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Fuqua School of Business at Duke University
Senior MBA Admissions Consultant
Stratus Admissions Consulting
Net Promoter Score: 9
Susan earned her AB in Economics modified with Computer Science. During her time at Dartmouth she participated in Varsity Soccer as well as Varsity Track and Field. For three years out of Dartmouth, Susan worked at Charles River Associates, an economics consulting firm focusing on anti-trust litigation work.
While earning her MBA, Susan founded Marketing Week in Boston, was Captain of the MBA Soccer Club, and served as the Corporate Fundraising Chair for the MBA Games for Special Olympics, Alumni Liaison. After completing her MBA, Susan joined Lotus Development Corporation as a product manager before moving on to Open Market, a venture-funded Internet commerce start-up, where she served as a Product Manager then Director of Consulting Services. She was one of the first ten employees at Upromise where she defined the requirements for the service that has helped thousands of families save for college.
For nearly a decade, Susan worked on the Admissions Committee at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.
With Stratus Admissions Counseling, you don’t just work closely with an experienced MBA admissions consultant to optimize every part of your application.
You work with an entire team of specialists who provide extensive feedback throughout the process.
From crafting your essays to conducting mock interviews, this team-based approach ensures you stand out and get accepted into your dream business school.
We’ve successfully worked with applicants on Harvard Business School admissions, Stanford MBA admissions, and Wharton MBA admissions, among others.
Profile & Resume Evaluation/Suggestions
Scholarship Negotiation and Waitlist Strategy (if needed)
1 School: $5600
2 Schools: $7300
3 Schools: $8900
4 Schools: $10400
5 Schools: $11800
6 Schools: $13100
7 Schools: $14300
School Add-On: $1800
North Carolina, United States
10=Without Hesitation, 1=I would advise against it.
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I had the privilege of working closely with Susan for my 2+2 MBA applications with a deadline in April 2023. Susan played a pivotal role in guiding me through the entire application process, from the initial ideation phase to crafting a compelling MBA narrative and presenting it convincingly. Her support was marked by thoughtfulness, honesty, and unwavering availability whenever I needed assistance.
One standout aspect of Susan’s support was her offer to provide input and guidance to my recommenders. This was a significant help in ensuring that my recommendations aligned perfectly with my application goals. Susan also helped me to differentiate between a standard job resume and an MBA-focused resume. She made several subtle but impactful adjustments to my application that I would have easily overlooked on my own.
I cannot recommend Susan highly enough. Her deep understanding of the MBA application process is unparalleled, and her dedication to her clients is truly commendable. Even after the application process concluded, Susan has maintained regular contact and offered to meet in person, demonstrating her genuine care and commitment. Susan is not only a remarkable coach but also a wonderful person, and anyone fortunate enough to have her as a coach is truly lucky.
My top piece of advice for those applying to MBA programs with high expectations would be to work with Susan. Coming into the process, I had a lot of questions about what realistic goals were for myself and how schools would view my experience. Susan immediately put those concerns to rest, assuring me that a top tier school was a possible goal, and helping me to extract my story based on both my personal and professional experiences.
Not only was this self-exploration process helpful for shaping my narrative, but it was also helpful in me better articulating to myself what I am looking to get out of an MBA program. Throughout the process any time my confidence wavered, Susan assured me and helped guide me on the right track. Ultimately, I ended up getting accepted to my top choice M7 school. This was an outcome that I was dreaming of at the beginning of the process and Susan helped to make it a reality.
I cannot recommend Susan highly enough, as she will help you present the best version of yourself throughout the entire application process. The best candidate you can possibly be can be achieved with Susan’s help, and the expert help of Stratus.
I had the privilege of getting to work with Susan as my MBA Admissions consultant. Susan was recommended to me by a friend who worked with her last year and spoke so highly of her that I knew she was someone I could trust to get my MBA applications across the finish line. Prior to working with Susan, I had written my MBA essays on my own the previous year with the plan to submit my applications without an MBA consultant. I had doubts about my ability to get my story across in my applications and I ultimately decided that working with an MBA consultant and waiting another year would give me the confidence I needed to put my best foot forward. Susan was living proof that I had made the right decision.
During my time with Susan, I had the chance to start over with my MBA applications and use the Introspection exercises to really reflect on who I was, what my passions were, and why I ultimately wanted to get an MBA. She helped me identify themes that represented who I was and channeled these themes throughout my application, essays, and recommendations. There were certain experiences I shared with her that I had not considered highlighting in my application but she saw those experiences differently, which allowed me to share a unique perspective of myself. Susan also leveraged her network and her Stratus teammates, such as Melisa Prevost (huge shoutout!), to help connect me with the right resources and chat with previous clients about their MBA admissions journey.
When it came to feedback, whether it was my essays, my resume, or my interview preparation, Susan was thorough and upfront, which made such an impact for me to not be afraid to change my content entirely or start over. She pushed me to go beyond my comfort zone by conveying my emotions in my essays and helped me to refine my resume bullet points and my interview responses to be succinct.
Overall, I can say that Susan was one of the best investments I could have made with my MBA admissions journey. Because of her, I was able to get into multiple M7 schools, including Wharton, my dream school, where I will be matriculating this year! Susan walks the walk and talks the talk and I could not be more thrilled to give her the highest of recommendations.
When I began applying to business school, I only had a vague sense of what I wanted out of the experience. Beyond thinking it was the “logical” next step, I didn’t have a clear vision for what I wanted out of my b-school experience.
All of that changed when I went to work with Susan. Over the course of a few months, Susan not only helped me hammer out my post-MBA goals, but she also coached me through the best ways to position my application. I know for a fact that our time spent together will remain with me over the duration of my MBA experience and beyond!
I am immensely grateful for Susan’s guidance, which helped me get admitted to my dream MBA program at Stanford!
Susan was instrumental in working with me to sift through essay ideas and find my “voice.” Susan prepared me thoroughly for my MBA interview, providing critical feedback on how my responses would be perceived from an interviewer’s point of view and helping me to gain the confidence to succeed. As a former admissions officer who has also coached so many other candidates, Susan brings a level of insight and judgment that friends, family, and colleagues cannot replicate. Furthermore, Susan encouraged me to apply for a merit scholarship, which I would not have considered on my own. Susan has helped me better understand myself even beyond the MBA application.
Looking back, I remember browsing these forums when trying to decide whether to work with Susan and her team at Stratus. I would say to my old self without hesitation to work with Susan – see it as a worthwhile investment in yourself!
As the header says, I would not have succeeded without Susan. I came in with a good GMAT score, my heart set on one M7 program, zero preparation, no backup plan, and a 4-week deadline. Luckily, I found Susan who took me on as a client and righted the ship immediately. Not only did I get accepted, but Susan helped me articulate my character and personal narrative in ways that I still use today. I recommend Susan to anyone who wants to maximize their business school application.
It isn’t every day that you come across people whose work and guidance will forever change your life. Susan Cera & the Stratus team helped change mine in the span of weeks. Susan successfully guided me in the application process to an M7 school which resulted in acceptance! Susan’s expertise assisted me with test selection/recalibration, brainstorming and writing essays, updating my resume, and preparing for interviews. If I could give Susan more than 5 stars and pay her true value, she is off the star charts and worth every penny. A true leader, strategic, inspirational, and bold – thank you Susan and Stratus team for changing my life.
After quite a bit of research on different consultants, and checking with references (both online and personal connections), I had the fortune to work with Susan. I’m glad I did because I was admitted to my top choice!
One of the most challenging aspects of the application for me was how to coherently bring together all the elements of my past experiences and translate that into an application. Throughout the introspection process, Susan asked insightful and pertinent questions that helped me dig further into the details of my experiences. Once that work was done, she was instrumental in helping me parse through all the details to come up with a detailed and very focused narrative. I was concerned in working with a consultant that my “voice” might be stripped away, but was impressed by how she helped me maintain my “voice” throughout while helping me sharpen it to focus on communicating my story more clearly.
She was helpful in all parts of the application process (from helping review essays to updating the resume to preparing for the interview). Susan, together with the Stratus team, helped guide me through the high frequency of questions I had regarding my application with thoughtful replies.
The MBA application process can be an extremely nerve-wracking one. Many times, I revisited my essay, my narrative, and other parts of my application over and over again. Susan truly cared about me not only as a client but as a person, helping me calm down during this intense process. Her words to “trust the process” are something I will never forget. I’m so glad I did listen because now I’ll be going to my dream school. I cannot recommend her enough if you really want to go to your dream school!
As a deferred programs applicant, I was unsure of whether it would be worth the effort/money to engage with a consultant. After chatting with a lot of other consultants, I find myself immediately gravitating toward Susan’s radiating passion for her work and her students. I was also affirmed by her candid feedback on my profile and her realistic assessment of my chances. These characteristics – passion, candidness, and optimism – remain constant throughout my interactions with her after I purchased an hourly service.
I am so grateful that I did decide to hire a consultant. We first worked together to come up with my key themes and a strategic plan, which Susan played a significant in helping me articulate. During the essay editing process, Susan was responsive and provided thoughtful feedback for every draft. There were moments when I grew frustrated with my writing, but Susan was persistent and encouraging in helping me craft a compelling narrative that accurately portrays myself. When it came time for interviews, Susan was my biggest cheerleader. Beyond helping me with mock interviews, she would send me a note before every interview. To note, throughout my engagement with Susan, she has always been efficient with the hours I purchased.
Eventually, I got into 3/5 schools I applied to and I could not have asked for a more professional, helpful, and compassionate advocate by my side than Susan.
I still keep pinching myself, y’know. To ensure I am not stuck in an ‘inception-esque’ trance.
But I know it’s real. My destiny was sealed the day the admission letter read ‘Congratulations’ with a celebratory confetti background wallpaper.
Mins later, I sent an email to Susan telling her that we had done it. We had converted to our first US business school. The journey hadn’t been easy, especially for an ORM (over-represented minority). So, let’s dive right in.
In September 2021, I decided to finally shake off the dust of procrastination regarding my MBA plans. But, still reeling under the ‘let-me down’ eyes of self-doubt, I knew I needed guidance on the admissions process. After some secondary research online, I came across the website of Stratus Consulting and its senior director – Susan Cera.
Susan and I spoke for the first time end of September. It was a 30 mins consultation call wherein we discussed my profile. The discussion was highly directive. It was humbling to hear about my strengths and my blind spots. Susan did not mince her words, which helped me steer clear of any delusions I was carrying.
We decided to work together for the next 1-2 months, building my personalized MBA blueprint. This had three critical parts, each feeding into the other:-
a) Part 1: Gather data points by reflecting on past experiences across professional and personal settings
b) Part 2: Identify Attributes by leveraging the data points gathered
c) Part 3: Build Story by identifying stories that allude to those specific attributes
Post this exercise. We built out the second part of the strategy:-
a) Why MBA? And Why Now?
b) Post MBA goals? Short-term and Long-term
Further to this exercise, we refined my resume, driving specificity through the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) framework.
Finally, we bucketed my target schools across three areas, i.e., Likely/Reach/Stretch. At this point, it is essential to mention that given my debilitating test anxiety, we decided to only look at schools with a GMAT waiver.
As part of the following steps, we worked selectively on a few essays, wherein Susan reviewed my story, constantly pushing me to direct my thoughts using the STAR format. Her #1 guidance to me was that ‘specificity drives credibility,’ and those golden words have been etched into my brain since then.
Our journey led us to convert to a top 20 B-School and get waitlisted at a top 15. I honestly did not expect to cut, but Susan – as my guardian angel – was there to reassure me in every way. She was more than a consultant, a sounding board that allowed me to vent my frustrations and insecurities without turning a page of judgment. I am forever indebted to her contribution, allowing this ORM a fighting chance at the top 20 MBA programs in the US.
If I could offer a single piece of advice to someone interested in business school, it would be: work with Susan Cera. Susan helped me secure multiple acceptances, including 3 full-ride scholarships (including one to an M7) and a substantial scholarship to Wharton. Honestly, that success alone is enough for me to offer Susan my highest recommendation (11/10 !) and to tell everyone I know to hire her ASAP. However, Susan brought so much more to our relationship than the feedback one would expect from a consultant. She brought unyielding support (at times, she felt more like a therapist than coach), so much positivity (even while chatting as her daughter was in the hospital), and, truthfully, heart. Susan really, really will be in your corner throughout this process. She wants the best for her clients and consistently (underscore consistently!) goes above and beyond to ensure they submit high-caliber applications that reflect who they are.
When I first connected with Susan, I had a “feeling” as to why business school was the right next step for me, but as a nontraditional candidate, I was super naive about the process and business school, in general. I had an ambiguous dream career and a surface-level rationale as to why an MBA would help me get there. Susan always knew what questions to ask and what sort of guidance to offer to help me tease out my short- and long-term goals. She also has extensive knowledge of business school and the different programs, so she helped me connect the dots between the skills I wanted to develop and what I would learn from an MBA. This helped me answer the “why an MBA now?” interview question confidently and with ease. Perhaps more importantly, Susan made me believe that I was a strong fit for business school. Susan made such an effort to get to know me and helped me realize my place at top MBA programs. She also ensured my applications were an authentic reflection of me, my experiences, and my dreams, and it was this authenticity that I think caught the eyes of admissions committees. On that note, I feel more confident entering business school after having worked with Susan. Knowing that I presented my full self to admissions and was accepted has lessened my imposter syndrome. I was accepted based on who I am and what I can bring to the table – I cannot thank Susan enough for this confidence boost and peace of mind!!
Overall, I am, of course, thrilled to be attending school in the fall and to be done with this arduous process, but at the same time, I will miss my sessions with Susan. She is THAT wonderful, THAT motivating, THAT inspiring. I feel immensely lucky to have worked with her!
Lastly, a big shoutout to Melisa – she was another huge help in my strategy session and congratulated me with every interview invite and acceptance I received. Thanks, Melisa, for your support and warmth! I am glad Susan brought you into our sessions.
As a candidate from an overrepresented category – teaming up with Susan was the best decision I made. Susan really puts in the additional effort to understand the applicant’s story. Her attention to detail is impeccable and her dedication was a constant source of support throughout the application process. She is kind and candid – the best of both! With her help, I will be attending MIT Sloan!
As a non-traditional candidate who was still figuring out what type of program to apply to (full-time, executive, part-time), I very much appreciated having Susan’s support during the process. She made sure to adapt to my changing plans and offer information and advice on some alternative program structures. I also appreciated her feedback on my written materials and found her to be very responsive (frequently ahead of stated turnaround times). Susan was supportive, but also did not sugarcoat things, and she provided helpful and effective feedback. I ended up getting into the one program I applied to with a small scholarship. I enjoyed my time working with Susan and would definitely recommend her to others (and also a shoutout to Jennifer for her assistance in the process, as well!).
As a non-traditional candidate, I needed someone to help me translate my real-life experience into something business schools could understand. After just a few hours as part of an hourly package, I felt very confident with my applications and received $120k merit to CBS and over $300k from NYU, Haas, and Georgetown combined. If you’re looking to pay for school with merit money, there’s no smarter investment than working with Susan!!
I cannot recommend Susan highly enough – if there was an 11/10 option she would be worthy of that score and more. I knew that I was going to be working with a top-notch admissions expert of her reputation, but the experience I had greatly exceeded my expectations. She took the time to really get to know me so that I could identify what is unique about me and present my most authentic self through my essays and interviews, and through her introspective inquiry process helped me come to realize my personal and career ambitions. She provides super timely feedback and communication and was even willing to give me helpful pep talks and prep sessions before interviews to keep me on point. She was able to flawlessly apply the lens of a tenured admissions officer with her feedback on all areas of my application, including making my resume more poignant and impact-oriented. While I was waitlisted and was losing faith in myself, she encouraged me to not give up and helped me secure interviews/acceptances from that seemingly unfavorable position. What meant the most to me was seeing how invested she was in my success at every node of this long journey. I ended up getting into Harvard as well as multiple other top business schools with scholarships/fellowships – something unfathomable to me as I was worried about having a low GPA, being a re-applicant with no success my first go-around, and providing a GRE score instead of GMAT. I do not believe I would have achieved my dream of going to Harvard if I had anyone else in my corner coaching and supporting me. I am beyond grateful to have had the absolute best in the business on my team and I could not recommend her highly enough if you want the same.
Susan helped me apply to 6 MBA programs, of which I was admitted to 4, and am now a first-year MBA at Wharton. Susan did such a great job of helping me not only write/edit my essays but also clarify my overall career goals and vision for my future. She was so kind, supportive, and overall an incredible resource to guide me through the application process. I’ve since recommended her to other friends of mine who’ve also had great experiences! Susan also helped me with my dual degree application to the Harvard Kennedy School while I was in the fall of my first year at Wharton, where I was also just admitted!
First things first – Yes, my stats (GMAT, GPA, etc.) were in line with medians for the programs to which I applied (all M7 tier). They were not a tremendous help but definitely did not put me at a disadvantage. However, my profile is non-traditional by non-traditional standards, with a couple of outlandishly big red flags that desperately needed to be put into context. Every time I would broach them in my initial essay attempts, my mind and pen would fail me, and the story would devolve into what I felt was a mess of excuses. This is why I reached out to Susan for guidance.
Saying that my expectations were exceeded beyond anything I could have imagined is an understatement. Susan cannot work miracles, but she can help you put on full display the person that you know yourself to be, provided you are willing to be honest and bare your heart to her. Prior to working with Susan, my story was merely a stream of lived experiences and memories, but I had never actually taken a concerted walk down this path. For the first time in my life, there are now concrete words to explain exactly who I am, rather than this amorphous feeling that floats in my head. I’ve read through my essays several times since receiving admittances, because they genuinely make me happy and proud. I will forever cherish the self-exploration, the probing questions, and the committing of my life’s story to paper, all of which was made possible by Susan.
In exact terms, things you will gain by working with Susan: first, a better understanding of how to succinctly, yet powerfully, address every facet of every essay and interview potentiality. This is a big one. By all means, you could read countless MBA forums to gain some insight or use a “do it yourself” platform geared toward the application process. I did both of these before contacting Susan, but I did not feel genuine when writing or “rehearsing” for potential interviews. This self-doubt was valid; I was mimicking what had worked for some (and failed for others), trying to force my experiences into someone else’s application template. Conversely, Susan’s approach was bespoke. Before even beginning essays, we had deep conversations about my life – some things that I had not even considered to be material for the applications. She asked sincere, follow-on questions to every sentence, phrase, and sometimes word that came out of my mouth, wanting to learn exactly what I meant and how I felt. You cannot get this from an impersonal forum.
Next, Susan’s compassion toward her clients and enthusiasm for her advisory role is unparalleled. Setting appointments with her was seamless, and she always made time when key dates were approaching. There were even a couple of times when an issue needed immediate attention, and she made herself available for a lightning round of questions and advice. It just shows how committed she is to her clients and speaks volumes about the kind of person she is.
Lastly, peace of mind. If you are worried about the strength of your application, then you have a very compelling reason to give Susan a call. You will sleep better knowing that you did absolutely everything within your power to achieve your dreams. She’s not going to steer you in the wrong direction. Now if you’re already confident in your ability to go it alone, I’d argue that is an even stronger reason to work with her. Your post-MBA opportunities make the small-ish consultant fee inconsequential. Similarly, things like apartment referral bonus sharing from the MBA class ahead of you, Uber/Lyft passes from school, free meals on admit weekends, all the cool merch schools send you, etc. will easily negate Susan’s hourly over the next couple of years. (I bet you hadn’t considered all the fringe benefits!) So just do it.
My results: admitted to 5 of 7 programs to which I applied and over $650k in total scholarships ($$$$ at all but one). Could I have done this without her? Well sure, my application was 100% me. Would it have been likely? Absolutely. No. Way.
I was so grateful to have Susan’s support throughout the MBA application process! She provided invaluable insight and direction as I brainstormed my application strategy and essays. It was super helpful to have her support and accountability and made the app process more enjoyable. So worth it!
You know the feeling when you are about to submit a paper in college, and you know you just killed it? That’s how I felt submitting every application that I did with Susan. My essays were my own work with my own tone, but Susan (and I should say Stratus as a team since our essays are read by a school reviewer to make sure nothing is missed) helped me tighten, streamline, and edit to make sure it was my best work.
Going into the process, I knew that I didn’t have a fantastic GMAT score or a name-brand school with a high GPA. I talked to so many consultants about my MBA ambitions. Susan was the only one who made me feel like she was genuine in providing me advice (even though it was a free consult). She went above and beyond to make sure that my MBA story and career aspirations made sense. When I was in town for a weekend, she even went out of her way to meet up! She made me feel like she really cared about me as a person, and it was actually really fun to work with her.
Heading off to the perfect program for me this fall at a T15 with a nice scholarship – and couldn’t have done it without Susan’s help.
I made the decision to pursue an MBA at an M7 school in the Summer of 2021. Prior to that, I had no friends, relatives, or even acquaintances in my circle that had gone to an M7 – suffice it to say that my knowledge and understanding of the application process was lacking.
As I researched online, I quickly realized that the process was INTENSE. I came to P&Q to get some guidance and stumbled upon this admissions consulting page. Sad to admit, but I didn’t even know admissions consulting was a thing haha. Susan was ranked No. 1 and had glowing reviews. Knowing an M7 was a long shot for me, I figured I might as well go with a top-ranked consultant to give me an edge.
From our first 30-minute consultation call, I immediately recognized the value that Susan brought to the table – She causally listed off programs, tips, and nuggets of information that I was completely unaware of. When we began working together, I was constantly amazed at how she could bring out the best in my personal experiences, and help me synthesize them into a strong, cohesive application. From my essays to my resume to my interview – everything was elevated as a result of Susan’s coaching. She knows what the admissions teams are looking for, and how to convey your story to show them you have what it takes. And our brainstorming sessions were essential in helping me solidify my goals.
Besides that, Susan has a TON of connections – whatever you’re pursuing she’ll have a previous client or associate that’s knowledgeable about a program and willing to talk to you. Through the course of working together, she introduced me to no less than 3 different amazing individuals that gave me invaluable insights. And even after working together she’s made it clear that she’ll always be willing to make a connection.
If you are considering working with a consultant, Susan is who you want. She truly cares. She is 100% in the trenches with you, helping and encouraging every step of the way. This is someone who has found her calling and is doing something she truly loves! I ended up getting into the M7 I really wanted, and I can honestly say it was a direct result of the guidance from Susan and the rest of the Stratus Admissions Team. Without it, my application would have been ok, but we all know that ok doesn’t cut it for b-school!
I come from a technical atypical background with a lower than average GPA for M7 schools without anyone in my friends/family circle having pursued an MBA. Naturally, the MBA admissions process was a big mystery to me so I decided to look into admissions consultants. I talked to a few but stopped the process the day I first chatted with Susan Cera from Stratus Admissions. We immediately clicked because of having similar backgrounds and more importantly because Susan seemed very down to earth and was also very honest with her assessment of my overall profile. Once I took care of the GMAT in May, off we went with our journey. Btw, Susan said she will be my biggest cheerleader throughout the day I signed up with Stratus and that could not be more true.
For the first half of the summer, Susan and I met every other week and would discuss in detail my background, my stories, the big defining moments of my life and Susan would provide constructive feedback throughout these take-home introspection assignments. I could tell the team at Stratus over the years have put in a lot of work by looking at the activities and questions Susan would ask me about my background. By July we essentially had crafted and narrowed down my personalized MBA strategy – essentially the why MBA, why now but tailored to me. This included an overview of some key stories, themes, and arcs that I would highlight in my essays.
At this point, Susan introduced Melissa from the Stratus team to take a look at my story and provide an unbiased and fresh perspective. Melissa pointed out a few areas for us to focus on moving forward.
Next came resume building and honestly, words cannot describe how pivotal Susan was in this. Due to my technical background I essentially had to do a complete makeover and Susan’s skill, or should I say, art, came to the rescue. I could tell Susan gives in her 100% because she was not satisfied until the finished results meets her high standards.
Finally, when it came to essay writing Susan worked tirelessly with me to provide ideas, tips, and overall strategies that I should employ when writing my drafts. Her feedbacks were spot on, and more importantly if at any time I’d get stuck during the essay writing process she would promptly hop on a quick call to help me get unstuck. Once the interviews started rolling in, she helped me prep up for those using a combination of mock interviews, themes/arcs to talk about and the do’s and don’t of interviews tailored to each specific school.
I applied to 6 T20 programs in Round 1, got into 2 T20s with $$, WL at 1 T10, and got into one of my top choice M7 with some $. Do not think any of this would be possible without Susan. I’m glad I went with Stratus and I’m glad I got to know Susan and what a kind, warming, wonderful and amazingly talented person she is. I would 100% recommend Stratus/Susan to anyone exploring admissions consultants.
I would 1000% recommend Susan to anyone who is planning to apply to MBA school and looking for extra support. I worked with Susan over the summer prior to applying to schools to help define and articulate my “why” and my overall application story via the MBA Application Fundamentals. I was coming from a traditional background with solid, but not amazing ECs and scores and, her wisdom, advice, and encouragement played a huge role in helping me feel confident my application was the best it could be. From day one, she was an engaged listener that took the time to walk through my goals and background to help me craft the best story. She answered my panicked emails freaking out about various parts of the application process and was a trusted advisor throughout the whole process. Even after we were done working together, she sent emails checking in on my progress and congratulating successes. I earned 4 R1 admits including two M7 with scholarship, and I cannot say enough about how much I enjoyed working with Susan. I would wholeheartedly recommend her to anyone looking for a supportive, encouraging guide to the MBA application process!!
I decided to work with Susan after consulting with a few different firms/consultants. Susan really understood my background (engineering/tech industry) and goals, and she cared about helping me put my best foot forward in the MBA admissions process. I worked with Susan on the four school package and was admitted to one of my top choice programs!
I started working with Susan a couple of years ago, but I ultimately decided to defer applying until this past year. Picking things back up with Susan was extremely easy – she remembered me and what we had worked on before. Susan was super helpful and supportive throughout the entire process, from helping me uncover my story to practicing mock interviews until I felt comfortable. Her feedback on my MBA resume was especially helpful – I’ve even incorporated her feedback into my professional resume!
Susan always listened patiently, especially when I was feeling unsure or unmotivated and needed a pep talk, and she promptly gave feedback on deliverables and replied to all of my questions. I highly recommend her if you want to work with a consultant who cares about you as a person – she will help you achieve your goals!
Susan Cera is hands down the best MBA consultant out there. I interviewed about 5 different consultants and decided to go with Susan. With her help, I got into my dream school (one of M7) with a scholarship!!! She was super supportive during the whole process, but was also very candid when she thought I wasn’t giving 100% on my essays. I would recommend Susan to anyone who is looking for a consultant who truly cares and build a compelling story.
I’m really grateful to have met Susan Cera and for her support during my application to the Fuqua School of Business. I specifically selected Susan for her background working with Fuqua’s admissions committee and her knowledge of the application process, essay questions, and interview prep. In less than 2 hours Susan helped me to craft compelling essays, answer difficult interview questions, helped build my self-confidence and also, encouraged me to have fun in the process! I not only got into Fuqua, but I also received a substantial merit scholarship – which I do not believe I would have received without Susan’s help to make my application as strong as possible. I highly recommend her, especially if you are considering Fuqua.
I had been thinking about pursuing an MBA for some time, but I was nervous to apply because my quant skills weren’t strong, and I didn’t feel like I was the type of candidate MBA schools wanted. My main work experience has been for my family’s small business that isn’t well known, and I thought that put me at a disadvantage. Susan helped me see how wrong I was about that and pointed out the unique experiences and opportunities I had, that would actually benefit me as an applicant. If you want to work with someone that makes you feel like you have a personal cheerleader in your corner, then Susan is your best bet. From encouraging me while I took and re-took the GMAT, to helping me find a supplementary math course to prove my quant skills, and to helping me build my experiences into a story, Susan was there every step of the way! I can’t thank her enough and I am so excited to start my MBA this fall in the Foster Hybrid MBA program (my top choice!).
My experience with Susan Cera has been amazing and was a game-changer in my applications.
I do not have the best raw stats, but I felt I had a good background and story for wanting to do an MBA. Susan helped me visualize and translate that story into something tangible that admission officers could understand. She worked closely with me to understand my goals post-MBA and long-term while working with my previous experience to understand how to best convey my unique message to admission committees. Working with Susan and Stratus helped my story come to life and enhance my application to get me to several interviews and acceptances.
The MBA process is complicated and there are many little details that go unnoticed by the typical person that may be going through the process alone. It makes a significant difference having a trusted advisor guiding you along the way. Working with Susan for several months, I felt much more confident and prepared in my applications, interviews, and communications with admission officers. One unique differentiator about Stratus is that you are able to work with several different people across their entire team (e.g. certain interviews with schools – you can prep with another admissions consultant that has specific expertise with that particular program).
I highly recommend Susan for anyone throughout the MBA application cycle!
I thank my lucky stars every day that I met Susan, while I was reaching out to multiple admissions consultants reviewed in forums. Susan was the only one who saw potential in my profile, connected with me at a human level and gave me hope, whilst everyone else just gave me their opinions and were marketing to me.
Susan and Stratus have a proven and time-tested process to bring out the best in you. Every question asked by Susan is very deliberate during the brainstorming process to bring out your true personality, vision, successes and growth areas. It’s quite incredible how well put together and elaborate their pre-work is which leads into the applications.
Susan was there for me every step of the way, pushed me to get the best out of me, gave me tough love when needed, motivated me and cheered for my success at every turn! Susan did not accept anything less than extraordinary from me on any essay, resume or application requirement. Let me repeat this again, “Susan did not accept anything less than extraordinary from me!” She guided me with her deep experience to get me there. Her attention to detail is mind-blowing.
The interview prep process was very thoughtful and tailored. Susan gave me feedback and pointers to improve before every interview. We even had multiple sessions as needed. I truly feel we travelled a fantastic journey together.
If you’re reading this review, let me tell you this, it might be hard for you to truly hear a person you’ve never met. Stop your search and place your faith with Susan ! This will be one of the best decisions you make, which will transform your life. I am in awe of Susan and her team. Today Susan is more than a consultant who worked with me, she is my close friend. I never imagined I would be accepted to not one, but two ivy league EMBA programs, Columbia and Yale.
I will never forget the moment I called Susan to tell her I was accepted at Columbia Business School. Susan and Stratus are not just admissions consultants, they are changing the business landscape by helping candidates realize their dreams to change the world !
Susan and the rest of the Stratus Admissions team were instrumental in helping me identify my strengths and shape my narrative for business school. When you begin working with Susan, she takes you through several introspection exercises, which alone are worth the interaction and are tremendously helpful in creating your unique story. Susan and Co. also bring in-depth knowledge of the individual characteristics of each school to ensure you find the right program for you. Additionally, Stratus deploys a team effort. While Susan was my main counselor, she brought in many of her colleagues at various stages of the application to get a fresh set of eyes. Susan also connected me with some of her old clients at the schools I was interested in, providing me an opportunity to learn even more about the various schools. I fully recommend working with Susan as she helped me better understand myself and, just as importantly, get into my top choice program.
I was introduced to Susan by a friend who got into an M7 program two years ago. After talking with three other consultants, I decided to work with Susan because I felt that she had my best interests at heart. SPOILER ALERT: I was right!
We started working on my stories and reasons for applying for MBA. I had a few directions I wanted to go with my career, and with Susan’s guidance I found one that best suits my strengths & experience and can get the most boost from an MBA.
After deciding on recommenders and programs, I started writing school-specific essays. This step felt not as daunting thanks to all the prep works. Susan and the team were very helpful and prompt in providing feedback on pretty much everything related to the application package (essays, resume, data forms, etc).
Susan also helped me prepare for interviews and gave me some much-needed encouragement when I got rejected by programs. In the end, I got into two programs I really liked and ultimately picked one that I clicked with more.
Throughout the process, I felt very blessed to have worked with Susan who’s willing to learn about me and help craft a story that best suits my personality and career interests. I would highly recommend Susan and Stratus to anyone interested in getting into a top MBA program!
Susan is an excellent consultant!! I highly recommend her for anyone who is applying to MBA programs. I started working with her in the spring of 2020 with the plan to apply that fall. First, before applications, we worked on short- and long-term goals and took a deep dive into my strengths in order to begin to shape my story. We brainstormed schools that would be the best fit for me and she introduced me to students and/or alums that I could talk to about their experience. She then guided me through the entire application process, including essays, videos, recommendations, interviews (with mock interviews), etc. I found her to be extremely relatable, professional, knowledgeable, and engaging. Susan always has a positive attitude which is very refreshing as the application process can be very daunting. I cannot thank Susan enough for helping me get into my dream school and first choice, Wharton, in addition to my other top choice, MIT Sloan. There is no doubt in my mind that hiring Susan was the right decision and I have already strongly recommended her to family and friends.
My experience with Stratus has been nothing short of amazing. I applied to schools last application cycle and did not feel like the firm I hired to help made my application personalized enough – I felt like I was treated like a number. Obviously I was not accepted last cycle which is why I turned somewhere else. After a few consultations with Susan – I knew she would be the right fit for me moving forward. She really spent time to get to know me and my story and why I wanted to apply for business school. She also helped me understand more about the business world as well- which was a great help since I am coming from a STEM background. I feel like Susan was very thorough and really got to know me on a personal level. She gave me advice on what to do to make my application stand out and extra things or classes I can do. She helped me revise my resume from an overcrowded page that was hard to read to a beautiful, simplified page that was easy on the eyes. She helped me with both my essays and helped me craft a story to explain why I needed an MBA and given what had happened to me this past year in my life why I needed the MBA more. Before writing the essay she made us do a few reflection/ intersection exercises to get to know myself better and determine the qualities I want to write my essays around. After that we used those qualities to shape my draft which then turned into my essay. This writing process was a great way to make sure everything I wanted to include in my story was there. She also looked over my application before I submitted it to make sure everything looked good. After I submitted my application, I reached back out to her when I had an interview invitation. Susan helped me prepare for the interview and then connected me with a school specific counselor to have a mock interview. A few days after my interview, I got accepted to my dream school. I could not have done this without Susan. I felt like she truly cares about me and my mission and am so grateful we were able to work together. I am so blessed that I had the opportunity to work with her. When in doubt go with Susan!!
I am so glad that I worked with Susan on my MBA applications. She was a great partner and very invested in my success. Susan strategically led me through the application process and helped me to effectively put my goals / thoughts to paper. She helped to make the essay writing more efficient by providing me with frameworks and was detail oriented in her review. Her comments were thoughtful and offered such value to the end result. Susan challenged me during mock interviews which better prepared me for the real interviews. I ultimately landed 2 acceptances and am very excited about the outcome of the process. I definitely recommend working with Susan!
I used an hourly package to apply to 3 schools. Susan worked with me to effectively craft my unique story into a compelling desire to pursue an MBA (I am a musician by night and a strategy consultant by day — my post-MBA goals lie in bridging that gap). I had the story in my head, but Susan took my essays from ok to great. She brought out passion, specifics (that I had long forgotten), and specific knowledge about each school that helped me tailor each application. She was also incredibly efficient with the limited time we had, turning each iteration of my essays around quickly.
End result: 3 for 3 on acceptances (one M7 and two T15’s), plus a substantial merit fellowship option. She has also continued to coach me on negotiation strategies post-acceptances. 10/10 recommend!
Stats: GMAT 730, GPA 3.85, STEM undergrad
I always wanted to go back and get my MBA and at first, thought I could go the cheap route and do it on my own. Big mistake. I ended up getting rejected from my top schools but I was determined, and decided to go for it the next year. I was introduced to Susan through multiple friends who had used her in the past and raved about their experience. Truthfully, the cost was a bit daunting at first but after our first meeting I could tell that Susan new exactly what she was doing. From her own experience of applying and getting into business school, coupled with her immense knowledge from working in admissions at Fuqua for over a decade, she brought insight that I could have gotten from few other sources. She was incredibly thoughtful but pushed me to think about what I really wanted and how to craft my story from my past and where I wanted to end up. I had a terrible GPA and decent GRE scores, so it was an uphill battle from the start, but I ended up being accepted to all the schools that had rejected me the previous year. Can’t thank Susan enough for all her hard work and dedication throughout the process – it sure paid dividends in the long run.
It all started a few years ago after I had completed my Bachelor’s degree. After my undergraduate degree, I absolutely wanted to do a Master’s degree, but I didn’t know exactly which Master to do. So I applied for a Master in Finance and a Master in Management at different universities in the UK and got accepted. Although I had several offers, I postponed my degree plans. But why? At the same time, I spoke to a colleague at work, who studied for an MBA at WHU in Germany. He advised me that I should take my time, reflect, look ahead to what I would like to achieve in the future, and most importantly look for a university with a great reputation. At that time, I didn’t think I have the chance to get into a highly reputable university. To make a long story short – this year I got offers from my two dream universities inter alia with the help of Stratus Admissions Counselling.
Starting my application, I knew that there will be parts of the application I need help with. But on the other hand, I wasn’t sure if it’s worth the bunch of money you have to pay an Admissions Consultant. I somehow came to the opinion that it is worth engaging an Admissions Consultant and, in the end, I chose Stratus Admissions Counselling. The consultant I worked with was Susan, a Fuqua alumni and former member of Fuqua’s AdCom. During the whole process, I worked with her on my story, my CV, and my essays. From that point in time, we worked closely and consistently toward the goal of an MBA offer. During the whole process, Susan was super helpful, provided me with insightful feedback, and made me dig deeper. Moreover, Susan really had the perfect balance between enabler, challenger, and recommender. I felt that I had control of my own story at all times and didn’t have to take any story made by an Admissions Consultant. I would like to highlight the solution approach of Stratus: At first, I didn’t know why I did specific exercises (e.g. introspection), but in hindsight, it made so much sense and now I totally know why we did all these exercises. The whole journey was like a soccer game. I was a player and could do my own game as well as emphasize my features. Susan and Stratus were like a coach who watched the game and expressed recommendations pointedly.
To sum it up, I can totally recommend engaging with Stratus and especially Susan to work on your MBA journey. I don’t regret it a single penny or a single second because I got offers from my dream universities and the process and help of Susan are so great. If you feel you might need help on your MBA application just give it a shout and set up a free call with Susan to discuss your ideas. I am sure she and Stratus can help you achieve your dreams. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.
Susan helped me get into my top choice M7. The first thing that stood out to me is that she’s really fun, but also no-nonsense! She knows her stuff… you can tell she comes from the admissions world and has the expertise to steer you toward the key fundamentals that really make a difference. I spoke with several consultants before going with Susan… they all seemed to try to sell me on their magnificent writing or deep expertise on a school… but what was compelling to me is that Susan gives you what most consultants can’t: the experience of having worked in admissions. She knows how adcom ticks and can help you craft a compelling story that adcom will understand.
I used an hourly package with Susan and found it to be a great value… she was transparent and efficient, very responsive, and impressively available. She’ll be your #1 fan throughout the process, and will give you the confidence that you’re turning in the strongest possible application.
I worked with Susan for about a year on my applications. More than just guiding me through the admissions process, she was always there to answer my questions, give me candid feedback, and even picked me up at the airport when I visited Fuqua. I still use the materials from my application essays, knowing it was high quality and tripled checked by her and the Stratus team. With her help, I was able to secure a 30% scholarship to one of my top schools.
Susan played a critical role in helping me make my dream of getting into Stanford MBA program a reality. She supported me all the way through the application process, from deciding which Round to apply, to crafting essays and preparing for the interview, and helped me with every single question I had – even the most stupid questions that were on my mind.
It was important to have Susan’s shoulder early on, as she helped me work out a powerful strategy and point my efforts in the right direction. In the brainstorming process, she came up with novel ideas that I somehow did not come up with on my own. Those ideas turned out to be key to my application strategy. Strategy is important, but so is implementation.
Susan was surprisingly fast to reply to my emails, especially given the amount of value her emails contained. I feel it’s important to reemphasize this – every single piece of correspondence from Susan contained HUGE value for me! Her feedback on the essays helped me focus on the most impactful points, leaving non-value-adding details aside, thus making the most out of the limited word space I was allowed in the essays.
I cannot overestimate the importance of Susan’s help on the so-called stupid questions. Honestly, I did not expect that I would have so many of those. Turned out, the application file itself was so lengthy and contained so many little questions that seemed to be tricky. I felt that, when combined, answers to these little questions could make a difference between being admitted and being rejected. Luckily, Susan had the kind of empathy I needed to feel comfortable asking her these stupid questions.
When it came to the interview stage, Susan once again helped me focus on the most impactful parts of my story so that I felt confident sharing my story with the interviewer. It was important that I was prepared for the interview in advance, since this preparation translated into my confidence during the actual interview. I definitely would not have this courage if I was not sure I was telling the right stories to the interviewer. Susan made me believe I was.
Simply put, I would have never gotten into the Stanford MBA program without Susan’s help. And I am forever grateful to her for helping me make my dream a reality.
At the beginning of my MBA journey I reached out to 3-5 consultants for the free consultations. My GMAT/GPA are slightly lower than the averages at the programs that I was targeting so finding someone that understood my story was crucial for me. Within the first 5 minutes of talking to Susan I knew she was the person I wanted to use. She took the time to understand my background and asked thoughtful questions to learn more – this was vastly different than my experience with other consultants who were just trying to put me into a pre-defined framework to craft my story. Susan felt more like a mentor who genuinely wanted me to succeed rather than a consultant who was focused on getting my business.
I ended up purchasing the one school package and using the ad-hoc/hourly service for essays on the other programs that I was applying to.
We first started on the “introspection” exercise which ends up serving as the basis to answer the most common questions: Why MBA, Why Now and Post-MBA Goals. Based on this information Susan helped me craft a strategy specific to each program that I was applying to. This not only helped with my essays but also with my informational chats with students and alumni. I come from a non-business background (engineering) and I felt very polished during my phone calls with students.
In addition to the introspection exercise, Susan helped me rework my resume, gave me multiple rounds of feedback on my essays, and helped me prepare for my interview. I even got positive feedback from the admissions committee regarding my interview and overall application. I was waitlisted at my top choice due to my GMAT score, but Susan helped me with my updates to the admissions committee (about 5-6 in total).
I used Susan for help on my essays on an hourly basis for two other programs. She was incredibly generous and upfront about what can be accomplished in the hours I purchased. We managed to do 2-3 drafts of my essays for each program within the 2 hours that I purchased.
I could not be happier with my experience with Susan, I would highly recommend her to anyone looking at applying to MBA programs in the future. I am headed to a Top 15 program this fall with a sub 3.2 GPA and sub 700 GMAT.
Like many people applying for an MBA, I was concerned that there was nothing special about my profile and I wouldn’t be able to stand out to the universities. Thanks to Susan and the Stratus team, I not only received multiple acceptances from top 20 schools, but scholarships as well. It was more than I could have ever hoped for, especially as a Round 3+ candidate.
Susan changed my entire perspective on the MBA process. From her I learned that the events in my life weren’t as important the lessons I had gleaned from them. I started to look at even supposedly insignificant events in a different light. This coupled with Susan’s insightful questions helped me create a strong narrative around my drivers for pursuing an MBA and my post-MBA goals.
Susan’s grasp of my personality combined with her deep knowledge of the different MBA programs made her an excellent advisor at every stage. Her feedback was instrumental in ensuring my essays communicated my qualities and plans effectively. She iterated on the drafts with me until I felt good about what I turned in. If I was having trouble finding any information on universities, she was able to suggest programs or activities I might have missed in my research.
I really appreciated Susan’s thoroughness and promptness during the review process. I had been talking to her on and off for sometime, but when I decided to apply, I only had one month to turn around 5 applications. Susan gave me the confidence to meet those deadlines and hustled with me through the entire process.
She did a mock session with me before each interview and gave me feedback to better articulate my responses and boost my confidence. Once I received offers, she was quick to jump on a call and help me weigh the pros and cons. Having been on the admissions side herself, she was also able to help me communicate with the different schools during this time.
I’m now thrilled to be attending Berkeley-Haas.
I couldn’t have asked for a better counselor than Susan. She is kind and empathetic but not afraid to give you the tough love you need to reach your potential. She went above and beyond and was truly with me till the end, cheering me on. I’m so grateful and I couldn’t have done it without her. I highly recommend her and the Stratus team!
Working with Susan was an amazing experience. Her honesty, thoughtfulness, and insight made me feel immediately comfortable totally trusting any advice she gave me. She really took the time to get to know me so that she could give me tailored advice when it came to writing my essays or crafting my resume. I came into the process totally blind- I knew I wanted to apply to get an MBA but had absolutely no idea where to start. Susan lead me through personal introspection to understand why it was I wanted an MBA, what I hoped to do with it, and what qualities I already possessed that would set me up for success in the future. If I was ever overwhelmed, she was available to hop on the phone and adjust our agenda so that I always continued to make progress. Susan went above and beyond to understand me so that she could help me bring out my best attributes across the board, from the application to the interview. Susan was an invaluable coach and I definitely could not have achieved success without her. It was apparent throughout the entire process that Susan always had my best interests at heart and for that, I am very grateful. I ended up getting admitted to Columbia Business School and I couldn’t be more thankful to Susan!
I had reached out to Susan for a free consultation regarding my MBA application in April 2020. I wanted to aim for 3-4 school applications for the extended round 3 applications for a Fall of 2020 entry time frame, however, after some unexpected changes in my professional life, I expanded the number of applications to 9 schools with a determination to matriculate in 2020. I had only ~2 months to turnaround all these applications so I needed someone with great experience, empathy, and focus.
Within just 3 hours of working with Susan, I had a solid MBA goal and introspection strategy with a revised resume and the 1st draft of one essay done. Her introspection strategy extracted valuable insights from even the most minuscule experiences/interactions with colleagues and friends and was the basis of many of my essays. Susan also knew where my application weak points were and effectively helped me use the optional essay to address those points. Susan was prompt and EXTREMELY thorough in her feedback which comes from her experience in sitting on the admissions panel of a top business school. She greatly improved my technical writing while challenging me to go deeper into individual school offerings and how they would aid my career development. In the end, I ended up taking 15 hours of hourly consulting and I can confidently say, each and every hour was well worth the investment.
In addition to essays, Susan also reviewed my recommendation strategy and gave great feedback to my recommenders on how to be more specific to highlight my profile. I felt confident going into the interview, but Susan elevated my interview structure and responses to the next level.
In the end, with applications to 4 T-10 schools, 3 -T15 schools, and 2-T-20 schools, I am glad to say I got acceptances Fuqua, Tepper, Anderson, and Marshall and I will be matriculating at Fuqua (with merit scholarship) this fall!
I worked with Susan for two schools package. I finally received only one offer, but with half of the scholarship. At first, I really depressed about going to apply for b-school this year because I have low GMAT score and low GPA. However, Susan did really well to guide me to highlight my work experience into an essay making the content compatible to my career goal and my CFA charter holder status. Eventually, I got my offers from various schools. Those other school offers may not be directly from a package that I worked with her, but her guideline and encouragement made me reach my top choice from Tepper CMU.
Stratus service is great. I worked with Susan completely online and I found no trouble at all working with her through Skype. She knows what she does and trust me, she is good with this work. I would like to add my comment on Donna as well. She came on board and gave us another fresh perspective that is the independence you want to know after you complete your application. Go with Stratus I think it is worth every dollar I paid for the service.
I decided to apply to business school quite late in the cycle and I spoke to over 15 MBA Admission Consulting firms before deciding on Stratus. I had no trouble choosing Susan over the other consultants after just a 30-minute conversation. Susan was honest, upfront, and thoughtful.
I had drafts of my essays written before I engaged Status’s services, and when I compare them to the final product, it surprises me to this day.
Susan worked tirelessly with me to understand my motivation, and helped distill my story into 300 words which is remarkable. I relied on her advice on everything in the applications, and her advice always led to a better quality product whether it was my resume or my interview skills. I did not feel confident going into the application cycle this late, but Susan and Stratus were able to turn that around. As a result, I was able to get admitted to a top school of my choice.
Susan will go above and beyond every time, and I could not recommend her highly enough.
I met Susan after starting the Forte Launch program. At first, I was a little skeptical because it seemed too pricey. I was also an architect far removed from the business industry, with a decent GPA, but a worrisome GRE/GMAT. I am glad I made the bold step and try out the process. It is definitely a holistic approach. They guide you from what tests you should take to soul searching your ideal career. You rediscover yourself to a whole new level, you feel more confident and prepared to start B School. I was able to get into several schools and some with Forte Fellowships which is a huge return on investment. The more incredible part is that it prepares you for your career. Several steps in the processes are covered in the Career Center at my chosen school (UVA) and I can tell you I feel prepared even for the foreseeable networking season, and building my school resume.
I applied to joint degrees at various top 10 schools but had limited work experiences (2 years), was in between jobs, and had already been at multiple jobs. Needless to say, I needed a strong story to get into my reach program.
Susan helped me build the foundation by having me brainstorm applicable stories on different themes, as well as by identifying the kind of leader I am/want to be.
Based on these, she helped me put together disparate stories to craft quite a compelling narrative, something I certainly would not have been able to do at the same level.
She also helped me review my essays. Her astute and detail-oriented feedback proved exceedingly useful.
The result was that I got into Berkeley-Haas, my top school, and more than I could have hoped for at the outset of this process.
Thank you, Susan.
When I started on my MBA application journey nearly four years ago, I was pretty far from being the ideal b school candidate. I did not graduate undergrad from an ivy league university, I didn’t come from a traditional business school industry, and my story was nothing remarkable, or so I thought. Working with my Senior Strategist, Susan, first in the MBA Early Edge program and then in the MBA Admissions Counseling package (along with my MBA counselor, Jamie) infused me with a confidence I can’t describe. With their guidance and support, I was able to start thinking next-level about my applications, my mission, and my future. Four years later, after much hard work and persistence, I will be graduating from a top-20 full-time program in two weeks and I know that I wouldn’t have been able to get here without the support and encouragement of Susan. After all, is said and done, an MBA is an investment in you, and the programs that I participated in with Stratus were worth every penny. I am still glad to know and keep up with Susan today.
When I decided last minute to apply for schools this year, I talked to a number of consultants before finding Susan. After the initial consult, I knew that Susan would go the extra mile to really listen to my story and find ways to bring out the best aspects of it.
As part of a multi-school package, we worked together to outline important milestones and distill my motivations down to their key elements. Her guidance was crucial to putting together a compelling narrative and bridging the gap between the career I was coming from and my plans for the future. Her insight was thoughtful, articulate, and measured; she’ll tell it like it is.
When it came time to put the application together, Susan and the Stratus team were prompt to deliver feedback on my resume, essay drafts, and overall strategy. She will work with you endlessly until you have something you’d be proud to submit. Every base was covered, from developing realistic post-MBA goals to the advice in approaching your recommenders to live interview prep. I left confident that I had put forth my best effort in the limited application time I had. The result – In addition to Yale and Kellogg, I was admitted to Booth, my dream school, with scholarship! Though it’s easy to speculate on the outcome without a consultant,
I’m confident that Susan and Stratus were the difference-maker when it came to the scholarship.
In Susan, you will find a warm and generous counselor, a trusted voice throughout the process, and a champion in your corner who will help you put forth the best application possible. She is highly recommended!
After taking the GMAT at the beginning of September, I decided to move up my MBA time-frame a year and apply R2 for Class of 2022. Surfing through P&Q and other websites I scheduled two free consults. The first was with the associate of a popular admissions consultant. I am happy with direct feedback and tough love, but referring to their clients as ‘kids’ turned me off massively and soured the idea of an admissions consultant altogether. However, I had already lined up my consult call with Susan and figured it was in my interest to speak with her. Oh my god. What a difference. Susan and I clicked on SO many different things and we flew way over the scheduled 30 minutes. The moment that call ended I knew if I were to use a consultant, it would be Susan. I ended up going with the 4-school package to diversify my options but targeted Fuqua from the get-go (another plus for Susan given her wealth of experience in admissions there).
My undergraduate was in a foreign language, and I’ve worked in sales (not very strategy / corporate business-savvy role or group of people) in Asia. Zero healthcare experience, despite that being my target industry post-grad. Susan had me lay out all of my stories from birth to present, highlighting overarching stories to keep in mind throughout the entire process. While Susan was my main point of contact, Jennifer Jackson (another Stratus consultant – fantastic too btw) also popped in to give an unbiased opinion. Ultimately we nailed stories down to clearly show why a move into healthcare is logical for me.
Alongside the above, we made a robust resume, pulling on my work-stories, tweaking to highlight any sort of leadership (formal or informal).
Tackling essays was very structured. I connected with students (oftentimes Susan connecting me with previous clients at my target schools) to get info on each school. Using those notes and my own research, I created templates for each essay. Templates got a couple of edits from Susan and a final look-over from Jennifer. The actual essay drafts were then super easy to write. Having the foundation of the outline, it was easy to knock out the writing. Susan was super fast with her edits, all of which I accepted without hesitation as she knew (and knows) my voice. Any questions I had on edits we talked it out quickly and efficiently. All essays were read over a school-specific advisor, who often gave very helpful insight that I used to tweak each essay. Finally, essays got proofed by a formal third party and were ready to submit.
With the bulk of the application done, Susan looked over my final applications and caught any stupid mistakes I may have made.
The comprehensive process for multiple schools helped me also tackle other schools confidently. Interviews began rolling in. Susan provided me a list of practice questions, compiled by all of the Stratus consultants. She took the time to do mock interviews with me, giving really helpful feedback (especially given I had to do Skype interviews from Asia.)
End result? I got into Fuqua, my dream school, with a merit-based scholarship coming in at just under half tuition. Thinking things through objectively at the moment, but everything is looking to come up Duke in the end. Without Susan, Jennifer, and the rest of the Stratus team behind the scenes, I would not have achieved this result.
Anyone looking to use an MBA consultant, I highly recommend the Stratus team, and especially Susan.
I am incredibly glad that I found Stratus and had the opportunity to work with Susan! With Stratus, I applied to 4 schools: Anderson, Haas, Darden, and Booth. In the end, I was accepted to all four programs, receiving a full-tuition scholarship from Anderson and $100K scholarship offers from both Booth and Haas. I am incredibly happy with this outcome and feel that Stratus was instrumental in achieving this result. I will be attending Haas this fall and am very excited!
My MBA journey started off a bit rocky. After hearing about MBA admissions consulting from my GRE class instructor, I decided to approach a few consultants to get their take on my candidacy. I was almost in tears after speaking to the first consultant I spoke with – she felt that I would not be a strong candidate at the programs I hoped to attend. However, after reaching out to Stratus and speaking with Susan, I felt so much more encouraged. During our first conversation, Susan was very warm. I knew she was the type of person that I wanted to support me through the difficult application process.
Susan was helpful to me in many different aspects of the application process. We started with introspection exercises that helped me think through the most important aspects of my story and clearly define my career aspirations. When I began the outlines for the application essays, I felt prepared, having done this initial legwork. During the essay writing process, Susan and the Stratus team helped me connect my story and goals to the resources available at each school. If I ever had doubts about which details to include in my essays, they were able to provide useful insights. Susan also helped me navigate difficult decisions, like how to explain a college disciplinary incident in my application. When it came time for interviews, Susan and I conducted mock interviews based on the real questions that her previous clients had been asked. I was very prepared for my interviews having had this type of practice.
One thing in particular that I especially appreciated was that Susan really got to know me and helped me to write authentically. At the advice of a friend, I wrote an essay that I thought the admissions committee would like, but that did not really reflect my values. When we spoke over the phone, Susan said: “this doesn’t really sound like you”. She could tell right away that I wasn’t being authentic (and the admissions committee probably could have too), so I am very glad she steered me away from this.
Throughout the application process, I felt very supported by Susan and the Stratus team. They were really with me every step of the way. I would highly recommend Susan and Stratus to anyone interested in MBA consulting!
As an MBA reapplicant to my dream school, I didn’t want to simply submit a similar application and cross fingers that it was going to be looked at with different eyes. I knew the areas that were under my control and the ones where I could use some help. I had an initial free consultation with Susan who helped me reassure that I could improve my application.
I got a 5-hour package (at the end I got an extra hour), where we worked on essays and interview prep. My consultant (Susan) was extremely responsive (always heard back in less than 48hrs) and she was able to put my story together in a way that I wouldn’t have thought. She was really good at pointing out certain aspects of my story that I was not considering or didn’t think they would add any value. I certainly felt I was submitting a much stronger application after hitting the submit button.
I got admitted to my dream school, and I know that it wouldn’t have been possible without her help. Beyond the outcome of my investment, I was always very pleased with the service I received from my consultant and the Stratus team. So I would highly recommend Susan and Stratus.
I felt extremely lost and overwhelmed when I first started the MBA application process. Although I had 6 months before Round 1 applications were due, I did not have my story down on what my career goals are and why I need an MBA nor did I know which programs were right for me, and I thought I did not have enough time to be able to submit strong applications by the Round 1 deadlines. I was hesitant at first to work with a consultant on my applications due to the cost, so I decided to try the MBA Application Fundamentals and Strategy package first. From day 1, Susan was there for me every step of the way and went above and beyond to provide me the guidance I needed throughout the process. She would give her honest opinion when she felt like I needed it most and she would give great advice whenever I asked yet she would also be hands-off enough where I still had autonomy over my work pace and the story I wanted to tell. She broke down the process into smaller steps so it felt more manageable and seamless. She really took the time to get to know me as a person in order to understand what kind of application I wanted to put forward and which areas I would need to work on more.
During the introspection process, she really challenged me to think deeper about the experiences I felt has shaped me into who I am. She took my past experiences and my initial thoughts on what my dream jobs could be, and was able to combine them and help me figure out my tangible post-MBA career goals while still staying true to who I am. During this process, she helped me craft my narrative on what key experiences have led me to where I am today, what my future career goals are and why I need an MBA, which programs are right for me, and who could potentially write my letters of recommendation. After this process, I had a clearer sense of how I want to present myself in my applications.
I decided to stay with Susan and upgrade to the comprehensive package. Susan was extremely helpful in guiding me through the school research process, editing my resume to really highlight my accomplishments, outlining and writing my essays, and packaging my entire application in ways I probably couldn’t have done on my own. She also gave me advice on how to interact with admissions committee members, alumni, and current students of the schools I was applying to, and really helped me prepare for my interviews. Her guidance continues even beyond when you submit your last application or when you finish your last interview. She was always very responsive and flexible with my schedule throughout the entire process. She wouldn’t hesitate to hop on the phone whenever I needed help with navigating the waitlist, scholarship negotiation tactics or weighing my options between different schools.
Susan really goes the extra mile when you work with her. She was always open to connecting me with people she knew from the programs I was applying to in order for me to speak with them to learn more about those programs. I was able to get accepted into my top choice program (Kellogg) as well as my second choice (Ross) as a Forte Fellow. And I strongly believe that I really couldn’t have gotten this kind of outcome without Susan’s help. Susan is amazing and I can’t recommend her enough!!
Going into applying for b-school, I knew nothing. Susan made the process so easy and straightforward. Working with her was truly a fun experience and didn’t feel like extra “work” even after a long day at my day job. I truly feel like she took the time to get to know me and tailored my application experience to what I needed. I could not be happier with the results and am so glad I chose to use Stratus, and I am lucky to have been paired with Susan!
Working with Stratus Admissions, and specifically, Susan Cera, was one of the better decisions I have ever made. Not only did they do their job: get me into one of my dream schools (Berkeley Haas), they did so much more.
Thanks to Stratus, I have reflected on my unique career and life goals in such detail that I have gone from having a vague idea about what I want to do to knowing concrete plans that I am so excited to pursue. They also helped me figure out what my resume gaps were and find ways to address the gaps. The result has been me getting more involved with the community, creating one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in recent years.
Susan is brilliant. I don’t have a bad word to say about her. She is kind but honest. If you want to give this process 110%, Susan is the one for you. She takes the phrase “going above and beyond” to the next level. We chatted all the time and she was always available to help, whatever the question may be. She has been an incredible guiding light for me in this process and did her job perfectly. I couldn’t recommend her higher and am so grateful I found her.
While working in a foreign country, I had unexpected visa issues which dramatically accelerated my MBA timeline. I completed 3 MBA applications in one week which would not have been possible without Susan’s support. I had an hourly engagement with Susan and Stratus. She and her team were not only incredibly responsive on such a tight timeline, but more importantly, they were deeply invested in my story and candidacy. The introspection activities, essay outlining/reviewing, and interview prep that Stratus provided me led to acceptance at a top 5 MBA program, waitlist at a top 3, and rejection at another top 10 programs, all applications in the more competitive Round 3. As the headline suggests, Susan and Stratus go the extra mile to put themselves in the candidate’s shoes while being thoughtful and respectful in their guidance. Highly recommend!
I would highly recommend the profile development services offered. I’m a fairly organized person but I know that having some external accountability and guidance is valuable which is why this service appealed to me. The great thing about Stratus is that they have a comprehensive framework that they guide prospective applicants through so that you know there isn’t anything you are forgetting in terms of making sure you’re presenting a well rounded self to admissions committees. This is a worthy investment and a great way to make sure you get yourself ready to apply to grad school. Your advisor will check in with you occasionally and you’ll get an updated document from them showing what you’ve done and what you’re working on by the next time you connect. If nothing else, you will be much more confident in yourself going into your applications.
When I first considered using a consultant, I was hesitant to commit to the price of a comprehensive package without truly understanding what working with a consultant would be like. The Application Fundamentals and Strategy option with Stratus was a relatively low-risk way to start the process and gave me the flexibility to choose how I wanted to proceed (i.e., working solo, purchasing hours, or upgrading to a comprehensive package) thereafter. I was worried that in using a consultant, I would lose my “voice” trying to fit into some consultant mold, but the outcome was quite the opposite. The Introspection process forced me to think about how different experiences in my life have shaped me personally and professionally and to examine post-MBA career options that fit with both my experiences and aspirations. Susan helped me identify themes across these different goals and experiences. The upfront work I did with Susan laid the foundation for my application strategy, kept my story grounded, and was directly applicable to several essays and even interview questions. It also helped guide my conversations with supervisors when I asked them to write my LORs. For me, the Application Fundamentals and Strategy option was a great way to “try out” working with a consultant while still moving the ball forward on my applications. I did end up upgrading to a comprehensive package. Susan, Harold, and the rest of the Stratus folks were great resources throughout the process and gave quality feedback on essays and interview prep. The application process is a grind, no matter what. There really aren’t short cuts. But for me, it was helpful to have a knowledgeable sounding board/resource throughout the process. I overall had a great experience working with Stratus, and I am excited to be attending an M7 school in the fall.
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