"Sanity Check" Consultations

Personal 1:1 Feedback on Your Application "Foundation"

Your resume and career vision form the foundation of your ENTIRE application.
Get feedback on your resume and whether your career vision “makes sense” BEFORE you start in on your essays for individual schools – you’ll be in a better position to do so with a strong base to build on!
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Let us review your overall strategy
to make sure your pieces fit together!

    • “Does my Career Vision match my background?”
    • “Is my ‘Why MBA?’ reason strong enough?”
    • “Does my resume adequately convey my leadership experience and potential?”
Get your questions answered in a personal feedback session.
We’ll review your resume (that you’ve put together based on the advice in the Resume Module) and your work in the “Career Vision” and “Why MBA?” modules and provide you with feedback and suggestions.
Think of this as having someone to “check your work” to make sure you’re in good shape before you get too deep into things!

What is the Process?

    1. Book and schedule your session with either Carin or Maria via the links below.
    2. Instructions on where (and when) to send your materials to us will be included in your confirmation email.
    3. The day of your session, we’ll review your resume and your work within the “Career Vision” and “Why MBA?” sections of the Lab and record video feedback and suggestions for you.
    4. Within ~12 hours of your scheduled session (usually sooner, but when we actually review your materials on a given day depends on a number of factors), you’ll receive a link to view your video feedback that you can watch (and re-watch) on your own schedule. Included in this email will be a link to book follow-on “re-checks” (if desired) and/or Strategic Essay Reviews.

Benefits of a Video Review vs. a Phone Call

Efficiency

You don’t need to ask us to slow down or to repeat what we said and you don’t need to be frantically jotting notes- you can pause and replay as much as you want!

Convenience

You don’t have to coordinate schedules/ deal with last-minute re-schedules, since you don’t need to be there.

Candor

The most useful feedback is honest feedback. It’s easier for us to be blunt if you’re not “live”.

What People Say

“Maria has developed a unique blended learning approach, mixing interactive online exercises with videos, notes, and in person 'conversations' [via video recordings]...

...This allows her to deliver much better service than other consultants at a fraction of the price.”

Re-applicant, Accepted to Columbia with Fellowship

“Carin - A big thank you for taking the extra effort to go through my applications... your review was so valuable in finalizing my application and I appreciate every bit of your video review 🙂

...I am happy to inform you that I have been accepted into the HEC MBA programme and a lot of the credit goes to Applicantlab!”

HEC Admit

“...when it was time for her to [give feedback], she was able to do so quickly, using a video to let me know exactly what she thought and saving time. She is so efficient when giving me feedback on my resume, essay...

...If I were to apply to MBA again, I would choose Maria’s service even if it was three times the price. Thank you, Maria!

Stanford GSB & HBS Admit

“There is also Sanity check and essay help which I highly recommend to sign up for as they are very much affordable and extremely valuable and I wish I took more advantage of them! The last-minute sanity check that I did, was just completely path changing as Carin saw stories in my essays that I thought are not important but were! ”

Received Interview Invites from Columbia, Wharton, and Sloan

The Team

Carin

Chicago Booth MBA, 2008
Northwestern, BA, 2003

Carin has multiple years of experience reviewing materials for MBA applicants. She joined the Lab in early 2018 because she was inspired by its mission and has been personally trained by Maria to provide our famous value-for-money “Sanity Checks.”

With 15 years of experience in marketing and client management roles at companies like Bain, McKinsey, and Mattersight (a SaaS analytics company based in Chicago), Carin is a strong storyteller and strategist with an eye for detail – her feedback on Career Visions is particularly strong.

Maria

Harvard MBA, 2005
Princeton, BSE, 1998

​Despite being swamped with all other facets of building & running the Lab, our founder Maria is available for limited consultations.

​Starting as a volunteer with the admissions office at HBS, Maria has been giving admissions advice since 2003.

Sanity Check with Carin: $175
Check Availability and Book Your Session
Sanity Check with Maria: $250
Check Availability and Book Your Session

FAQs

Who is this service for?

This is for people who have completed the “Career Vision,” “Why MBA?” and “Resume” modules in the Lab and want to run their story past someone for a “sanity check” to make sure that things “make sense” before starting in on the rest of their application (individual school essays etc.)

Those who want to book Strategic Essay Reviews will want to book a Sanity Check FIRST – we’ve found that making sure your “foundation” is strong is the the key element in putting together a strong application.

Wait, what? How does this work??

You book a session with us using the links above on the day you’d like your session and then send us your (updated) resume and any specific questions you have for us in advance of that session.
On the day of your review we’ll:
  • Open your resume and review any questions you’ve sent over
  • Review your resume and the work you’ve done in the “Career Vision” and “Why MBA?” sections of the Lab.
  • Jot notes on our thoughts – often directly on your resume or within the Lab.
  • Hit “Record” on our screen so you get a video where you both hear our feedback as we go through your materials just like an AdCom would and can see exactly what we’re looking at as we talk through/show you things.
  • Send you a link to access your video review as well as the marked-up version of your resume.

When in the process of preparing my application should I schedule a sanity check?

The earlier the better! The earlier on in your preparation that you solidify your resume and overall story,  the more time you’ll have to work on all of the other aspects of your application – all which BUILD ON or utilize your resume and career vision (ie, you’ll want to provide your recommenders with your resume, and your career vision/why MBA will impact multiple components of your essays – which clubs and classes you talk about, why a particular school is “right” for you and more!) Making sure your resume and story are in good shape will put you in a better position to prepare the rest of your application.

That all being said, BEFORE your sanity check, you’ll want to have completed at LEAST the “Career Vision,” “Why MBA?” and “Resume” modules (otherwise we won’t have anything to review!)

We advise you to book your session ASAP… In previous years, the 2 weeks prior to the big deadlines fill up weeks in advance!

NOTE HOWEVER: since our feedback is high-level, you SHOULD NOT be scheduling sessions with us at the last minute! The earlier on you schedule a sanity check, the more time you will have to refine your story (if needed) and then get to work on the reminder of your materials!

Will you edit my resume as a part of this?

No. Our focus in reviewing your resume is on the CONTENT and how strongly it presents your background. We’ll give you feedback on things to potentially add/remove and maybe some high level formatting suggestions, but wordsmithing is a VERY time consuming process and these sessions just don’t allow for it. If you want someone to help you wordsmith things, you’ll want to book a Resume Polish with Admissionado.

When will I receive my feedback?

You’ll usually receive your feedback video and notes within about 4 – 6 hours of your scheduled “time” but please allow up to 12 hours following your session “time” – we use “time slot” appointments to help ensure we don’t get overbooked for any given day, but WHEN we actually do your review on a given day depends on a number of factors. If it’s been more than 12 hours since your session “time,” then feel free to drop us a note, but otherwise, please be patient!

NOTE: since our feedback is high-level, you SHOULD NOT be scheduling sessions with us at the last minute! The earlier on you schedule a sanity check, the more time you will have to refine your story (if needed) and then get to work on the reminder of your materials!

What is the cancellation/refund policy?

Any sessions cancelled prior to 48 hrs before the scheduled time can be refunded (ie, if you’re booked for 3 pm on a Wednesday, you can cancel up to 3 pm on a Monday with no penalty); please email us and we’ll get you squared away!

Cancellations or reschedules requested within 48 of your scheduled time will not be refunded. Please understand that this is because your session could have been utilized by someone else – we had to institute this to place a “penalty” for poor planning!

Help! I need a review and there's no availability!

Sorry. We hate to say “we told you so” but well, we did. And an emergency on your part doesn’t constitute one on ours. While we try to work with as many people as we can, there are only so many hours in a day.

Keep checking back – cancellations do happen and occasionally we add availability as life schedules change!

But... I want to TALK to someone, on the phone!

As with a LOT of what the Lab stands for, this is yet another way in which we differ from others in the field.

Phone calls, while “feeling” better because of the back-and-forth dialog aspect, are actually sub-optimal to video reviews in the following ways:

  • In a phone call, you need to take a million notes and you might need to ask us to repeat ourselves. With a video recording, you only need to rewind.
  • Since (most!) of us have been socialized to be “people pleasers”, someone speaking live to you on the phone might hold back on a critique, for fear of hurting your feelings. A video recording helps provide more “distance”, which (Maria has found) helps with candor.
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY: when the Admissions Officer reads your materials, YOU WILL NOT BE ON THE PHONE WITH THEM in that moment. So, if you’re getting feedback from someone on the phone, they might say: “Huh, this makes no sense”… well, on the phone you can jump in and say: “Ah, but this is what I mean” … but the Admissions Officer won’t have that background. This video review system most mimics the experience of a “stranger” looking at your materials, with no background, and with a critical eye. This is why it is, overall, the most impactful type of advice you can get.
If you have specific questions, please include them when you send over your resume and we’ll address them with our feedback.
This really does maximize your time — no wasted minutes on introductions / small talk!