MBA Admissions Counseling Packages Reviews
    Number of reviews [13]      Average Rating:       (4.9/5)
With this package your Admissions Counselor will guide you through every step of the admissions process from school selection and choosing/coaching recommenders to outlining/editing essays and preparing for interviews. Pay by the number of schools to which you are applying.
HBS Acceptance with Stratus Prep
April 05 | 2014

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       By Anonymous joined: May 19, 2013 | 2 | 5 |
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:  Yes - school of my dreams
This review is for:  MBA Admissions Counseling Packages  
I was very happy with the services that I received from Stratus Prep. I used their help to apply to Stanford and HBS and got into HBS!!

The two best parts of the counseling program according to me were:

1. The introspection routine that we completed in the first month or so. This really helped me dig deep into my own background, strengths and accomplishments.

2. The mock interviews. I did several mock interviews with my advisor, Pas, and also some with Shawn and Vanessa. They helped me with answering odd ball questions, slowing down the pace of the conversation, keeping the conversation interactive, etc.

The help provided with essay outlining and writing was great! Pas was available almost all the time to answer questions and provide constructive feedback.

I would strongly recommend Stratus Prep!
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Great process, smart and driven people => Results
March 28 | 2014

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       By Anonymous joined: May 7, 2010 | 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  
Firstly, I must thank everyone else whose taken the time to review admissions consultants. I looked through literally each and every review across 8 firms or so before making my decision. Now, I'd like to walk you through the whole process with my sense of what went well, what could have gone better, etc. I hope it helps.

My profile
I am an Indian Male Engineer (I hear this is the worst demographic followed closely by White Male Finance). The weaknesses in my application were average grades in university and a lack of "brand" name firm - I work for a boutique consulting firm. My GMAT was 720 - neither here nor there. And my strength were some defining life experiences, entrepreneurial experiences in university (while I wasn't studying :)), and the fact that I had worked on projects across multiple continents. And I was 24 when I sent in my application - so a bit on the younger end.

I knew I was one of those "on-the-edge" candidates. The schools would need to take a bet on me as I didn't conform to the norm and was from an over-subscribed demographic. Don't let anyone tell you that brands and demographics don't matter - the schools that say they evaluate every application based on its merits are the ones who probably do most of their selection via quotas. Finally, this isn't an easy process and unless you are a slam dunk candidate (4 years at top tier consulting/banking or sold a million dollar company or run a famous not-for-profit, woman, etc., etc.), I'd say using a consultant is probably best practice.

Finding the right admissions consultant
I had tried the year before without a consultant and knew I could do with the help. So, after going through reviews on GMATClub and Beat-the-GMAT, I decided to speak to 4 firms - Stratus Prep, MBA Prep School, Stacy Blackman, and MBAMission.
MBAMission were out of the running early. Their consultant spoke to me - she sounded hard working but, somehow, it didn't click. It also seemed like a one-person process and, having spoken with Shawn, I wasn't convinced this was the one for me. Then Stacy Blackman was out of the race. They had an impressive person do the first call. However, they seemed to have many part time coaches. I didn't want to spend all this money to have someone review my resume at the end of a long day. Additionally, it didn't feel like they knew each other well. The moment I saw a response saying "I think she is full time" - I realized this wasn't for me.

The next one (and this was the hardest) was to take MBA Prep School's Chris Aitken out of the race. He was great - fortright and honest. He was a lot more expensive and I had a hard time saying no to him.

Finally, I decided to go with Stratus Prep. Shawn O Connor had a very thoughtful pitch. He got the challenges behind my application and felt he could help. He emphasized Stratus Prep's process and was very willing to have me speak to former clients - that's what clinched it. Theirs was an approach completely different to the others. I also ensured I spoke to my consultant - Jessica - and signed up immediately after.

Tip: 4 things to look for - process (do they have a thorough approach?), chemistry, full time availability, unlimited consultation. You probably won't need unlimited consultant - I can't think of any week where we spoke more than once.. But I'd be nervous if that wasn't allowed.

Stratus Prep
Here's the Stratus prep process -
1. Introspection: First, you put together all your significant stories and thoughts around your application together. Then, discuss with your coach.
2. Craft your personal story. Once you go through that, you put together a personal story deck with a few slides that talks about your key themes, your career aspirations, etc. I found getting to the career aspirations part difficult and had to take a lot of help from wiser friends. This was a useful part of the process. You then arrive at your key themes and review them with Shawn.
3. Outlines. Next, you outline your essays in paras and bullets and again, go through with coach and Shawn.
4. Drafts. Then, you do 4-5 (or as many required) drafts of your essays/powerpoint wherein you have your coach and a couple of others also look through your draft. This part is very helpful as you need to have different sets of eyes looking at it for fresh perspective and feedback.
5. Final touches. And, then, you can check in with your coach as many times as you like as you put together the final product including short answer questions, notes to recommenders, guidance to recommenders, etc.
6. Interview prep. Once you submit, you receive a list of the 60+ most frequent interview questions and get to do mocks with your coach and Shawn (for your top choice school).

It's a thorough and comprehensive process. The biggest plus for me was that I had been a real pain-in-the-ass in my previous attempt as I hounded some of my more experienced friends (ex MBAs) to help me with story, drafts, revisions, etc. This way, I had Stratus prep play that role and engaged all of them at the end of the process, incorporated their feedback, and then sent the final version.
Shawn and Jessica were excellent in making me do more than the minimum - it is easy to lose this perspective when you apply to multiple schools. I made a 4 slide presentation for Booth and a 5 min video for MIT that I was really proud of - I wouldn't have done this otherwise. I also know from a friend who hired another reputed firm that this is not the case. Her consultant sounded like a disaster in comparison.

What was not good/ideal
1. This process is what you make of it. As much as Shawn's sales pitch paints this picture of someone keeping you organized, that is not the case. If you stick to deadlines and push yourself, the process moves fast. Else, it moves slow. I think I was among the first ones to finish my essay drafts - some 3 weeks ahead - and I knew there were others still working on it 2 days before their deadline. So, you've got to push a lot.
Same case with the interviews - I ended up making a draft of answers to each and every one of the 60+ questions they provided. This wasn't expected or required.. It might be helpful to have coaches follow up a bit more and push the applicants.

2. There were some places where I felt they could have been more organized.

What was good
1. Jessica (my coach) was excellent. Dependable, constructive and always available. She "got" me and did everything she could to help me succeed. Shawn and Vanessa are a great team and the due oversee everything. Shawn's insights on the application process are worth the money.
2. I know I've mentioned this multiple times - but they DO have an excellent process. They are also very clear on their stand on ethics - so they don't do any essay writing for you. You do the work.. They guide you. As someone else describes it - "It's like having your best friend help you.. Only a best friend who has seen 1000s of applications."

3. And, now for the other side, I applied to a bunch of the top schools and didn't do any safety schools. Shawn and Jessica were supportive of this - despite my "on-the-edge" candidacy. I applied for a few with Stratus and the rest on my own. It didn't all work out but I got admitted to a top school and got waitlisted by a slightly lower ranked school. I got less interviews than I hope - but, here's the amazing part, thanks to Stratus Prep, I felt like I'd given it my best shot. I always knew I was a tough candidate.. There was a long period when I had completely lost hope in anything working out and Shawn, Vanessa, and Jessica were excellent through that. Shawn even did a full review of my application and offered to help me for free on a couple of schools the next time around.

When the results and the admission finally came, Jessica was among the first people I tried to reach. The trio of Shawn, Vanessa, and Jessica were as thrilled as I was. And I knew their happiness was genuine.

So, that's my story. I didn't walk into HBS with a sub par GMAT or anything like that. I had a non traditional profile in the most heavily subscribed demographic and have got application in a top school with a culture that fits my personality and values (this is a two-way process for most candidates - you pick the schools you want to go to and the best-fits pick you). The process wasn't easy. In fact, it was bloody hard and often very painful. But, I learnt a lot and, thanks to Stratus Prep, knew I gave it my best shot. At times, it was looking likely that I wouldn't make it at all and, even in those times, I was tempted to log in here and post a 5/5 review. They helped me "be" the best I could be in my application.. And, I think, for that, they deserve full credit.

Thanks Jessica, Shawn, Vanessa. Good job.

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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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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Thanks, StratusPrep!
December 25 | 2013

2 out of 2 people found the following review helpful
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       By Anonymous joined: January 29, 2013 | 18 | 7 |
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:  Yes - school of my dreams
This review is for:  MBA Admissions Counseling Packages  
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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Stratus Prep Helped Me Get Into My Dream School (Wharton)
October 29 | 2013

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       By Anonymous joined: May 15, 2011 | 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:  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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Incredible experience
May 08 | 2013

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       By Anonymous joined: August 23, 2012 | 6 | 5 |
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:  
This review is for:  MBA Admissions Counseling Packages   Consultant:  Samantha Merton
I'm going to be honest here. I was really wary of using admissions consultants at the beginning of the process. I had a pretty strong profile, for top 5-10 schools, but knew I would be a bit of a stretch at top 3. (Female, 3 years consulting experience at a reputable firm, 680 GMAT, 3.7 GPA).

Once I decided that it was a worthwhile investment, I was the girl who did my fair share of due diligence. I'm pretty sure I interviewed every major firm out there, and came armed with a thousand questions. I decided to work with Stratus Prep because I really liked their super indepth process. My initial meeting was with Shawn, their ceo who made me feel really confident about my chances at Stanford, which was my dream school. With their help, I was able to get into Stanford, Kellogg, and Booth.

I would definitely recommend working Samantha, my counselor. She was an excellent guide, and also a great friend when I got really stressed out a couple of times throughout the process. Her responsiveness to emails, thoughtful ideas, attentiveness to details in my many essay reviews, and confidence in me as an applicant made a huge difference, and I am really thankful for my experience with her, and the whole team.
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Got into MIT!!
April 08 | 2013

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       By Anonymous joined: April 7, 2013 | 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   Consultant:  Samantha Merton
I only used Stratus Prep to get into MIT and I am happy to share that I was able to get in with their help!

I worked with Shawn and Samantha from Status Prep. They would say that they are very professional people. At any point they didn’t let me feel that I am taking too much of their time. We worked on our goal together.

Initially, I felt like their process is too long and too much information is required, but later I realized it was really worth it. It helped me in putting my application in the right direction and making sure that I didn’t leave any important point to mention in my application.

Shawn’s input at each and every step of the application was very helpful. Samantha’s turnaround time was very quick. In fact, she had to wait many times for information from me. She made sure each and every line in my application is presented in a right way.

I am really grateful to them for their help and I would recommend them to anyone who wants to get into top business school!!
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Fantastic Service
March 25 | 2013

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       By Anonymous joined: March 25, 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:  Vanessa Gil
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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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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Best Stratus Prep GMAT Instructors
Samantha Merton [USA]
    
Shawn OConnor [USA]
    
Vanessa Gil [USA]
    
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