MBA Admissions Wire by "Tad Holbie"

"Tad Holbie's" weblog of his 2002-03 business school application experience.
Home | Tad's Applications | Archives | Site Info | Disclaimers | Epilogue
Useful Links
Applicant Weblogs
* League of MBA Bloggers - best resource for listing all MBA blogs.
* Modz (Anderson-bound)
* Thibault (Kellogg-bound)
* Michael (Wharton-bound)
Currently Reading:
Liar's Poker
Liar's Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street

Bond Market
How the Bond Market Works

MBA Prep Books I Used:
How To Get Into the Top MBA Programs

Kaplan GMAT 2003

Kaplan 800
Kaplan GMAT 800
Message Boards & Chat Rooms
* Business Week Forum
* Wharton S2S Message Board
* Wharton S2S Chat Room
* scheduled chats
* Business Week 2003 Rankings (free registration required)
* Financial Times 2003 Rankings (PDF)
* US News & World Report 2003 Rankings
* Wall Street Journal 2003 Rankings
* Forbes Magazine 2001 Rankings
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* Tag-Board - Message board
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* WhoIS - IP/Domain Lookup
My Applications
Status: Admitted in R2!
* Homepage
* Ambasador Program
* M-Track Message Board
* Monroe Street Journal newspaper
* University of Michigan Merchandise
* UMBSA FAQ about life in Ann Arbor
* Ann Arbor Weather
My posts:
* List of essay topics
* Outlining the essays
* My alumni interview
* UMBS/Ann Arbor photos:
Image not available
(Click to enter my UMBS photo album)
Chicago GSB
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied Admissions after interview
* Homepage
* ChiBus newspaper
My posts:
* My alumni interview
* Approach/status of essays: 1, 2, 3, 4
* Posts on essay B: 1, 2
* Dinged!
* Chicago photos:
(Click to enter my Chicago photo album)
Status: Denied Admissions after Interview
* Homepage
* Online Status Check
* Finance Dept. homepage
* The Bottom Line Newspaper
* Columbia Merchandise
* Adrian Hind, student weblog
* New York weather
My posts:
* Info session summary
* My second campus visit
* List of essay topics
* Outlining the essays
* Posts on essay #1: 1
* Posts on essay #2: 1, 2
* Posts on essay #3: 1
* My alumni interview
* Columbia photos:
(Click to enter my Columbia photo album)
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied Admissions
* Homepage
* HarBus newspaper
* Adam Medros, student weblog
My posts:
* Info session summary
* Recommendation e-mail
* Approach/status of essays: 1, 2, 3, 4
* Essay word counts
* Posts on essay #3 and #4: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
* Posts on essay #6: 1, 2, 3
* Photos from campus
* Class visit experience
* Dinged!
* HBS photos:
(Click to enter my HBS photo album)
Status: Denied admissions after waitlist
* Homepage
* Online Status Check
* 2002-03 Calendar
* Kellogg Merger newspaper
* Professor McGee's Musings
* Northwestern University Merchandise
* Evanston weather
My posts:
* 2002 Waitlist Wrapup
* List of essay topics
* Starting the Kellogg app
* Outlining the essays
* Posts on essay #1: 1, 2
* Posts on essay #2: 1
* Posts on essay #3: 1, 2
* Posts on essay #4: 1
* Reviewing my essays
* My alumni interview
* Notes on my second campus visit
* Northwestern/Kellogg photos:
(Click to enter my August Kellogg photo album)
(Click to enter my April Kellogg photo album)
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied admissions after interview.
* Homepage
* Sloan Management Review
* 2002 Employment Report (PDF)
My posts:
* Info session summary
* Links to Sloan's tracks
* Note the mail-in items
* Approach/status of essays: 1, 2
* Cover letter: 1, 2
* Post on essay #1
* Post on essay #3
* My interview experience
* MIT/Sloan photos:
(Click to enter my Sloan photo album)
Stanford GSB
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied Admissions
* Homepage
* Stanford Reporter newspaper
My posts:
* Online recommender setup
* Posts on essay A: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
* Posts on essay B: 1
* Dinged!
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied Admissions after interview
* Homepage
* Student2Student message board
* Wharton Journal newspaper
* Laura Bennett, student diary
* Student Diaries
My posts:
* Info session summary
* Approach/status of essays: 1, 2, 3, 4
* Posts on essay #1: 1, 2
* Posts on essay #4: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
* Photos from campus
* The interview experience
* Dinged!
* Wharton photos:
(Click to enter my Wharton photo album)
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06/22/2002 - 06/28/2003
06/29/2002 - 07/05/2003
Taken: Once, in 2002
Score: 760+
Advice: Get it over with quickly, aim for 670+
* Thoughts on the GMAT: 1, 2, 3
Advice: Ask them at least 2 months in advance
* Initial thoughts
* On delays: 1, 2
Advice: Develop an overall message. Write outlines. Revise many times. Have a friend proofread. Be honest. Answer what is asked.
* My initial thoughts
* Don't write what you think they want to hear
* My process
Advice: Know yourself. Review your application, answers to common questions.
* AdComm or Alum?
* My list of prep questions
Application Process
Advice: Start early. Give yourself at least two months to finish your first application.
* The "bible" of MBA application's, Montauk's How to Get Into the Top MBA Programs
* Tips on where to start
* Living the double life
* Dealing with disappointment
Financial Aid
Advice: Start early, even before getting accepted anywhere. Americans should fill-out and submit their FAFSA forms as soon as they have 2002 financial/tax info.
* Department of Education FAFSA Website
* Request a PIN for the FAFSA
* List of documents needed to complete the FAFSA form
* FAFSA School Code Lookup
* Legal Disclaimer
Site Info
Started: August 28, 2002
Creator: "Tad Holbie"
Daily Traffic:

Emails Received: 909 (as of 6/26/03)
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Who is "Tad Holbie"?
Tad Holbie is a pseudonym I created to protect my privacy and identity as I apply to business school (don't believe me? Google it for yourself). I am a young, American, first-time applicant to some of the elite business schools in the fall of 2002. My e-mail is
If I am accepted to one of the business schools I've applied to, I will be more revealing about my identity and personal details.
When did I start all this?
I started this Weblog a couple months after I got serious about applying to business school. The first post was on August 28th, 2002. When do I have time to write this site? In between my full-time job and writing essays, time is limited. But I am a fast typist and am quick to jot down my thoughts during spare moments.
Why MBA Admissions Wire?
I started this website to record and share my experiences applying to business school (a long and stressful process). As time has gone by and greater numbers of readers e-mailed me to ask for advice, encourage me, and share their experiences, I have turned this site into a resource for all MBA applicants, in effect creating an online community.
How do I do MBA Admissions Wire?
It's very easy, and (best of all) free. Just go to and after a free registration you can have your own Weblog too! Even better, they offer free hosting on their server!
Disclaimer:I am not an admissions officer, nor am I affiliated with any of the schools, organizations, or sites listed on this page (i.e. I haven't even been accepted to any B-School--this is my first time applying!). The events described on this web page are real events, though certain names, genders, locations, and dates (i.e. interview dates, submission dates, etc.) may be changed to protect my identity. If you are applying to any of the schools listed on this page, please refer to their official web sites for the definitive deadline dates, application procedures, etc. (i.e. It's not a smart move to rely on this page while applying). The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author.
I am also neither a lawyer nor an accountant. All information and events describing or related to financial aid, tuition, scholarships, loans, and other monetary matters is strictly meant to only describe "Tad Holbie's" situation, and should not be considered instructions, financial advice, or in any way pertaining to the [reader's] financial situation. Consult your own accountant/lawyer when making important financial decisions.
Any questions, e-mail him at (and no, that isn't my real name).
About Interviews: I may or may not disclose if/when/with whom I have been invited to interviews. At present, I'm leaning towards discussing my interview experiences a few days/weeks after they happen. Mark me "undecided".
Privacy Policy: If you choose to e-mail me, I promise not to publish your name, e-mail address, or contact information on my website without first getting your permission. I may excerpt part or all of your e-mail on my site, but will take care to edit out any information that might identify the source. If you don't want any or your e-mail posted on my site, just put "Please keep private" at the bottom of your e-mail. Any questions, e-mail me at
Posting Policy: Basically, anything you post can be reviewed by me. If I find a post to the message board or comment system that is sufficiently rude, offensive, moronic, I'll feel free to a) delete it, and/or b) ban you from posting ever again. In conclusion: You don't have free speech on my site, so don't be a jerk.

Welcome! First time visitors are encouraged to start here.

Saturday, September 21, 2002

Posted 1:25 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81918421:

Now this is what freaks me out. I go to check on my Stanford application again, and Embark seems to be up. I log in, and am shown the "Preliminary Questions" page...again. I know I filled this out when I started the Stanford application, over a month ago! So I answer those questions again, and go into my app, and everything seems to still be there, but my confidence is shaken. Unless I go through every single screen, how do I know that Embark didn't erase my phone number or drop my GMAT scores? As if we don't have enough to worry about, we've got Embark pulling these mind games on us...

[expletive deleted] !

Posted 12:51 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81917417:

Embark Down!?!
Another reason to finish your Embark applicatoins early and finish them often (gulp!):

I try to access my Stanford application right now, and the login page doesn't come up. I then go to, and out pops the Princeton Review page saying:

Alert - Please Read This Important Message - Alert

This feature is currently unavailable. Please check back with us soon.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email

The Folks @ The Princeton Review"

I like how they use the word "feature", as if the online application was but one of the many features they offer. With Kellogg's adventures just getting their app set up, and now with this, it's becoming increasingly clear why so many schools (Chicago, Wharton, etc.) which used Embark in years past have given up on it...

Posted 9:56 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81912650:

The Home Stretch
The rest of the weekend I will spend:
1) Completing the HBS data forms
2) Uploading my resume
3) Reading, from #6 to #1, all my essays. I'm reading them in reverse order to make sure that they can be read independently of one another.

Posted 9:53 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81912580:

I finished off the "Why HBS?" part of essay #6. I think the result is a lot clearer and more focused. I drill down on two main points, whereas my previous version had a scattering of disjoint points. The resulting essay is 387 words long, 220 of which are spent on the "Why HBS" part. I trimmed down the paragraph describing my post-MBA goals to accomplish this.

This essay is now in my friend's hands for a final lookover.

Friday, September 20, 2002
Posted 8:03 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81893922:

Friday Night at the Computer
Hopefully I can polish up HBS #6 ("Why HBS?") to a shiny state tonight.

Posted 7:44 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81893327:

Very Good Sign
So I have some take out Chinese food earlier today, and the fortune cookie delivered fantastic news. One side read, "Learn Chinese - Tian-qi zhen hao", which apparently means, "What a lovely day!" Well, that was nice, but the really great news was on the reverse side: "All your hard work will soon pay off." I swear. Yeah, uh-huh, it said that. No, I won't sell it to you.

I'm generally not superstitious, but I'm taping this fortune inside my MBA materials folder...

Posted 7:39 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81893213:

Cool. I scooped the Kellogg AdComm by about two hours in the B-Week Forum...


Posted 4:56 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81887719:

Breaking update...
After hitting refresh a few times, the Kellogg online app appeared! If I were you, however, I'd wait a few days to let any last bugs shake out...

Posted 4:51 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81887515:

Kellogg Online App Updated
When you go to the Kellogg app page on Embark, it now shows "Kellogg School at Northwestern University Part 1 2003" and "Part 2 2003". Before you rejoice, when I clicked on Part 1 I got the following error screen:

"strMessage = Error... no app display settings found in database for app_id: 897228258
severity = 2
intErrorMode = 1
Sorry, an error has occurred.
Error... no app display settings found in database for app_id: 897228258
Please contact Embark Application Help."

Posted 1:52 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81880437:

Friday Deadline Countdown
>> 27 days left until the HBS Round I deadline
>> 34 days left until the Wharton Round I deadline
>> 40 days left until the Stanford GSB Round I deadline
>> 47 days left until the MIT Sloan Round I deadline
>> 49 days left until the Chicago Round I deadlines

My status:
GMAT - Done
Transcripts - All collected
Recommendations - 1 HBS done, 1 in progress; 2 Wharton recs done; 1 Stanford rec in progress
Essays - HBS sixth drafts done; All Wharton fourth drafts done; All Stanford first drafts done; Chicago, MIT first drafts in progress
Data Forms - All on-line forms are 90% complete

Goals for the weekend:
>> Final review of HBS essays
>> Completion of HBS data forms
>> Begin final edit of Wharton essays
>> Praying that my recommenders do their duty


Posted 8:03 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81866855:

Essay #6 was the weakest of my essays, and I'm going to need to rewrite a large part of it. The problem was in the "Why HBS?" half of the essay, in which I wandered from topic to topic like a drunken sailor. I think it is much better to focus on two or three points, and feel that the open house, information session, and bulletin boards have given me a much better idea of how to present this.

Posted 7:57 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81866692:

Done with HBS essays #3, #4, and #5. Essay #5 shrunk a bit, but still ways in at 430 words, so I'll need to do some trimming there.

Posted 7:31 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81866068:

Wow, some people claim that the top I-Banks and management consulting firms won't even interview you if you have a GMAT below 700. People actually take that test seriously?

Posted 7:22 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81865851:

I finished editing HBS essays #1 and #2, based on my friends recommendations. I used about 90% of the corrections he made. Most were related to:
1) Using slang. Probably because I blog so much, my writing can sometimes get a bit casual. He tightened up some phrase (for exmaple, replacing "ironed out the problem" with "solved the problem").
2) "Led" instead of "Lead". I am truly mortified by this mistake.
3) Tightening up a few awkward sentences here and there.

The really nice thing is that the lengths of these essays are now within the limits, weighing in at 391 words and 583 words, respectively.

Thursday, September 19, 2002
Posted 9:39 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81849625:

Besides the egregious error mentioned below, I'm only making two changes to the resume. First, I'm integrating the sections on my two roles with my current company into one contiguous section (I had broken them out as separate sections). Second, I am adding a Personal section.

Posted 9:38 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81849569:

Beware This Grammar Error
My friend found a pretty big grammar error on my resume today, so watch out for this: The past tense of the verb "to lead" is "led", not "lead". I think I got confused because led and lead can be pronounced the same, and spell checker doesn't catch it.

Posted 7:32 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81844676:

To conclude this thread on security (and thanks for all the feedback!), going forward I am going to be:
1) More careful in discussing when/if I attend information sessions, open houses, etc.
2) Be more generic when describing when I am doing something
3) I think it's better for me to submit my apps closer to the deadline, so that they don't stand out as much from the pack
The end. Now on to acceptances...

Posted 5:57 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81841121:

The only thing that has me a bit paranoid is the fact that I've gotten few visitors coming from a Yahoo group named "sept2003intake". Does anyone know what this group is? Are they watching me? I hear voices!

Posted 5:53 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81840975:

...Plus, I have undying love and respect for each and every Admissions Committee member. You guys are the greatest!

Seriously, though, I like doing this website because:
1) Keeping a diary like this is a nice habit;
2) It improves my writing ability;
3) I think (hope?) that some readers get some benefit from my thoughts;
4) It's fun to see people reading stuff that I write
5) Someone had to do it; Why not be the leader in this regard?
6) Sometimes writing a lot helps clarify my thinking. When/if I get around to deciding which schools I like best, I'm sure part of that will come from writing so much about them.

The AdComm members that I have met so far have all been nice and knowledgable about their schools. Those that have e-mailed me have been supportive, and (call me naiive) I don't think it is a ruse to get me to let down my guard (and if it is, it ain't gonna work).

Posted 5:43 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81840542:

I had one concerned reader just e-mail me to warn me that this site might hurt my changes of getting admitted. I honestly wrestled with this issue a lot at the beginning: How raw/hard-hitting should I be? How careful should I be with my identity? Etc. In the end, I think I am safe, because:
1) Obviously, "Tad Holbie" is not my real name.
2) In fact, when you read "Tad Holbie", you're probably assuming I'm a man, aren't you?
3) I have not revealed my GPA, GMAT, undergrad school, current profession, location, age, etc., etc.
4) To be honest, I have found very little to criticize about the schools I'm applying to. I wish I could say that B-School X's online app sucks, but frankly they are all very well done
5) I haven't really said I prefer school X over Y, mainly because I haven't formed any opinions yet! In fact, I've frequently posted about how the deciding factore will be class visits...
6) I think AdComms have much more important things to do than to read my site and investigate me.

I definitely appreciate the reader's concerns, and am being extra-vigilant on this subject. Still, if any of you think I'm risking admissions success, please drop me a note telling me why. I'd appreciate it.

Posted 3:28 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81834895:

I am on a natural high. My friend, a third year law student, came back with some really great comments about my HBS essays. Overall, he felt that the essays were a great reflection of my goals, attitude, and career success. My biggest worries, that the essays would either be to bland or too structured, were put to rest. He made some great comments about specific parts of the essays that I need to tighten/clarify, and he pointed out a big grammar mistake that I made several times. I believe that, taking his advice into considerations, I can ratchet these essays up to the 97 or 98 level...

Posted 7:20 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81816741:

So, my plan for the HBS app is simple: I'm meeting today with my friends who've read my essays. I'll take their feedback, do some more polishing and thinking, and wrap them all up by the end of next week. I feel pretty good about the essays; I'd say on a scale of 0-100, with 100 being the best essays I could possibly ever write, they are in the 91 or 92 range right now (interestingly, I'd say my Wharton essays are at 95 or so, maybe because of the different questions, maybe because of experience from writing the HBS essays).

Did any changes come to my essays come out of the HBS Open Session? Not much. I have a little bit more that I can use in the "Why HBS?" essay, and I might work to "personalize" my essays more (stylistically). But I feel comfortable with what I have.

It's all the application, it's all presentation...

Posted 7:05 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81816387:

Reducing the School Count
The fact that most of the HBS alums at yesterday's Open House applied only to one or two schools gave me pause. I think applying to fewer schools shows a certain level of self-confidence, one that I think I have. I've decided to pare down my R1 list of schools, pushing off some applications.

The reasons for this are simple:
1) I want to focus more on the quality of my applications rather than be pressured by the quantity. Even though the deadlines are weeks away, I am already feeling pressure from the 3 applications (Sloan, Kellogg, and Chicago) due the week of Nov. 4th.
2) I am thus worried that I litterally will run out of time in November, and will have given short shrift to my top schools because of this pressure.
3) I feel confident that I will be able to get into at least one of my top choices.

Thus, I am definitely pushing Kellogg off until Round 2. I chose Kellogg because it is the school that is the least good fit for me: It's an excellent general management and marketing school, not as well known for quant and finance. This is not to argue that it wouldn't be a great program for me, but rather that it is the least appropriate out of the list. I definitely will be applying there R2 if I don't get into any of my R1 schools.

That would leave my R1 schools as: HBS, Wharton, Stanford, Sloan and Chicago.

Posted 6:52 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81816076:

HBS Open House
I attended [an] HBS Open House [this week]. My thoughts:

Format, Content
The Open House took about two hours, and was held in a packed auditorium holding 150+/- people. The first hour was spent by a couple of the admissions committee staff giving a pretty generic talk about HBS: It's all about leadership, the case method, personal transformation, etc. They showed a 10 minute video to give a "flavor of the school", and the remaining 50 minutes was spent doing Q&A with a panel of four recent alums.

BTW, there was no ID checking at the session last night, so it was no big deal if you hadn't registered beforehand.

The good news, for me at least, was that there were no surprises. I have attended an on-campus information session, so had heard most of the points before. Basically, if you've done any research on the web, through their brochures (which have been delayed for some people, but will be mailed soon), etc., you will know most of the stuff. [Of course, the AdComms do a good job delivering it.]

Case Studies for Finance
[Someone] asked the alumni panel how successful they felt the case method was for teach finance[]. They all agreed that it worked fine, pointing out:
1) If you choose a study group with a finance person, he'll bring you up to speed on any concepts
2) The cases are actually a great way to see financial decision-making in process

Alumni Application Comments
One thing that caught my attention was that all the alumni had only applied to one or two schools (the other one mentioned was Stanford). It has made me question my approach of going for 6 schools at Round1. More on this later...

Dumb Questions
There were some pretty dumb questions asked of the alumni panel. At first glance, asking, "What did you dislike most about HBS?" might seem like an insightful question. But it's really just a way to show off how thoughtful a questioner you are, because you're really not going to get any meaningful answer when the alumni are sitting in front of 150 strangers with the AdComm overlooking them. If you're really interested in knowing the truth, you ask the alumni after the session, one-on-one, and then you have a chance of getting something interesting. Otherwise you're just trying to show off your high-mindedness.

Another dumb question was to basically ask "What did you dislike about HBS?" again, in a slightly different form. Wake up!

Am I Sold?
[I came away with a good impression of the school; The class visit, however, will still be the deciding factor]

One interesting point about interviews: Apparently they can be scheduled all the way up until the decision day, so if you don't get an interview request in November or December, it does not mean you've been dinged.

Posted 5:02 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81814037:

One nice thing about the Wharton online applicatoin is that you automatically get an e-mail when an on-line recommender submits their recommendation. Very nice.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002
Posted 11:29 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81804562:

HBS Open House
I'll post some thoughts on this tomorrow. Quick Take: There were no surprises, which is good. I'm right on track.

Posted 11:28 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81804521:

Both Wharton Recommendations Done
My third recommender has kicked into gear; Her Wharton rec is done, and she's mowing through the HBS and Stanford ones as we speak...

Posted 4:03 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81786625:

I rolled through about half of Stanford essay A on the plane. It's looking good.

Posted 10:12 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81772511:

Marketing a B-School
Some of you ask why I don't metion Columbia that much. Putting aside the late app deadline, Columbia should be an ideal fit for me: Near Wall Street, strong in finance, etc. But I have a negative image of Columbia, all because of the information session I went to.

I attended a Columbia info session earlier this summer. The AdComm presentation was standard, but then came the student presenters. There were 2 or 3 Columbia students there asked to speak about their experiences, and while they seemed friendly enough, they did not come across as 1) very intelligent, 2) serious, or 3) professional. They spent 90% of the time talking about how Columbia is the only B-School with a free Thursday-night happy hour, and about their scuba club adventures, and about everything that makes absolutely no difference as to where I apply. That single event dropped CBS to the bottom of my list.

I know, I know, you can't judge a whole school by a few people. But it is human nature to do so. Honestly, all of the schools I'm applying to look very similar--elite, competitive B-Schools that are strong in finance. I am working to learn as much as possible about each, and meeting students/alums is one of the few opportunities to do so. So when that opportunity is blown by a couple clowns, it sucks for that school.

Not having attended many other info sessions yet, I can't compare CBS' to any other school. I think that Chicago's required interview policy is a great way to provide that good first impression; In fact, my positive experience at the interview helped my image of GSB overcome the negative impression from driving around South Chicago. I think Wharton's S2S bulletin board is another great way to build up an image of a school, a little bit of personal contact via an impersonal medium.

If I had a word of advice for AdComm readers: First impressions matter. Choose student speakers carefully, and coach them. If you're running an info session, and they drift off topic, reign them in.

Posted 8:38 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81769325:

The Chicago GSB online application is pretty slick. The two things I don't like about it are the fact that they don't accept online recommendations and the lack of a "Save" button. I know that your app is supposed to be saved every time you change screens, but it just is a nice feeling of comfort to be able to press "Save" to be sure...

Posted 8:28 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81769055:

I didn't notice this before: The University of Chicago application specifically asks you to list all other business schools to which I am applying. I fucking hate that. Of course, I could always put a partial list and say that I hadn't decided on the other schools, but it's not true (in fact, I'll have already submitted apps to all the other schools). I don't want the fact that I am applying to a large number of schools hurt my application; I am only doing so because I need to know where/if I'm going by early next year.

I'm pissed...

Posted 8:15 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81768668:

Well...four screwdrivers and two tequilas prevented me from doing much work on the apps last night (hey, it's business travel, no smirking!) Maybe I'll try to scribble out the Stanford essay on the flight to New York...

Tuesday, September 17, 2002
Posted 6:16 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81742258:

Sometimes I wonder: Are the people posting on the MBA forums representative of the applicant body? Or are they the weakest candidates, posting because they need the most help?

My opinion would side fall somewhere in the middle, but definitely more closer to the latter than the former...

Posted 6:15 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81742192:

You've got to keep reminding yourself that this is a marathon. And I'm at, oh, mile marker 5. It's amazing to think of how much I've worked on these applications so far, with little tangible results (i.e. nothing submitted yet). It'll be nice to start submitting these and being done with them. Luckily, I'm not the type of person who worries and edits and hems and haws until the last second before the deadline. When I reach a point where I think my app is complete I'll hit the submit button and move on.

What happens if I don't get into any of the 6 schools I apply to through November? I haven't really considered it, and think it's unlikely. If so, I'd have to see what the feedback is. If it is about "not enough evidence for the career change", I might consider applying to a second batch of schools for R2 (Columbia--which is effectively a R2 school for me, since it doesn't have a deadline-- and Yale would top this very short list). If it's only about extracurriculars, I'd probably re-apply next year, because I am starting to move into leadership roles in one of my extracurricular activities.

Enough! That is the last you'll hear me talk about this scenario!

Posted 3:43 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81736083:

I started filling in Wharton's online app just now. It seems very nicely put together, and is pretty thorough too. One thing I'm definitely going to have to do is go through my old tax records to figure out how much I made in all those summer jobs way back when (okay, the early '90s).

Posted 12:55 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81729306:

Amazon's customer reviews form a handy reminder of why the Peterson's GMAT study guide sucks (here's a hint: ).

Posted 12:31 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81728287:

Reviewing the HBS on-line application:
Personal Information - Done
Family Information - Done
Education Information - Done
Self Reported Transcript - Done
Testing Information - Done
Full-Time Employment - Need to upload resume; Need to fill in mini-essays on jobs (Note to self: Salary information on previous full-time job)
Part-Time Employment - Need to fill in 1995 summer job; Minor details here and there.
Extracurricular Activities in College - Need to fill in descriptions for all 4 activities (How anal is HBS going to be about dates of participation, number of participants, etc.? I really don't remember the exact dates down to the day...)
Extracurricular Activities Since College - Need to fill out
Awards and Recognition - Nothing to report (am I doomed? I'm doomed? I'm doomed. Okay, I'm doomed. Got it.)
Essays - Of course, in the final stages of wrap-up and review.
HBS Community Standards - Done
Additional Information - Need to write about why I chose these recommenders
Recommendations - 1 done, 1 started, 1 waiting ( reminder. Must...resist this...rude gesture...)

All in all, essays aside I'd say I have about five or six more hours worth of work in there. I'm surprised they don't ask for a urine sample and chest X-Ray...


Posted 11:16 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81725288:

Is anyone else starting to really get geeked up about the admissions process? There's now only one month to go until the HBS deadline, and Wharton and Stanford are close behind. Very cool!

Posted 10:58 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81724565:

My schedule for the rest of the week:
Today: See if I can do a good first draft of Stanford A
Thursday: Getting feedback from friends about HBS essays
Friday-Sunday: Final edit of HBS essays, fill out online application


Posted 10:27 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81723279:

DODDFJ wrote my Post of the Week on the B-Week forum, giving a huge amount of detail on the HBS info session. It definitely raised the bar for those of us attending an HBS session later this week...

Posted 8:54 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81719832:

Got it! I have the perfect word that answers Stanford essay A, "What matters most to you?" It is...yeah, like I'm going to give it away! Why is it so great? 1) It can tie into almost every job experience I've had; 2) It nails my themes perfectly; 3) It ties into the current business ethos. Bank it, baby! Now, if I could only learn more about this school named "Stanford", and why I want to go there...

Posted 8:43 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81719473:

I think Stanford essay A is going to need a little more thinking. Though the outline I've put together is good, it doesn't highlight the themes I want. And we must all bow to the wishes of the themes, right?

Posted 8:20 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81718829:

The Chicago GSB Alumni Interview Process
First, a warning: If you request an alumni interview over the Chicago GSB website, expecte a very quick turnaround. I submitted my request a few weeks ago, and got an e-mail from GSB with my alumni interviewer's name in only a day or two. His office contacted me the very next day, and the interview was set for the following week. Honestly, I expected to wait several weeks; it almost happened too fast.

I am very pleased by how the interview went. My impression is that the alumni was trying to find out two things:
1) Whether I could communicate well
2) Whether I had clearly thought out why I wanted an MBA, and what I liked about Chicago

The questions were fairly straightforward: Why did I choose my undergraduate school? How did I like it? Describe your career to date? Why are you applying to Chicago? etc.

I had a little trouble with two questions. The first was, "What other schools are you applying to and which is your favorite?" I listed Wharton, MIT Sloan, and Columbia, but said that it was too early to say which my favorite was, probably not the right answer. I then recovered, however, and went on to talk about what I liked about Chicago.

The other question was, "Is the economy going to get better?", thrown out of the blue. That one took me aback for a second, and I started my answer with, "It's really hard to say, but..." Luckily, I had read the WSJ that morning, and could tie in an article that I had read to form a smart sounding answer (which pretty much still amounted to, "I don't know").

The alumni himself was pretty cool, and reflected well on GSB. In fact, I would say that my image of GSB went up a lot because of the interview (just as it had gone down a lot when I drove around that part of Chicago). I think that intangible things like this are important: When I think of GSB now, I associate it with the interviewer. He had a high position in a major financial institution, so his very stature was impressive.

If I had any advice for those about to do a GSB interview:
1) Relax. I don't think that they are out to grill you or drill down on any career experience.
2) Practice giving your "story"--the big picture on your career, your plans, etc.
3) Read the WSJ the morning of the interview. It should give you some points that could help in any question about current events, the economy, etc.
4) Come interested in GSB, ready to learn about it, ready with reasons why you want to attend it.

I think it is a great idea for GSB to interview every applicant, and for me, at least, its stock went up a great deal.

Posted 8:05 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81718406:

Of course, I leave Columbia out of the debate a lot because it doesn't even start reviewing apps until January, well past the Wharton R1 decision date. That's just dumb, in my opinion (and yes, I know about the early decision process, but give me a break).

Posted 7:51 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81718093:

That's right, MIT Sloan asks for a cover letter with your resume. That's the logical spot to describe why I am applying there.

I think the cover letter is a great idea, because it mirrors a business application. It's going to be tricky to write, simply because I'll need to do some research on the proper form for business cover letters.

Posted 7:47 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81717988:

Now that my Wharton and HBS essays are pretty near completion, I took some time last night to review how I stand on the other schools. I've already done a few first drafts for a few of the essays, but that was before I read Montauk, really developed my themes, etc., so I consider them really rough drafts. Here's my run-down of the schools:

Chicago: Yesterday I put together are nice set of ourlines for the essays that does a much better job of highlighting my experience and pointing out my themes. Out of the remaining schools, this is the one I feel most comfortable about.
Stanford: Last night I wrote out a rough outline for essay A. I already have the opening two paragraphs done, and they are dynamite. Next will be to start writing the essay (I'll start by hand for this one), then revising, revising, revising. Essay B has a draft done, but it needs heavy revision too.
MIT Sloan: I feel okay about this one as well. I wrote out an outline for the essays, which are pretty straightforward, except for essay 3 (describe a difficult interaction with someone). The big question for this app: There is no place to explain why I'm going for an MBA, which is not intuitive from my career (since I'm changing careers)!
Kellogg: This one is trouble. The essay topics really don't give me easy places to bring up my themes. There is no esay about a previous work/team/leadership experience! I'll need to work harder on this one to work in my themes.

Monday, September 16, 2002
Posted 7:04 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81694130:

Finished typing the changes to Wharton essay #1. At 1142 words, I think it is nearly complete. I feel good about how I have both shown off my career to-date, as well as demonstrated how it logically leads to a Wharton MBA. It's a little bit stronger on the specifics of why I like Wharton, as well.

Posted 6:08 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81692045:

About Recommendations
Take this as a word of advice: The sooner you ask someone to do a recommendation, the better. I asked my first recommender in late June, mainly because I knew she'd be away on vacation for most of August/September. She finished the first recommendation in mid-August (the HBS one).

My other two HBS recommenders I asked on 8/14/02; One of them just started the online form today, the other still hasn't (she's reliable, though, so I am not worried).

If possible, I would ask for the recommendation later at least 2 months before the deadline. You can figure that, unless they are completely free at work and/or in love with you, they won't get started for a month or so. Plus, after a month of waiting, it's perfectly acceptable to give them a polite nudge. Then, if you're lucky, they'll start them before the two week mark to deadlines.

Don't get me wrong, I completely appreciate what my recommenders are doing for me (especially my warhorse--doing 7 recs!) I'm just saying it's smart to ask early.

Posted 5:15 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81689735:

Tomorrow I'll have an in-depth review of my Chicago alumni interview...

Posted 4:25 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81687591:

Oooh, joy! My second recommender has started his HBS recommendation! I love these online systems!

Posted 4:13 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81687087:

With the success of hand-writing parts of Wharton #1 this morning, I might try to apply the same principle to Stanford A this evening. If I could get some serious revisions of Stanford done, and even some Chicago essays done, by the end of next week, I'd be sitting pretty.

Posted 2:36 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81683031:

Kristen, a member of the Kellogg AdComm, says that they still don't know when the online app will be up.

Posted 12:52 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81678510:

Save your online apps!
I got this e-mail from a first-year Wharton student:
"Last year in round 1, Wharton lost about 24 hours of saved data on their online applications server 3 days before the deadline, so they extended the deadline by 10 days"

This is both a reason to plan to finish early as well as a reason to save your work.

Posted 11:57 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81676225:

I think Kellogg must be getting close...their "Apply" page looks completely revamped. Embark still doesn't seem to have the 2003 app, though.

Posted 9:30 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81670450:

As an added bonus, I fleshed out my approach to the Chicago application. Chicago takes the slightly annoying approach of mixing personal history and essays, but that just allows for more creativity in how to deliver the themes. Basically the career history section can be as bold a product placement as possible. And as someone on the B-Week forum suggested, I'm using 8b to highlight a particularly successful team situation--in fact, a 3 person team situation at that!

Posted 9:28 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81670395:

Hot Tip of the Day
I just finished writing the missing portions of Wharton #1--and it came out fabulous! What's the secret? Writing the essay by hand!

I was stuck on an early morning flight from...where I Chicago (business calls). I whipped out a notepad and the Wharton application, and found that I could speed through the remaining portion--why my career to date had prompted my pursuit of an MBA--in less than an hour. There's just something about writing out an essay by hand that just makes the editing process faster and smoother. I think the nice thing about it is the chance to see what you've crossed out as you repeatedly refine the sentences, as opposed to deleting text from a word processor.

Going forward, I highly recommend all of you to write out the first or second version of your essays by hand. The results will be smoother and more readable, in my experience.

Posted 4:24 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81663734:

I'll be away from the computer for a while, but expect a lot of blogging later Monday. I'll be laying out the missing chunk of Wharton #1, and hopefully giving some outline and structure to my Stanford and Chicago GSB essays.

Sunday, September 15, 2002
Posted 6:12 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81643786:

I completed the changes to Wharton #2-4. I'll leave #1 until tomorrow, since it needs a fair amount of rewriting.

If I complete that, I'll use the first part of the week to get more organized on the Stanford and Chicago apps. I still don't have a good feeling on what Stanford is like; what are their strengths, what is the student body like, etc. I'm really missing out by not being able to attend an information session.

Posted 5:39 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81643175:

I got through the Wharton essays, and have good and bad news. The good news is that essays 2, 3, and 4 only needed minor grammatical and style editing. Essay #4, in particular, has turned out great: By far my best essay. The bad news is that I crossed out five or six complete paragraphs from essay #1. Basically, I need to redo the part explaining about my career to date, and how it has lead to my seeking an MBA. I know that I have a lot of great stuff to say in this area, I just had done a terrible job saying it.

Posted 12:06 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81632554:

The plan is to go through my Wharton essays (third drafts) today, and give them a good editing for style/grammar/spelling.

Posted 9:13 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81628374:

Martin Lloyd, ruler of the domain, writes to tell me that the site is up and updated frequently. I had linked to the wrong url; the main page is: Out of all the sites I've found so far, his gives the most detail in discussing the application process.

Posted 12:04 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #81618162:

Tomorrow, I plan to go through my Wharton essays, and if there is time left over, begin to fill out the remainder of the HBS online app. I have a review of the HBS essays with a buddy of mine scheduled for Thursday, meaning it looks like a completion date of next weekend is possible!


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