Stratus Prep Admissions Consulting Reviews
    Number of reviews [93]
    Average Rating:       (4.6/5)
Stratus Prep MBA Admissions Counseling Packages [84]
Stratus Prep Hourly Services [9]
Headquartered in New York City, Stratus Prep has served clients from across the country and around the globe. Stratus Prep was founded in 2006. Stratus Prep’s team of experts has served thousands of clients and has had numerous applicants admitted to numerous top-rated B-Schools


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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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     By Anonymous 0 0

I thoroughly enjoyed working with Stratus Prep. I'll admit that I did not know that using an admissions counseling service was so popular when I first decided to pursue my MBA. After attending fairs and doing some online research, it became clear to me that I only had one shot at this and I should be sure I'm putting the strongest application forward. I currently work in media/advertising, and not many of my colleagues have their MBA or were considering pursuing one. It was clear to me that I needed the advice and expertise of a seasoned counselor to help me make my application shine.

Beyond being professional, responsive, and pleasant to work with, the most valuable part about working with Stratus Prep was that they encouraged me to broaden my target school list, and made me think critically about what was most important to me in an MBA program. I was initially set on staying in my home state of California, and did not want to move. My counselor told me that I should seriously consider a program on the east coast, and recommended why I would be such a great fit given my strong interest in the culture and community of a school. She ended up being right in the end, and I am so glad I followed her advice as I will be attending a top ranked program next fall.

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     By arjuns247 36 9

Stratus Prep was the best investment I made during my MBA application process. After being rejected from 7 programs during my initial MBA application experience, I truthfully thought that business school wasn’t in the cards for me….that is, until Stratus stepped in. With their help, I was able to re-apply and gain admission into Columbia Business School, a program which turned me down just 8 months earlier.

While I can understand why applicants chose to apply independently, I think that Stratus Prep offers a uniquely thorough and structured process that puts applicants in the best position to succeed by surrounding them with experienced, high-caliber MBA admissions consultants. Without the help of my Stratus Counselor, Traci Thibodeaux, and my Stratus Senior Strategist, Salma Qarnain , I would not be on my way to getting an m7 MBA degree. They are incredible at what they do and very encouraging in the way they do it (thank you so much for all your help Traci & Salma!!).

To provide a little more detail, there are 3 areas where Stratus really made the difference for me:

1. Application Strategy
In regards to my profile, I felt that I had a strong set of professional (Technology Consultant with 2 promotions) and personal experiences (strong leadership in Extra-Curricular involvement) with solid statistics. However, I am an over-represented applicant (Indian Male in Technology / Consulting with an Engineering Undergraduate Background), which made it that much more important for me to articulate a unique and interesting “Why MBA” / post-MBA story. I also had to do this in the context of a re-applicant story where I needed to show growth and progress.

This is where Stratus made all the difference – they drilled down into every relevant professional, academic, and personal experience I had and helped me map it all out to find a sensible, specific, and unique reason as to why I needed an MBA, how I was going to use the degree, and how my past experiences tied it all together. This was an incredibly iterative and time-consuming process, but it ultimately yielded a very clear and concise MBA re-application strategy that made me stand-out not only within my application, but during my interview with Columbia Business School.

From personal experience, I’ve seen many other applicants take this portion of the application lightly which ends up burning them in the end because they come off as generic to admissions committees. Stratus brings unique perspective here as they understand how admissions committees view applicants relative to other similar applicants who they are competing it. Accordingly, they are able to provide tailored advice to their counselees that allow them to differentiate themselves during the application process.

2. Essay Writing
Stratus’ essay review process helps you iterate constantly between outlines and essays to ensure you are able to reach a solid end product. While the writing was driven by me, I was able to have comments and suggestions tossed my way by over 4 different reviewers – the level of detail with each review was impressive. In the end, I felt that my essays were as well written as they could be while showing my best possible qualities in the context of well-articulated career goals.

In addition to helping you craft my essays, Stratus would also make strategic suggestions about the stories I should tell along with stylistic considerations that I didn’t think of. The Stratus process was almost a boot camp for essay writing. So, on a broader level, I felt that Stratus allowed me to become a better writer and story teller, which are useful skills outside the MBA application process.

3. High-Touch Counseling
As a re-applicant, I came into the application season feeling a little down and out given my experience from the previous year. However, Stratus ensured that I stayed positive – Traci, my Stratus Counselor, was my point of contact and was always accessible to talk about any questions / concerns I had. She was prompt to every email, phone call, etc. and was very encouraging and positive during our conversations. Tactically, she helped me setup an overall re-application plan and schedule to ensure I was working at a good pace and had appropriate contingency in case rejections came my way. Additionally, she oversaw and reviewed every portion of my application process from application strategy development to essay writing and even interviews. She held my hand through each step of the process, and gave me a sense of confidence despite the many rejections that came just a few months prior.

Additionally, Salma, my Senior Strategist, who brought the same level of positivity and encouragement as Traci, helped set aside a thorough discussion to walk through my key themes, my post-MBA goals, my school selection, my recommender selection, and my overall view of “Why MBA?” to offer specific feedback in each area. This set the tone for the rest of my application process, and laid the groundwork for my acceptance into Columbia.

Once I got into school, I was personally congratulated by not only Traci and Salma, but also folks I worked with administratively to sign up with Stratus (shout out to Josh Gonzalez and Zach Klein – really appreciate your help!). It was a really nice gesture that I sincerely appreciated, especially considering what I had gone through the previous application year. Stratus’ level of high-touch service made me feel like I succeeded with a team, which is always a great feeling.

From soup to nuts, Stratus Prep provided me an admissions consulting service that turned 7 rejections into a Columbia Business School acceptance within less than a year. I said it before and I’ll say it again – Stratus Prep is the best investment I made during the MBA application process.

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     By gawker36 0 0
This review is for: Stratus Prep Hourly Services
Consultant: Santosh (Sam) Prasad

I had a positive experience with Stratus Prep after being recommended to the company by a friend who’d used it successfully to gain admission to my single target school.

My situation was somewhat unique because I was applying only to Kellogg’s Part-Time program. I’d already applied and been rejected by another top-tier program after submitting what I thought was a pretty solid application so I wanted someone to take a critical look at my Kellogg application and help me refine it.

Thanks to my previous application I’d already assembled most of my application and had taken the GMAT, collected letters of recommendation, tweaked my resume, and written essays. I bought Stratus’ Five-Hour Consulting package, with the goal of having them review the materials I had the most control over—my essays—and help me develop an effective mix of professional and personal experience to share with the admissions committee.

I have to say that I thought my essays were pretty compelling even before I talked to Stratus because I could write about unique, genuine experiences and because I’d worked as a journalist for many years and had the skills to tell an intriguing story. That said Santosh really helped me tighten the essays up. He helped identify the most compelling experiences, put a finer point on some of the arguments I was making, and making sure I included the unspoken, but mandatory elements (familiarity with the program and goals for after graduation, for example).

He also took a look at one of my letters of recommendation and my resume. On the letter of recommendation there was relatively little feedback, which was lucky since it had already been submitted, but it did give me confidence that the letter was effective. On the resume, he provided great feedback on what an MBA resume should look like. I’ve worked in creative fields for a long time, so crafting a more formal, standardized resume wasn’t all that natural to me.

Overall, I had a good experience and accomplished what I wanted, which was getting in to Kellogg. I perhaps could have done it without Stratus, but they definitely helped refine my application and, more importantly, gave me the confidence that I was presenting a compelling application.

A few things that could probably have been better: 1) I bought an hourly package and wasn’t sure how much time I had used or had left. When I asked an account manager I learned I was down to my last hour, which was somewhat annoying. 2) Santosh was very responsive for the most part, but was sometimes obviously busy with his full-time job or other activities. 3) Santosh didn’t always keep a clear picture of who I was in mind. I think sometimes he forgot that I was an older applicant (36) to Kellogg’s part-time program. Luckily, I’m not sure this really matters too much … a solid application is a solid application, which Santosh can help you develop.

If you’re looking for someone to take a close, strategic look at your application materials, I’d definitely recommend Santosh and Stratus prep.

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Stay on schedule
July 18 | 2016
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     By off2school 0 0

I worked with two different consultants at Stratus, one was okay but the one I ended up with was much better (Santosh). Santosh was organized and helped keep me organized during the process. He answered all e-mails within 24 hours, regardless of what day it was send. I would recommend that if you’re going to hire a consultant to guide you through this process that you start as early as possible and utilize them to the fullest. Ultimately you’re going to get out of it as much as you put in, meaning that if you wait until the last minute and expect them to bail you out it’s not going to work. Do your research and hire a good consultant, with good reviews (like Santosh).

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1 out of 1 people found the following review helpful
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     By PDisclosure 6 1

This is a real review I promise - I actually had such a bad experience with Stratus Prep that I kept it in my to-do list to write a review on my experience. Fortunately I can say that I'm writing this review after having just graduated from the Booth School of Business, two years later. I'll be working in a marketing role for L'Oreal in NYC after having come to Booth with five years of engineering experience from ExxonMobil.

Keep in mind that my experience deals mostly with Dileepan Siva, my consultant, as I worked directly with him. I also worked a little with Shawn the founder, but his involvement was pretty limited – just one or two consulting sessions with him.

I spent a little over $6000 on a 3 school package - MIT, Stanford, and HBS (round 1). While I was deferred for HBS and MIT to round 2, I ultimately was dinged by all 3. I then decided to apply for Kellogg, Booth, and Wharton in Round 2 and got into Booth off the waiting list.

I initially did some research before picking Stratus Prep – they seemed reputable and there were positive reviews out there. Once I signed up with them, I went through an initial consultation with Shawn and then was paired with Dileepan. Up to that point, everything seemed great and I was excited to work on my application. From that point on you start to work on your application, essays, recommendations, and resume. They make you complete some pre-work exercises to come up with your strengths, weaknesses, goals, etc. Sure, this is helpful, but my biggest gripe is that is it worth $6000? No. In fact, I ended up getting into Booth not even having used Stratus Prep. That was a result of me working my tail off after being on the waitlist (in which they make you submit another application) and then making a trip out there to visit the school which I think is something everything applicant should do BEFORE they even apply. You’ll find out a lot about a school and whether you’ll like just by visiting it.
Having now gone through business school and knowing what schools value in applicants and students, I can tell you that you’re much better off talking to a current business school student or recent alum and getting their input for free. Even buying a book or reading blogs will be much, much less than $6000. Trust me, b-school is not cheap by any means and that $6000 is going to come in very handy.
Those reading this review might think I’m biased because I didn’t get into any of the schools I applied to using Stratus Prep and also because the schools are top business schools and so getting in is sometimes a crap shoot. I agree with the fact that the application process can be a black box, but I feel justified in saying that my experience with Stratus Prep and Dileepan was not personal at all. Sure, he provided feedback on my essays, but honestly that was about it. There wasn’t a real desire to find out about what career opportunities were the best fit for my personal strengths and interests. They do this once you get to business school, but I think it’s even more important to know this during the application process. The saddest part was that at the end after I had gotten dinged by all my R1 schools, I never heard from Dileepan again. I didn’t even bother to tell him that I eventually got into Booth.
Anyway, save the $6000 and instead spend time prior really understanding why you want to go to business school and talk to as many people as you can to understand their perspectives. Then enlist the help of friends and family to read through your essays and resume and that should be good enough.

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     By deye07 5 4

To start off, I'd like to mention that I got into only one of the four schools I applied to.

However, my experience with Stratus was extremely positive. I come from a technical background and I don't really know a lot of people who went/go to business school. I was looking for "guidance" as I went through the MBA admission cycle.

Salma was great. She took the time to really get to know who I am as a person and then helped tailor my essays/applications to reflect who I am. By the end of all the apps, I felt she knew me all too well! I also felt she was genuinely interested in my success. Stratus and Salma helped me shape my "story". Also practicing interviews with Salma (several times) made me confident going into my actual interview.

While I wish I got into more than one school, I feel that with Stratus I made the best possible effort with the time I invested into the process.

Also to answer few of the FAQs questions:
- Did you enjoy the process?
Yes but it was a long hard journey.

- Was it stressful?
The entire cycle from researching schools to getting accepted is pretty stressful for most people. Salma was always optimistic.

- Were they helpful?
Yes, but again I wish I got into at least two schools.

- Did they meet your expectations? Why or why not?
Yes...Reasons highlighted above.

- Would you recommend them? Why or why not?
Yes... Reasons highlighted above.

- What was their greatest strength?
Personable and supportive

- What was their weakest skill?
Their services was on the expensive side.

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     By shubbyaluk 0 0

I first heard of Stratus Prep in 2012, when my mother was sifting online for a company that could help me apply to law school. I had a meeting with Shawn O’Connor and thereafter contracted them to advise me on my MBA applications, which I intended to submit years later. I ultimately decided to hire them to advise me on my law school applications as well. It pleases me to say that now that I got into the business school of my choice, I have no regrets about any of these decisions.

Stratus Prep’s process was invaluable in helping me refine my business school and law school stories. Their “Introspection Process” in particular was instrumental in helping illicit experiences in my life that would contribute to an overall compelling story. Each of my advisers, Santosh Prasad and Helen Pfitzner, was always professional and incredibly responsive. The comments on my essays were very insightful, whether it came from the counsellors or the school specific directors.

In addition to the content of my applications, Stratus Prep was also key in keeping my application process on track, as they ensured that I kept to the important application deadlines amidst my work schedule. Furthermore, the company reviewed my final application before submission and provided sufficient interview practice with junior and senior counsellors, which ultimately prepared me for the interview.

I wholeheartedly recommend Stratus Prep because they have so far helped me get into the business school of my first choice.

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     By user1092 0 0

I highly recommend working with Santosh Prasad from Stratus Prep. Santosh helped me improve my resume structure & content, my application essays, and my interview responses. Santosh gave me helpful feedback, specifically pushing me to expand on topics that would answer the questions MBA admissions teams wanted to hear about. Santosh was very responsive and flexible to set up phone calls. Overall, he was a helpful advisor, supporter, and experienced guide.

I was on a bit of a time crunch and the Stratus Prep office was very quick to respond and help me sign up for a MBA Admissions Counseling Package.

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1 Commented by StratusMBACounselor on June 01, 2016
Glad to see this review about Santosh and his value add in the counseling process.
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     By kathleeng 0 0

John and the Stratus team took what objectively was a weak candidate (low undergrad GPA with a film degree from two decades ago) and helped me craft my story to be both compelling and impressive.

John was always patient, quick to respond to emails and always answered any questions thoroughly and thoughtfully.

I am convinced I would have been accepted into higher ranking schools in my area, but chose Pepperdine for it's philosophy, flexibility, and yes, generous scholarship.

The admissions counseling package was well worth the money spent, and I highly recommend Stratus if you feel you could use a leg up.

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