MBA Admissions Counseling Packages Reviews
    Number of reviews [20]      Average Rating:       (5.0/5)
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.
Invaluable Admissions Help
June 18 | 2014

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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

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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

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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

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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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Into HBS and Wharton with a 680
May 14 | 2014

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       By AndyG joined: May 14, 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   Consultant:  Shaifali Aggarwal
I am a Caucasian male in finance who worked with Stratus Prep last year. I had four years of pretty generic investment banking experience (no Goldman or KKR here). I got into HBS and Wharton (with a full ride) with the help of Stratus Prep and my consultant, Shaifali, who was always available to me (even nights and weekends) which was critical given my super demanding work schedule.

Stratus Prep really helped me realize how hard it is to get into top schools, like HBS, as a male in finance. They helped me craft a really different narrative that weaved in my personal background and interests and demonstrated who I was holistically. Based on the results of my friends who used other counselors and went with more traditional finance stories, I have no doubt that this is the sole reason that I got into HBS and probably had a lot to do with my full ride at Wharton (since I had just a 3.5 and a 680).

Stratus Prep is very different from the countless other firms that I interviewed before hiring Stratus. Stratus Prep only hires full time counselors who went to the very top schools and have admissions experience. A lot of other firms wanted to match me with someone who had a full time job outside of admissions at places like Goldman and McKinsey. I knew my application would not be a priority. Stratus could not have prioritized me and my application any more. I had a whole team that I worked with including not just Shaifali but also Vanessa who supervises all the MBA Admissions Counselors and Shawn (the CEO who was always there whenever we had a question for him).

I have referred countless friends in the US and abroad to Stratus and they have all had similarly exceptional results and experiences.

You cannot go wrong with Stratus. They mean it when they say that "they treat your application like it were their own."
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Best Decision I Made!
May 12 | 2014

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       By ebsters6 joined: May 12, 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
I came to Stratus Prep after both my brother and cousin used Shawn to help with admission consulting and were very pleased with their results. I'll admit I was beyond nervous about the entire process. I had not done as well as I had hoped on the GMAT and I otherwise appeared as an average MBA candidate (good work experience, not a lot of management experience, good undergrad school, average GPA). However it was very important for me to go to a top business school and in particular I had my heart set on Kellogg.

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