You Are Not a Number

Education Entrepreneur

Shawn P. O’Connor is the Founder and President of Stratus Prep. With more than seven years of standardized test prep and admissions experience, Mr. O’Connor provides personalized admissions counseling to hundreds of law and business school applicants each year. Mr. O’Connor also teaches LSAT and GMAT classes and tutors private individuals for these exams. Finally, Mr. O’Connor authored Stratus Prep’s renowned Law School Bootcamp.

Mr. O’Connor received his Masters in Business Administration with Highest Honors (Baker Scholar) from Harvard Business School and his Juris Doctor, cum laude from Harvard Law School. At Harvard, Mr. O’Connor was the recipient of numerous merit-based awards and scholarships including the prestigious John T. Thayer and Henry Ford II Scholarships. Mr. O’Connor is a 1999 summa cum laude graduate of Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service where he received the Dean’s Medal for highest grade point average. Mr. O’Connor scored a 179 on the LSAT and a 780 on the GMAT.

Prior to launching Stratus Prep, Mr. O’Connor worked domestically and internationally for McKinsey & Company, Lehman Brothers, Mercer Management Consulting, and the Boston law firm of Sullivan & Worcester. In addition to his work in the private sector, Mr. O’Connor served as a legislative advisor to former Congressman James C. Greenwood and as deputy chief of staff and communications director for Pennsylvania’s former Lieutenant Governor Catherine Baker Knoll. Mr. O’Connor is admitted to the bar in New York and Massachusetts. In addition to his work with Stratus Prep, Mr. O’Connor represents clients on a pro bono basis in international human rights and political asylum matters. Mr. O’Connor is currently working on a much anticipated book about attaining success in the New Economy.


  • Transcript


Shawn O’Connor: I'm not someone who is going to defend every single standardized test that's out there, but schools do need the ability to compare students who are from different parts of the country who've studied different majors but who all want to pursue the same degree.  And so what standardized tests allow schools to do is to have one benchmark - and it’s only one benchmark; there are obviously a lot of other factors in the application process - but it provides one benchmark where we can line up all of the different students and sort of understand what they’re likely potential is.

What I think have been the two negative social implications of sort of the proliferation of standardized tests has been, number one, this common collective myth that has developed that you have just a certain ability to get a certain number on this test and that that cannot be changed.  We prove that wrong every single day at Stratus Prep.  And the second is the notion that these tests are in no way influenced by sort of one’s personal background or one’s early childhood education.  I mean, the statistics are quite clear: your performance on a standardized test in graduate school is in some way impacted by where you grew up and what type of elementary and middle school that you were able to attend.  That's something that I think the test writers should be challenged by everyone to continue working to reduce because it really is obviously not fair that there are factors beyond your control that are impacting your test performance.  But it’s much less of a deterministic factor than people think.  Does early childhood education impact standardized test performance?  Yes.  But the amount that it impacts is much less than people think, so don’t use that as an excuse.  Don’t think, "Oh, I can’t do well because I didn’t go to a great grade school."  It may mean that you have to work a little bit harder, but you can get there.

Directed / Produced by
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd