Stratus Prep Admissions Consulting Reviews
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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
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Hourly services with Samantha Merton - Definitely recommend
March 17 | 2015

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       By Anonymous joined: October 22, 2014 | 0 | 0 |
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:  Yes - got into all
This review is for:  Hourly Services   Consultant:  Samantha Merton
I initially called several consulting companies and the reason I chose Stratus Prep over the other companies was because of my phone call with Shawn. Shawn was very pleasant to speak with, did not try to get me to aim lower for any of my schools, and overall made me a lot more optimistic about my chances.

After deciding on Stratus Prep I was paired up with Samantha Merton. I worked with Samantha on an hourly basis for two of my schools (Wharton & Fuqua). I was primarily concerned with essay analysis and review.

Samantha originally scheduled some time to get to know me as well as my story. For the essays she was very open to my suggestions (sending her a high overview of what I wanted to talk about vs drafts) and steered my essays into the right direction. I can't say if I would have gotten into both schools without her assistance but I can say with 100% confidence that the quality of my essays were much better thanks to her. Samantha also found areas in my essays that did not seem to make sense to an outsider and made sure that I elaborated and clarified where needed. In the end I was accepted into both Wharton with $ and Fuqua with $$$.

Samantha made the entire process much more relaxing and her turnaround time for every single email was less than 24 hours (I would say less than 1 hour to be honest...) so I knew that I was always in good hands.

I highly recommend working with Samantha!
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Stratus Prep helped me realize my dreams
February 24 | 2015

0 out of 1 people found the following review helpful
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       By UTWrestler joined: July 10, 2014 | 72 | 36 |
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:  Salma Qarnain
Going into the MBA application process, I had high hopes. I had my heart set on a couple schools in the M7. With that said, I could clearly look at my background and see that it would be a stretch to get into one of the M7's. I went to a state college, majored in business with a 3.6 GPA , and had a 700 GMAT (In other words I am your average Joe!!!). In addition, I had a completely different career objective for my MBA then what my background/experience was in. I researched many consulting services before being blown away with Stratus Prep. I remember talking on the phone with Shawn, the founder, and feeling absolutely convinced that this was the right place to help focus my application and give me the best chance to succeed.....And thankfully I was right.

Shawn set me up with one of their top consultants, Salma, who i simply can't say enough good things about. Salma is brilliant in many things and very passionate about her job. She was there at every step from building the foundation of my story to crossing her fingers with me while we waited by the phone to hear my dream schools decision.

The end result was me getting into of of the top programs in the world with a very big and unexpected scholarship. I can honestly say that Stratus Prep was a big part of making my B-School application journey a success. If they can help me get into my dream school then they can help anybody.
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Stratus Prep Exceeds all Expectations!
February 24 | 2015

0 out of 1 people found the following review helpful
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       By Anonymous joined: March 20, 2014 | 0 | 0 |
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:  Some, but not all
This review is for:  MBA Admissions Counseling Packages   Consultant:  Salma Qarnain
I could not have made it to top tier MBA programs without Salma Qarnain from Stratus Prep.

I got to know of Stratus through a college senior who used them last year and highly recommended them. I unlike some others on this forum did not speak with any other firm and based on a conversation with Salma and Shawn- felt a level of comfort and decided to sign up with Stratus. So I will not be able to make any comparisons here.

The great part about Salma and Stratus to me extends beyond the essay reviews and mock interviews. Salma was a constant source of support and encouragement to me through a process that can prove to be stressful. Through my anxious wait for interview invites and freak outs over punctuation in my essays, Salma provided a much required sense of calm and confidence to me. As an international student I did not have many MBA alums or students from top tier US programs in my network, and Salma provided very insightful advice as an alum of Stanford, MIT and HBS.

The counselling process is designed in a detailed step-by-step manner and provides a great framework to build your application upon. I applied in Round 1 of 2014 and signed up with Stratus in May (even before I took my GMAT) and I recommend an early start with Stratus to all, especially if you have a demanding full time job.

I have admission offers from Duke, Darden, Tuck, Yale and Kellogg (with a scholarship I could have never imagined) and I have Salma and Stratus to thank for that. I highly recommend Stratus to everyone who wants to put their best foot forward.

PS: If you reach out to Shawn and ask for the person who wrote this review, I'm sure he'll connect you. Happy to chat in further detail. Sorry this is anonymous.
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Vanessa Gil - Simply the Best
January 23 | 2015

0 out of 1 people found the following review helpful
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       By Anonymous joined: October 9, 2014 | 2 | 6 |
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:  Vanessa Gil
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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Highly Recommend Stratus
November 08 | 2014

0 out of 1 people found the following review helpful
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       By Anonymous joined: November 8, 2014 | 0 | 0 |
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:  Yes - got into all
This review is for:  MBA Admissions Counseling Packages  
I highly recommend Stratus Prep for admissions consulting. I was lucky enough to have Jeff Mroz as my counselor and it was a joy from beginning to end. To me, Stratus Prep's biggest asset is their proven process. They spend a lot of time helping you think through your application and decide what is important and what can be left out. They assign you work to do on your own which really makes you think about what it is that you want to include in your application. After each assignment was done I'd schedule a call with Jeff and Shawn to discuss. I didn't get a sense they had cookie cutter suggestions, they both really put the time in to think about my story and how to bring out the best in me. And it showed.

Another thing I'll say is that Jeff and Shawn were totally honest with me. They didn't pull any punches. I had a few points that I thought were very strong. I had thought about using them for months and after explaining to both of them why I thought they'd be useful they told me why they thought otherwise. After more thought, they were right.

Before I signed on with Stratus I asked them for 2 references. I made calls to both of them and they had great things to say about their experiences. But then I thought, of course they'd give me references who got into their dreams schools. How about someone who didn't?

I had applied to my target school before and was rejected but I told Jeff before I heard back this time around that I'd recommend him and Stratus if I got rejected again. My experience was that good. I would have been the reference who didn't get in and still recommended Stratus. Fortunately though, I was accepted to my target school and I could not be happier.
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Invaluable Admissions Help
June 18 | 2014

0 out of 1 people found the following review helpful
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       By Anonymous joined: June 4, 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
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

0 out of 1 people found the following review helpful
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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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Happy Reapplicant - Attending HBS now
May 30 | 2014

0 out of 1 people found the following review helpful
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       By gwang2015 joined: May 30, 2014 | 1 | 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:  Vanessa Gil
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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Happy Reapplicant - Attending HBS now
May 30 | 2014

0 out of 1 people found the following review helpful
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       By gwang2015 joined: May 30, 2014 | 1 | 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:  Vanessa Gil
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

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       By Anonymous joined: May 28, 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:  Vanessa Gil
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.

Flexibility

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.

Insightful

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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