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Anyone use admission consultants?

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Anu16 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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03 Feb 2016
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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 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 Smile



Last edited by Anu16 on Fri Feb 12, 2016 2:00 pm; edited 2 times in total

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ajk213 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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31 Mar 2016
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Post Thu Mar 31, 2016 8:39 am
Hi all -

As someone who works on Wall Street, I didn't have a lot of time to conduct my own research or go through multiple rounds of editing my own essays. Hence, Stratus Prep proved very useful in these aspects despite what might seem like a high upfront cost.

I worked directly with Richard Cheng for about 4 months through the Round 2 deadlines in January. Throughout this time we were in touch on an almost daily basis as we went through multiple drafts of my essay. Richard was also able to leverage his own MBA experience to provide guidance and encouraged me to attend as many information sessions and events as possible to get a real sense of each school's culture. Richard's feedback drove my essays to a higher standard than I could have reached on my own. He is very honest and frank with his feedback and calls it like he sees it - I found this to be very valuable especially when running out of time close to the deadlines.

The assistance from Stratus didn't end with the submission of the applications. Richard and I met up in person to run through potential interview questions and strategies for preparation once the invites started to roll in. We are now in the process of deciding between 2 of the schools that I got into.

Stratus also assigned one of their senior consultants Salma Qarnain to oversee the process. I found her to be very experienced and her wealth of knowledge about the schools helped me narrow down the list of schools that I wanted to apply to.

I would highly recommend Stratus Prep to anyone who is looking at going to business school. Their in-depth knowledge of each school and the value of having school-specific essay reviewers is absolutely unparalleled.

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adr1987 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Wed Mar 23, 2016 2:44 am
I used Stratus Prep both for my MBA applications, and for my Harvard Kennedy MPA application one year later. Overall the help they provided was invaluable as I am now attending both MIT Sloan and Harvard Kennedy.

Specifically for my Harvard Kennedy application, my consultant was Richard Cheng. Richard did an excellent job from beginning to end. At first we had a call where he started out by telling me about his own experience at Harvard Kennedy and what the culture at the school was like. He also suggested that given that I was at MIT, I should try to audit at class at HKS and try to meet as many students as possible. This was an invaluable piece of advice as this would later allow me to take my essays to the next level and speak about the HKS culture from an insider's perspective - in other words, I already fit in before I was in.

During the essay writing process, Richard's help was again excellent. Not only was he able to review my essays multiple times and provide me very detailed feedback, he was also kind enough to work around the busy schedule of a first year MBA student, something for which I am very grateful.

Overall my experience with Stratus and with Richard specifically was excellent and their help definitely helped me take my overall application package to the next level.

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ajk213 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
31 Mar 2016
Posted:
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Post Thu Mar 31, 2016 8:39 am
Hi all -

As someone who works on Wall Street, I didn't have a lot of time to conduct my own research or go through multiple rounds of editing my own essays. Hence, Stratus Prep proved very useful in these aspects despite what might seem like a high upfront cost.

I worked directly with Richard Cheng for about 4 months through the Round 2 deadlines in January. Throughout this time we were in touch on an almost daily basis as we went through multiple drafts of my essay. Richard was also able to leverage his own MBA experience to provide guidance and encouraged me to attend as many information sessions and events as possible to get a real sense of each school's culture. Richard's feedback drove my essays to a higher standard than I could have reached on my own. He is very honest and frank with his feedback and calls it like he sees it - I found this to be very valuable especially when running out of time close to the deadlines.

The assistance from Stratus didn't end with the submission of the applications. Richard and I met up in person to run through potential interview questions and strategies for preparation once the invites started to roll in. We are now in the process of deciding between 2 of the schools that I got into.

Stratus also assigned one of their senior consultants Salma Qarnain to oversee the process. I found her to be very experienced and her wealth of knowledge about the schools helped me narrow down the list of schools that I wanted to apply to.

I would highly recommend Stratus Prep to anyone who is looking at going to business school. Their in-depth knowledge of each school and the value of having school-specific essay reviewers is absolutely unparalleled.

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adr1987 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
23 Mar 2016
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1 messages
Post Wed Mar 23, 2016 2:44 am
I used Stratus Prep both for my MBA applications, and for my Harvard Kennedy MPA application one year later. Overall the help they provided was invaluable as I am now attending both MIT Sloan and Harvard Kennedy.

Specifically for my Harvard Kennedy application, my consultant was Richard Cheng. Richard did an excellent job from beginning to end. At first we had a call where he started out by telling me about his own experience at Harvard Kennedy and what the culture at the school was like. He also suggested that given that I was at MIT, I should try to audit at class at HKS and try to meet as many students as possible. This was an invaluable piece of advice as this would later allow me to take my essays to the next level and speak about the HKS culture from an insider's perspective - in other words, I already fit in before I was in.

During the essay writing process, Richard's help was again excellent. Not only was he able to review my essays multiple times and provide me very detailed feedback, he was also kind enough to work around the busy schedule of a first year MBA student, something for which I am very grateful.

Overall my experience with Stratus and with Richard specifically was excellent and their help definitely helped me take my overall application package to the next level.

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pantherpride12 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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02 Apr 2016
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Post Sat Apr 02, 2016 6:35 am
I chose Stratus Prep for two reasons:
• They put a lot of thought into pairing clients with appropriate counselors.
• Their service extends all the way through negotiating scholarship money.

Working with the right counselor was important to me. While I knew that I had a compelling professional story to tell, my 3.5 GPA and 680 GMAT were weaknesses that I needed to offset elsewhere in my application in order to gain admission to a top MBA program.

Stratus vowed to match me with the appropriate counselor, and they made good on that promise when they matched me with John Buckingham. John was excellent at all aspects of his role as an admissions counselor. He kept me accountable, challenged me to dig deep every step of the way, and he left no stone unturned as we worked to build an application that leveraged each of my differentiators as a candidate.

Additionally, John's commitment to his clients is second to none -- I hones tly don't remember ever waiting more than hour for a response regardless of the time of day. It truly felt like a team effort every step of the way with John equally committed to my success as an applicant.

Ultimately, I received interviews at two of my top choices, Duke and Berkeley, and with John’s support I walked into both interviews completely prepared. Following the interviews, John helped me to negotiate scholarship money.

As a result, I am incredibly pleased to be attending Duke next year!

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pantherpride12 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
02 Apr 2016
Posted:
6 messages
Post Sat Apr 02, 2016 6:35 am
I chose Stratus Prep for two reasons:
• They put a lot of thought into pairing clients with appropriate counselors.
• Their service extends all the way through negotiating scholarship money.

Working with the right counselor was important to me. While I knew that I had a compelling professional story to tell, my 3.5 GPA and 680 GMAT were weaknesses that I needed to offset elsewhere in my application in order to gain admission to a top MBA program.

Stratus vowed to match me with the appropriate counselor, and they made good on that promise when they matched me with John Buckingham. John was excellent at all aspects of his role as an admissions counselor. He kept me accountable, challenged me to dig deep every step of the way, and he left no stone unturned as we worked to build an application that leveraged each of my differentiators as a candidate.

Additionally, John's commitment to his clients is second to none -- I hones tly don't remember ever waiting more than hour for a response regardless of the time of day. It truly felt like a team effort every step of the way with John equally committed to my success as an applicant.

Ultimately, I received interviews at two of my top choices, Duke and Berkeley, and with John’s support I walked into both interviews completely prepared. Following the interviews, John helped me to negotiate scholarship money.

As a result, I am incredibly pleased to be attending Duke next year!

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lko56 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts
Joined
01 Apr 2016
Posted:
2 messages
Post Fri Apr 01, 2016 11:59 am
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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lko56 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts
Joined
01 Apr 2016
Posted:
2 messages
Post Fri Apr 01, 2016 11:59 am
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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mbahopeful99 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
29 Feb 2016
Posted:
1 messages
Post Mon Feb 29, 2016 8:48 pm
Yes - I did use an admission consultant and would recommend Stratus Prep. I talked to many other companies before deciding on Stratus Prep, and one of the big reasons I chose to do it was because you can join their services as early as you want. So, I actually joined 2 years before deciding to apply.

Overall, I had a good experience with Stratus Prep. I owe my positive experience to my counselor, David, who was extremely supportive throughout my application timeline. Even though we did not work together from the beginning, he quickly made it show that he genuinely cared about my background and helped me highlight certain aspects of my story that he thought would be valuable to my application. Though I applied to six M7 schools all during Round 1, David had a very clear and easy-to-follow application timeline that allowed me to pace myself. He got back to me quickly on questions I had and drafts I submitted, so I never felt rushed or stressed to meet any deadlines. Another benefit of Stratus Prep is that David passes on iterations of my essays to multiple counselors, so you have multiple eyes looking at each of your applications.

The only weak point I had with my experience was that I had a rough start with Stratus Prep, since I signed up so early. My first counselor was unresponsive and I was switched to a second counselor after a few months; that counselor left Stratus and I was not re-assigned to someone when that happened. However, I think they have significantly improved in this aspect since the time I joined, and they were helpful in trying to address my concerns. I would just suggest that if you are early in your MBA journey, make sure you like your counselor right off the bat and if you do not, let them know because they will work with you to find someone else!

Of the six schools I applied to, I received 2 acceptances and 1 waitlist-before-interview. I definitely believe my application was stronger because of Stratus Prep and David!

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eturner225 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts
Joined
24 Mar 2014
Posted:
1 messages
Post Mon Feb 29, 2016 7:05 pm
I’m happy to share my experience with Stratus Prep too.

I knew that I was going to need crafting my story in order to differentiate myself to Top 10 schools:
Non-Under-Represented Female
GMAT: 720
GPA: 3.6
Undergrad: UPenn
Work Exp: 3 years Management Consulting @ Big 4; 1 year Project Management @ Bulge Bracket Bank

Once I got a GMAT score I was happy with I started researching admissions consultants. I had several 30-minute consultations with various admissions consultants and decided to go with a different company, not Stratus Prep, at first. I spent a month speaking with the admissions consultant and was struggling to get motivated and really find my story. Trying to get more motivated, I listened to a Stratus Prep/Beat the GMAT webcast and was really impressed.

I cut ties with the different company and reached out to Stratus Prep. I was placed with Harold right away. We got straight to work. He had me complete very structured exercises to get thinking about my experiences and what I was looking for out of business school. I thought this was extremely helpful-a much better process then me regurgitating my 4 years of work experience to a consultant and having her highlight what she thought was appropriate.

Not only were Stratus Prep’s school selection and essay brainstorm materials excellent but the consultants’ expertise on how to differentiate yourself through your background and career aspirations were key. Harold was essential in helping me tell my unique story-helping create my own niche in a class. Lastly, the extra encouragement and pair of eyes when proofreading my essays and applications in total was incredibly reassuring.

I’m so excited to say I got admitted to my top choice, Tuck, and cannot wait to start in August.

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mopoconn Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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16 Feb 2016
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1 messages
Post Tue Feb 16, 2016 3:10 pm
I highly enjoyed my experience with Stratus Prep - they were professional, delivered on the commitments of their 4-school consulting package as promised, and helped me ultimately get into school.
Given that I was applying to only 4 schools, and they are the 4 most competitive schools in the nation, I knew I was in for a stressful process. My biggest concern going in was that I would “second-guess” myself constantly throughout the application process - I would be left wondering if I had written about the right stories in my essays, if I had shown my true personality in the interviews, and the list goes on. This is the main reason I researched and ultimately signed up with an MBA admissions counselor - so that I would have someone walk me through the business school application process, hand-in-hand. I looked into about 4 different admissions consulting firms before landing on Stratus Prep. I ultimately chose them for a few key reasons: 1) They’re the right size - not so big that a client gets a standard/bare-bones approach, but also not so small that they are overwhelmed and can’t provide the time and resources to each client. 2) I had received a personal recommendation from a trusted friend, who had used SP and ultimately was accepted to HBS. 3) I felt comfortable and in good hands during the 30-minute consultation call with Shawn, who is the founder/CEO of Stratus Prep. 4) Stratus Prep offers a guarantee if you sign up for their 4-school end-to-end consulting package - if you don’t get into one of the 4 schools, they will help you again the next year for free. Unfortunately, the other companies I spoke to didn’t offer the benefits listed above, and in some cases, were actually rude/pushy during the 30-minute free consultation.
Once I signed up, Stratus, and specifically my counselor Michael, were excellent. Michael was a good balance of forthright and supportive. For example - he would push me to improve when he knew I could do better on my essays, but would also give me positive and uplifting feedback when he felt that I had gotten my essay to an excellent final stage. This way, I always knew where I stood on my applications, and didn’t feel like I was being babied. Additionally, there was a time where Michael was out for a bit on a pre-scheduled vacation - Shaifali, another SP consultant, was extremely gracious to step in and have an additional call with me to answer some of my questions while Michael was out.
Overall, SP definitely met my expectations, and I would recommend them to anyone seeking school admissions counseling. My biggest piece of advice would be to go with the consulting package, rather than ad-hoc time, if possible. I imagine it would be difficult to put together your best MBA application without having their input throughout the process - for me personally, I can’t imagine doing otherwise. Additionally, don’t be afraid to speak to a few different counselors before you settle on the right one for you. You will be working with this person very closely over several months, so make sure you look at their background and even speak to them to get a feel for their personality/approach. If you don’t fit well with a certain counselor, it’s no problem - Stratus was great about letting me vet a few counselors until I found the perfect one for me.

Thank you again to Stratus Prep and to Michael for all of your help - you are the best!

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ab9842 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
15 Feb 2016
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Post Mon Feb 15, 2016 9:01 am
Stratus Prep and John Buckingham deserve THE BEST ratings for their guidance.
I did not purchase a full admissions package, but rather did the hourly service. I only worked with John since I signed up only a few weeks before my application deadline dates for 4 tier 1 MBA programs. But this didn't discredit both my experience and John's guidance in any way.
What I love about working with John is just how PERSONAL and GENUINE he is - he really cares for your success and does not confine himself to any sort of cookie-cutter structure. He has been extremely generous with his availability and response time (by even quickly responding during his vacation!). He is totally adaptable based on how you can best be coached. I use the word coached because that's what John is - a coach! During my sessions, the lines between MBA coach and even "life coach" were blurred since he is very skilled at understanding people/their stories and allowing them to be introspective and get their best self out on the application.
I'm not done with my MBA process just yet, but regardless of the results, I'm thrilled to be working with John/Stratus Prep and highly recommend John if you want someone expert, straightforward, and someone who deeply cares about your MBA/life success!

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Sid2013 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
25 Jul 2013
Posted:
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Post Sun Feb 14, 2016 6:26 am
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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hcl202 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts
Joined
10 Feb 2016
Posted:
1 messages
Post Wed Feb 10, 2016 5:20 am
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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