essay qualities depends on consultants not firms.
There isn't one super-consultant or super-firm that is the best in the world. It really depends on the chemistry between the applicant and the consultant. No one can say that their essay could not have been better if they had worked with another consultant/firm. I think my results speak for the quality of work with Square One prep.
5. Highest recommendation
I am most happy with my application results and I don't think I would be here without Square One prep. I would recommend Square One prep to my friends and family.