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MBA admissions consulting?

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MBA admissions consulting?

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Hi everyone,

I will be applying for MBA programs this fall and I am gearing up to get my applications ready. This is difficult time for many MBA hopeful's and I am now considering working with an MBA admissions consultant to facilitate my application process. I never considered working with one before, however, I feel that I could benefit from the convenience of a knowledgable additional opinion. I wanted to get an idea of which consulting service have people worked with in the past that helped candidates achieve great results.

First of all, I want to make it clear that I know that an admission consultant does not make you a better candidate, he or she just helps you create a well structured application to enhance your prospects for admission. For my background,

Lower GMAT Score (670, 680)-- one test was very high verbal, very low quant (I think 94% V and 54%Q) the other exam was fairly balanced (84% V and 73% Q).

Good GPA (3.5)- m cum laude, distinction, non ivy private

3.5 W/E-- Excellent recommendations from CEO in a respected role, experience in the management of product launches and teams. I also have successful entrepreneurship type W/E

Excellent volunteer experience

My top choices are

Tuck
Harvard
Yale
Sloan


Thank you

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Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Hey there bluesmurf...was the name inspired by the new movie?

Anyway, you might have seen my other post on here about Stratus Prep, but if not, I thought I would share my experience here as well.

I used Stratus last year and am so glad that I did. I will be heading to HBS in the fall and don't think I would have gotten in without Stratus' help.

In short, I was super-satisfied with Stratus. My counselor was incredibly helpful both in terms of knowing the admissions process and the schools (and what they are looking for THIS year vs. just generally/generically). I really valued their very timely and insightful feedback.

I decided to go to Stratus because I had a number of friends who had used them successfully for H/S/W and because I was amazed at how involved Shawn (the Founder) is in everyone's applications; I think he is definitely the world's HBS expert. I had a number of 1+ hourlong conference calls with Shawn and my counselor and really valued getting his direct feedback on my essays.

I cannot speak to Stratus' success rates other than to say that a significant number of my work colleagues have used Stratus, and everyone has been quite satisfied. Not everyone I know has gotten into H/S/W but the vast majority have including some whose numbers were quite low.

If you haven't spoken with Shawn, I would definitely recommend at least doing a consult with him. Right away, I knew this was a relatively small firm where each client is given incredibly high touch, expert service. That was the case throughout for me, at least.

I hope this helps! Good luck with this daunting process.

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Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts Default Avatar
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So I worked with Stratus Prep last year on my applications. I worked directly with Shawn on 4 Schools (HBS, Kellogg, CBS, and Wharton). I was nervous because it was a huge investment, but had a great experience. The greatest value was in the strategy that he helped me create for my application. I was so bogged down in detils and my GMAT score, he helped me see the bigger picture and put together an insightful and compelling story. Also, I would be remiss if I did not point out that I had a few mini-meltdowns that he helped talk me through by being reassuring and confident. Another thing that was really important for me was how incredibly available he made his schedule for me. I worked ridiculous hours at the time, and he made it so smooth by meeting me on weekends, or late evenings, and a couple of times, we even had early breakfast meetings. I just started at HBS this year. I also referred a couple friends to Stratus Prep who are using them during Round 1. If you wanna chat with me directly, feel free to shoot me a message. Also, if you wanna chat with one of my friends who is using them this year, I could see if they're available.


Either way, good luck!!!

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Senior | Next Rank: 100 Posts Default Avatar
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I'm bumping this thread. I recently talked to shawn o'connor, founder of stratus prep, and am deciding whether to use stratus. Their statistical claim of 80% acceptance rate at wharton/columbia, 70% at booth/kellogg, and 60% at HBS, seems fishy to me. Now i'm not accusing them of outright fabrication, but we have no idea how they are arriving at that figure or the context of these applicants. For instance, are they only taking on clients who have a decent shot at these schools to being with? Do most of their clients even apply to these top programs? And what's the industry/demographic breakdown of these people getting in? A minority female with lower numbers who worked in say non-profit or marketing, is not being held to the same standard as say a white/asian male in finance. So it's misleading to lump everyone into one pile and say "hey this is our overall acceptance rate, so you should pay us close to $5K for 2 applications!" And of course, if you don't get in, there's no refund, and they will tell you, "well it was a really tough year."

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MBA Admissions Consultant
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ksc1940,

Thanks for your post.

I am happy to share with you and the Beat the GMAT community the simple methodology that Stratus Prep uses to calculate our success rates. We take the number of students who we have helped win admission to a given business school since our founding over 6 years ago and then divide that by the number of students who have completed school packages for that school with Stratus Prep since our inception 6 years ago.

We do not “cherry pick” only clients who have a strong chance of getting into a given school. For example, we had two American male finance professionals with GPAs of 3.0 or less, who were not from underrepresented backgrounds, who were admitted to Wharton last year. We had a client, also not from an underrepresented background admitted to Kellogg last year with under a 3.5 and under a 650 and another who was admitted to HBS with a GMAT under 600.

I am also happy to share with you that approximately 75% of our clients come from the toughest three sectors for MBA admissions: finance, consulting, and IT (though we also have a strong number of applicants from operating companies, advertising firms, non-profits, and government as well). Over 80% of our clients apply to at least one of Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton. In terms of sample size, we work with hundreds of clients each year.

If you have any more questions about our statistics or the unparalleled, proprietary methodology that we use to generate these results, please just let me know. We are more than happy to share any and all information that may be helpful to you in evaluating if Stratus Prep is the right firm for you. We are also happy to connect you with references who can speak to their own experiences with Stratus Prep and whose identity you can even verify to be sure that they were Stratus Prep clients and that they attend the schools we indicate.

In short, we are an open book and welcome you to ask any and all questions you may have.

Best,
Shawn

_________________
Founder/Director, Stratus Prep
Harvard JD/MBA

shawn.oconnor@stratusprep.com
212-307-1788
www.stratusprep.com

See more Stratus Prep reviews.

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Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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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 (even though I had a lower GPA and a gmat score in
the low/mid 600 range). 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
college.

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 people...it 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).

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Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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Hello,

I thought I'd reply to this and offer my insight and experience with Stratus Prep. First off, I reviewed and spoke with many different consultants when making this decision. I ended up going with Stratus Prep based on all the positive feedback I was able to collect. Finally, I was really impressed with Shawn on an individual level - he was just a straight up nice guy that (i) I felt comfortable working with and (ii) trusted enough to make a meaningful investment (time and money).

For my actual process, I worked with 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).

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

1) Stratus’ Introspection process helped me map of my story (professionally, personally, academically), which 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: 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 were always available and were simply just nice people to work with. I trusted them and it certainly paid off.

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.

Hope this helps.

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Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
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I have used Stratus Prep for MIT and I think they are great! I was able to get in! I didn't apply to any other school.
I had some sessions with other companies including SB consulting and I think most of them were not ready to share enough info before you sign up with them and that was the reason I couldn't go with anyone else as I was not getting that comfort level. Shawn listened to my story and recommended Samantha to work with me based on her background and success rate. Their process is also very detailed to make sure you don't leave anything important in your application. It is time consuming but really worth it.
Again, I am not a company employee who is here to recommend them. I really had a great experience and I am ready to share with other applicants who are interested in top schools.
Good Luck!

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Senior | Next Rank: 100 Posts Default Avatar
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Test Date:
Nov 2012
Target GMAT Score:
760
GMAT Score:
710
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See my review of Stratus Prep here: http://www.beatthegmat.com/anyone-use-admission-consultants-t115499.html

(also pasted below here)

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.

Benjiboo

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Another happy Stratus Prep client here going to HBS...

I worked with Stratus Prep and had a great 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.

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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