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Anyone use admission consultants?

This topic has 1 expert reply and 96 member replies
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HBSAlumPE Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts Default Avatar
01 Jul 2015
17 messages
Post Thu Jul 02, 2015 9:30 am
I worked with Scott Edinburgh at Personal MBA Coach and I could not have been happier! Scott offers an incredible personal experience that is very hard to find. The fact that you are working with an individual and not a company cannot be emphasized enough. Don't be fooled by the big company name / support services that some larger firms have. At the end of the day you work with one person most of the time so why not work directly with an expert for the same price rather than an employee of a larger firm?

I hired a more well known name referenced on here and was not satisfied as the support died off as it got closer to the deadlines. I then reached out to Scott via www.personalmbacoach.com and was floored by the level of support I got. While we only had a short amount of time since I contacted him late, he took the time to get to know me personally and professionally and he was the one coming up with essay topics after just a couple discussions. Scott is quite tough and it works out in the end. In a very short amount of time, we did an entire HBS application and I ultimately got in. (As well as a couple other programs I turned down)

With Personal MBA Coach, you get a great balance of no BS, direct and brutal feedback while at the same time you have encouraging support throughout the entire process. Whereas with the other more well-known name I felt like I was a number in the process, Scott brainstormed everything with me from start to finish. Scott is a hidden gem in the admissions consulting space and I have sent many friends to him over the years who also had great success!

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hsiyer Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
03 Jul 2015
1 messages
Post Fri Jul 03, 2015 3:34 pm
I got into NYU Stern with the help of Stratus prep. I contacted them almost 10 months prior to the R1 deadline and chose them after a conversation with Shawn O'Connor. I picked them because: 1) They limit the number of clients per counselor to a smaller number giving more time to each client and 2) Their process seemed the most personalized and adaptable than what's available out there.
After going through my profile, Shawn assigned Dan Carroll as my counselor based on his experience working with other clients. I am grateful to Dan for helping me get an admit into NYU. Coming from a very generic demographic, I required a lot of assistance to make sure that my story was told in the right way and the adcom connected with my story. I could not have done this myself. Dan's experience and knowledge about the admissions process came in very handy in making sure that the most important aspects of my profile were highlighted appropriately. I had several conversations with Dan before every application to get feedback on my essays; Dan connected me with school specific counselors and finally with proof readers in a timely manner. Following the Stratus prep guide to MBA applications proved very helpful in that it served as a structured and organized guide to everything that needs to be done to complete a decent application. I thank them for all the help they have provided in helping me get into Stern !

mich1216 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts
30 Nov 2012
1 messages
Post Mon Jul 06, 2015 3:03 pm
Non-Under-Represented Female
GMAT: 740
GPA: 3.3
Undergrad: Top Public School
Work Exp: 4 years Consulting

I worked with Jeff from Strautus Prep is past year and I will be attending Wharton this fall. I 'interviewed' a bunch of admissions consulting places with their 30min free sessions and thought all of them were like the generic MBA prep materials that my office offered until I spoke to Shawn from Strautus Prep. He heard that I was thinking Wharton and HBS as my reach schools and got Jeff on the phone with me immediately to talk tactics. Shawn is an HBS alum and Jeff is a Wharton alum - both of them gave me valuable insights and I appreciated the individual attention. They even set me up with a current student at HBS who took the time to speak with me as a referral - no other firms did that.

I would recommend Strautus Prep to anyone applying to a top 3 school and you're not too confident about it (to be honest, who is confident anyway?). I think it's worth the money effort to have someone dedicated to help you through this hectic process because there is so much going on you might miss the small details. Better safe than sorry!

mags98765 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
10 Jul 2015
1 messages
Post Fri Jul 10, 2015 7:54 am
I hired Stratus Prep, and it was totally worth it. I was skeptical at first, but I decided to apply to only 3 of the best MBA programs in the country (HBS, Wharton, and Kellogg), so I wanted to make sure that I got in.

My experience working with Stratus Prep was quite good, and the results speak for themselves. I was accepted into HBS and Wharton even though I had major gaps in my application (i.e. a 3.0 undergrad GPA). Stratus (and my consultant, Salma) helped me craft my unique story to highlight my strengths and enhance the strongest parts of my application.

Salma was very responsive throughout the entire process, and continuously pushed me to “dig deeper” into my personal values and motivations.

For me, the most valuable aspect of the Stratus Prep package was the guidance on the application essay. Since I did the 1 school package, I only had Salma’s guidance on my HBS essay, but I used a very similar version for Wharton (to which I was also accepted). For my Kellogg application, I had no help on the essays, and I was waitlisted.

I am very excited to be heading to HBS soon to start this new chapter of my life!

pfnd27 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
08 Nov 2014
2 messages
Post Sat Jul 11, 2015 2:40 pm

I also used Stratus and was thrilled with the process and the result. If you call Stratus and ask for me I'd be more than happy to talk to you about my experience.

In short though, to start, they make you think about your life (personal and professional) experiences in depth and help you apply those experiences to your application. I was a bit hesitant to pay the fee and get too little or too much help OR worse, not get into my top school. But they guide you and provide all the support you need to be confident in your application. Plus, I ultimately thought if I paid the fee and didn't get in I would have put my best foot forward and that would have been the best I could have done. I could live with that. Fortunately, that wasn't the case though.

Good luck!

chrisrichling Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
13 Jul 2015
1 messages
Post Mon Jul 13, 2015 12:24 pm
Consultants aren’t just for getting into your dream school

I used Stratus and it was an incredible process.

A good consultant isn’t even going to come close to writing anything for you. A good consultant is going to force you to take the time and put in the effort to generate meaningful responses to every facet of presenting yourself to Business School.

Vanessa and Shawn worked tirelessly to ensure I was putting my best foot forward. For me this process started 8 months before the first application was even due. We worked each week on brainstorming and refining my story: looking at each individual application holistically.

For those who believe they should have no problem getting into their target school and thus assume a consultant would be of no value, they should consider that some scholarships are awarded based on application strength. I personally believe that Stratus Prep helped the application board see my value as a future alumni, which in turn helped in their award determination.

Now as Booth Alum, I can’t imagine how my life would be different if for some reason I hadn’t gotten into Booth or hadn’t been able to go. In retrospect, the small amount the services cost was well worth the result.

kaoruchan20 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
14 Jul 2015
1 messages
Post Tue Jul 14, 2015 12:08 pm
Just wanted to add my two cents...

Working with Stratus Prep was the best decision that I made. I'm really pleased with the results and ecstatic to be attending my dream school. To give a sense of my background, I worked for 5 years in tech/consulting, 720 GMAT, and 3.85 GPA from a well-ranked public university. I worked for good but not elite firms, so I decided to hire an admissions consultant to give me my best chance at getting into a top school. I chose Stratus, because I liked that they're not a huge operation (where you may not get as much individual attention and there are more hourly consultants), and I liked Stratus' approach in getting both your consultant's and Shawn's feedback.

I was first assigned to Vanessa Gil, and she helped me through the initial introspection exercises and the first draft of my essays. She gave me advice to not rush and apply for R1 and that allowed me to prepare much stronger applications for R2. At some point, she stopped communicating, and I was not surprised to find out that she had resigned.

The weeks after Vanessa's resignation were extremely stressful, because it took time to get assigned to my new consultant, Sara, and I had to wait 2 weeks to hear feedback from Shawn. I'm not sure why, but it was not Sara who picked up where Vanessa left off in reviewing my essays but Shawn with Sara mostly answering some of my questions along the way. Once I received feedback from Shawn, I had to move really quickly to get my essays in decent shape and worked nonstop throughout the holiday season.

The feedback that I did receive was what made all the difference in my essays. I felt okay about a few but one or two were pretty mediocre. Shawn's feedback helped me to really turn my essays around. And I like that he will continue to give you feedback until you are completely comfortable with the essays that you wrote. When I finally submitted my applications, I was confident that I had the very best essays that I could have possible written, and I owe it to Stratus who helped me to get there.

I ended up interviewing with Kellogg, Booth, Columbia, and Wharton with acceptances at Kellogg, Booth, and Columbia. I truly believe that I wouldn't have had as much success if I hadn't worked with Stratus. It's still a ton of work and you have to be disciplined in following the process and giving it your absolute best, but I'm glad that I chose to partner with Stratus.

anthonyfuentes87 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
17 Jul 2015
1 messages
Post Mon Jul 20, 2015 12:29 pm

After having searched for and talked to a lot of consultants, i finally decided on work with the consultants at MBAitNOW. They have been very supportive and during the free consultation they answered all my specific questions rather then trying to sell their services.
That was one of the things i cared about the most. They were extremely honest and caring. The free consultation supposed to last 1 hour max but they continued answering my questions. I highly suggest you to contact them and try their free consultation.


Asmith Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
08 Aug 2015
1 messages
Post Sat Aug 08, 2015 6:13 am
I used Stratus to help with my b-school applications and I found their services to be absolutely fantastic. For a bit of background, I am white male who worked in finance but the one differentiator (for the worse) was a sub 700 GMAT.

I found that beginning and figuring out "your story" was one of the hardest parts of the application process. Stratus ensures that a lot of "pre-work" (outlines, self-discovery exercises, etc.) is done before writing essays so when I sat down to start my essays, I knew exactly what I was trying to convey to the adcoms. I did multiple rounds of iterations of my outlines with my consultant, and she did an excellent job guiding me and asking the right questions so I could figure out exactly what was most important to me to convey. While writing my essays, the consistent feedback from my consultant helped me write, in my opinion, the best possible essays I would be able to write. Lastly, this is a real stressful process and having the calming influence of someone who was an expert in the school I was applying gave me confidence I would not have otherwise had.

In the end, I was admitted to The Wharton School and I am 100% confident that I would not have gotten in had I not worked with Stratus. I highly recommend them!

AllieVin Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
14 Aug 2015
1 messages
Post Fri Aug 14, 2015 11:59 am
I used Stratus Prep this admissions cycle and I couldn't be more thrilled with the results. They have a very effective methodology that forces you to think about your goals, stories, and strategic positioning. I worked with Shaifali and I was pleased with the feedback she provided. She was very responsive and I felt like a had a whole team behind me. Highly recommend!

GF2016 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
15 Oct 2015
1 messages
Post Thu Oct 15, 2015 8:10 am
I used Stratus Prep to apply to six top 10 schools (all round 1), and ultimately was submitted to my first choice and withdrew my other applications. I had an extremely positive experience with Stratus.

Stratus immediately showed its experience in the MBA application process by having its clients fill out an extensive introspective document that really gets to the core of who you are (personally and professionally), why you need an MBA, and why you're a great candidate. It's an extremely organized, thoughtful, and extensive process that made writing my essays and building my application much easier. Stratus kept my application moving forward and gave great insight into every step of the process. The company also focuses on giving you a variety of opinions (e.g. multiple people look at all your application materials and provide feedback), which is extremely helpful. If you're willing to put in the time and effort, from my experience, Stratus will match your intensity and ambition, and vastly improve your application. Working with Stratus limited my stress and helped me submit quicker and more efficiently. I would highly recommend the company to anyone that wants a full-service, full-octane MBA consultancy.

rahul2531658 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts
11 Nov 2015
3 messages
Post Thu Nov 12, 2015 1:34 am

Please e-mail me your admission essays and SOP. May be I'd be of any help.


eriginal Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
15 Dec 2015
2 messages
Post Tue Dec 15, 2015 2:14 pm
/delete - will add response later

AK043 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
21 Dec 2015
1 messages
Post Mon Dec 21, 2015 8:57 pm
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, Duke, 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 Duke, 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:
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.

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!

Anu16 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
03 Feb 2016
2 messages
Post Wed Feb 03, 2016 4:57 pm
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 Cheng 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.

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