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Joined: Jun 07, 2020
720 Q49 V39
Donna’s approach to storytelling, beginning with a systematic review of my personal experiences and followed with introspection on these experiences’ impacts on my life trajectory and goals, struck me immediately after I began working with her. I revisited many memories I hadn’t paid attention to for a while, and with her advice, I tailored my essays to the unique characteristics of each school. Her in-depth feedback and strategies to help me convey as many important aspects of my stories as I could were instrumental to my success.
I was also impressed by Donna’s empathy and personal touch – her unbiased evaluation of my strengths and weaknesses and how each school aligned with my long-term goals made me confident that I would thrive anywhere I ended up applying. She also gently reminded me of deadlines and helped me stay on top of the application process, from test-taking to school research to essay-writing, which was plenty to juggle along with a full-time job. As a whole, I found her very enthusiastic, encouraging, and responsive, and I highly recommend her. Thanks again for your help, Donna!
Joined: Jun 06, 2022
As a mechanical engineer working at a refinery in Singapore, when I decided to pursue an MBA in the US, I was dreading the process of writing application essays to portray my skills and leadership qualities. Working in a single company all my life, I had very little (recent) experience with behavioural interviews as well.
I am extremely grateful to Donna for guiding and coaching me through the application process. She was extremely patient with me as we dived deeper into my personal motivations and post-MBA goals. Based on my aspirations, she worked with me to narrow down the schools which were a fit for me based on my preferences. Eventually, I opted to work on 4 schools - out of which I got accepted into 2, one of which provided significant scholarship.
What truly sets Donna apart is the quality of her feedback. From conducting mock interviews, reviewing my resumes, to critiquing my essays through multiple revisions (sometimes up to 6 times), she was always eager to help me ensure that my application was holistic and represented my best self. I'd also like to recognise her team at Stratus which included a proofreader and an independent school reviewer, whose insights were invaluable to my application.
After working with her for more than 8 months, I'm extremely delighted to be going to one of the top business schools in the US next fall. I owe this success to Donna. I've been extremely fortunate to have been mentored by her and couldn’t recommend her enough to anyone who is looking to begin a similar journey.
Joined: May 06, 2022
I used Donna's services for a mock interview to help me with my interview for Kellogg. Not only did she provide me with the insight on how to tell my story in a concise manner for the interview, she also helped me by doing a mock interview and providing feedback on my answers, mannerisms, what I did well, and what I could improve on. She also left time for me to ask the questions that I would ask the potential committee and helped me cater those questions to the individual I would be interviewing with.
Through recording the mock interview, it was also extremely helpful to watch back my own mannerisms in that staged-professional environment with the pressure on.
She is extremely sweet and kind and was so encouraging to help me gain confidence through this process.
Overall, I used her for one school interview, it went extremely well (waiting on the decision) and have been able to use her advice in another interview as well! Highly recommend her services.
Joined: May 31, 2021
710 Q50 V36
REVIEWER IDENTITY VERIFIED by score report [?]
Last year (2021), I took the GMAT and scored a 730. I did not want to take any chances with my MBA applications and wanted to work with the absolute best. I must have talked to at least 35 consultants across the globe. In our first conversation from the get-go, Donna blew me away. She was the first consultant who had gone over my resume and other details that I had shared with her before the call. She told me the strengths of my application and how she can help guide me in telling my story. Our call was scheduled for 30 mins. But it lasted almost 60mins. At the end of it, I knew she was the best consultant I had talked to. So when I asked her for the charges, I was slightly hesitant because I had not budgeted that much money for the applications. I asked Donna if I should buy her hourly services. She left the decision to me, but told me that if she puts in the hours, hourly services will cost me more than the comprehensive package. I slept over this for a couple of days but then decided that I needed to be in the right hands. And so I signed up for her comprehensive package.
I cannot thank Donna enough to have helped me find my voice to write the most personalized story that I could ever tell. She and I spent the first month only on me sharing my story with her and brainstorming the exact reason why I even wanted to do an MBA. Then once we had my story and reasons for MBA ready, she got it all reviewed by Susan Cera. They both guided me to the main highlights of my achievements and my goals post MBA and helped me articulate it as well as I could. When it was time to work on my resume and my essays, Donna did not cut ANY corners at all. She believes in "tough love" because she wants the best for her clients. During the entire essay drafting phase, we had numerous calls and she must have put countless hours in reviewing each draft that I was writing. And she was giving me detailed feedback about each draft. Only when she was satisfied, she would send the essays to the school reviewers of that specific school in their team at Stratus. And then they would give more detailed feedback on how to improve the application further. Never ever did she look at the clock and tell me that she has spent way many hours on my application that she would have liked. There were so many times when I needed to get on call with her on very short notice and before I would ask her, she would set up a mutually convenient time. Sometimes within 15 mins of our email conversation. She even helped proof-read the entire application with me. She will never write the essays or the application for you. Trust me, she will teach you how to craft your story. After all my applications were submitted (6 of them), she took my mock interviews and provided me with live feedback and also a recording of the entire interview for me to watch later and make specific notes in areas of improvement. Then there were days when I used to feel low and not confident if I will make it into any of my dream programs. And she would drop me a note or sometimes get on video call to cheer me up and motivate me and ask me to stay positive. She does not believe in forecasting how many and what all admits one will get. She only believes in crafting the best application and putting the best foot forward. I can confidently say that she must have put 100+ hours on my 6 applications.
While I am still waiting on one decision, I have been accepted at an M7 program (and got accepted in another highly selective T10 program)! None of this would ever have been possible without the help from Donna, Susan, and the rest of the staff at Stratus. I cannot be more thankful to each one of them. At this point, I am confident in saying that I was truly blessed to have been referred to by GMATNinja and that the money that they charge is way less than what Donna (and the team) truly deserve. The fact that she helped me get into a dream school and has been there for me every time I needed it, is something that I cannot be thankful enough for. She is my guiding light. My angel. I am writing this review so that it could help motivate others to join her and get the best in their applications for themselves. She is the best in the business and I wish her all the luck and love and more than she expects. I wish I could give her 10 stars. :)
Joined: Jan 26, 2022
Donna was truly instrumental throughout my MBA application process and connecting with her was a fantastic investment for me. I interviewed 7 consultants and was ultimately drawn to Donna - she asked thoughtful questions, listened and was very transparent and honest about what she thought I needed out of a consultant. Once engaged, Donna assisted with every aspect of the application process. Most importantly, she challenged me to take the necessary time to think through my experiences and to hone in on specific examples that best fit the overall narrative of my application. After the initial introspection work, she helped me craft a cohesive story that highlighted my career aspirations in a way that also allowed my personality and voice to come through on paper. We went through countless iterations of my resume and essays, ultimately leading to a final product that I was proud of. She was always accessible, responsive, insightful, quick to make time to talk and even helped ease the anxiety of application process. Without Donna’s help, I wouldn’t have been accepted to my top choice program!
Joined: Nov 28, 2020
730 Q47 V44
Honestly, thank you Donna! I was admitted to 2 M7, and waitlisted at a T10 with Donna's guidance. I was rejected at 2 other M7s.
Here is the thing: I am an international student so I didn't have experience going through such a rigorous admissions process when I was in my undergrad. At the same time, I am also extremely Type A so I wanted someone who would answer the inanest questions. Donna and the Stratus team did exactly that. The package helped me reflect on my life goals, and how the MBA would contribute to that trajectory. I think this is the basis for good essays. Then, throughout the writing process, Donna offered me feedback (what kind of tone should I take for different schools, what type of essays have been successful in the past etc.), along with "school experts". Beyond the essays, we also worked on how to write an MBA resume, how to best direct my recommenders on LOR, how to cater my interviews for each school - basically, every step, I wasn't alone.
Now, let's talk about the emotional aspect of this process. I was up and down like crazy - one month, I got 2 interviews; the next, I got rejected by 2 schools. Donna was there to help with my self-doubt, and I think that was an important part of making it through this process in somewhat of a good mental mindset.
Finally, I spoke to multiple consultants when I first looked into admissions consultants. Many consultants were very hard focused on my stats (which are comparable given the schools but not anything spectacular). One consultant even told me I probably had a rough chance at the schools on my list. Other consultants were too busy and took on a lot more clients than they should. One of Donna's first questions for me was: "what is something you spend too much time on but have no regrets?". In reflection, I think it's because Donna cares to get to know her clients' stories, and ultimately, the stories are what will differentiate you from everyone else with a high GPA/ GMAT/ MBB etc.
Joined: Jul 06, 2021
750 Q48 V46
The MBA application process can be overwhelming, and in hindsight, it’s hard to imagine going through it without Donna’s support. Donna is an expert storyteller, and whenever I felt stumped by an essay prompt, it made a huge difference to be able to consult with Donna to go over the options we had to tell the strongest story to each school. Donna truly made the effort to get to know me through the introspection work we had done together early in the process, and she had advice on areas of my experience to focus on in essays and interviews that I probably wouldn’t have come up with on my own. Donna’s feedback on my work was always honest, constructive, and fast, and motivated me to stay on schedule despite other personal and professional distractions. Donna is extremely reliable and trustworthy, and I can’t recommend her highly enough!
Joined: Dec 21, 2021
REVIEWER IDENTITY VERIFIED by score report [?]
After what I might've called a traumatic undergraduate college admissions experience, I feel confident saying I've finally moved past it after the tremendous success I've now had with getting into business school. I owe most of this success to Donna. Out of the 6 schools where she helped me, I got into 4 (Northwestern Kellogg, UVA Darden, USC Marshall and UNC Kenan-Flagler) and all with significant scholarships. I started working with her in February and feel I was really rewarded with almost a year of advice and mentorship throughout this often very stressful process. My initial drafts for my essays were very rough and Donna helped me refine them through more than 8 drafts sometimes, until we both, plus the additional objective third party reviewer at Stratus, felt they were strong - and they were! I got in! I feel very lucky to have worked with Donna and couldn't recommend her enough to anyone who is embarking on this process. Start early! It pays off in spades.
Joined: Aug 05, 2021
710 Q37 V49
After working with Donna, I compared the application material I first wrote on my own to the final product with Donna’s coaching and it’s like it came from a completely different person. At every step of the process of working with Donna, I knew that I was in capable hands. She showed both professionalism and profound empathy when guiding me through the application process. Her experience proved invaluable as many of the assumptions I had about the process were entirely incorrect. My successful application, and the financial aid I received with it, are a testament to her ability as an admission consultant.
Joined: Mar 19, 2021
REVIEWER IDENTITY VERIFIED by score report [?]
Working with Donna and Stratus was one of the best decisions I made while applying to business school. Donna came highly recommended by a friend, and I could tell that she was fully committed to my candidacy from the get-go. The Stratus model is vastly different from other admissions consultants'. I really appreciated the time spent on introspection early on — it helped me delve deep into who I am and what motivates me. Donna provided plenty of additional resources to help me along the introspection process.
Stratus also has an external school-specific reviewer for each application, and that allows your application to be judged by an independent reviewer who knows the school well.
Over the course of my 4 applications, Donna went above and beyond. She organised a storytelling workshop for a few of her clients, and sometimes even used her personal network to help connect me to MBA students with similar backgrounds to mine. Most importantly though, she was organised, patient and always available. The application journey is stressful (with many many moments of doubt and uncertainty), and Donna is the right person to have in your corner to navigate the process.
All in all, as an overrepresented candidate with a middling GRE score, working with Donna helped me gain an admit to a top-10 MBA (also my top choice!).