Shawn OConnor

Number of reviews [13]

Company: Stratus Prep
Packages: Stratus Prep MBA Admissions Counseling Packages   Stratus Prep Hourly Services  
Shawn OConnor's Reviews
Great investment!
July 17 | 2015
     By ESQ1978 5 1
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

This review is for: Stratus Prep Hourly Services
Consultant: Shawn OConnor

I met Shawn O'Connor at an MBA seminar in FEBRUARY of this year. I was going to be applying for Round 3 to several schools and when he mentioned the Stratus Prep/GMAT tutoring service I decided to take the plunge when he said they get results. After initially having some issues accessing the website over a stormy weekend I was able to get going and got assigned a tutor. I was pressed for time obviously but Nadim (my tutor) was extremely accommodating and helped me navigate through some questions that I seemed to be stumbling over. Because of the initial log-in issues I was given 5 Free hours of tutoring and I thought that was a great example of customer service. I went in and improved my GMAT score by 70 points and was accepted into my #1 choice with fellowship money! In round 3! I highly recommend that if you want a score that's going to make these admissions teams take notice that you sign up for Stratus Prep!

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     By kaoruchan20 0 0
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

Working with Stratus Prep was the best decision that I made. I'm really pleased with the results and ecstatic to be attending my dream school.

To give a sense of my background, I worked for 5 years in tech/consulting, 720 GMAT, and 3.85 GPA from a well-ranked public university. I worked for good but not elite firms, so I decided to hire an admissions consultant to give me my best chance at getting into a top school. I chose Stratus, because I liked that they're not a huge operation (where you may not get as much individual attention and there are more hourly consultants), and I liked Stratus' approach in getting both your consultant's and Shawn's feedback.

I was first assigned to Vanessa Gil, and she helped me through the initial introspection exercises and the first draft of my essays. She gave me advice to not rush and apply for R1 and that allowed me to prepare much stronger applications for R2. At some point, she stopped communicating, and I was not surprised to find out that she had resigned.

The weeks after Vanessa's resignation were extremely stressful, because it took time to get assigned to my new consultant, Sara, and I had to wait 2 weeks to hear feedback from Shawn. I'm not sure why, but it was not Sara who picked up where Vanessa left off in reviewing my essays but Shawn with Sara mostly answering some of my questions along the way. Once I received feedback from Shawn, I had to move really quickly to get my essays in decent shape and worked nonstop throughout the holiday season.

The feedback that I did receive was what made all the difference in my essays. I felt okay about a few but one or two were pretty mediocre. Shawn's feedback helped me to really turn my essays around. And I like that he will continue to give you feedback until you are completely comfortable with the essays that you wrote. When I finally submitted my applications, I was confident that I had the very best essays that I could have possible written, and I owe it to Stratus who helped me to get there.

I ended up interviewing with Kellogg, Booth, Columbia, and Wharton with acceptances at Kellogg, Booth, and Columbia. I truly believe that I wouldn't have had as much success if I hadn't worked with Stratus. It's still a ton of work and you have to be disciplined in following the process and giving it your absolute best, but I'm glad that I chose to partner with Stratus.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review helpful
     By Anonymous 0 0
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

I wrote up a detailed review, and it disappeared.... sigh.

Along with some of the others who left reviews, I had a terrible experience with Stratus Prep.

1) Counselors unresponsive. When a response is received after multiple chasers, the response is incomplete. Have to revert back re-asking the same question. Counselor unresponsive. Rinse and repeat.

2) The quality of essay editing is poor. Edits come with spelling and grammar mistakes. Comments were very generic and not easily applicable. If you are hoping to get individual and tailored strategy for your application, you can forget about it.

3) When requested for help for video interview, I was provided a list of generic questions I can prepare myself with, rather than a hardcore one-on-one preparation I was promised by Shawn O'Connor, the CEO. I found the same list on the internet with a quick google search.

4) When finally fed up with the terrible service, I approached Shawn with my dissatisfaction. Shawn got very defensive, then proceeded remove me from Stratus Prep's emailing list and ignore all of my subsequent emails. This was before all the results came out and the service I paid for officially concluded.

Result? Rejected from all the schools I applied to with Stratus Prep with no interview. Interesting to note that I got accepted to the only school I applied to without Stratus Prep's help. For your reference, I was a fairly strong candidate with a high GMAT score, top-tier investment banking work experience, decent undergrad, and diverse background.

The subpar core service, incompetent counselors, and exorbitant prices all make for a terrible experience. But for me, the fishy way this service is run and the unprofessional CEO leaves the sourest aftertaste. Not worth your $6000. You can do it on your own.

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Good Advising
June 16 | 2015
reviewer identity verified by school email address
     By Anonymous 0 0
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

Some, but not all

I tentatively retained Stratus for two rounds of applications--all top-tier schools, but for my profile, still aligned with the undergrad Safety-Middle-Reach framework. I did manage to get in Round 1 to my top choice school even having started the application process relatively late in the game, so I am overall pleased with the quality of the advising.

What Stratus does right: The extremely regimented introspection and school research phases of their engagement may seem tedious and unhelpful, but in retrospect, they really did make the overall application, essay writing (and even the school selection) process significantly easier.

What Stratus could improve on: If you are like me, you were contemplating two rounds of applications in case Round 1 was a bust or ended in deferral. Stratus will strongly recommend you prepay for all the schools you plan to apply to and generally does not refund these fees. Responsiveness of your assigned adviser(?) could also be improved on.

If you are unfamiliar with business school admissions and don't have access to many resources recently through the process, try giving Stratus a call to feel out if it's a good fit for you.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review helpful
     By Anonymous 112 20
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:


I had one of the worst experiences and nightmares working with Stratus Prep. Word of caution, don't work with them unless you want to loose all your money.

The main guy who runs the business Shawn O'Connor is just exceptional in selling services to hopeful candidates.

My journey started with meeting Stratus Prep at the MBA Fair in Toronto and having a 1-1 session with Vanessa Gill who was quite impressive back in 2013. Fast forward a year later, I was visiting schools, had taken my GMAT (working towards improving my scores) and had bought the 7 school package with Stratus Prep.
Initially I was assigned Dan Carroll, who barely seemed to respond and could careless the timelines I had to meet. He was "apparently" quite so busy with other things or clients. After spending about 9000$, I was in panic mode in November.
While signing up with Stratus Prep, it was all fine and dandy, when I talked to Shawn, but as soon as I payed the money, true colours were out in the open. Their so called 24 hour reply policy seemed to vanish right out of the door. Despite my mentioning to Shawn several times that I would like to work with Vanessa having interacted with her previously, he seemed to evade the question and that's how I ended up with Dan, who went to Booth for the executive MBA program which is much less competitive than the full-time program. After having a couple of conversations with Shawn about the non-responsiveness he offered to work with me for he apparently charges 40k. Low-Behold, the same drama ensues and he is so busy in probably trying to business, he barely seems to have time for his clients. Again the 24 hour email reply rule became a 1 week email response. I had 2 of the worst months of my life till AMEX helped me out with retracting that money from Shawn's business account.

All in all, since I was so close to R2 deadlines, I didn't end up applying last year, despite having visited schools and having done a lot of prep work. I am aiming to apply for Early Admission or R1 with few narrowed down schools.

I strongly suggest whoever is reading this before you signup with Stratus Prep, make sure to reflect quite a few times. Good luck with the whole MBA process.

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     By Anonymous 0
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

Yes - school of my dreams

With the invaluable help of the admissions advisors at Stratus Prep, I was admitted to the school of my choice, the Stanford GSB. Given the extremely competitive business school admissions environment and my generic profile, as a white male working at a large investment bank, I quickly realized the importance of having the strong and capable admissions consultants in place to provide counseling and support with the crafting and framing of my story to the various schools. The advice I received from Shawn and other counselors was what I believe to be critical in distinguishing me from other candidates applying to b-school. Working with the team at Stratus Prep gave me a variety of perspectives, which were crucial in navigating the application process. Without their help my chances of getting into Stanford would have been significantly decreased. I certainly believe I had the raw goods critical for admissions (grades, test scores, etc.) but many applicants applying to the top schools (S/W/H) have similar credentials, so differentiation is very important and Stratus was monumental in assisting me with that.

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     By akhiljariwala 1 0
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

Yes - got into all

Hi--I used Stratus Prep Round 2 and was admitted to both HBS 2+2 and Stanford GSB for deferred admission. I went to a large public school in the Southeast and I am an Indian American male. Shawn asked me to write an honest review: I remember searching this thread when I was trying to pick a consultant when I was applying to B-School so I wanted to contribute my experience with Stratus here.

I had a very good experience with Stratus. I originally picked them last November because of the opportunity to work with Shawn, the founder. Otherwise, everyone seemed to have identical offerings. All the consulting firms were giving the same price and offered some form of an unlimited package with handpicked consultants who would work with me one on one. So in the selection process it was tough to find differentiation.

My engagement with Stratus Prep started with a special powerpoint fill-in document in which I had to dig deep into my history to find themes, stories, and details that helped me lay out what I wanted to write about in the essays. It was a really good way to assess before writing, and Stratus's template was really good at helping me begin the brainstorming process.

My consultant at Stratus was awesome. He really challenged me to take a different perspective on my essays, my story, and my tone in general. He had a laser focus for identifying really compelling aspects of my profile that I should highlight in my application that I was less aware of. We spoke probably 10-15 times over the course of a couple of months and he read and made suggestions to each one of my 9 or 10 essay drafts, which ended up being super useful.

Stratus made themselves 100% available to me for the interviews as well, and I was even given one-on-one time with Shawn for prepping for my HBS interview when I asked for it. I felt and was overprepared for my HBS interview, which was a very good thing. Stratus helped me hold myself accountable for interview prep and essay writing, which is the most I could ask for of a consulting company.

So while I can't comment on the quality of other consulting agencies, I did have a very good experience with Stratus and I would happily recommend them to anyone else.

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Stratus Prep Review
February 10 | 2014
     By Anonymous 0 0
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

Yes - school of my dreams

I was very hesitant about using a consultant for my Round 1 applications this year but decided to speak with Shawn to gather an idea of what Stratus would be able to provide and what I would need to craft a successful application. I was sold after our initial 20-min conversation.

Stratus utilizes an extremely comprehensive appraoch that included introspection, outlining, revising those outlines, and finally drafting and revising the essays. They also prepare you for the interviews, extremely well. The best part is that Shawn is very hands-on and heavily invested in every step of the process. He actually works with you and your consultant (Amy was mine. She's fantastic!) on the essay outlines and conducts the mock interviews himself. I should also add that the essays are read not only by your consultant, but an editor, and finally, a senior consultant before they are given the stamp of approval. And this is only after you work on the content and message with Shawn. I spoke with several other consulting firms before deciding on Stratus and this methodology is truely unique and what sets it apart.

I actually received merit-based fellowships from Wharton, Columbia, and Sloan, and I know that I couldn't have done it without Shawn and Amy's help! The application process is extremely grueling and Stratus definitely helped me to put my best foot forward while maintaining my sanity. I highly recommend at least speaking with Shawn. He is THE expert in MBA admissions.

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     By Anonymous 1
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

Yes - school of my dreams

Non-Under-Represented Male in Finance
GMAT: Around 720
GPA: Under 3.0
Undergrad: Top Ivy League School
Work Exp: 5 years Investment Banking (including 1.5 years abroad)

Choosing an admissions consultant was a stressful process. I did free consultations with the founders of two different firms, and I loved both. Ultimately, I chose Stratus Prep because Shawn O'Connor is the smartest consultant I have ever encountered. He is a genius in his understanding of admissions offices and how they think about candidates.

I knew that I would work extremely hard to apply to my dream school (Wharton), but hard work is not enough in the admissions process. I needed the help of Stratus Prep to choose appropriate stories for essays, improve my resume, prepare for interviews, and help me to edit my application. I worked with Jeff Mroz (Wharton alum) and Shawn O'Connor on my application for 2-3 months before it was complete. I was amazed at the personalized attention that Jeff and Shawn provided, in addition to their encouragement and accessibility.

There were two particular situations in which Jeff and Shawn saved my candidacy.

First, I chose an interesting story to tell in one of my essays. The story is fascinating to tell in front of an audience, and I thought it was appropriate for the application. But Jeff and Shawn helped me to realize that the story did not relate to business, what I could learn at Wharton, or how I might perform in the workplace after earning my MBA. If I had ignored Jeff and Shawn's advice and chosen my first story, I don't think I would have gotten into Wharton.

Second, I rehearsed for my behavioral interview like it was the World Cup Final. Jeff and Shawn both conducted mock interviews. Although I thought my responses were solid, Shawn told me that two of my responses were awful. And they were! If I had given those responses in the actual interview, I don't think I would have gotten into Wharton. Shawn taught me how to give more effective responses that showed how I could apply lessons learned in my career to the classroom at Wharton and to my future employment.

I was particularly impressed with the attention to detail that both Jeff and Shawn showed to my application. Jeff and Shawn helped me to edit my essays, short responses, and resume, and they provided around-the-clock (late night) service as the deadline approached. They provided suggestions for word choices, phrasing, and grammar that helped to polish my application. They made me feel like we had done everything possible to put forward a great application to my dream school.

I have recommended Jeff and Shawn to many friends and colleagues over the past few years. I could not be happier with their service. They helped me to achieve one of my most treasured goals. I wanted to go to Wharton for three years, and Jeff and Shawn helped me to get there. If you are thinking about spending several hundreds/thousands of dollars on an admissions consultant, you owe it to yourself to pick the very best one. Stratus Prep is absolutely the best one.

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     By peter08music 0 0
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

I really can't say enough good things.

I wanted a full service support through the application process and felt they really lived up to it. They are a top notch team and worth every penny. This process and decision is too important not to get the best advice possible, especially for me given my candidacy wasn't a slam dunk. (state school, lowish GMAT scores, etc.)

They catered to my finance schedule often meeting or taking phone calls at weird hours and on weekends.

I can think of several times when Shawn gave me critical, and honest advice on my candidacy, essay themes, interview prep, recommenders, etc. that made a tangible improvement in my applications.

I real felt like they took the time to get to know me personally and shaped the strongest possible application I could have vs applying a more cookie cutter or less customized approach

Harvard was my top choice and they helped me get in. Thanks!

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