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Any experiences with Stratus Prep?

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Any experiences with Stratus Prep? [#permalink] New post 17 Jun 2014, 05:51
Hi,

Does anybody have any experience using Stratus Prep as a consulting company? I am very eager to hear some balanced reviews with strengths and weaknesses. I am very interested in their services.

They seem like a great company that is relatively new to MBA consulting (they look like mostly a Law School consulting company before). My initial conversation with their owner Shawn went very well. He is a very smart and straight forward guy. The costs are also very competitive after the GMATclub discount. However, I am having a hard time finding truly authentic (or at least balanced) reviews on the company and there have been a couple red flags that have caught my attention. I may be over-thinking this, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.

The first red flag is their reviews on GMATclub. Most of the reviews are from new members with only 1-4 posts. Many are also recently joined members. These reviews are always overwhelmingly positive without a single negative aspect. There only seem to be 1 or 2 genuine ones, but I still can't be sure because there is not a single review from someone with more than 20 posts. This is discussed in threads in GMATclub and beatthegmat. I am not allowed to post the direct link, so PM me if you want them. I know the reviews are supposedly verified, but they just seem too perfect.

I've been a lurker/minimal poster on this forum for about 1 year, but I am using an alternate account in case I still end up using Stratus Prep. Thanks for any help you guys can provide.
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Re: Any experiences with Stratus Prep? [#permalink] New post 17 Jun 2014, 18:35
Hi bschoolcurious,

Happy to help. I will do my best to be balanced. However, this will not be easy. Here's why -
- Only 4 firms interviewed - I only spoke to 4 admissions consulting firms before making my choice. The 4 that made my shortlist were based on reviews on gmatclub and beatthegmat. So, I obviously can't speak for all.

- 2 I really liked. I almost ended up working with MBAprepschool (after speaking with Chris Aitken) and have only positive things to say about my conversation and interactions with him. I ended up choosing Stratus prep because I liked Shawn's process and the idea of having multiple people review my application versus the traditional 1 coach model.

- Successful application. The final and most important reason for the bias would be that the application was successful. It's hard to not look at it with rose tinted glasses but I'll try.

Strengths
1. Solid process with multiple reviewers. THis is why I chose Stratus prep and they lived up to their promise. I think most top firms have great coaches (I saw most because a friend of mine had a bad experience after spending $8000). I liked the idea of having multiple reviewers and I had 3-4 people look at my application and I think this made the process better.

2. Unlimited access to the coach. Some firms constrain this. I had none of that. It's not that I spoke to the coach more than once a week but the knowledge that access was unlimited helped

3. More or less full time staff. I think this helps. You don't want your coach to be checking your essays at the end of a hard day's work as a consultant/banker. I think all of Shawn's employees are full time - the folks I dealt with certainly were.

Weaknesses
1. You aren't pushed enough to meet deadlines. This can be a problem and is one I've pointed out in my review. I don't know how other firms do it but I think this would be useful. THe flip side is that you are treated like an adult and expected to own your process.

I can't think of any other obvious weaknesses (probably my rose tinted glasses). I enjoyed working with Stratus prep and I've written a detailed review (it is the longest of Status prep reviews and ends with a PS asking you to reach out to Shawn if you'd like to speak to me directly).

Let me know if this helps/if you have any other specific questions. I've sent you a pm as well from another gmatclub account. I find this question really hard - it is similar to asking a Booth grad about the strengths and weaknesses of MIT or Stanford. Hard to know when you haven't done it yourself but the Booth grad would probably be able to help you with a review on Booth - I've hopefully done that.

Finally, I did remember seeing a fair number of posts abuot Stratus prep reviews being from new members. Communities typically work on 1/10/90 rule where 1% are the really active users, 10% are the occasional posters and 90% are the lurkers. I think relying on the 1% would lead to a bit of a recency bias of sorts (I keep hearing from you so I assume you are right) - I think many of the others have equally legit views and just aren't all that active.

All that said, wish you all the best with your applications!
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Any experiences with Stratus Prep? [#permalink] New post 17 Jun 2014, 19:14
Hi OP. To me, the strengths of stratus are (1) great brainstorming framing process that was created by Shawn and (2) great consultants who can add a fresh perspective. Throughout the process I never felt like a red line was crossed--I drove the whole process and everything was my work. To me, the weakness is definitely the price of the service. It is very high, and the consultants must be compensated quite a bit per hour, especially given that many of them are former MBA Graduates of the elite programs themselves.

Last edited by akhiljariwala on 05 Jul 2014, 10:38, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Any experiences with Stratus Prep? [#permalink] New post 18 Jun 2014, 06:15
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BSchoolCurious,

Thank you for your post. I am happy to provide some additional information that I hope will be helpful to you.

Stratus Prep has been providing MBA Admissions Counseling for nearly 10 years and has served more than 2,500 clients in more than 30 countries and more than 40 states. While we do provide Law School Admissions and LSAT Prep, MBA Admissions and GMAT/GRE Prep is the much larger of these two Stratus Prep business units.

Every Stratus Prep verified review on GMAT Club is from an actual Stratus Prep client and given the detail provided in the reviews, we are typically able to identify who wrote each review. As long as the individual who posted the review is ok with it (and they usually are), we are more than happy to put you in touch with any of these former clients, and you can confirm their results through independent sources such as Linked In and school websites/emails.

We are also more than happy to provide prospective applicants with as many references as they may need to be absolutely sure before deciding to collaborate with Stratus Prep. Given the breadth of clients we have served, we are typically able to find someone with a very similar educational/professional background to you.

At Stratus Prep, we believe in absolute transparency in the MBA Admissions Counseling process. We are happy to provide you with a detailed explanation of our industry-leading methodology which we have refined over the last nearly 10 years. We are also happy to provide you with as much detail as you might like on our consultants, for whom MBA Admissions Counseling is their full-time role/primary source of income. I am also personally available to you throughout the entire MBA Admissions Counseling process. While you and I will have three formal check ins as part of our methodology, I am always happy to help with additional feedback at any time (including during evenings, weekends as I and our counselors are available to you anytime). Finally, we have a team approach that ensures that you will have 4+ perspectives on your application from your main counselor (all of whom have 2+ years of experience and have graduated from top 5 MBA programs), me, our school specific experts, and our professional proofreaders.

We are excited to have partnered with GMAT Club for many years. We run twice a month webinars on a wide variety of topics for all members of GMAT Club, and I would invite you to join me on our next webinar next Wednesday.

My team and I are always happy to help in every way that we can. We hope to have the chance to partner with you.

Best,
Shawn

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Re: Any experiences with Stratus Prep? [#permalink] New post 18 Jun 2014, 15:19
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bschoolcurious wrote:
The first red flag is their reviews on GMATclub. Most of the reviews are from new members with only 1-4 posts. Many are also recently joined members. These reviews are always overwhelmingly positive without a single negative aspect. There only seem to be 1 or 2 genuine ones, but I still can't be sure because there is not a single review from someone with more than 20 posts.

I've been a lurker/minimal poster on this forum for about 1 year, but I am using an alternate account in case I still end up using Stratus Prep. Thanks for any help you guys can provide.


So, you uphold others to a high standard of 20+ posts but you register a second that has one post? Don't you think you are being hypocritical here?

What other companies are you considering? I would suggest you focus on more than one and not waste everyone's time on trying to convince you to go with a certain company. Make a decision for yourself instead of throwing out accusations. My suggestion would be - don't do it if you are so full of doubts. Based on your note, you are nitpicking and you can do it about any company so my suggestion would be to get serious about your Bschool application and think outside of the box.

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Re: Any experiences with Stratus Prep? [#permalink] New post 18 Jun 2014, 19:33
I came across this, and recognize that I have a new account also. However, I have referenced GMAT Club for quite some time, even after I have been in school. I have noticed the only negative things I ever hear about Stratus Prep are people complaining that there aren't negative reviews, which I guess I find kind of funny. Maybe I am also a little sensitive because I had such a great experience with them and am still friends with my counselor Vanessa. When I started at HBS, she sent me a card, quoting my admissions essay and encouraging me to make the most of my experience. I actually framed the card and keep it on my desk. For me, that really sums up the personal feeling I had working with their team. So that is my more personal experience with Stratus, and specifically with Vanessa. After working in consulting, I really never expected the personal and emotional support I got from her. I could tell that with her, it was more than just about helping me get into a school because it was her job. She actually cared. Anyway - enough with the emotional stuff... More specifically related to my professional interactions with them, I worked with them last year on three applications, Wharton, HBS, and GSB. I applied for both HBS and GSB in Round 1 and was planning to apply to Wharton for Round 2 but was accepted to HBS before finishing and decided to accept. Quickly on my background. My GMAT was 730. I worked two years in consulting at McKinsey and then launched and worked on my own company for three years prior to business school (two years at the time of my application). Overall, I was extremely satisfied with my experience with Stratus Prep. I had applied on my own the previous year without success so I can attest to the dramatic difference Shawn and Vanessa made in getting me into HBS. More specifically the things I found helpful were:

* Shawn and Vanessa's experience in understanding which stories are both most unique to you but also resonate well with admissions counselors. Vanessa in particular had a great feel for how admissions counselors might read an essay while Shawn was terrific at structuring my whole package to ensure all my strengths (and potential questions) are addressed through my resume, essays, application, and recommendation letters.

* The quick turnaround provided for essay reviews. This was extremely valuable and important for my interview at HBS as I had a final essay that was due within 24 hours of the interview. Given I interviewed during Hurricane Sandy, it was pretty incredible Shawn and Vanessa could still support me from NYC.

* The marked improvement in the quality of my essays through iterations with Vanessa. She is a terrific writer and having access to someone like helped me craft essays that retained my voice but allowed me to convey my stories with more clarity.

I would recommend Stratus Prep to anyone who is looking to apply for business school. If I had to put a number to it, I would say working with Stratus Prep probably doubled my chances of acceptance. Sorry I didn't have more complaints but I guess once you get into the school you have always wanted to go to, you don't really have a lot of complaints! Best of luck everyone!
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Any experiences with Stratus Prep? [#permalink] New post 18 Jun 2014, 20:26
bb wrote:
So, you uphold others to a high standard of 20+ posts but you register a second that has one post? Don't you think you are being hypocritical here?

What other companies are you considering? I would suggest you focus on more than one and not waste everyone's time on trying to convince you to go with a certain company. Make a decision for yourself instead of throwing out accusations. My suggestion would be - don't do it if you are so full of doubts. Based on your note, you are nitpicking and you can do it about any company so my suggestion would be to get serious about your Bschool application and think outside of the box.


It is not my intention to seem like I'm throwing around accusations. I am sorry if I came across this way. I was only trying to do the proper research before investing a significant amount of money on a consultant. This post seems to have helped give me the information I was looking for.

I could be wrong, but I don't think I am being hypocritical because even though I am a new user with a single post, I'm only asking questions and not writing any reviews. I don't expect anyone to hold me to any kind of standard, but I would hope that the questions I raise are ones that other users are curious about too. I saw a couple other threads about this issue in general, but they did not seem to be completely resolved, so that is why I was still curious. I understand now that most of these new users posting reviews are satisfied customers referred here by the actual company and that GMATclub verifies the validity of these reviews as much as possible. I also understand now that a user with higher number of posts has no real correlation with the truthfulness of the review.

I appreciate everyone's feedback here. This is a big decision for me so I'm trying just to be thorough. I hope that this thread can help others in their decisions as well.
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Re: Any experiences with Stratus Prep? [#permalink] New post 19 Jun 2014, 06:02
Hi BSchoolCurious -

I am a current HBS student and had the help of Stratus Prep in putting together my applications last year. I decided to use an admissions counselor because I had applied the previous year to GSB and HBS and was not able to get in. I can definitely understand your concerns regarding picking the right counselor as it is a big decision. I personally enjoyed working with both Shawn and Vanessa and I think many of their strengths have already been outlined by other posters so I won't reiterate those (I would highly recommend Stratus Prep as a firm, however). Instead, if you send me a personal message, I would be happy to jump on the phone with you to answer any specific questions you may have.

Please ping me if you would like to chat and best of luck with your applications!
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Re: Any experiences with Stratus Prep? [#permalink] New post 07 Jul 2014, 11:50
A couple weeks ago, I personally visited Stratus Prep in NYC and spoke with Shawn...I ultimately chose his firm for my mba apps counseling...applying to schools for Fall 2015 term

Been active on GMAT Club throughout my GMAT Preparation (invaluable resource/website btw!)...my gmat score is over 700

I plan on writing a comprehensive/verifiable/objective review of my experience w/ Stratus Prep at the conclusion of the apps process.
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Re: Any experiences with Stratus Prep? [#permalink] New post 07 Jul 2014, 11:56
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m3equals333 wrote:
A couple weeks ago, I personally visited Stratus Prep in NYC and spoke with Shawn...I ultimately chose his firm for my mba apps counseling...applying to schools for Fall 2015 term

Been active on GMAT Club throughout my GMAT Preparation (invaluable resource/website btw!)...my gmat score is over 700

I plan on writing a comprehensive/verifiable/objective review of my experience w/ Stratus Prep at the conclusion of the apps process.



Thank you for sharing and volunteering to do a review! We definitely need some from established members like you.
Good luck with applications (and congrats on the GMAT score).

Best Regards,
BB

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Re: Any experiences with Stratus Prep? [#permalink] New post 07 Jul 2014, 16:26
bb wrote:
m3equals333 wrote:
A couple weeks ago, I personally visited Stratus Prep in NYC and spoke with Shawn...I ultimately chose his firm for my mba apps counseling...applying to schools for Fall 2015 term

Been active on GMAT Club throughout my GMAT Preparation (invaluable resource/website btw!)...my gmat score is over 700

I plan on writing a comprehensive/verifiable/objective review of my experience w/ Stratus Prep at the conclusion of the apps process.



Thank you for sharing and volunteering to do a review! We definitely need some from established members like you.
Good luck with applications (and congrats on the GMAT score).

Best Regards,
BB


Happy to help/contribute....Hoping for the best and thank you!
Re: Any experiences with Stratus Prep?   [#permalink] 07 Jul 2014, 16:26
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