Student Success Stories

Getting Accepted to Business School

From Rejection to an M7 Business School

Alex: My Story


Stratus was the best investment I made during my MBA application process. After being rejected from 7 programs during my initial MBA application experience, I truthfully thought that business school wasn’t in the cards for me….that is, until Stratus stepped in. With their help, I was able to re-apply and gain admission into Columbia Business School, a program which turned me down just 8 months earlier.

While I can understand why applicants chose to apply independently, I think that Stratus offers a uniquely thorough and structured process that puts applicants in the best position to succeed by surrounding them with experienced, high-caliber MBA admissions consultants. Without the help of my Stratus Counselor, Traci Thibodeaux, and my Stratus Senior Strategist , I would not be on my way to getting an m7 MBA degree. They are incredible at what they do and very encouraging in the way they do it (thank you so much for all your help Traci!!).

To provide a little more detail, there are 3 areas where Stratus really made the difference for me:

1. Application Strategy

In regards to my profile, I felt that I had a strong set of professional (Technology Consultant with 2 promotions) and personal experiences (strong leadership in Extra-Curricular involvement) with solid statistics. However, I am an over represented applicant (Indian Male in Technology / Consulting with an Engineering Undergraduate Background), which made it that much more important for me to articulate a unique and interesting “Why MBA” / post-MBA story. I also had to do this in the context of a re-applicant story where I needed to show growth and progress.

This is where Stratus made all the difference – they drilled down into every relevant professional, academic, and personal experience I had and helped me map it all out to find a sensible, specific, and unique reason as to why I needed an MBA, how I was going to use the degree, and how my past experiences tied it all together. This was an incredibly iterative and time-consuming process, but it ultimately yielded a very clear and concise MBA re-application strategy that made me stand-out not only within my application, but during my interview with Columbia Business School.

From personal experience, I’ve seen many other applicants take this portion of the application lightly which ends up burning them in the end because they come off as generic to admissions committees. Stratus brings unique perspective here as they understand how admissions committees view applicants relative to other similar applicants who they are competing it. Accordingly, they are able to provide tailored advice to their counselees that allow them to differentiate themselves during the application process.

2. Essay Writing

Stratus’ essay review process helps you iterate constantly between outlines and essays to ensure you are able to reach a solid end product. While the writing was driven by me, I was able to have comments and suggestions tossed my way by over 4 different reviewers – the level of detail with each review was impressive. In the end, I felt that my essays were as well written as they could be while showing my best possible qualities in the context of well-articulated career goals.

In addition to helping me craft my essays, Stratus would also make strategic suggestions about the stories I should tell along with stylistic considerations that I didn’t think of. The Stratus process was almost a boot camp for essay writing. So, on a broader level, I felt that Stratus allowed me to become a better writer and story teller, which are useful skills outside the MBA application process.

3. High-Touch Counseling

As a re-applicant, I came into the application season feeling a little down and out given my experience from the previous year. However, Stratus ensured that I stayed positive – Traci, my Stratus Counselor, was my point of contact and was always accessible to talk about any questions / concerns I had. She was prompt to every email, phone call, etc. and was very encouraging and positive during our conversations. Tactically, she helped me set up an overall re-application plan and schedule to ensure I was working at a good pace and had appropriate contingency in case rejections came my way. Additionally, she oversaw and reviewed every portion of my application process from application strategy development to essay writing and even interviews. She held my hand through each step of the process, and gave me a sense of confidence despite the many rejections that came just a few months prior.

Additionally, my Senior Strategist, who brought the same level of positivity and encouragement as Traci, helped set aside a thorough discussion to walk through my key themes, my post-MBA goals, my school selection, my recommender selection, and my overall view of “Why MBA?” to offer specific feedback in each area. This set the tone for the rest of my application process, and laid the groundwork for my acceptance into Columbia.

Once I got into school, I was personally congratulated by not only Traci, but also folks I worked with administratively to sign up with Stratus (shout out to Josh Gonzalez and Zach Klein – really appreciate your help!). It was a really nice gesture that I sincerely appreciated, especially considering what I had gone through the previous application year. Stratus’ level of high-touch service made me feel like I succeeded with a team, which is always a great feeling.

From soup to nuts, Stratus provided me an admissions consulting service that turned 7 rejections into a Columbia Business School acceptance within less than a year. I said it before and I’ll say it again – Stratus is the best investment I made during the MBA application process.

All last names have been withheld and images have been substituted to protect the privacy of our students. References for all students are available upon request.