tl;dr: I got into Stanford GSB using only Applicant Lab; I watched hours of videos of Maria’s advice on everything from career vision to specific essay questions to interview prep – wayyy more than I would be able to afford from typical admissions consultants. ApplicantLab is a good fit for people who meet the following characteristics:
1) not trying to use your entire life savings on admissions consulting
2) want a ton of detailed info on each part of the admissions process
3) don’t want/need hand-holding
Longer review: I’m currently working in int’l development work, so as you can imagine I do not have thousands of $$$ to throw around on admissions consultants. However, I knew that I’d go crazy if I tried to tackle the massive MBA application process without some guidance or advice (esp. since my initial plan was to apply to 8+ schools…). I came across ApplicantLab on one of these forums and was skeptical – even though it’s much less expensive than other companies, the $270 still seemed like a pretty large commitment on my current budget. (note: I know I know, how am I going to pay for b-school? that’s a problem for tomorrow…)
Despite my skepticism, I’m very glad that I chose to sign up! Applicant Lab has been super helpful at each step of the MBA admissions process. As someone who gets a little obsessive over things, Maria’s hours of video advice were a godsend. She has 10-30 min. videos on every possible aspect of the application – including career vision, “why MBA?”, specific school essay questions, interview prep, recommendations etc. What I appreciated most is her candor and frankness. For instance, I still remember the moment when I got to the Post-MBA Career Vision module, where I indicated that I wanted to change both industry and function. Her video response was basically like “WRONG GOAL, GET A NEW ONE” – a bit shocking at first, but it forced me to reconsider how I presented my goals, and I came out with a much better career story because of it. What you lose in individual advice, you gain in terms of breadth – I estimate I’ve listened to over a dozen hours of her advice, making it a pretty decent bargain. If you think you can listen to advice and figure out the implementation of that advice on your own, then this is definitely the way to go.