Stratus Prep Admissions Consulting Reviews
    Number of reviews [66]      Average Rating:       (4.6/5)
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Headquartered in New York City, Stratus Prep has served clients from across the country and around the globe. Stratus Prep was founded in 2006 by Shawn O’Connor, an honors graduate of Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School who has worked at McKinsey & Company, Lehman Brothers, and Mercer Management Consulting. Stratus Prep’s team of experts has served thousands of clients and has had numerous applicants admitted to numerous top-rated B-Schools
AVOID. TERRIBLE EXPERIENCE. March 24 | 2015
8 out of 8 people found the following review helpful
     By Anonymous 0 0
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

No

1) 0 Value add. They were useless on my essays (I had to correct the proof reading that they did). They even lost one of my reviewed essays. No urgency, timetable, guidance, or anything helpful. Their answer to any questions was "do what you are comfortable with"

2) Sales pitch - they are good at selling - but the reality is that their head honcho - who probably is good spends 90% of his time selling. He was completely not involved in the process. He made it sound like with my stats I had a great chance everywhere...

2) Lies: They claim 80% Wharton Acceptance. I highly doubt that. I had +750GMAT, +3.7GPA from top 25 school, Investment Banking -> Venture Capital / PE (4 years); strong extra curricular and still got reject from all M7 Schools.

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Comments [4]
1 Commented by saugagmatter on May 27, 2015   Edited on May 27, 2015
I 100% agree with this, I had a very similar horrible experience with them last year and didn't end up applying at all.
2 Commented by JD55 on June 06, 2015   Edited on December 20, 2015
Ok
3 Commented by gnod on June 28, 2015
JD55, do you mind sharing your experience? I was pretty close to speaking with them
4 Commented by gmmg on July 30, 2015
@JD55 and saugagmatter, do you mind sharing your own experiences?
4 out of 4 people found the following review helpful
     By Anonymous 0 0
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

Some, but not all

I had a very mixed experience with Stratus Prep, completely based on my counselor. I was not accepted into any of the four schools to which I applied R1, and was accepted at both of the R2 schools I applied to, one of which was ranked higher than two of my R1 schools.

My counselor for R1 was Vanessa Gil, and I am shocked that she's received favorable reviews on this forum. She was incredibly insensitive in the way she communicated with me, and would go MIA for weeks at a time despite repeated emails asking for feedback on the work I sent her (including the two weeks leading up to R1 deadlines, I had to scramble and have another consultant assigned to me for the few days leading up to the deadline).

Her feedback was also incredibly inconsistent, and she would suggest changing things she had thought were "great" from previous iterations of my essays. I also felt like she never put in the effort to get to know my story, as she would consistently ask for clarifications on things that we had discussed several times before.

Reading my R1 essays (which she said were some of the best she had seen for R1) and my R2 essays, they are completely night and day, which I attribute to the difference in the consultant I worked with.

Thus, I was far from surprised to learn that Vanessa had "resigned" just after the R1 deadline.

Now, contrast that with my experience with Salma Qarnain for R2. Salma was absolutely awesome. She was incredibly timely with her feedback (I like to work fast, iterating several times), and I feel like she really took the time to know who I was as an applicant and the story I was attempting to tell with my essays. It showed, my R2 essays were much more focused, descriptive, and truly highlighted the specific traits I was trying to bring out in each essay compared to the work I had done with Vanessa.

Overall, I'm happy with my experience and the school I'll be attending in the fall, but be honest with yourself about how you feel about your consultant. I knew fairly early on the the process that I didn't like working with Vanessa, but was determined to stick with it because "I had paid for it, right?" Don't do that, had I been working with Salma all along I'm certain I would have gotten into at least one, if not all of the first batch of schools I applied to.

So, I'd recommend Stratus only if you feel comfortable and good about who you're working with, but my experience was remarkably inconsistent.

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Thanks, StratusPrep! December 25 | 2013
3 out of 4 people found the following review helpful
     By Anonymous 18 7
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

Yes - school of my dreams

This year in March, my girlfriend and I decided to ask admission consultants for help in our applications. By that moment, we still were uncertain which schools to choose at all and had absolutely no knowledge about how to write essays.

As for our background, we are average-aged for MBA students and are based in emerging market country. We worked in country-scale finance company and then parallely started our own project in the same field. We both scored 710 on GMAT and have 3.82 and 3.94 GPAs in universities that are almost unknown in the world (one of them is in top10 in our country).

We were seeking for the consulting firm for a while - read some reviews and searched their websites. Even though there were only few positive reviews and only one negative of StratusPrep, we booked initial call with Shawn, CEO of StratusPrep. What we liked was their collaborative consulting approach - both Shawn and an assigned consultant work together on your admission. Shawn constructs overall strategy of applications and controls the whole process, and an assigned consultant works with you very actively on every single part of your applications. We decided to apply to HBS, MIT, Kellogg and Duke.

We started working with Vinod, who was amazingly supportive on every part of our applications. Very soon we realized that we would have had much less chances to be admitted if we had had no consultants.

First, I had only few ideas WHAT to write in my essays (why MBA), and my girlfriend had totally NO idea what to write in her ones. In the very beginning, Shawn constructed overall strategies of applications for each school, and during our work, they both (with Vinod) were making us brainstorming to come up with good examples.

Second, we found out that we absolutely had no idea of how to write an essay - how to start, how to conduct thoughts, how to connect them, what sounded good and what sounded risky. Vinod helped us immensely in all that stuff.

Third, our english was (and unfortunately is :)) so poor that our "try essays" sounded as they had been written by children. Active and collaborative work with Vinod ended up in absolutely perfect essays (they actually looked like those in the books such as "65 Successfull Harvard Essays"band sounded at least as strong).

Forth, being non-native speakers, we had problems even with fulfilling our resumes and online applications. And here, Vinod explained many questionable moments to us and helped to formulate many points.

Finally, even though we found out much information about interviews ourselves, Vinod's mock interviews and following advices were totally priceless (I am almost certain that some of them were determinant in my success on, for instance, the MIT interview).
As for results, we were accepted in MIT, Kellogg and Duke, but denied without the interview in HBS, although I am certain that our HBS essays were totally perfect. The reason of deny was, I bet, in our relatively weak background (as one of current HBS students told us, they don't like those guys from our country who don't work in world-known companies). So, I think HBS just considered us risky applicants.

To sum up, we both think that applying with a help of StratusPrep was our best investment. Without consultants we could barely count on admission to any school in top20. I suppose that european and american people are much more skilled in writing essays, than we are (our country's universities do not demand that applicants write essays), so I don't know whether they need help from admission consultants in the writing itself. But still I'm certain that the approach of StratusPrep to admission consulting and its experience is a killer combination that would help anybody to come up with good thoughts, to formulate them and to apply to business school successfully.

Special thanks to Vinod and Shawn!

P.S.: We are totally happy!!!

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2 out of 2 people found the following review helpful
     By Anonymous 109 20
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

No

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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1 out of 1 people found the following review helpful
     By Anonymous 0 0

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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Overall, a great experience November 18 | 2015
1 out of 1 people found the following review helpful
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     By Anonymous 5 9

Overall, I was really happy with my experience working with Stratus Prep. They were extremely helpful in brainstorming and formulating my "story," which is an essential 'make-it-or-break-it' component of the MBA admissions process. Sometimes I felt they were a little slow in getting back to me (the main office), and sometimes my counselor wouldn't answer my emails right away (which, to be honest, when you are paying this kind of money for a service I DO expect a quick response rate). Otherwise, I would recommend using them if you have the money to spend and if getting into business school is worth it to you; I ended up getting into my school of choice (Columbia) with a below-average GMAT score for the school, so I'm obviously super thrilled. My counselor was incredibly smart and really helped bring my application to the next level; I'm honestly not sure if I would have gotten in otherwise. Thanks, guys!

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0 out of 1 people found the following review helpful
     By Anonymous 0 5
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

Yes - school of my dreams

Stratus Prep was an outstanding consulting company to work with, and while realistic, my consultant never made me feel I had to give up on my goal of going to a top b-school.

My background is in education and teaching and I want to transition into charter school management. I went to an ivy league undergrad and was a student-athlete...I also did Teach for America post college.

I can't tell you how glad I am that I worked with Stratus Prep. I knew people who worked with bschool consultants before, and I was skeptical and uncertain about the costs like most people...it ended up being the best decision I could have made and definitely a huge part of the reason I got
into Kellogg.

The consultant I worked with, Samantha, was very meticulous, incredibly knowledgeable, and always accessible. I started working with Stratus Prep in November (for January due dates); Samantha was really great about responding quickly especially with the time crunch. I really liked the collaboration between my consultant and Shawn (the founder) who was very involved in every step of the application process. Shawn is really smart and knew how to leverage my TFA experience as well as stuff I would never have known or thought to write about (such as:
my thesis for my masters in education, an independent study project I did in undergrad, working through an eating disorder, traveling to India for a summer etc.). Because I was so preoccupied with studying for the GMAT, I assumed that since I was a pretty good writer, the essays would be no big
deal. If I had done it on my own, I don't think I would have made myself very well-rounded because I would have probably written a lot more about teaching, which Shawn heavily advised me not to do. I also didn't realize how valuable some of the other stuff I had done was.

Before you begin your essays, Stratus Prep makes you do these outline exercises where you brainstorm all your leadership positions, character traits, learning experiences etc. which I found very worthwhile.

In the end, I was invited to interview at every school I applied to (Duke, Michigan, Columbia, and Kellogg- interviews everyone) with the exception of Yale, which I found surprising. I got into both Kellogg and Duke. I am absolutely humbled, honored, and excited to go to Kellogg this fall .This has been said before and it is necessary to say again, the GMAT does not mean everything and a huge amount of focus must be on your essays. If you want to go to a top MBA program, regardless of your profile, I cannot emphasize enough how valuable I think you will find working with Stratus Prep on every part of your apps (essays, resumes, recs, and interviews).

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Completely worth the investment September 11 | 2012
0 out of 1 people found the following review helpful
     By mjacobson1986 5 0
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

Yes - got into all

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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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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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 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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