I will be joining Columbia Business School for FT MBA in Jan’18. Susan, Director MBA Admissions at Stratus, was my MBA admission consultant and my go-to person throughout my application journey. I owe my success to her and team Stratus. I can confidently say with no iota of doubt that I would not have got this admit without her support and guidance.
My GMAT is 720(Q50 V37) and I have ~10-year work experience in oil and gas industry. I used to work for one of the leading oilfield services providers and I have worked worldwide offshore in various setups (read remote environments with limited connectivity). Susan supported me through my unpredictable work travel plans and serious network issues and remained as an immense source of encouragement and positivity. She was always an email or a call away, which helped me keep my application process on track. This particularly was more relevant in my case as I come from a non-traditional background and not many of my peers/friends have done/applied for MBA. Susan helped me craft my story in such a way that I was able to present my candidacy in the best possible manner. Having said this, I would not shy away from mentioning that “crafting” part is not a one-day or a week job at Stratus. When I started working with Susan, I had a very detailed introspection, which was formally documented. This was the most challenging part for me. The constant struggle to decide or judge which achievement is good or not good enough for MBA applications was challenging. Fortunately, I had Susan by my side. She NEVER decided anything for me. She NEVER wrote for me. Instead, she made me THINK. This was not very obvious to me sometimes but as I progressed through the other steps of the application process (writing essays, admission interviews), I realized the importance of introspection. Having done all the thinking and brainstorming upfront, I became very adept at crafting my story and presenting my thoughts in a concise and effective manner in essays and later during mock and real admission interviews.
My introspection document became my reference to pick my stories/themes. The strategists at Stratus help you revisit your life experiences and accomplishments and discover yourself, albeit from the MBA-application-angle. With a very detailed introspection by my side, I had a joint meeting with Susan and Salma (former senior consultant at Stratus). Salma brought in her expertise and along with Susan, helped me distill my thoughts and pick the best themes from my personal and professional journey to be presented and highlighted in application essays.
Stratus follows a very structured approach to writing application essays. After Introspection and later school-selection, the second step is to write the outlines for the essays. In my case, these outlines were always first reviewed by Susan followed by the reviews by other consultants (school specific). What truly impressed me was Susan’s ability to convert my raw and very rudimentary thoughts to very powerful essay content. Harold who is another senior consultant at Stratus was my second reviewer and he always brought his unique expertise to the game. I was immensely benefitted by his dissection of my outlines and essays. Once the outlines were approved, writing essays became much simpler. What appeared to be a daunting task in beginning, became a second nature to me over a couple of months. Later during the interview preparation stage, I had access to all the knowledge and expertise at Stratus. After getting mock-interviewed by school-specific consultants and receiving a detailed feedback and great suggestions to improve, I never felt the need to look outside to fetch any information. The entire application process in itself is so taxing that diverting energy in different directions can prove to be counterproductive. Thankfully, it was not the case for me at Stratus.
The team Stratus genuinely wanted me to succeed. This was very evident in every interaction and engagement I had with the team. Susan always ensured that I have the best resources to craft and present my application material. In addition to the access to other school-specific consultants at Stratus, Susan also brought in her latest knowledge about various other schools that I was targeting. This knowledge came in from attending various MBA conferences, sharing experiences of other successful Stratus clients and from her experience of being a former Adcom at Fuqua. But most importantly, Susan's positive and upbeat attitude helped me withstand the demanding journey.
Now, as I prepare to start my new journey at CBS, I can't stop thanking Susan. This is a dream come true for me. I always thought Columbia would be a long shot for me but Susan encouraged me to dream, prepare and apply to CBS. A dream that is a REALITY now!
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