Anyone use admission consultants?

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Anyone use admission consultants?

by zueswoods » Mon Jul 09, 2012 3:47 pm

I'm thinking about using some sort of admission consultants and so far its among Stratus Prep, mbamission and Stacy Blackman.

Shawn from SP gave me a free 30 (45 actually) minute consultation about 2 weeks ago and I was wondering if anyone else is or has used them in the past? He seemed very helpful and confident, I just wanted other people (and hopefully real people) to comment about their experiences.

I have not had any free consultation from th othes but will probably do so this coming week.

Any insight would be helpful, as the consulting fees are extremely high, I want to make sure I don't regret the decision.


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by Jim@StratusPrep » Tue Jul 10, 2012 4:26 am
Just wanted to offer advice if you don't get what you want from other people in the forum: ask for references from Stratus Prep. I work on the GMAT side there and know they would be happy to provid them.
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by zueswoods » Tue Jul 10, 2012 5:34 am
Jim@StratusPrep wrote:Just wanted to offer advice if you don't get what you want from other people in the forum: ask for references from Stratus Prep. I work on the GMAT side there and know they would be happy to provid them.
Thanks for your response Jim,

However in all fairness, how would I know the people Stratus Prep refer me too are actual clients? Would there be a way to verify that?

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by manavecplan » Tue Aug 14, 2012 8:05 am
I'd love a reply on this too...

While I don't doubt the numbers quoted, I'm finding it very hard to find any reviews of past clients of StratusPrep.

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by sdroq » Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:30 pm
Hi everyone, I worked with Stratus Prep last year and wanted to post about
my experience. Stratus Prep was an outstanding consulting company to work with,
and while realistic, my consultant never made me feel I had to give up on my goal of
going to a top b-school. My background is in education and teaching and I
want to transition into charter school management. I went to an ivy league
undergrad and was a student-athlete...I also did Teach for America post

I can't tell you how glad I am that I worked with Stratus Prep. I knew
people who worked with bschool consultants before, and I was skeptical and
uncertain about the costs like most ended up being the best
decision I could have made and definitely a huge part of the reason I got
into Kellogg. The consultant I worked with, Samantha, was very
meticulous, incredibly knowledgeable, and always accessible. I started
working with Stratus Prep in November (for January due dates); Samantha
was really great about responding quickly especially with the time crunch.
I really liked the collaboration between my consultant and Shawn (the
founder) who was very involved in every step of the application process.
Shawn is really smart and knew how to leverage my TFA experience as well
as stuff I would never have known or thought to write about (such as: my
thesis for my masters in education, an independent study project I did in
undergrad, working through an eating disorder, traveling to India for a
summer etc.). Because I was so preoccupied with studying for the GMAT, I
assumed that since I was a pretty good writer, the essays would be no big
deal. If I had done it on my own, I don't think I would have made myself
very well-rounded because I would have probably written a lot more about
teaching, which Shawn heavily advised me not to do. I also didn't realize
how valuable some of the other stuff I had done was. Before you begin
your essays, Stratus Prep makes you do these outline exercises where you
brainstorm all your leadership positions, character traits, learning
experiences etc. which I found very worthwhile.

In the end, I was invited to interview at every school I applied to (Duke,
Michigan, Columbia, and Kellogg- interviews everyone) with the exception
of Yale, which I found surprising. I got into both Kellogg and Duke. I am
absolutely humbled, honored, and excited to go to Kellogg this fall .This
has been said before and it is necessary to say again, the GMAT does not
mean everything and a huge amount of focus must be on your essays. If you
want to go to a top MBA program, regardless of your profile, I cannot
emphasize enough how valuable I think you will find working with Stratus
Prep on every part of your apps (essays, resumes, recs, and interviews).
Last edited by sdroq on Thu Jul 25, 2013 1:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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by mercnyc2012 » Sun Dec 30, 2012 4:05 pm
Hi everyone,

I recently worked with Stratus Prep (Shawn + Vanessa) for fall 2013 admissions, round 1. My experience was exceptional and resulted with my successful application to Harvard Business School. For context, I am a white male, slightly sub-700 GMAT, work in finance (a tough demographic).

I found that Shawn + Vanessa had a very thoughtful approach to applications but customized it to my schedule and goals. Highlights include:

1) Stratus' Introspection process required me to outline and dive into deep details of my past - professionally, academically and personally. It was an incredibly valuable use of time and helped structure my whole application process. The end result was a map of my story that became the backbone of the material that I used for my essays, applications and interviews

2) School Selection and Strategy: I had a targeted list of schools. Shawn and Vanessa did a great job of setting expectations, focusing on the schools that were important to me, developing the right application strategy, picking the best person to write a recommendation, etc

3) Essay Outlining + Writing: Shawn + Vanessa helped me outline content before writing the actual essays. A few times I embarked down the wrong path, but they were there every step of the way to get me back on track. I can't emphasize enough how helpful they were here - unlimited editing / review, tactical advice, constructive feedback, etc.

Shawn and Vanessa instilled the confidence and focus that were absolutely critical to my success at HBS. They both clearly have deep insight and rich experience, which showed in how they handled all of my questions throughout the process. They were always available for questions - whether in person, email or phone. I give them my strongest recommendation - it was time well spent and a well worthwhile investment.

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by jkhank » Thu Mar 21, 2013 2:38 pm
I worked with Shawn and Vani at Stratus Prep. Stratus Prep did a great job with me - I was incredibly grateful to have gone to them to begin with and thought that they were worth every penny. I went into the process feeling very overwhelmed but they helped me through every step. I opted for the hourly consulting package as opposed to the total, all-in variety; I found that the hourly package was sufficient for me. I found them extremely responsive and supportive and they helped me with the content of my essays as we went through many iterations until we found the exact right mix of topics. They also have school-specific knowledge and helped me tailor my applications; I wouldn't have known how to do this otherwise. I was nervous, because I am a white male, but ended up being accepted to HBS and Wharton (and waitlisted at Stanford). I would not want to go through this process without them.

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by nehasingh » Thu Apr 18, 2013 5:46 am
I worked with General Education for my ISB, Wharton and Booth application. They really worked very hard for my application. I have benefited a lot from the corrective wisdom and experience of a lot of consultants from General Education's team. They were very professional, committed in their approach to help me through out my admission. Apart from that I would suggest you to get in touch with the alumni of the B-School which you are targeting.

Wish you all the best :D


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by Apply Point » Fri Apr 19, 2013 10:10 am
These services are wonderful, but I do free 1 hour consultations as well. Let me know if you would like to set up a time to chat.

My name is Mary Pat Jacobs and I am the Director of an admissions consulting firm in Manhattan called Apply Point. We are small so pride ourselves on highly personalized service. I am the only one who works with MBA applicants and enjoy doing so very much. Previously, I was the Associate Director of Admissions at the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis. Are you in Manhattan? In that case, we could do a face-to-face consultation.

In the interim, or even if you decide to use another consulting service, let me know if you have any questions. I am always happy to help.
Mary Pat Jacobs
Director, Apply Point Admissions Consulting

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by benjiboo » Thu May 02, 2013 10:14 am
Hello fellow members. As many of you who have followed my GMAT posts and used my GMAT study guides know, I have had a near 4 year long journey to MBA school. I finally finished this journey today when I accepted my invitation to the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania class of 2015.

I would like to take a few minutes to provide you a quick summary of my background, journey, and also a brief review of Stratus Prep, the admissions counseling firm I used for guidance.

Background: Finance, real estate, at boutique firm. Undergraduate: top 50 school.

First, I wrote my first GMAT in 2009 upon graduation from college in anticipation of the need for an MBA for the career path I desired. I scored a 680, and was highly disappointed as I wanted a 700. I worked for a few years, and in 2012 I signed up with Stratus Prep for MBA consulting.

I actually knew nothing of the MBA process prior to emailing Shawn from Stratus Prep. I had previously met Shawn one year earlier when I attended Stratus Prep's LSAT course (very good), though I never sat for the LSAT, as I decided I did not want to do a JD/MBA anymore. I knew that Shawn was bright and personable (read: gives you actual attention and cares about your success) from this excellent class experience, which is why I decided to reach out to Stratus Prep over the other MBA prep companies. He's also smart: check out his education and work background.

It happened to be good timing that I emailed with Shawn, because I was actually about 4-5 months behind schedule for what I needed to get done. If you're reading this now, and you have less than 6 months to write essays, I wouldn't wait any longer to sign up with a firm like Stratus. If you have to take the GMAT, add a few more months months. The last thing you want to do is study for the GMAT while writing essays, or have to apply Round 2 (trust me, I did both of these and while I had great results it was incredibly time consuming).

I went to Shawn's office within a few days of reaching out to him, and met with both him and the consultant assigned to me, his protege Vanessa (Wharton MBA). I only wanted to go to a top 10 school. We decided that though I could take a chance with a 680, Shawn and Vanessa recommended that I take the GMAT again and shoot for the 700+ if I thought I had the ability in me.

I wrote the GMAT for the second time, only to score below a 700. Determined, I re-wrote the GMAT 30 days later for a third time, and scored a 710. I am glad I listened to Shawn and Vanessa, because trust me... you're just fighting much more of an uphill battle without a 700. It is possible, but I am glad Shawn and Vanessa didn't give any B.S. about how a 680 vs a 700 makes no significant difference. They were very straight up from the beginning about the entire process as well as my unique strengths and weaknesses vis-à-vis each school.

I purchased a 6 school package from Stratus Prep, and selected MIT, Wharton, Tuck, Columbia, and NYU to start. I was invited to interview at 4/5 of the schools (I applied really late to one of the schools, against Stratus Prep's advice, to be fair). As I mentioned, I accepted my invite to Wharton, my number one choice.

Essay consulting at Stratus Prep works like this: You sit and discuss your background with Shawn and Vanessa, and shape your "strategy". The story is all totally true, there is no embellishment or funny stuff, but they help you pick stories that complement each other as well as the programs your applying to. They know what is important to tell each business school Ad-Com and what isn't. Acting strategically before sitting down to write was one of the greatest value-adds Stratus provided.

It all comes down to logic and creativity. You need to be very logical and create in your essays, explaining why you need an MBA, why you want to go now, how the school your applying to fits in, how your background and history is sort of proof of your future abilities and goals, etc. It's a bit more complicated than this, but that is why you get expert feedback from a leading, reputable place like Stratus Prep.

To be clear: None of the legitimate consulting companies write your essays for you, or rewrite essays for you. Stratus Prep will not write, or rewrite anything for you. This is unethical and immoral from many aspects. Stratus Prep is like having your best friend read your essays, resume, and short answers and tell you what's good and what's not, the crucial areas you may want to consider addressing... only here, your best friend is brilliant and has done this thousands of times so their advice is invaluable. Quite frankly, I think you are doing yourself a disservice if you don't work with a highly experienced, professional, ethical firm.

I can't recommend (and thank) Stratus Prep enough. Oh, by the way, Vanessa was available to me whenever I needed anything and even came in to help me prep for an interview on a Saturday, her off day.

Hit me up on PM if you have any more detailed questions. I usually answer them within a week or two.


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by ninawilliams9876 » Thu May 16, 2013 10:01 am
Thought I would chime in on this one...

I also happened to work with Stratus Prep this past year. I didn't think I wanted to use an MBA Admissions consultant at all, since my profile was fairly strong, 3.7 GPA from a strong undergrad institution, 680 GMAT, female, 3 years of consulting experience at a top firm. I knew I would be able to get into a top 10 school on my own, but really had my eyes set on a top 3 school, for which I knew I would be a bit of a stretch.

Once I decided to use a consultant, I did tons of due diligence, interviewing all of the consulting firms to ask about their process and the qualifications of their consultants. What really stood out to me was the structured approach they had to the process. There was a clear process that would be followed. I felt like other consultants I spoke with, I was just randomly matched with someone, and we would just kind of "wing it," sending along drafts of essays for their review. I knew that would not work for me.

Also, from the initial meeting I had with Shawn (their founder), I felt that he really believed in me as an applicant and was genuine about helping me. Honestly, that meant a lot to me. I was a little nervous when I found out Shawn would not be my direct consultant. I was paired with Samantha though, and she was truly outstanding. She became my friend and mentor throughout the process. She was a grad of Columbia Business School, where she was also an admissions interviewer. So she knew all about the process. And the great thing is that Shawn was still involved in the process along the way to help construct the overall strategy of the application.I thought that Samantha and Shawn had a great balance, and would really suggest her if anyone works with them. They helped me come up with a really innovative strategy to my application and guided me along the way with a bunch (I think 4 or 5) essay reviews, communication with my recommenders, etc. Also, the interview preparation was really phenomenal. I am a super confident, fairly articulate person, but they made me feel like I was prepared for anything when I went into each of the interviews through their intense interview prep.

I worked with Samantha and Shawn on my applications to Stanford, HBS, Wharton, Columbia, and Kellogg. I was admitted to, and will be attending Stanford in the fall, and am ecstatic. My mother won't stop bragging to all of her friends and our family, which is a nice problem to have. While I know I would have gotten into a good school without Stratus, I seriously doubt I would have gotten into Stanford. I am really thankful for their help in being a part of this process, and guiding me to a place I know will transform my career opportunities and future in general. If anyone wants to chat with me directly, I would be happy to do so!

Good luck to everyone!

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by MBAGirlJourney » Sat Jun 15, 2013 6:26 am
Hi everyone! I would like to get some responses to a question I posed on my blog about MBA consultants to help people compare them with a score card/report card based on different criteria. ... onsultant/ if you have feedback, submit it and I will post the reviews on my blog to help others who are looking for a consultant!

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by peter08music » Fri Jun 28, 2013 11:13 am
I'll chip in here as a happy Stratus Prep client...

I worked with Stratus Prep and had a really positive experience. I worked with Shawn and Jeff to apply to the major schools HBS, Wharton, and Stanford. They have a bunch of packages so you can choose exactly how much support and advice you want. I did the full service, school packages which I highly recommended.

They spend a lot of time getting to know you as a candidate and work to highlight your unique capabilities. I was nervous about my prospects as generic male finance professional from a state school and a =<700 GMAT Score. They have an incredible admissions rate which is unique so you know they consistently deliver results for their clients.

I hear you on the price tag and I felt the same way. My justification was that this decision was too important to cut corners on. There are a lot of solid applicants to the most competitive programs and getting in turns on your polish at the margins. It's about and A+ application not and A and you need the best advice to do that. You would hate to get rejected and be left wondering if the outcome could have been different.

They also worked really well with my busy work schedule and took calls, responded to emails and met with me at weird hours and on weekends when I was free. They helped me craft my story, outline my essays topics, edit the essays (they are awesome at this btw), practice for interviews, review short answer questions, etc. If it's part of the process, they will help you do it.

Really enjoyed working with them, would have not been successful without them.

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by bschoolstudent » Sat Nov 02, 2013 8:07 am
Non-Under-Represented Male in Finance
GMAT: Around 720
GPA: Under 3.0
Undergrad: Top Ivy League School
Work Exp: 5 years Investment Banking (including 1.5 years abroad)

Choosing an admissions consultant was a stressful process. I did free consultations with the founders of two different firms, and I loved both. Ultimately, I chose Stratus Prep because Shawn O'Connor is the smartest consultant I have ever encountered. He is a genius in his understanding of admissions offices and how they think about candidates.

I knew that I would work extremely hard to apply to my dream school (Wharton), but hard work is not enough in the admissions process. I needed the help of Stratus Prep to choose appropriate stories for essays, improve my resume, prepare for interviews, and help me to edit my application. I worked with Jeff Mroz (Wharton alum) and Shawn O'Connor on my application for 2-3 months before it was complete. I was amazed at the personalized attention that Jeff and Shawn provided, in addition to their encouragement and accessibility.

There were two particular situations in which Jeff and Shawn saved my candidacy.

First, I chose an interesting story to tell in one of my essays. The story is fascinating to tell in front of an audience, and I thought it was appropriate for the application. But Jeff and Shawn helped me to realize that the story did not relate to business, what I could learn at Wharton, or how I might perform in the workplace after earning my MBA. If I had ignored Jeff and Shawn's advice and chosen my first story, I don't think I would have gotten into Wharton.

Second, I rehearsed for my behavioral interview like it was the World Cup Final. Jeff and Shawn both conducted mock interviews. Although I thought my responses were solid, Shawn told me that two of my responses were awful. And they were! If I had given those responses in the actual interview, I don't think I would have gotten into Wharton. Shawn taught me how to give more effective responses that showed how I could apply lessons learned in my career to the classroom at Wharton and to my future employment.

I was particularly impressed with the attention to detail that both Jeff and Shawn showed to my application. Jeff and Shawn helped me to edit my essays, short responses, and resume, and they provided around-the-clock (late night) service as the deadline approached. They provided suggestions for word choices, phrasing, and grammar that helped to polish my application. They made me feel like we had done everything possible to put forward a great application to my dream school.

I have recommended Jeff and Shawn to many friends and colleagues over the past few years. I could not be happier with their service. They helped me to achieve one of my most treasured goals. I wanted to go to Wharton for three years, and Jeff and Shawn helped me to get there. If you are thinking about spending several hundreds/thousands of dollars on an admissions consultant, you owe it to yourself to pick the very best one. Stratus Prep is absolutely the best one.

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by Izomer » Wed Mar 26, 2014 5:24 am
In March 2013, my girlfriend and I decided to ask admission consultants for help in our applications. By that moment, we still were uncertain which schools to choose at all and had absolutely no knowledge about how to write essays.

As for our background, we are average-aged for MBA students and are based in emerging market country. We worked in country-scale finance company and then parallely started our own project in the same field. We both scored 710 on GMAT and have 3.82 and 3.94 GPAs in universities that are almost unknown in the world (one of them is in top10 in our country).

We were seeking for the consulting firm for a while - read some reviews and searched their websites. Even though there were only few positive reviews and only one negative of StratusPrep, we booked initial call with Shawn, CEO of StratusPrep. What we liked was their collaborative consulting approach - both Shawn and an assigned consultant work together on your admission. Shawn constructs overall strategy of applications and controls the whole process, and an assigned consultant works with you very actively on every single part of your applications. We decided to apply to HBS, MIT, Kellogg and Duke.

We started working with Vinod, who was amazingly supportive on every part of our applications. Very soon we realized that we would have had much less chances to be admitted if we had had no consultants.

First, I had only few ideas WHAT to write in my essays (why MBA), and my girlfriend had totally NO idea what to write in her ones. In the very beginning, Shawn constructed overall strategies of applications for each school, and during our work, they both (with Vinod) were making us brainstorming to come up with good examples.

Second, we found out that we absolutely had no idea of how to write an essay - how to start, how to conduct thoughts, how to connect them, what sounded good and what sounded risky. Vinod helped us immensely in all that stuff.

Third, our english was (and unfortunately is :)) so poor that our "try essays" sounded as they had been written by children. Active and collaborative work with Vinod ended up in absolutely perfect essays (they actually looked like those in the books such as "65 Successfull Harvard Essays"band sounded at least as strong).

Forth, being non-native speakers, we had problems even with fulfilling our resumes and online applications. And here, Vinod explained many questionable moments to us and helped to formulate many points.

Finally, even though we found out much information about interviews ourselves, Vinod's mock interviews and following advices were totally priceless (I am almost certain that some of them were determinant in my success on, for instance, the MIT interview).
As for results, we were accepted in MIT, Kellogg and Duke, but denied without the interview in HBS, although I am certain that our HBS essays were totally perfect. The reason of deny was, I bet, in our relatively weak background (as one of current HBS students told us, they don't like those guys from our country who don't work in world-known companies). So, I think HBS just considered us risky applicants.

To sum up, we both think that applying with a help of StratusPrep was our best investment. Without consultants we could barely count on admission to any school in top20. I suppose that european and american people are much more skilled in writing essays, than we are (our country's universities do not demand that applicants write essays), so I don't know whether they need help from admission consultants in the writing itself. But still I'm certain that the approach of StratusPrep to admission consulting and its experience is a killer combination that would help anybody to come up with good thoughts, to formulate them and to apply to business school successfully.

Special thanks to Vinod and Shawn!

P.S.: We are totally happy!!!