|All Reviews > Stratus Admissions Counseling Reviews|
Joined: Jul 21, 2019
740 Q47 V44
I come from a technical atypical background with a lower than average GPA for M7 schools without anyone in my friends/family circle having pursued an MBA. Naturally, I the MBA admissions process was a big mystery to me so I decided to look into admissions consultants. I talked to a few but stopped the process the day I first chatted with Susan Cera from Stratus Admissions. We immediately clicked because of having similar backgrounds and more importantly because Susan seemed very down to earth and was also very honest with her assessment of my overall profile. Once I took care of the GMAT in May, off we went with our journey. Btw, Susan said she will be my biggest cheerleader throughout the day I signed up with Stratus and that could not be more true.
For the first half of the summer Susan and I met every other week and would discuss in detail my background, my stories, the big defining moments of my life and Susan would provide constructive feedback throughout these take home introspection assignments. I could tell the team at Stratus over the years have put in a lot of work by looking at the activities and questions Susan would ask me about my background. By July we essentially had crafted and narrowed down my personalized MBA strategy - essentially the why MBA, why now but tailored to me. This included an overview of some key stories, themes and arcs that I would highlight in my essays.
At this point Susan introduced Melissa from the Stratus team to take a look at my story and provide an unbiased and fresh perspective. Melissa pointed out a few areas for us to focus on moving forward.
Next came in resume building and honestly, words cannot describe how pivotal Susan was in this. Due to my technical background I essentially had to do a complete makeover and Susan's skill, or should I say, art, came in to the rescue. I could tell Susan gives in her 100% because she was not satisfied until the finished results meets her high standards.
Finally, when it came to essay writing Susan worked tirelessly with me to provide ideas, tips, and overall strategies that I should employ when writing my drafts. Her feedbacks were spot on, and more importantly if at anytime I'd get stuck during the essay writing process she would promptly hop on a quick call to help me get unstuck. Once the interviews started rolling in, she helped me prep up for those using a combination of mock interviews, themes/arcs to talk about and the do's and don't of interviews tailored to each specific school.
I applied to 6 T20 programs in Round 1, got into 2 T20s with $$, WL at 1 T10, and got into one of my top choice M7 with some $. Do not think any of this would be possible without Susan. I'm glad I went with Stratus and I'm glad I got to know Susan and what a kind, warm, wonderful and amazingly talented person she is. I would 100% recommend Stratus/Susan to anyone exploring admissions consultants.
Joined: May 17, 2021
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After quite a bit of research on different consultants, checking with references (both online and personal connetions), I had the fortune to work with Susan. I'm glad I did because I was admitted to my top choice!
One of the most challenging aspects of the application for me was how to coherently bring together all the elements of my past experiences and translate that into an application. Throughout the introspection process, Susan asked insightful and pertinent questions that helped me dig further into the details of my experiences. Once that work was done, she was instrumental in helping me parse through all the details to come up with a detailed and very focused narrative. I was concerned in working with a consultant that my "voice" might be stripped away, but was impressed by how she helped me maintain my "voice" throughout while helping me sharpen it to focus on communicating my story more clearly.
She was helpful in all parts of the application process (from helping review essays to updating the resume to preparing for the interview). Susan, together with the Stratus team, helped guide me through the high frequency of questions I had regarding my application with thoughtful replies.
The MBA application process can be an extremely nerve-wracking one. Many times, I revisited my essay, my narrative, and other parts of my application over and over again. Susan truly cared about me not only as a client, but as a person, helping me calm down during this intese process. Her words to "trust the process" are something I will never forget. I'm so glad I did listen because now I'll be going to my dream school. I cannot recommend her enough if you really want to go to your dream school!
Joined: Jul 26, 2022
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Consultant Melisa Prevost
I had my initial consultation with Melisa in May 2021. Choosing a consultant wasn’t easy, but from our first conversation, I felt that Melisa was wholeheartedly invested in my success as an applicant.
Melisa was extremely generous with her time. There was never a limit on the number of emails I could send or questions I could ask, on top of our weekly update calls. She was instrumental in shaping my essays, and she guided me by drawing on her success with previous applicants. When It came time to interview, Melisa ensured that I was prepared for beyond just the schools we were working together on and provided valuable feedback that I took across various interviews.
When R1 decisions were released, I was unfortunately waitlisted at my dream school. I was ready to throw in the towel, but Melisa encouraged me to keep my options open for R2 and remain actively engaged as a waitlist candidate. Melisa helped me write strong waitlist updates as I juggled applying to additional schools. Even when I wasn’t sure if the extra work was being noticed by the school, Melisa remained thorough in her advice and feedback.
In May 2022, I received an acceptance from my dream school. With Melisa’s help, I was among the first batch of applicants to convert from the waitlist. It took a year to reach the goal that I had set out to achieve, and there were many unexpected ups and downs along the way, but Melisa was there for me at every step of the journey.
I have no doubt that I made the right choice in hiring Melisa as my admissions consultant, and I would strongly recommend her to anyone considering her services!
Joined: Apr 28, 2020
730 Q47 V44 (Online)
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Consultant Jennifer Jackson
I entered the application process with glaring holes in my profile, and Jennifer helped me create a strategy to ameliorate these shortcomings. For example, I will most likely have the lowest or at least will be in the bottom 5 of my class for GPA, but with Jennifer's guidance I was able to enter the process with confidence and I had great results. Her help on my essays, generating my stories and her feedback on my applications in general gave me a lot of confidence that I could get in. Despite some large deficiencies I was accepted to a T10 with some significant scholarship. I couldn't recommend her enough.
Joined: Jun 02, 2021
Consultant Melisa Prevost
I initially was not going to use an admissions consultant given the high cost but decided that it’d be worth the investment if I was going to go all in on the MBA admissions process. I met with many consultants from different firms but went with Melissa because she instantly put me at ease and was really warm and easy to talk to, and never made me feel like I wasn’t good enough for the schools I was targeting. We worked together starting June 2021 and she did so much more than just help me with my applications. I was also navigating a major organizational change at work, applied for a new job at a different company, and received an offer. She provided a ton of support and advice on how I should talk to my new employer about my b-school apps and they ended up being so supportive about it! Beyond that, we spent a solid few months just getting to know everything about my background and what my story would be, while staying truly authentic and never trying to be someone I wasn’t. She helped me with every stage of the application and was always so responsive, patient, and kind, especially through the several breakdowns I had along the way! She made sure I was super prepped for all the interviews, and after receiving the decisions, helped me navigate waitlists and negotiating scholarships.
I ultimately was admitted into my dream school, and 4 out of the 6 schools I applied to. Melissa was incredibly supportive throughout the entire process and really encouraged me to bring my true self to the applications. I’m happy with the results and I would recommend her to anyone!
Joined: Jun 28, 2022
As a Deferred Programs applicant, I was unsure of whether it would be worth the effort / money to engage with a consultant. After chatting with a lot of other consultants, I find myself immediately gravitating toward Susan’s radiating passion for her work and her students. I was also affirmed by her candid feedback on my profile and her realistic assessment of my chances. These characteristics - passion, candidness, and optimism - remain constant throughout my interactions with her after I purchased an hourly service.
I am so grateful that I did decide to hire a consultant. We first worked together to come up with my key themes and a strategic plan, which Susan played a significant in helping me articulate. During the essay editing process, Susan was responsive and provided thoughtful feedback for every draft. There were moments when I grew frustrated with my writing, but Susan was persistent and encouraging in helping me craft a compelling narrative that accurately portrays myself. When it came time for interviews, Susan was my biggest cheerleader. Beyond helping me with mock interviews, she would send me a note before my every interview. To note, throughout my engagement with Susan, she has always been efficient with the hours I purchased.
Eventually, I got into 3/5 schools I applied to and I could not have asked for a more professional, helpful, and compassionate advocate by my side than Susan.
Joined: Jul 14, 2021
As a candidate from an overrepresented category - teaming up with Susan was the best decision I made. Susan really puts in the additional effort to understand the applicant's story. Her attention to detail is impeccable and her dedication was a constant source of support throughout the application process. She took the time to really get to know me so that I could identify what is unique about me and present my most authentic self through my essays and interviews. Her introspective inquiry process helped me come to realize my personal and career ambitions. She is kind and candid - the best of both! With her help, I will be attending my dream (m7) school!
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.