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Stratus Admissions Counseling Admissions Consulting Reviews
    Number of reviews [128]
    Average Rating:       (4.7/5)
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Stratus Admissions Counseling
With Stratus Admissions Counseling, you don’t just work closely with one experienced MBA admissions counselor to optimize every part of your application. You work with an entire team of specialists who provide extensive feedback throughout the application process.

From reflecting on your past experiences and identifying programs that will move you towards your goals to crafting your essays and conducting mock interviews, Stratus’ team-based approach ensures you stand out and get accepted into your dream business school. We guarantee it.*

We have clients who have been admitted to every top MBA program year after year since 2006.


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MBA Application Strategy
February 14 | 2016
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     By Anonymous 0 0

I was an applicant with a competitive GMAT score and an overall solid international career profile. However I soon realized that my chances of getting into a top MBA program would be lower coming from an over represented Indian male engineering background. In doing my research for the admissions consultant, I came across several companies and individuals. I talked either on phone or in person with multiple consultants. I soon realized that while there are a lot of successful people consulting, not all of them had the capability to assist me and make my application stand apart.

I gravitated towards Stratus Prep after attending Shawn’s presentation at the MBA tour. The part that I found special about this company was that all the consultants are passionate about teaching/ mentoring rather than just displaying their successful business school credentials. I knew it usually took a solid team to review all the aspects of the application. That is where I felt Stratus Prep had an advantage over others. Their team is very professional and committed to the entire application process from soul searching to negotiating admission offers.

I worked with John Buckingham, who was amazing in creating and supporting my overall application strategy. John took a holistic, structured approach in analyzing all aspects of my application- essays, application short answer questions, resume etc. He helped me stay positive during the entire admissions cycle and was always available at short notice to compliment my demanding work schedule. My essays were also reviewed by at least half a dozen other Stratus Prep consultants for content, relevance, and grammar. As a result, I felt confident that I submitted my best application for the business school.

Stratus Prep also provided a quality post admissions mentoring experience. They helped me through deciding and negotiating offers from top business schools. I will be joining UCLA Anderson with a scholarship for their full time MBA program.

Looking back, I believe I picked the best team to help me through the challenging business school application process. It was money well spent in the end.

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Review for Richard
February 12 | 2016
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     By Anonymous 0 0

While awaiting the results from a few schools and continuing my applications for the rest of the schools, I was reflecting on my journey so far and the single most significant thing that I realized was how much I have learned by virtue of consulting with Richard from stratus prep. I have learned to add specific details to an overarching statement to make it realistic. I have learned to question every sentence and double-check its significance in the essay. I have a long way to go but am learning how to convey my thoughts in a concise manner and I have learned how to tell a story by focusing on the why and my learning while sharing experiences.

I have had the opportunity to learn so much thanks to Richard's guidance and mentorship. When I was not able to get his point the first time, he did not give up on me. He asked more questions until he was satisfied, irrespective of the additional rounds of reviews required. He worked with me to ensure the essays could be submitted on time and guided me not only with his ideas but also used his writing proficiency to help me convey my story within the word count limits. I like my essays for this year so much more than my essays for last year's applications mainly because when I read any of the essays I can see a peek of me in them. And I like the peek of me that I see. I see a strong, free spirited, driven woman; who wants to take charge and pursue her goals. Thank you Richard for enabling my personality to shine through my essays. And I mean it when I say; it would not have been possible without Richard.

The most important lesson Richard taught me was how to tell my story - be it during an interview or a conversation. The interview prep feedback he provided was invaluable and I will take those lessons with me irrespective of whether I get into an MBA or not.

EDIT: I have been accepted at Berkeley Haas and Chicago Booth :)

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     By Anonymous 0 5

John Buckingham of Stratus Prep guided me through the last stages of my MBA applications, tailoring his advice for my personal background and passions. The result? I submitted 4 applications to the top US schools and a top international school, and received 3 interview invites!

I approached Stratus seeking hourly consulting to help me finalize my school essays. John was extremely accessible and very prompt. John helped me flesh out my personal story, weaving career milestones and personal interests in one cohesive presentation.

Throughout our conversations, John provided invaluable input on the idiosyncrasies of the top MBA schools. And this information even helped sway me away from applying to one school and towards applying to another. In other words, John helped focus me on schools that were a good fit for me.

I give John and Stratus Prep the highest possible recommendation.

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Life Changing
February 10 | 2016
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     By Anonymous 0 0

Dramatic title, but it is the truth so bare with me.

From the very start, Stratus was responsive, helpful, and provided a guiding hand without being interfering. Once my priorities and profile was determined, I was matched with a consultant and started work right away.

The value the consultant offered extended far past the limits of my applications and touched my professional life as well as personal. Through working with someone with so much experience, you gain a better understand of your strengths, your weaknesses and how to present yourself in all situations.

My consultant was more than just a consultant and paid service, they were a mentor and guide. We worked extensively together to pick the details in my life which framed my accomplishments in the best light and which set me apart from the rest. No matter how many drafts I sent for review or how many chat we had over the phone, my consultant was ever-present, every-helpful, and always provided the enthusiasm and motivation needed for the both of us!

Working with Stratus really pushed my applications to a level I would not have achieved alone and all my school applications benefited from our work, even those not included in the package. They do not (and should not) do the work for you, and while it is still a monumental amount of work, you can rest assured you are working in the right direction, with the right tools

Is it an investment? Yes but it will pay off in the clarity of your application, the confidence in your accomplishments, and in your understanding of yourself.

If I would go through the process again, I would definitely sign up with Stratus and keep my fingers crossed to land on John Buckingham again

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Definitely worth it!
February 09 | 2016
1 out of 1 people found the following review helpful
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     By angeloca 0 0

I worked with Richard from Stratus Prep in preparing my business school application(s), specifically focusing on the Harvard Business School essay and application. I was accepted round 1 to HBS, my dream school, and feel strongly that I could not have done it without Richard’s help. Here’s why…

Like most MBA advisers (I’d imagine), Richard was attentive, thorough, responsive, and created an overall positive/supportive environment throughout our partnership. Where Richard exceeded my expectations, however, and uniquely excelled was in the hard skills he brought to the table: Richard is an incredible editor and master narrative crafter, and is extremely knowledgeable with regard to what top business schools are looking for in an ideal candidate. These are invaluable skills and resources to have at your disposal when applying to business school.

I came to Richard with many of the parts and pieces of a strong candidate and a general idea of the stories I wanted to share throughout my application. Richard took this raw material, filled in the gaps, pushed me to discard the pieces that didn’t fit, refined the remaining pieces, and like a mechanic, ultimately helped me assemble a package someone would actually want to buy.

Richard helped me take my application to the next level, which I know is what sealed the deal for me. With him, I felt confident and much less stressed throughout the application process, and can now safely say it was worth the investment. It becomes a drop in the bucket, really, when you get your first school bill.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review helpful
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     By Anonymous 0 0

I thoroughly enjoyed working with Stratus Prep. I'll admit that I did not know that using an admissions counseling service was so popular when I first decided to pursue my MBA. After attending fairs and doing some online research, it became clear to me that I only had one shot at this and I should be sure I'm putting the strongest application forward. I currently work in media/advertising, and not many of my colleagues have their MBA or were considering pursuing one. It was clear to me that I needed the advice and expertise of a seasoned counselor to help me make my application shine.

Beyond being professional, responsive, and pleasant to work with, the most valuable part about working with Stratus Prep was that they encouraged me to broaden my target school list, and made me think critically about what was most important to me in an MBA program. I was initially set on staying in my home state of California, and did not want to move. My counselor told me that I should seriously consider a program on the east coast, and recommended why I would be such a great fit given my strong interest in the culture and community of a school. She ended up being right in the end, and I am so glad I followed her advice as I will be attending a top ranked program next fall.

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Excellent Decision
January 20 | 2016
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     By Anonymous 19 2

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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Great overall experience!
January 06 | 2016
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     By eriginal 83 22

I had a great overall experience and I was admitted to my realistic stretch school. I applied to Harvard and Stanford, though I thought of those basically as "lottery tickets." Given my background, the best school I could have hoped to get into was Wharton, and Stratus helped me deliver. I was also admitted to almost every school ranked below Wharton, which speaks to the quality of the service.

My background: I attended an unimpressive state school, I have a 730 GMAT, 3.6 GPA, work in research for an $xxx bn. AUM investment fund and I have stronger than average extra-curriculars.

The good: Shaifali helped me pitch myself in the best way possible. My story ended up as clean and concise, and it included points that I would have never thought to add on my own. She always responded to emails promptly (I used their services for 5 schools and I think our email chain was almost 200+). In her emails and calls, she always offered strong and helpful advice.

The bad: Shawn's (the founder) sales pitch. He significantly over promised in a number of ways. Although his pitch ultimately got me to choose Stratus over other companies I was initially interviewing, there was no way Shaifali could live up to what he advertised. I will note that Shawn is no longer with the company, so I expect this point is void for all future applicants using Stratus. Another thing that left a bad taste in my mouth - Stratus ran a promotion in November. Shawn told me if I didn't sign up by the end of November (about a week after I first spoke with him) I would miss out on this amazing opportunity. I felt stressed about missing out and signed up and paid the non-refundable price in full. In February, I got a general email from Stratus advertising a better deal. I spoke with them and they upgraded me to a better package (i.e., more schools). Although this was a slightly negative experience, they did make it right in the end.

Overall, I thought the consulting SERVICE was very strong. Shaifali did a great job and I would recommend her to anyone that wanted to work with a consultant. Ultimately, I feel a good consultant helps present the best version of yourself, and on that they delivered.

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     By sabeaners 1 1

My overall experience with Stratus Prep was extremely positive, and while there are definitely flaws in the process, the company gets five stars from me because I absolutely would not be in the same place I am now without them.

A bit of background - I signed up for the 4 school MBA package (I chose 4 schools because they guaranteed that if I was rejected from all 4, they would work with me in Round 2 to re-apply). Before applying, my main reason for choosing to have a company guide me through the app process was my low GPA - I wanted guidance as to how to alleviate that. Stratus Prep, and specifically my counselor Temi, did a whole lot more than tell me how to make a good application with one less-than-stellar piece of the puzzle.

The beginning of the process for me with Stratus Prep was stressful. My initial assigned counselor told me during my first call that I would not get into a top tier school and should look at 'B level' programs. She told me I was over a year out from applying, and to get in touch with her in 6 months. I shrugged her off, and luckily, a month later, was told she was no longer with the company and was assigned a new counselor.

The second counselor I was assigned to was an older gentlemen who, while nice and helpful, seemed a bit out of touch with the application process. We had two initial phone calls and then planned a face-to-face meeting. I was skeptical about his ability to really get me where I wanted to be. Two weeks later, I received yet another email that my counselor was no longer with the company and a new one would be assigned to me.

My frustration grew and I complained to Shawn directly. He promised he would assign me a third, and final, counselor - Temi. She turned out to be heaven-sent. She was encouraging, thoughtful, helpful, and responsive. She offered advice without being pushy, and supported me both when I wanted to laugh and wanted to cry. The thought exercises and all the stuff they make you fill out that you don't want to will be worth it at the end of the day, no matter how inconsequential it may seem at the getgo. Trust me on this. Temi guided me in the right direction without putting words in my mouth, led me to write essays that I was proud of, and, at the end of the day, helped me turn in outstanding applications that I would have never been able to put together on my own.

I ended up applying to three schools, all Top Ten programs, and was accepted to two and waitlisted at one.

A final word - The most integral part of the whole package is definitely the consultant you are paired with. My biggest piece of advice to you, should you choose Stratus Prep, is to be vocal about finding a good counselor. If you don't vibe with someone, ask for someone else. If your counselor isn't responsive, ask for someone else. Once you find the right person to work with, Stratus Prep will prove itself to be more than worth its price.

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     By AK043 0 0

I am an Indian software developer with 3.5 years of work experience and my target industry is finance. I had tried my hand at b-school applications last year with no luck so I decided to work with Stratus Prep as I was impressed by their professional outlook and success stories at one of their information sessions in Mumbai. I signed-up for the package of 5 schools and applied to CBS, Haas, Fuqua, Yale and Stern.

The Process
1. After I enrolled, I was assigned a primary counselor who would be my main point of contact throughout the process.
2. I was asked to fill out a workbook, which is an introspection exercise containing several questions related to my experience and achievements in personal, academic and professional life.
3. My counselor and I went to through several iterations to review this workbook and to flesh out and polish the stories that would form the backbone of my application.
4. Meanwhile, I was also sent a 3 month-plan clearly demarcating the action points and deliverables so that I was able to meet school deadlines.
5. Once all my stories and achievements were ready, the next step was to identify my core personality traits and link those to my career aspirations using the previous exercise as building blocks to strengthen my case and form a coherent and achievable story.
6. At this point my career goals started taking shape and had a strong foundation in my past experiences. So the next stage was to filter these even further and boil it down to a PowerPoint slide. Here we created one slide each for goals, why MBA/ why now, key essay themes and finally school specific snapshots. This was a wonderful way to analyze and succinctly portray my personality, career goals and address how a particular school would help me achieve the same.
7. At each of these steps my counselor would review my ideas and provide inputs as to which themes/achievements I should develop further so that we are able to tie them back to my story. After the PowerPoint was ready, we had a final review with a senior consultant who had experience in my preferred industry and also had success with candidates with similar interests.
8. Next was the outline stage where we tackled one school at a time and tried to list down bullet points against each of the essay questions. Since we had most of the material ready from the previous stage, it was just a matter putting the pieces in the right order while ensuring that all my key themes were highlighted in one form or the other. I also had to do a lot of school-specific research about activities/clubs that I would be a part of to work towards my goals.
9. Each of the final outlines were sent to a dedicated reviewer who specializes in placing candidates to that particular school.
10. At this point I was encourage to reach out to current students at each of the schools to get a flavor of the culture and also the details of curriculum/organizations of my interest.
11. Finally we got down to writing essays, which at this point was much easier given that we had our core story ready. We again went through several iterations and finally had review of the essays with the school specialist.
12. Once the entire application was ready, it was sent for proof-reading to identify any spelling or grammar issues that we may have overlooked.
13. I was fortunate to get interview calls from Fuqua, Yale and Haas. Before every interview, my counselor sent me a list of typical questions that I had to prepare for using all the information that I already had in the essays. We also had a mock Skype interview where he analyzed my answers as well my interview presence and helped me identify areas of improvement.

My Opinion
First, I would like to point out that b-school applications is not a cakewalk, I learnt it the hard way getting rejected at 10+ school last year. It is really helpful to involve other people especially experts like those at Stratus Prep who can take your application to the next level. Here’s my take on the services I received from them:

Pros
1. The counselor assigned to me (Santosh Prasad) had graduated from Booth and had experience in finance domain which aligned very well with my goals. He was able to give me a clear direction as to which would be an ideal and achievable target given my current expertise and interests.
2. They say that you will get a response to your mails within 2 business days, but my counselor was very quick with his analysis and most of the times sent feedback on my essays the very next day.
3. Counselors never write your essay for you, but they get you thinking in the right direction and ensure that everything connects to the bigger picture.
4. Deleting parts of your essay to meet word limits is a very painful process, but I benefited from their ruthless editing skills that helped me retain just the relevant bits.
5. Overall, I was very impressed by their responsiveness as well as their genuine concern for my applications.
6. A well-qualified team with graduates from most of the top b-schools.

Cons
1. Even though my counselor sent me a list of expected questions for Yale’s video essays, I feel that I could have done better if we had a mock session just like we did for interviews.
2. Since I was applying to several schools apart from the ones already mentioned, I found it difficult to research relevant clubs/activities for each school. I hoped that once my goals etc. were finalized, I would receive a list of such activities that I could just plug in to my essays… maybe I am getting too demanding here.
TL; DR – Even though admissions counseling seems expensive, compare it to the money you will be spending on your MBA. If you invest a small fraction of that amount in getting professional guidance, you give yourself a better chance of cracking into your dream school. There are several good services out there, go out and set up a free consultation and decide whichever suits you best. As for me, I recommend Stratus Prep and thank them for all their efforts throughout this year and helping me crack Fuqua!

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