|All Reviews > Square One Prep > Hourly Service Reviews|
Joined: Jan 15, 2015
710 Q50 V37
I first contacted Square One Prep, and specifically its owner, Kathryn, on the recommendation of a friend. I was initially skeptical as the fees seemed high especially considering that I am an Indian applicant. But after my first discussion with her, I knew, if I had to hire an admission consultant, it would have to be her. There were consultants who tell you what to write in your applications based on what you think the Adcom wants to hear (the polar opposite of what Kathryn told me to do)! Kathryn asked me to dive deep and think about why I really want to do a MBA and tell my story based on being authentic, real. She carefully listened and analyzed my profile to provide me a path ahead for my apps that actually aligned with my passions for what is happening with the automation revolution in manufacturing. Before I talked with Kathryn I was going with the "strategy consulting" angle that other consultants had told to go with even though I couldn't really create ties to my background or excitement about the direction.
Kathryn was encouraging and positive throughout my application process. The process is stressful enough and there were times I was apprehensive about proceeding ahead. But she was always just a call or mail away to support me when required.
But even after all this, I wasn't actually successful in my first attempt in R1. But she kept my hopes up even after that. She kept guiding me on my apps for R2 and constantly checking up on me. She even offered to look at several schools essays for free because she knew I couldn't afford her, but wanted me to have the best shot. She spent hours on my work - for free. My efforts and her dedication to my efforts and me finally paid off and I got into one of my target schools!
Her moral encouragement during my initial failed attempts kept my spirits up and helped me focus in R2. She went above her role as a consultant and rather acted as a guide. She made this incredibly exhausting process worth it. had she not helped me, I would not be heading to McDonough in the fall.
I suggest anyone thinking of hiring a consultant to just set-up an initial call with Kathryn and then...I trust that will be enough for you to know that Square One is not like other companies. You will find making your decision to work with them easy.
Joined: Dec 19, 2016
740 Q49 V42
The help that I received from Square One Prep transformed my application from mediocre to great in just a matter of weeks. I thought I had it covered, but minutes into my initial phone evaluation, it was clear that my application was disjointed and I lacked a vision. Immediately, Kathryn, put together an action plan outlining the steps that I needed to take to strengthen my overall application.
We started with my resume. When I look back at what I was planning on submitting to my dream school, it’s embarrassing. Not only did I lack the specificity needed to demonstrate the impact I had throughout college and my career, even the format was horrendous. Kathryn was able to share a large quantity of successful resumes (with personal information removed) so that I could understand what business schools expect. After a few revisions, my resume was ready for primetime.
She then proceeded to review my letters of recommendation and gave incredible advice on how my recommenders could make them even better. This was really critical for me because one of my recommenders had never written one before. While my recommendations highlighted that I would be a great candidate, at times the language and examples were not specific or powerful enough. She gave concrete feedback on where the letters needed to be reworked so that admissions officers could attain a better picture of my potential.
With the essays, she gave me the hard feedback on when I lacked a clear vision, was not using my authentic voice or went too far and no longer seemed practical. She also questioned whether some ideas were right for the questions I was asked to answer. Her guidance helped me be true to myself while answering the exact questions from the school.
Lastly, the interview prep was so helpful! She gave me a list of 50+ questions to practice with. After our mock phone call she provided the critical feedback I needed to hear so that I could knock the real interview out of the park. She also gave tips on how to handle certain situations should they arise on interview day.
I highly recommend Square One Prep for anyone who wants to put forth their best application. Even if you think you are covered (like I did), I have no doubt that they would take your application to the next level. Without their help I would not have gotten into my dream school (Stanford!).
Joined: Oct 15, 2016
730 Q50 V38
I started my round 1 prep very late - just 20 days before deadline. Although I had a lot of experiences to share, my biggest challenge was to put it in writing and weave a story out of them. More importantly I did not recognize that some of the experiences I had could be pitched in a very powerful way.
I wanted to apply to Booth and Haas in round 1. I called Kathryn to discuss which image to use for the Booth essay. She patiently listened me talk about my experiences for one hour and came up with a much better framework than what I had for the essay. We even selected a different image. I was fully convinced of the direction she gave me and started working on it. I couldn't give a lot of time for the essays as it was a very hectic period at the office. So I wrote a document that had almost 4000 words of various experiences. Nothing tied them together. Kathryn helped me greatly in editing the essay and making a sensible and convincing story. It's amazing how she internalized my entire life journey and brought out all the important elements and created a cohesive story, much better than I ever could.
Time zone difference is no barrier while working with Kathryn. I got a feeling that she was working all 24 hours.
After applying for Booth, I just had a week to prepare Haas. Unfortunately I fell sick and had to be hospitalized for 2 days. I was surprised by how much Kathryn understood my profile when I called her to discuss Haas essays 4 days before the deadline. She suggested the right stories to use even without me reminding her one bit about my background. Kathryn was as equally committed to my application as I was.
When I began working with her, I was apprehensive of the expensive pricing. But as I worked with Kathryn, I was fully confident that her output is worth every dollar spent. It was a pleasure working with her and I would eagerly recommend her to prospective MBA applicants.
Joined: Aug 12, 2014
I worked with Mary and Kathryn from Square One Prep on my application to MBA Class of 2018 at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. As an international applicant, I felt like I could need some professional advice on the whole application process. By the time I reached out to Kathryn from Square One Prep, I had already worked with other admissions consultants on my applications to Harvard, London Business School, and INSEAD. However, I was not completely satisfied with my experience, so I wanted to try Square One Prep for my last application - which was probably also the most critical one (and the one with the least chances of getting in).
Before officially starting to work with Square One Prep, I had several initial conversations with Kathryn, the founder herself, about my profile. Kathryn's perspective was extremely valuable and her approach was very different to other admissions consultants, many of whom had quickly given me their sales pitch and were lacking a personal note. It's hard to describe in words, but I felt like Kathryn actually cared about my success - and that made me want to work with her firm.
Based on my profile, I was given a choice of three consultants and chose to work with Mary and this has probably been the best decision I made in the whole application process. Mary is a great consultant and with her help, I was able to craft two extremely personal essays. If you're thinking of working with someone, I would definitely give Mary my highest recommendations, because she is genuinely interested in your story and really pushes you to show your personality in your essays.
Since I have worked with a total of 3 consultants from different firms, I can say with certainty that my experience with Square One Prep was by far the best. And even though I ended up getting into the other programs I applied to, I chose Stanford in the end. Thank you Kathryn and Mary for helping me along the way - and for genuinely believing in me throughout the process.
Joined: Mar 30, 2015
760 Q50 V42
I was looking for some help while reapplying after getting waitlisted/rejected at all the schools I applied to last year. I reached out to Kathryn, the firm's owner, on what she thinks my chances are. She was the first consultant I spoke to who was genuinely interested and had sufficient time to hear me out. She gave me confidence that I could do better; she told me some flaws in my existing application, which I completely agreed to and I decided I definitely needed help. She talked to me for close to 1.5 hours and she even edited one of my letter I needed to sent out to an adcom member when I hadn't even signed up. Even though I ultimately decided I wouldn't use her services, I would highly recommend Karthryn to anybody who is looking for stress- free and insightful journey to their dream b-school.
Joined: Jul 08, 2015
770 Q50 V45
After losing out on my dream schools in the round 1 applications, I decided to work with Kathryn for round 2. I chose her because she was the only consultant who had predicted my round 1 chances correctly during a profile evaluation on GMATClub.
During my first skype call with Kathryn, I realized that she is not only a professional but also a very kind lady who had my best interests at heart. She encouraged me to apply to Wharton and gave me the confidence to believe that I could do it (I had lost hopes after being dinged by both HBS and Stanford without interviews in the round 1).
She played a key role in turning around my situation. She started by analysing my previous applications very closely which was a really smart thing to do. That way we could work on the parts that needed overhauling without touching the rest. I felt that Kathryn was always there to guide me no matter the time of the day.
I ended up applying to Berkeley, UCLA and Wharton and receiving acceptances from UCLA (with full fee scholarship) and Wharton (with a 40% Forte Fellowship). I could not have imagined such outcomes without SOP's help. Thank you Kathryn for your invaluable support and guidance!
To future applicants reading this testimonial, do yourselves a favour - partner with SOP and give yourselves the best chances of achieving your dreams!
I could not be happier with my decision to work with Square One Prep – both based on the process and based on the outcome.
I will admit that I was highly skeptical of using a consultant when I first started the application process. My scores and background were all in line with averages from the top business schools, and I had a compelling story in place. I thought that a consultant might not be useful since I didn’t have a problem to address in my application.
I spoke with a few firms just in case, and had mostly sales-y conversations. But when I spoke with Kathryn – Square One’s owner - for my Square One free consultation, I knew this conversation was different. Instead of a praise laden sales call, Kathryn dug right into the nitty-gritty of my resume – pointing out concerns that I hadn’t even thought of. She spent over an hour on the phone with me, giving away valuable application advice – all for free. Kathryn’s frank and honest approach, and her clear depth of knowledge on the process, convinced me that Square One would be an invaluable asset to my application process. Plus, Square One was one of the most reasonably priced firms that I spoke with.
When I was handed over to my actual consultant, I paused. Could she possibly be as good as Kathryn was, I wondered? Well as it turns out, she was. I worked with Mary throughout the application process, from resume creation to essay editing to interview prep. Mary could not have been more fantastic! Though I had a few friends and family read drafts of essays, none of their advice compared to the advice Mary gave. And let’s be honest – it just can’t. Your friends and family didn’t have the experience, nor the endless patience, that Mary does. And on top of that, it was clear that I was more than just a paycheck to her. She truly cared about helping me reach my goals.
Oh, and if you’re worried about never seeing Kathryn’s amazing-ness again – fear not! Kathryn did a final review of all of my work, so I got to benefit from both Mary and Kathryn’s great insights.
The care Mary and Kathryn have for their clients was especially clear over Labor Day weekend. My most importantly application was due in a few days, and I had a moment of crisis over the essay. Not only did both Mary and Kathryn work with me over the holiday, but Kathryn spent an hour on the phone with me for free, talking me through all the needed changes.
In the end, I was accepted to my dream school! I’ll be starting at HBS in the fall.
I’ll answer a question a few of you might be asking. Could I have gotten in without using a consultant? Maybe. But working with Square One allowed me to go through the application process as a much more confident, calm, and happy candidate. I have no idea how I would have gotten through it without Kathryn and Mary.
760 Q49 V45
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
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!
As a reapplicant to H/S/W, I knew I HAD TO get it right the second time around (GMAT: 720 GPA:3.81 Industry: Consulting). I had worked with Stratus Prep the previous year and was disappointingly not admitted into any program. Even though Stratus offered to work with me again at no extra charge, I felt that if their standard cookie-cutter, factory produced applications didn't work for me the first time, it probably wouldn't work again. After shopping around, I chose Square One Prep because I was keen on their sharp-tongued founder, Kathryn. She was just my style - to the point, personal, and demanding. Kathryn was the most expensive counselor from Square One but I decided to make the investment because the last thing I wanted was to become a 3rd time applicant. The journey was as personally rewarding as the destination. In working with Kathryn I learned that bschool apps are not just a "process" but a creative exercise that is meant to be reflective and growing. Kathryn encouraged me to dig deeply and take risks, helping me tease out stories that highlighted my personality and unique experiences - what makes me, me. She was just as invested in my final product as I was - even providing feedback on Christimas! When I was invited to interview, Kathryn upped the game and challenged my answers with excruciating detail, sometimes even making me a bit frustrated. Ultimately, I'm glad she did because I was admitted to Wharton! I definitely recommend going with Square One Prep. The boutique style is much more conducive for personal, memorable applications than bschool factory shops, which wear an all-too-familiar style that are turning bschool schools off more and more.