|All Reviews > Stratus Admissions Counseling Reviews|
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: Sep 21, 2013
I still keep pinching myself, y'know. To ensure I am not stuck in an 'inception-esque' trance.
But I know it's real. My destiny was sealed the day the admission letter read 'Congratulations' with a celebratory confetti background wallpaper.
Mins later, I sent an email to Susan telling her that we had done it. We had converted our first US business school. The journey hadn't been easy, especially for an ORM (over-represented minority). So, let's dive right in.
In September 2021, I decided to finally shake off the dust of procrastination regarding my MBA plans. But, still reeling under the 'let-me down' eyes of self-doubt, I knew I needed guidance on the admissions process. After some secondary research online, I came across the website of Stratus Consulting and its senior director - Susan Cera.
Susan and I spoke for the first time end of September. It was a 30 mins consultation call wherein we discussed my profile. The discussion was highly directive. It was humbling to hear about my strengths and my blind spots. Susan did not mince her words, which helped me steer clear of any delusions I was carrying.
We decided to work together for the next 1-2 months, building my personalized MBA blueprint. This had three critical parts, each feeding into the other:-
a) Part 1: Gather data points by reflecting on past experiences across professional and personal settings
b) Part 2: Identify Attributes by leveraging the data points gathered
c) Part 3: Build Story by identifying stories that allude to those specific attributes
Post this exercise. We built out the second part of the strategy:-
a) Why MBA? And Why Now?
b) Post MBA goals? Short-term and Long-term
Further to this exercise, we refined my resume, driving specificity through the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) framework.
Finally, we bucketed my target schools across three areas, i.e., Likely/Reach/Stretch. At this point, it is essential to mention that given my debilitating test anxiety, we decided to only look at schools with a GMAT waiver.
As part of the following steps, we worked selectively on a few essays, wherein Susan reviewed my story, constantly pushing me to direct my thoughts using the STAR format. Her #1 guidance to me was that 'specificity drives credibility,' and those golden words have been etched into my brain since then.
Our journey led us to convert to a top 20 B-School and get waitlisted at a top 15. I honestly did not expect to cut, but Susan – as my guardian angel – was there to reassure me in every way. She was more than a consultant, a sounding board that allowed me to vent my frustrations and insecurities without turning a page of judgment. I am forever indebted to her contribution, allowing this ORM a fighting chance at the top 20 MBA programs in the US.
Joined: Jun 07, 2020
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Consultant Donna Bauman
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
Consultant Donna Bauman
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: Mar 16, 2022
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Consultant Susan Cera
If I could offer a single piece of advice to someone interested in business school, it would be: work with Susan Cera. Susan helped me secure multiple acceptances, including 3 full-ride scholarships (including one to an M7) and a substantial scholarship to Wharton. Honestly, that success alone is enough for me to offer Susan my highest recommendation (11/10 !) and to tell everyone I know to hire her ASAP. However, Susan brought so much more to our relationship than the feedback one would expect from a consultant. She brought unyielding support (at times, she felt more like a therapist than coach), so much positivity (even while chatting as her daughter was in the hospital), and, truthfully, heart. Susan really, really will be in your corner throughout this process. She wants the best for her clients and consistently (underscore consistently!) goes above and beyond to ensure they submit high-caliber applications that reflect who they are.
When I first connected with Susan, I had a "feeling" as to why business school was the right next step for me, but as a nontraditional candidate, I was super naive about the process and business school, in general. I had an ambiguous dream career and a surface-level rationale as to why an MBA would help me get there. Susan always knew what questions to ask and what sort of guidance to offer to help me tease out my short- and long-term goals. She also has extensive knowledge of business school and the different programs, so she helped me connect the dots between the skills I wanted to develop and what I would learn from an MBA. This helped me answer the "why an MBA now?" interview question confidently and with ease. Perhaps more importantly, Susan made me believe that I was a strong fit for business school. Susan made such an effort to get to know me and helped me realize my place at top MBA programs. She also ensured my applications were an authentic reflection of me, my experiences, and my dreams, and it was this authenticity that I think caught the eyes of admissions committees. On that note, I feel more confident entering business school after having worked with Susan. Knowing that I presented my full self to admissions and was accepted has lessened my imposter syndrome. I was accepted based on who I am and what I can bring to the table - I cannot thank Susan enough for this confidence boost and peace of mind!!
Overall, I am, of course, thrilled to be attending school in the fall and to be done with this arduous process, but at the same time, I will miss my sessions with Susan. She is THAT wonderful, THAT motivating, THAT inspiring. I feel immensely lucky to have worked with her!
Lastly, a big shoutout to Melisa - she was another huge help in my strategy session and congratulated me with every interview invite and acceptance I received. Thanks, Melisa, for your support and warmth! I am glad Susan brought you into our sessions.
Joined: May 25, 2022
Consultant Jennifer Jackson
I highly recommend working with Jennifer and Stratus! She is absolutely incredible and made the biggest difference in my application journey. I was terrified of this process and felt that I had a lot working against me as I considered business school, with an undergraduate GPA much lower than the average at my top choice programs. Jennifer participated in a webinar with my Forte MBALaunch cohort, and I immediately knew I wanted to work with her.
Jennifer helped me explain the challenges I faced during my undergraduate years and provided constructive feedback at every step of the way. She also helped me stick to my timeline and followed up with me when I was working long hours and needed additional reminders to stay on track with my applications. Her guidance helped me take my confusing career goals and articulate them in a simple way that tied in my professional background and personal experiences.
When I started receiving invitations to interview, Jennifer set aside time to complete a mock interview for every school. I felt fully prepared for each one, to the point that I wasn’t even nervous for the actual interview! I felt more confident in myself and my candidacy by working with Jennifer.
She went above and beyond the entire time I worked with her, and I could tell she was just as invested in my MBA journey as I was. In the end, I received multiple acceptances with scholarships at every school, and Jennifer helped me navigate negotiating financial aid. I will be attending my top choice, Chicago Booth, this fall, and I wouldn’t be here without Jennifer. Beyond my applications, her guidance has helped me refine my career goals and identify what I really want to accomplish during my MBA program. I can’t thank her enough and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with her!
Joined: May 17, 2022
Consultant Soterios Rouman
Soterios helped me a lot with my application. I got into Berkeley and UCLA. I really like how there's an established process where we went through different stories and how they apply to the application. Soterios gave really good feedback. He explained the process of how he is going to go through the consultation and the timeline to be expected. He is also a very good mentor. I'm interested in exploring entrepreneurship and Soterios was helpful in telling me about entrepreneurship elements in business school. I really like the fact that there's a package, where we looked at the resume, essays in the application and explore areas of the programs that's of my interest.
Joined: Apr 25, 2022
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Consultant Jennifer Jackson
I could not recommend Jennifer more! From the beginning, Jennifer made me feel comfortable. I was not very confident in the application process prior to working with Jennifer because I come from a non-traditional major/career for business school. Jennifer was able to help me see this as a strength and to use my work experience to my advantage when applying.
Additionally, I was very nervous when I started the application process because I was working long hours and was not sure when I could make the time for applications. Thanks to Jennifer, I had a structured approach to my MBA applications. This allowed me to stay on track timing-wise and to have a more stress-free approach to essay writing.
I most definitely recommend Stratus, the attention to detail and care the team puts into their work makes a tremendous difference. I will be attending Columbia Business School in the fall and can say with confidence that I would not be here without Jennifer and Stratus.
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 02, 2022
As a non-traditional candidate coming from an arts background, I needed someone to help me translate my wide-ranging real-life experience into something business schools could understand. We worked on my resume, messaging, and essays, as I already felt confident in my interview abilities. After just a few hours consulting with Susan as part of an hourly package, I felt very confident with my applications. In the end, I received $120k merit to CBS and over $300k from NYU Stern, Berkeley Haas, and Georgetown combined. If you're looking to pay for school with merit money, there's absolutely no smarter investment than working with Susan.