Vanessa Gil

Number of reviews [7]

Company: Stratus Prep
Packages: Stratus Prep MBA Admissions Counseling Packages  
Vanessa Gil's Reviews
0 out of 1 people found the following review helpful
     By chrisrichling 0 0
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

A good consultant isn’t even going to come close to writing anything for you. A good consultant is going to force you to take the time and put in the effort to generate meaningful responses to every facet of presenting yourself to Business School.

Vanessa and Shawn worked tirelessly to ensure I was putting my best foot forward. For me this process started 8 months before the first application was even due. We worked each week on brainstorming and refining my story: looking at each individual application holistically.

For those who believe they should have no problem getting into their target school and thus assume a consultant would be of no value, they should consider that some scholarships are awarded based on application strength. I personally believe that Stratus Prep helped the application board see my value as a future alumni, which in turn helped in their award determination.

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Vanessa Gil - Simply the Best
January 23 | 2015
0 out of 1 people found the following review helpful
     By Anonymous 2 6
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

Yes - school of my dreams

Vanessa Gil is the best admissions counselor anyone can ask for!

Here is how I came to work with her. After interviewing Stacey Blackman, Clear Admit and Stratus Prep for MBA admissions counseling, Shawn O’Connor, the founder of Stratus Prep, convinced me to use his firm.

I had obtained a 720 on my GMAT which was good, but below average for the 2 schools I had targeted: Stanford GSB and Harvard Business School.

Knowing those were the schools I wanted to apply to, Shawn placed me with a counselor who was an alum from both schools (NOT VANESSA).

And here I was… getting into the annoying process of business school applications. The first deadline was HBS in early September (Round 1). The counselor and I spent 3 months working on positioning, outlines and essays for Harvard. However, she and I didn’t have the same perspectives at times. Every time I came up with a creative idea for my essays, I got turned down. I felt my application was going to be pretty standardized. Another thing she would do was coming back to me with edits within 10 minutes of me sending my drafts. This annoyed me as I had paid a pretty big amount to get her advice, and I felt I wasn’t getting the level of attention I deserved. I was disappointed and thought I would ask Shawn for another counselor. However, I had less than 2 weeks left before submitting HBS and I thought I wouldn’t that risk so close to the deadline so I decided to stick with her and apply to HBS.

The day after I submitted HBS, however, I asked Shawn to reassign me with a different counselor for my Stanford app which was due 3 weeks later (early October, Round 1). By doing so, I also thought I would diversify and increase my odds of getting into at least one of the two.

Shawn understood my concerns and paired me with Vanessa Gil. And here comes Vanessa. I didn’t know it at the time, but working with Vanessa was the best thing that could have happened to me. Vanessa and I got along immediately. I told her about my concerns with my former counselor and she gave me the ability to be my true self in my applications. She and I spent hours on the phone discussing the most detailed items of my application from positioning, wording, approach, what works and what doesn’t to what Stanford specifically likes in candidates. Literally everything. She was so accessible, nice, competent and open-minded. It was night and day.

Vanessa and I worked hard in those 3 weeks I worked on my GSB application. I found out later on that she had a lot more clients than I thought. Yet I felt like I was the only one she was working with. The level of attention she gave me was unparalleled. She understood who I was as a person, what I stood for, and what I wanted to convey in my applications like no one else. Her perspective was invaluable.

Vanessa and I finally submitted Stanford early October.

Mid-October, I found out I got declined from HBS, without an interview.

Early November, I got notice that I got an interview with the GSB. Vanessa and I prepped for it in a rigorous manner with 3 mock interviews and detailed question by question feedback. I went into the interview feeling confident, and aced it.

Mid-December: I found out I got into my dream school, the Stanford GSB :)

The bottom line is that none of this would have been possible without Vanessa. Her trusted advice, intelligence and amazing personality made this stressful process an enjoyable experience. When you think about it, Vanessa only helped me with one business school, and it turns out that the school is actually the hardest one to get into. With Vanessa, my hit rate was 100%. I know, “impressive” you would say. However, the minute you meet her, you will realize it’s not all that surprising. Vanessa is an unbelievable person who simply gets it. If you’re driven, focused and dedicated, she will get you into your dream school. That’s what she does, and she does it better than anyone else in the industry.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review helpful
     By gwang2015 1 0
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

Yes - school of my dreams

I had the chance to work with Shawn and Vanessa at Stratus Prep 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.

Best of luck everyone!

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Go with Stratus Prep
May 29 | 2014
0 out of 1 people found the following review helpful
     By Anonymous 0 0
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

Yes - school of my dreams

My experience with Stratus Prep was overwhelmingly positive. My position as a reviewer is unique because I am a re-applicant and had previously used a different admission consultant my first time around. This allows me to evaluate Stratus Prep’s capabilities and differentiating factors, compared to other admissions consultants on the market.

I worked mostly with Vanessa Gil and a bit with Shawn O’Connor – these guys are truly the best at what they do. Here are some highlights from my experience with Stratus Prep and examples of what they do differently (and what they do extremely well):

Getting to know you

In my previous experience, we dove right into brainstorming topics. It was just my second meeting and we were already throwing around essay ideas. With Stratus Prep, during my entire first month, we did nothing but go over my background. Shawn and Vanessa felt it was best to understand my experiences and personality first. This was extremely useful because not only did it force me to remember and think harder about things I’ve done, but it also allowed Vanessa to get a feel about me, as a candidate, so any advice was extremely relevant and personal.


These guys are hard workers. I remember their ability to give well thought-out feedback with exceptional turnaround times (we’re talking 12-24 hours!) Due to my schedule, sometimes we would schedule meetings for Saturday morning or Friday night. Shawn and Vanessa never complained about odd meeting times and their dedication shows just how committed they are to seeing their candidates succeed.


Shawn and Vanessa are both experts in the application game. They think logically, but are also aligned with how the school’s adcom thinks. Their suggestions are always on target and at the end of the day, it’s what the school’s perception that counts. When they originally quoted that 60% of their applicants gets accepted at HBS, I thought the number must be overstated. However, after working with Vanessa, I’m surprised it’s not higher!

Detailed and Thoughtful

Their processes are super detailed and structured. As an example, each essay goes thought 5-7 rounds of critique first. Afterwards another consultant reads it and makes comments, and then a third consultant checks for grammar and sentence structure. Lastly, Shawn reads it and makes some final comments. When it’s all over, 4 different pairs of well-trained eyes would have read your essay. This is truly remarkable and their attention to detail is a key differentiating factor.

In the end, I was admitted to Chicago Booth, my dream school. Admittedly, I did not stand a chance without Shawn and Vanessa’s help. If you want to be successful – go with these guys. I only wish I could have done my applications with Shawn and Vanessa my first time around.

Vanessa/Shawn – thanks again for all your help, it was a memorable experience working with you.

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Best Decision I Made!
May 12 | 2014
     By ebsters6 0 0
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

Yes - school of my dreams

I came to Stratus Prep after both my brother and cousin used Shawn to help with admission consulting and were very pleased with their results. I'll admit I was beyond nervous about the entire process. I had not done as well as I had hoped on the GMAT and I otherwise appeared as an average MBA candidate (good work experience, not a lot of management experience, good undergrad school, average GPA). However it was very important for me to go to a top business school and in particular I had my heart set on Kellogg.

I worked with Shawn and my assigned coach, Vanessa, for about 6 months straight to get my applications in order. The best part about working with them was that they didn't make me out to seem like something I wasn't. They just brought out the best in me through my essays and interview prep. The entire Stratus Prep team was extremely responsive, hard working and encouraging. The MBA application process is in no way easy and it was great to have someone in my corner and someone to hold me to my deadlines, really think hard about what the MBA experience meant for me and how best to show that to my top schools. I applied to 6 schools - Kellogg, Stern, Columbia, Stanford, USC and UCLA. And I was admitted to all schools except Stanford (I can live with that!). I sincerely credit Shawn and Vanessa with the success of my entire process and I would highly, HIGHLY recommend prospective students work with them!

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Fantastic Service
March 25 | 2013
0 out of 1 people found the following review helpful
     By Anonymous 1 0
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

Yes - got into all

Got my acceptance letter today! Amazing, my mind is racing...

Thank you so much for all of the help! Vanessa did a great job at keeping me on schedule and guiding me along the way. And I really feel that the tag team strategy with Shawn is what makes these guys a great consulting firm. It was always great to get a second opinion as we moved along.

The team helped me map out my application process and plan my time accordingly. I put together a personal profile of myself, and worked with Vanessa to decide on what stories I wanted to tell and convey via my essays. The multiple drafts of each essay was extremely helpful and made sure I submitted my top quality work.

Thanks again!

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Thank you Stratus!
December 01 | 2012
0 out of 1 people found the following review helpful
     By Anonymous 0 0
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

Yes - school of my dreams

I couldn't be happier with the services I received from Stratus Prep. After studying for 3-months in a Kaplan prep course, and performing well below what I had expected on the actual GMAT, I decided to try again with a private tutor. I had consultations with a variety of companies and decided to work with Jim at Stratus Prep.

Jim provided me with support specific to my strengths and weaknesses. Rather than having me continually take practice tests, Jim taught me the content so that I would know how to approach each problem presented. I was able to increase my score almost 150 points working with Jim with a 10-hour package. Jim assigned me work to get done before each session, and I was ready to take the GMAT within 7 weeks.

I also used Stratus Prep for the admission counseling services. Shawn and Vanessa helped me to craft my application through multiple rounds of edits, and helped me prepare for my interviews. Shawn, the CEO, was incredibly involved throughout my entire application process, offering essay advice, application suggestions and moral support.

I was recently accepted into my top-choice school, Columbia. I have recommended Stratus’s services to multiple friends and family. Thank you Stratus for all your help.

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