Shawn OConnor's Instructor Reviews
Number of reviews [8]
Invaluable Admissions Help
June 18 | 2014

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       By Anonymous joined: June 4, 2012 | 0 | |
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:  Yes - school of my dreams
This review is for:  MBA Admissions Counseling Packages   Consultant:  Shawn OConnor
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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Enjoyed my time with Stratus
June 16 | 2014

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       By akhiljariwala joined: August 1, 2013 | 1 | 0 |
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:  Yes - got into all
This review is for:  MBA Admissions Counseling Packages   Consultant:  Shawn OConnor
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

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       By Anonymous joined: February 9, 2014 | 0 | 0 |
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:  Yes - school of my dreams
This review is for:  MBA Admissions Counseling Packages   Consultant:  Shawn OConnor
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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Stratus Prep Helped Me Get Into My Dream School (Wharton)
October 29 | 2013

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       By Anonymous joined: May 15, 2011 | 1 | |
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:  Yes - school of my dreams
This review is for:  MBA Admissions Counseling Packages   Consultant:  Shawn OConnor
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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B-School Consulting and GMAT Test Prep
June 28 | 2013

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       By peter08music joined: June 28, 2013 | 0 | 0 |
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:  
This review is for:  MBA Admissions Counseling Packages   Consultant:  Shawn OConnor
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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Very thankful
March 21 | 2013

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       By Anonymous joined: December 11, 2012 | 0 | 0 |
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:  Yes - school of my dreams
This review is for:  Hourly Services   Consultant:  Shawn OConnor
Stratus Prep did a great job with me - I was incredibly grateful to have gone to them to begin with and thought that they were worth every penny. I went into the process feeling very overwhelmed but they helped me through every step.

I opted for the hourly consulting package as opposed to the total, all-in variety; I found that the hourly package was sufficient for me. I found them extremely responsive and supportive and they helped me with the content of my essays as we went through many iterations until we found the exact right mix of topics. They also have school-specific knowledge and helped me tailor my applications; I wouldn't have known how to do this otherwise. I was nervous, because I am a white male, but ended up being accepted to HBS and Wharton (and waitlisted at Stanford). I would not want to go through this process without them.
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Exceptional Experience with Stratus Prep
December 30 | 2012

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       By Anonymous joined: December 30, 2012 | 0 | 0 |
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:  Yes - school of my dreams
This review is for:  MBA Admissions Counseling Packages   Consultant:  Shawn OConnor
I recently worked with Stratus Prep (Shawn + Vanessa). My experience was exceptional and resulted with my successful application to Harvard Business School. For context, I am a white male, slightly sub-700 GMAT, older than the mean, and work in finance (a tough demographic).

Shawn + Vanessa had a very thoughtful approach to applications but customized it to my schedule and goals. Highlights include:

1) Stratus’ Introspection process required me to outline and dive into deep details of my past – professionally, academically and personally. It was an incredibly valuable use of time. The end result was a map of my story that became the backbone of the material that I used for my essays, applications and interviews

2) School Selection and Strategy: I had a targeted list of schools. Shawn and Vanessa did a great job of setting expectations, focusing on the schools that were important to me, developing the right application strategy, picking the best person to write a recommendation, etc

3) Essay Outlining + Writing: Shawn + Vanessa helped me outline content before writing the actual essays. A few times I embarked down the wrong path, but they were there every step of the way to get me back on track. I can’t emphasize enough how helpful they were here – unlimited editing / review, tactical advice, constructive feedback, etc.

I give Stratus Prep my highest recommendation. They instilled the confidence and focus that were absolutely critical to my success at HBS. They both clearly have deep insight and rich experience, which showed in how they handled all of my questions throughout the process. They were always available for questions - whether in person, email or phone. I would recommend Stratus Prep to any one.
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Completely worth the investment
September 11 | 2012

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       By mjacobson1986 joined: May 23, 2012 | 5 | 0 |
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:  Yes - got into all
This review is for:  MBA Admissions Counseling Packages   Consultant:  Shawn OConnor
I couldn't possoibly have better things to say about Shawn O'Connor and the Stratus Prep team.

To give you my profile, I'm a white male with four years of finance experience (banking and PE). I had a 3.65 from a liberal arts (non Ivy) college and a GMAT in the high 600s. Given that my profile was not that unique from my peers in finance (which I heard was one of the hardest demographics for HBS), I considered Harvard a huge stretch. Based on a recommendation, I decided to splurge and worked with Shawn directly on 4 schools.

It was quite pricey, but worth every penny (what I learned in finance was that you have to spend money to make money - that definitely paid off in this case). I was admitted to all of my target schools (like Columbia) and to HBS. While I obviously did all of my own work on the essays, it was Shawn's insightful, strategic perspectives and thoughtful comments that separated me from the pack. I have since recommended many friends to Stratus Prep (some who have worked directly with Shawn, others with his colleagues. If you can afford it, you should work with Shawn. If not, work with one of his colleagues, because he will still be really involved in looking over your essays and strategy, even though he isn't your direct contact.

There is a huge difference out there when it comes to MBA Admissions consultants. Having checked out just about all of them (and hearing some of my work colleagues tell me about other programs) I would say either work with these guys or just go at it on your own.
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