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I used Stratus Prep for admissions consulting for business school. I am going to HBS next fall and it's thanks to Stratus Prep (Shawn + Vanessa).
My experience was exceptional. For context, I am a white male who works 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
Going to Kellogg with the incredible help of Stratus Prep. Shawn and my consultant Samantha 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 gmat score). My background is in education and teaching and I want to transition into charter school management. 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 smartest decision I could have made and definitely a huge part of the reason I got into Kellogg. Samantha, was very meticulous, incredibly knowledgeable, and always accessible. I started working with Stratus Prep in November (for January due dates) which was a little late; but 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 not have though to write about on my own (such as: my thesis for my masters in education, an independent study project I did in undergrad). 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 as well-rounded because I would have probably written a lot about my teaching experience, 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 outlining 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 was surprising. I got into both Kellogg and Duke. I am very 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 believe you will find it incredibly valuable working with Stratus Prep, not only on your essays, but every part of your application including resume, recs, and interviews.
Going to INSEAD.. I had on paper what I thought was the base for a good application - 6 years of work experience at a leading financial services firm, significant international exposure both professionally and personally, as well as a decent academic record. However, I decided to leverage an admissions counseling service because I wanted to discover ways I could differentiate myself, since a great academic record and great work experience is the common standard for most applicants. I considered admissions counseling to be the difference between a good application and my best possible application.
I chose Stratus Prep after meeting with Shawn for the free half hour consultation he offers. You quickly figure out that Shawn is an incredibly smart guy, and I knew immediately there would be true value add to my application. As an Indian, I was particularly interested that they have a lot of experience working with candidates abroad. For example, I know they were working with someone in New Delhi through phone and online meetings.
On a side note, a few months after I signed up I had my next meeting with Shawn, and he was able to recall every detail I had mentioned during our consultation, and what I had omitted. Yes, he takes notes, but it showed me that he was thinking strategically about my application more than I thought he would.
My admissions counselor Jeff is a Wharton graduate so he has been through the process himself, but he also previously worked as an admissions reader for Wharton. Jeff was a great counselor to work with because of his solid understanding of the process, and his incredible turnaround time on your essay drafts or in case of questions.
Both Shawn and Jeff make it their business to understand in detail the requirements of every school you can think of, and they are clearly experts on what each individual school looks for in a candidate. My initial impression was that Shawn played more the proprietor's role, but he actually gets quite involved in your application. Combined, Jeff and Shawn helped me understand and organize my approach to the process. In the end, I was confident that I was submitting my best possible applications.
Clearly it all paid off because I was admitted to INSEAD, which was one of my top choice schools. I am incredibly excited to be starting there this fall!
Accepted to CBS! – My Stratus Prep MBA Admissions consultant, Samantha, was amazingly helpful! Since I am planning a career transition, I was worried that I would not be able to articulate my goals in a way that would seem realistic to schools. Additionally, as a management consultant, I was unsure how to differentiate myself against the large and competitive peer group in which schools would evaluate me. Samantha helped me emphasize the ways my current job has prepared me for my future career, and -- throughout the process -- she pushed me to write effective and original essays without compromising my own voice. With her guidance, I was admitted to my first-choice school, Columbia, and awarded a merit fellowship. I highly recommend working with Samantha, Shawn, and the rest of the Stratus Prep team.
Great LSAT Prep – I was very happy with my experience with Stratus Prep. The founder, Shawn, taught my class. He is extremely smart, yet, his explanations are incredibly clear and easy to understand. Shawn gave each student personalized attention and really cared about our ability to achieve our goals. I could not recommend Stratus Prep any more highly.
Best LSAT Prep & Law School Admissions Counseling – I was referred to Stratus Prep through a coworker and could not be more happy with my experience. Neither of my parents went to college and although I've wanted to go to law school for awhile I didn't know where to start. Shawn helped me decide to skip the June 2011 LSAT when I didn't feel ready, and the Stratus Prep LSAT class and Shawn's tips for studying on my own helped me hit 175 on test day in October, which was higher than I was aiming for.
I then worked with Gabby (my Stratus Prep admissions counselor) on my personal and diversity statements, and this was a huge asset to me because I felt overwhelmed with the idea of writing about things that were so personal and emotional for me. Gabby helped me figure out what worked and what didn't, and I love how my essays turned out. I personally feel that my application outperformed my numbers and that Stratus Prep had a lot to do with that - they really helped me put together the best application that I could.
Now I have an acceptance to Harvard Law School and most of the other top schools I applied to (just waiting to hear back from Yale), and I was offered the Butler Fellowship at Columbia, the Rubenstein Scholarship at UChicago, and substantial scholarship money at Duke, Georgetown, and NYU. Because of Stratus Prep, I am now looking at going to a top 5 law school for free! I have still been using Gabby and Shawn throughout the negotiating process, and they have been extremely quick at responding to every question I've had. Overall, I'd recommend (and have been recommending) Stratus Prep to everyone who is thinking about taking the LSAT and applying to law school.
Excellent Business School Admissions Consulting – I found out about Stratus Prep through a friend who worked with the company for her business school applications last year. My friend applied to several of the top ten schools and received an interview with every school, including Wharton, Harvard, Columbia, and Berkeley. She had only great things to say about the Stratus Prep Admissions Counseling and highly recommended the company's services. Given my friend's results, I decided to use Stratus Prep for my own business school applications.
The Stratus Prep Business School Admissions Counseling is extremely comprehensive. Shawn O'Connor is the founder, and he is very well connected with the top business schools (as well as law schools) and truly understands how the schools evaluate applicants. His insight is invaluable in crafting well written, thorough, and poignant applications. He's great at working with clients and analyzing past experiences and really drawing out the unique aspects of the client. I believe this is really critical because with application essays, there are so many options in how to answer them, but Shawn is able to work with you to help paint a comprehensive picture of your strengths and what sets you apart.
The way he does this is through a series of exercises that has you explore the details or your life and where you are looking to go. It sounds corny, but it makes a huge difference to sit down and go through the exercises. They are thought provoking, and the end result is a very thoughtful and well crafted application.
Also, Shawn is extremely honest and trust worthy. Yes, he is running a business and is trying to grow it, but he's also very honest about what he thinks is the best option in choosing schools and how to best portray yourself.
The other great thing about Stratus Prep is that they hire counselors who have been very close to the admissions process at a lot of the top schools. These people have first hand experience with the schools and application process, including reading essays and interviewing candidates. My day to day counselor was Jeff, who was awesome. Jeff was a MBA from Wharton, and he was so laid back and easy to work with. He made me feel really comfortable with sharing my story (which at times can be embarrassing because personal feats and failures do come up). He had great insight and was very easy to work with, especially given my unpredictable schedule. He and Shawn kept me on track, but at the same time understood my time constraints.
I think Shawn and company are a great team to work with. I think there is a great misconception that admissions consultants write your essays for you, but that is not the case. At least not with Stratus Prep. You do the work, but they guide you so you can present yourself competitively so that the admissions officers see your full picture not just a piece of the picture or a piece that's irrelevant. Stratus Prep is also great with advising on how to bring up potentially negative information (i.e. a bad grade) and works with clients to conduct mock interviews. I felt really prepared for my interviews with Jeff's help, and I think the proof is in the pudding. Stratus Prep clients have great results. I got into my top school, Columbia. I did also interview at Wharton.
Excellent Test Prep and Admissions Counseling – I started working with Stratus Prep to increase my LSAT score after not seeing much improvement working with Testmasters. My Stratus Prep tutor Dan helped me improve my score from the low to mid 160s to a 175!
Since I had such a good experience tutoring, I decided to also take advantage of Stratus Prep's Law School Admissions Counseling to help me with my applications. While I had good underlying credentials, I was having trouble compiling everything into a cohesive application, and admissions counseling solved that problem. I worked directly with the head of the company Shawn O'Connor, and his guidance helped me get into Columbia Law. I definitely wouldn't be where I am today if not for the experts at Stratus Prep.
The Best LSAT prep/ Admissions Counseling Around – I just finished my 1L year at CCN, and ended up with a GPA above a 3.6. I can honestly say that I owe a great deal of my success in law school to Stratus Prep.
During my junior year in undergrad I started taking testmasters for LSAT prep. After going through the testmasters curriculum I was averaging in the mid 160s. I wanted to go to a Top school, and a score in the mid 160s just wasn't gonna cut it.
Because of that, I decided not to take the June test, and went back to the City to spend the summer prepping for September.
Knowing that I was coming back to the city, I began searching for LSAT prep companies. Luckily, I found Stratus Prep.
When I went in for my first meeting with the company, I was concerned that I had peaked in the mid 160s, and that I had burned through almost all the practice tests (I think all but 10 at the time)....
It took probably three weeks of intense work with Stratus Prep to consistently hit 170, and by the time September rolled around, I was hitting the mid 170s consistently, maxing out at 177 . Simply put, their system works.
After having success with the LSAT, I realized that I'd have a serious shot at the top schools and went back to Stratus Prep for admissions counseling. Having them there was a great resource. They were able to help me to take my experiences, talents, and aspirations, and package them in a way that was not only professional, but also appealing to law schools. I applied to 14 schools, and got into 4 (1 of them being my dream school) before withdrawing from the 10 I was still waiting on (didn't receive anything but acceptances). Once again, their system worked.
After getting into my target and withdrawing from the others I decided to take Stratus Prep's law school bootcamp. The intense sessions that we spent getting acquainted with 1L courses and general law school exam preparation was invaluable to my success this past year. I walked into the classes on the first day feeling like I had an edge....and it paid off.
Simply put, there isn't a better place to get prepared for Law School.
good product, but hold on to your wallet – ***PLEASE SEE UPDATE BELOW****
I was a customer for both Stratus Prep's LSAT course and their admissions counseling. I have mixed feelings about my experience there.
-LSAT course curriculum is solid
-They impart on you how much you need to practice on your own (tons)
-The practest sessions create a culture amongst the students that encourages the necessary tons of practice
-I've heard the private tutors are excellent if you can afford them
-My admissions counselor was very smart and helped me write what I felt were very good essays.
-Homework gets assigned. But there is no class time budgeted to go over it, or "office hours" to seek help on it.
-The course was used as a (very effective) marketing vehicle to sell you more products- admissions services private tutoring, and later law school bootcamps.
-Admissions Counseling is oversold. Great essays didn't help me get into any stretch schools.
- I have no idea where Stratus gets their "12 point average improvement" stat. There is no reporting process. How do they know? I studied hard and went up 4 points.
-The marketing is obnoxious, it makes the people who were in the 160s feel like total idiots.
-If money is no object, get the course and private tutoring. It sounds like they go well together.
-If money is tight and you can't afford private tutoring, I wouldn't recommend the course, just buy every practest ever published and do them on your own.
-Admissions counseling doesn't warrant the price tag.
I have recently been in touch with Shawn, the founder of Stratus, about this review. He showed genuine concern that I wasn't 100% satisfied with my experience. I feel obligated to update this review in light of our conversation.
While I stand by the content of this review - being further emotionally removed from the sting of numerous law school rejections - I would definitely use a more measured tone in describing my experience at Stratus.
I still think the value of admissions counseling was oversold, but I have to concede I was a willing participant in the delusion that great essays would have a much larger impact on my acceptances.
Shawn assures me Stratus has taken steps to end the obnoxious marketing that demeaned his sub 170 students and I believe him. Shawn has also indicated he is looking into a way to find more course time for reviewing homework... but in the meantime, students should still be aware the course doesn't budget time for going over homework and contains no "office hours" of the type they're accustomed to having in college. (Shawn tells me they are looking into this... so don't consider my statement the final word.)
Shawn demonstrated to me he is legitimately concerned with achieving satisfaction for every customer and for that he deserves credit. In light of our conversation and further reflection, I have raised my review to 3 stars (2 for admissions counseling, and 4 for the course).
I do urge all students to thoroughly read this blog by a Colorado Law Professor about the crisis in legal employment BEFORE they invest heavily in the LSAT prep/application process:
insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot dot com
This should be mandatory reading for any law student considering taking on a huge debt load for law school. Read it start to finish before making such a gigantic decision.
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