Salma Qarnain

    
Number of reviews [13]


Company: Stratus Admissions Counseling
Packages: Stratus Admissions Counseling MBA Admissions Counseling Packages  
Salma Qarnain's Reviews
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     By EngMBA 0
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

Salma is fantastic. I cannot recommend her, specifically, enough.

I am an “unconventional” MBA candidate coming from an engineering and operations background from an underrepresented U.S. geography. When I began researching for MBA admissions consultants, I struggled to differentiate the people offering the service. Judging from the consultants’ resumes, the top tier MBAs and management consulting experiences began to run together. When I spoke to most consultants, the pitch was standardized, delivered without emotion, and I didn’t feel that they understood or cared about my specific story.

This all changed after my first time speaking with Salma. The first thing that differentiated Salma was her resume; she is a rocket scientist turned actor who at one point ran a small theatre. Salma asked inquiring questions specific to me and looked to make the MBA admissions process fit me and my story, rather than the other way around. Salma always inquired with an optimistic yet calm and empathetic tone that made me feel confident in our approach. Given the high stakes of what could be at stake, I knew she was the right person to help me tell my story.

Once we were working together, Salma was honest about my chances of admission to the top tier programs and highlighted the parts of my application that could use improvement to ensure success. She was always patient as I inquired about the process and her suggestions, but never let me deviate from delivering my story to the schools of my choosing. She was always willing to make time for me and every discussion we had was productive and consistent with the strategy we had agreed upon on the onset of the journey.

From a cost perspective, consultants can be daunting, however I encourage you to put the expense in to the context of the cost of an MBA. If using Salma doubles your chances of admission into a top-tier program (which she will), the cost of the guidance is well worth the payoff.

Salma is fantastic. I cannot recommend her, specifically, enough.

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     By anotherapplicant 11 7
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

As I began my MBA application journey almost 12 months ago, I was referred to Stratus Admissions Counselling by two of my very close friends who got into Top 10 schools with Stratus's help.

Going into the process, I had only one constraint - I wanted to go into a Top 15 school this year (2017) and was not willing to wait an extra year or two. However, I had a lot of things going against me - belonging to an over-represented demographic, sub 680 GMAT score, 3 - 3.3 GPA and 10 months of full-time experience (2yrs at matriculation). Therefore, I signed up for the 4 school senior MBA counselor package and based on my friends seamless experience with Salma, I requested to be paired with her.

Overall, I had an incredible experience working with Salma. She was very responsive (sometimes even working through weekends and holidays), acted more like a mentor than a consultant throughout the process, and really helped me dig deep to put together my life story. Apart from helping me with my story, essays, resume etc., she also kept pushing me to improve my GMAT (and eventually I did by over 70 points), suggested ways to overcome my low GPA and less than average number of years of work experience. Another thing I loved about Salma was the interview prep that I received from her - countless number of insightful mock sessions before each of my interviews.

I ended up applying to 4 top 10 schools in R1 but unfortunately was not accepted to any. Again, Salma and Josh proved to be saviors, helped me pick myself up, and as promised (the 4 school guarantee), they offered to help me with another set of 4 schools in R2 without any charge. This time around, I applied to a mix of 4 Top 10-20 schools, and have been very fortunate to be accepted into a Top 15 program - one of my top choices.

Given the things that were going against me, I am very grateful to have been accepted into a top program this year, and without a doubt, it would not have been possible without Salma and the whole stratus team - they are simply awesome. I truly believe in their process and skills to help a candidate put forward one's best foot, and hence I referred two of my other close friends to utilize their help. So, no matter which stage of the process you are in, if you are thinking about hiring a consultancy, Stratus (and Salma) are the only way to go.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review helpful
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     By deye07 5 4
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

To start off, I'd like to mention that I got into only one of the four schools I applied to.

However, my experience with Stratus was extremely positive. I come from a technical background and I don't really know a lot of people who went/go to business school. I was looking for "guidance" as I went through the MBA admission cycle.

Salma was great. She took the time to really get to know who I am as a person and then helped tailor my essays/applications to reflect who I am. By the end of all the apps, I felt she knew me all too well! I also felt she was genuinely interested in my success. Stratus and Salma helped me shape my "story". Also practicing interviews with Salma (several times) made me confident going into my actual interview.

While I wish I got into more than one school, I feel that with Stratus I made the best possible effort with the time I invested into the process.

Also to answer few of the FAQs questions:
- Did you enjoy the process?
Yes but it was a long hard journey.

- Was it stressful?
The entire cycle from researching schools to getting accepted is pretty stressful for most people. Salma was always optimistic.

- Were they helpful?
Yes, but again I wish I got into at least two schools.

- Did they meet your expectations? Why or why not?
Yes...Reasons highlighted above.

- Would you recommend them? Why or why not?
Yes... Reasons highlighted above.

- What was their greatest strength?
Personable and supportive

- What was their weakest skill?
Their services was on the expensive side.

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     By Anonymous 0
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

During my senior year of college, I heard about the HBS 2+2 program, but had not given it any prior thought. I started looking into admissions consulting, but was off to a late start. After having heard fantastic things about Stratus Prep, I had an initial free 30 minute consultation with Shawn, who, as an aside, is very impressive--everyone should take advantage of the free consultation. Shawn talked me through their admissions consulting offers specifically for HBS, and placed me with Salma Qarnain.

Salma was fantastic. Coming into the process, I was nervous and wasn't sure if I would be able to catch up from a late start. From my experience, there is a much larger emphasis on qualitative factors in the MBA admissions process relative to other graduate or professional (law or medicine) programs. Having someone as thoughtful as Salma to (1) help me understand my professional goals, (2) know what I wanted to get out of the MBA and (3) portray myself in the best way possible, were crucial to my acceptance. Salma helps walk you through every step, from an initial process understanding defining qualities of you as a person and your professional goals (which was possibly even more helpful than being accepted itself), to having an outline and ultimately a final essay that is a crucial piece of your application. For interview preparation, Salma was able to strike a delicate balance, asking me tough questions that would prepare me for the interview, while having a positive attitude that gave me confidence.

While I came in thinking I started the process too late, by the time of the interview, I felt confident in telling my own story about myself as a person and why I wanted to go to HBS. The process was a lot of work--Salma puts in a lot of time and attention to each step of the process, and expects you do the same. However, she could not be more kind and supportive along the way, and the outcomes of her students speak for themselves.

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Excellent Decision
January 20 | 2016
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     By Anonymous 19 2
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

Using Stratus Prep to assist with my applications was one of the best decisions I made all year. As someone from an atypical background and not many friends/coworkers with MBAs, it was critical that I had someone to guide me through the rigorous process. They just helped me portray who I am in a way that would resonate with Admissions Committee members. At no point did I feel like I was not submitting my own work or that I was lying to get admission, just that I was presenting the best “me” possible. I’ll admit I got a lucky in that I locked down Salma as my primary consultant before she got promoted to President (and would thus charge higher rates), but everyone I spoke with at Stratus was professional and had excellent input. Not many complaints, on occasion it would take a few days to get a response, but for time sensitive questions/requests I ALWAYS received a prompt response.

All good consultants are expensive and the "spend money to make money" adage applies quite well here. While I probably could have gotten into a top 15 school on my own, I doubt I could have broken the M7 barrier without Stratus’ assistance. I did some thorough research prior to picking a consultant and Stratus Prep’s pricing was very competitive (although I encourage everyone to research which options would work best for them).

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     By Anonymous 0
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

Yes - school of my dreams

Stratus Prep did a fantastic job of pairing me up with Salma Qarnain, after my initial conversations with Shawn O'Connor, the head of Stratus.

I cannot recommend Salma highly enough! She paid very close attention to the story that we were conveying, and was able to firmly guide me in the direction needed for each application. I was the type of applicant that had a lot of big ideas for each essay, and Salma provided the solid guidance that I sought.

From other friends that used Stratus - and also got into their schools - Stratus can provide smaller packages and be more hands off if you desire. For me, however, the deep dive into my background with their robust Stratus templates provided a very personal consulting experience, and ultimately helped identify what Salma saw as the most compelling aspects of my story. The interview prep once I got into the schools was also VERY helpful.

Extremely responsive, friendly but firm, and very high quality work. The full package - from picking the schools that fit, to the interview. Salma was amazing, and I would recommend her to anyone!

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     By terrco89 0
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

Some, but not all

I enjoyed working with Stratus Prep for my MBA admissions process and would recommend them for anyone who, like me, needed an extra push to stick to a timeline and make sure you cover all aspects of the application process.

I got the two school package. I started early in the year, before taking the GMAT and by the time I finally got the score I wanted/needed, they changed my counselor. I was not very happy but in the end it worked out very well since I got along with my new counselor much better than my previous one. She was a graduate of one of my top choice schools and was very supportive through the whole application process. She answered emails in a timely manner, was always ready to give me personalized feedback, pushed me to go the extra mile and stick to a timeline. The most helpful thing, which made it a worthwhile investment, is that they really helped me tell my story in the best light possible and in my opinion this is the most valuable thing an admission counselor can do, besides proofreading your essays.

The only reason I'm not giving them 5 stars is because I thought the level of help they provided for the interview preparation did not match the first part of the application. I had a very hard time scheduling my mock interview and the feedback that was provided was high level.

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     By Anonymous 89 11
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

Some, but not all

I signed up for Stratus Prep after hearing Shawn O'Connor speak at a local MBA event in San Francisco. I was a little hesitant at first because of the steep price tag, but I couldn't be happier with the service that I received.

The introspection process was very thorough and was a great way to outline my MBA goals, resume, and application profile.

I was paired with Salma after my Round 1 applications and was simply blown away by her commitment to helping me succeed. Not only was she super encouraging, but she gave me valuable constructive feedback on my essays, resume and even to my recommender.

I found the mock interviews extremely valuable as well and felt very comfortable and confident going into my actual interviews after a few rounds of practice with Salma over Skype.

Working with Stratus took a lot of stress out of a VERY stressful MBA application process. I took comfort in the fact that Salma wouldn't let me submit anything that was sub-par. And it paid off! I got into my top choice business school and will be attending in the fall!

If you go with Stratus, I highly recommend working with Salma!

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0 out of 1 people found the following review helpful
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     By UTWrestler 72 36
The reviewer was admit to the schools that they applied to:

Yes - school of my dreams

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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4 Older and Non-Verified Reviews for Salma Qarnain