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 Blogger.com
and after a free registration you can have your own Weblog too! Even better, they offer free hosting on their
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 firstname.lastname@example.org (and no, that isn't my real name).
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".
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 email@example.com.
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
Saturday, November 09, 2002
Posted 11:55 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84302520:
I'm feeling really happy, because yesterday this site saw the most traffic yet (over 350 visits!) and today my personal site saw its highest traffic ever (nowhere near 350, though).
The key to writing a weblog is perserverence. When you first start it, it's fun and you have tons of opinions to share. But unless you get tons of traffic very quickly, it's easy to feel like "what's the point?" This site was very easy to promote, since it had a very focused topic (MBA admissions) and by putting my URL in all my B-Week posts, I could easily stir up some traffic.
My personal site was initially much less focused, and so it was difficult to draw any audience. And without an audience, the will to post daily drops. And if you don't post to a weblog daily, you just won't get the readership. A viscious circle, no?
The key, I found, was to just write about what I enjoyed. And after writing about it long enough, I started building an audience. And then this week I wrote one really good post, which another site linked to, and then another, and my traffic suddenly quintupled. Now the question is whether I can keep the new readers...
Weblogging is a very fun mixture of marketing, journalism, and writing.
Posted 11:47 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84302201:
I basically took all day off from MBA stuff. Though I started the morning reviewing my MIT application, I got wrapped up in other things (hair cut, shopping) and everything just flowed into a dinner with some old friends. It was nice to completely forget about all this for a day, and luckily I'm still well on schedule.
I'll do a little more writing tomorrow, on essay #1, and that should be about. Maybe review the finished product again, looking for errors.
Posted 10:06 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84277700:
I am going to review my Sloan cover letter and essays this morning. I hope to read them with a more critical eye; I think I've been getting sloppy lately, which is why my friend found so may problems with my Chicago essays.
Looking Ahead First and foremost, I'll be reviewing my Sloan cover letter and essays. I feel very comfortable with them, and my last review only turned up a handful of problems. Still, it's better to check over them once or twice to make sure I'm not overlooking something.
Other than that, I think posting will be pretty light. I might post about what I think my chances are at each school, and start collecting my thoughts on the application process, what I did right, what I did wrong...those types of things. If all goes well (with the Sloan work) posting should be fairly light the next couple of days.
Stress Relief Ahoy! For all my fellow applicants who are checking their inbox like a hungry hamster hitting the pellet lever, I'm going to start posting some links to humerous or weird sites to help relieve the stress of waiting. So whenever you see the "Stress Relief Ahoy" label, know that merriment follows!
The first entry is a great comic strip called "Red Meat" (here's another funny, but gross, example of the classic "Red Meat" humor)...
I confess, the only part of my applications that I'm having second thoughts about is the fact that I don't mention this website in the app. I think that this site demonstrates creativity, initiative, etc. (a lot of good stuff that the schools want), and believe that at least some of the AdComms read it/enjoy it. I have always been of two minds on this subject, and in the end decided not to include it in my apps because 1) I didn't want the AdComms to know where else I was applying; 2) I wanted to feel free to share harsh opinions about schools, though in truth that hasn't happened much; and 3) I felt that my applications were very strong without it (after all, I could mention my other awesome website). But with most of the apps submitted, and news of other people getting interview invites (I know, I know, it's too early to worry), it's hard not get second thoughts...
Update: I just read over the e-mail, it's just a standard form e-mail:
Thank you for your Letter of Reference written on behalf of [me], an applicant to the MBA Program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Your perspective will be valuable to us in evaluating the candidate for admission, and we very much appreciate the time and thought that went into your letter.
MBA Admissions Office
Stanford Graduate School of Business"
One of my Stanford recommenders called to let me know that he just got a "thank you" e-mail from Stanford. Has anyone else heard this? I wonder if this is an indication that my application is now under active review? Anyway, he's going to forward it to me and I'll post it for all to see.
It's a Sign Next Monday's Accepted.com chat is with the AdComm from none other than...Johnson Graduate School of Management! That couldn't be better timing for me, because I'll have the chance to ask all the questions that should have been--but are not--answered by their website.
Over the past few days I've created accounts for the following possible round 2 schools: Kellogg, Columbia, Tuck, Cornell, and Yale. I was happy to see the Embark and ApplyYourself systems automatically passing in some of the personal data from other apps into the new ones.
To be honest, it's a bit refreshing to look over a brand new application again. At least it's much more refreshing than trudging through my Sloan essays for a ninth time...
Posted 12:30 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84238764:
Friday Deadline Countdown >> 11 hours(?) left until the Chicago Round I deadline
>> 5 days left until the MIT Sloan Round I deadline for online app
>> 13 days(!) left until Wharton is done with interview invites
>> 40 days left until the Wharton Round 1 decisions
>> 67 days left until the Chicago Round 1 decisions
>> 74 days left until the HBS Round 1 decisions
>> 74 days left until the Stanford Round 1 decisions
>> 97 days left until the MIT Sloan Round 1 decisions
My status: >> HBS - Submitted for Round 1
>> Wharton - Submitted for Round 1
>> Stanford - Submitted for Round 1
>> Chicago - Submitted for Round 1
>> Sloan - 2 recs done; Forms in progress; Essays (up to eigth drafts) under review
Posted 10:54 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84234123:
Done with Chicago Having finally completed it, I can say that my Chicago application is the blandest of the five*. I just never clicked with the app format (namely the free-form Personal History section) and the essay topics. It's a bit disappointing, since I feel I had have a good "fit" with Chicago in terms of background and goals.
Anyway, I gave it my best shot, and it's out of my hands now. Thankfully my Sloan essays are progressing much more smoothly; I don't think I'm going to have to kill another weekend to complete them.
* Were I to assign grades to my essays, they would be: Stanford: A+; Wharton: A; HBS: A; Sloan (so far): B+; Chicago: B.
This is why I've tried to avoid submitting at the last minute: Work computer problems last night, browser errors this morning, plus one of my credit cards is rejected, and after rushing at the last minute I see that I have a few "I?m"s instead of "I'm"s in my essays (I had copied from MS Word directly, rather than copying from my text file). Plus I'm exhausted from the 4:00 am to midnight schedule of this week, and am finding that last night's mixture of spaghetti with spicy squid sauce, Corona, and iced cafe mocha does not go down well...
On the bright side, all this last-minute rushing on the Chicago app has taken my mind off checking for the Wharton invite e-mail (if you haven't realized already, I'm a "glass half full" person)...
Posted 12:05 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84209734:
I've cut and pasted my essays from the Chicago app into a text file, made the chanes, and re-uploaded them. I'll give them the once over tonight, and then do a final, thorough review tomorrow morning, and then submit.
These are not my best essays, but I think they're solid enough. Chicago's are not the best essay topics, either.
Posted 11:16 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84207696:
Just when I don't need it, my work computer is giving me trouble. By trouble, I mean I can no longer access the network drive holding all my MBA application materials.
The good news is that I have all the materials backed up on my [personal] web server (I followed my own advice). The bad news is that those files are the ones I put there last night, so the changes I made this morning--the ninth drafts of my Chicago essays--are not there (should have backed up more often). However, the further good news it that, since the essays are simply stored as text in the Chicago online app, I can cut them from the app and paste them into a temporary file for the time being.
Long story short, I'm going to have to spend a good twenty minutes on gathering up the materials to make the extensive changes to my essays. Sigh.
Posted 11:08 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84207374:
Wake-up call I just got back from dinner with my essay reviewer (a friend). He had plenty of changes for my Chicago essays, especially #1. As I've mentioned before, I've never thought that my Chicago essays were great. I guess that's what I have a reviewer for...
Just a reminder to all the Wharton round 1 applicants who didn't get an interview invitation today:
It doesn't mean your rejected.
It doesn't mean your application is any better or worse than those invited today.
You'll probably not get an invitation tomorrow, either. You might not even get one next week. It's not a big deal.
It's just a fluke of when the Wharton reviewers got to it.
Do you notice a pattern on the S2S boards?
Nov. 1, 07:53 "Have you started sending mails for interview? It was supposed to start today."
Nov. 1, 15:07 "I'm trying to work out when I should be checking my email"
Nov. 4, 06:37 "Any indication when the first round of interview invites will go out ?"
Nov. 5, 15:35 "So the interview invitations for R1 will be sent out at the end of this week (11/8-10)"
Nov. 6, 10:05 "Do you have a better idea of when the first round of interviews will go out?"
Nov. 6, 11:57 "Has anybody received interview invitation yet?" (could anything possibly have changed between 10:05 and 11:57?!?)
Nov. 7, 12:49 "I'm impatiently waiting to hear back from the adcom..."
Well, fellow Wharton applicants, I think it's time to start checking the Inbox more often. All interview invites should be out in the next 14 days. Excited? Good. Nervous? Relax. Depressed? Read this.
In the coming days and weeks I'm going to start posting tips on how to apply to business school. These are summaries of my thoughts on handling recommendations, essays, and all the rest. As usual, feedback is welcome.
For those of you interested in off-campus Wharton AdComm interviews, here's the list of their cities and dates. You know those interview invites are gonna start going out soon when you see Alex Brown start this thread...
Posted 11:12 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84176882:
Round 2 Strategy I've had a chance to think about how I want to approach the task of applying to a second round of schools. My strategy really hinges on two key dates:
November 21 - By this date I will know whether or not Wharton wants to interview me. If I am dinged by Wharton, it will be a very bad sign for the rest of my schools (since none of the other ones is substantially easier to get into). I would rapidly decided on two or three more schools to apply to, get the recommenders working on them and launch into the applications. In this scenario I'd probably apply to Johnson (because it has a good finance reputation, is closer to Wall Street, and has a higher selectivity (22%) than other schools), Columbia (good in finance and no deadline), and one other school. If I do get an interview invite, however, I would at least know I was "competitive" at a top school, and then would await...
December 19 - Wharton's decision date. Of course, if I am fortunate to be offered admissions I don't have to worry about any more applications. If I'm not accepted, though, I would need to scramble to meet the R2 deadlines (which fall only two or three weeks later). Believing that I was competitive in the top schools, I would probably apply to Kellogg (only 1 rec needed) and either Yale (which, alas, asks for 3 recs) or Columbia.
With that strategy in place, I can sit back and wait for the info brochures from these schools to roll in...
I finished reviewing my Chicago GSB application. There are fewer than half a dozen changes that need to be made. Most of them were along the lines of changing "impersonal" to "cold", and other word choices like that.
Barring any surprise suggestions from my friend, I'll be ready to submit by tomorrow morning.
Posted 10:05 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84150397:
I haven't done much application work today, because there's not much to be done. Tonight and tomorrow I'll be doing final readings of my Chicago app, as well as [tomorrow] getting feedback from my friend.
Just when I thought we could make it twenty-four hours without someone asking the Wharton AdComms when the interview invites would start, this guy comes along...
I am tempted to post on S2S, "Alex, can you post when you start to have an inkling that the interview invitations are possibly beginning to be considered to be sent out? Please post when that happens, and maybe even post 10 minutes before you get that inkling, just when the thoughts start to form in your mind."
A couple of posts on the B-Week forum suggest that the distance from Wall Street does play a role in Anderson's (UCLA) and Haas' (UC Berkley) placement of students. That confirms what I've been hearing and reading, and would further focus my efforst on northeastern schools for R2.
Why I'm Applying to These Schools I'll be blunt: I attended the #1 undergrad school in my profession. It was my top choice and very tough to get into.
I chose my 5 round 1 business schools because I think they are the elite, the very top, and I believe I am qualified enough to go to the best business school. Yes, that's an egotistical thing to say, but hey, that's how I feel. Furthermore, I feel that any one of these schools could provide me the education I would need for my new career. Anyway, here is what attracted me to these 5 schools, in alphabetic order:
Chicago - Of all my R1 schools, Chicago is the one that would best prepare me for my future finance career (by a slight margin). I think termpermentally I would fit well in Chicago's (more) individualistic and intense environment. I have a very good impression from the alumni interview, as well.
HBS - Naturally, HBS has a recognized brand. I also think that, based on my background and personality, it would be the biggest challenge academically--which I like. My minor worry is that it would be hard learning all the "technical" skills needed for a career change to finance (in the short-term), but this is somewhat offset by managerial/leadership skills gained for the long-term.
MIT Sloan - As you can tell from this website, I am interested in technology from a user perspective (i.e. how can tech help you do X?) I believe that technology is changing finance, and anyone planning to be enter finance will need to know how to cope with/harness technology in their work. Sloan seems the most "futuristic" of my schools, and I feel assured that I'd get the finance skills I'd need plus have a good vision for the future. I like their "tracks" approach.
Stanford - Stanford is the most exotic choice for me. I think of it as sort of a mix between HBS and Chicago: An excellent general management program with course flexibility mixed in. The location and student body are big plusses for me.
Wharton - Top in finance. I can feel assured that I will graduate both with a great foundation in business plus all the finance skills needed in my new career. It's also probably the school I feel the "closest" too, because of all the interactions I've had with their students and AdComm (via S2S).
As I've said before, I haven't been able to do a class visit for 4 of the schools, and that would play a huge role in determining which I'd rank as my favorite (overlooking the small step of getting accepted ;-)
Here's a table of the R2 schools and their relevant points:
School Deadline # Recs Interview? Comments
Kellogg 1/10/03 1 In advance
Columbia 2 Invitation No deadline, app reviews start 1/3/03
Yale 1/6/03 3 Invitation
Tuck 1/3/03 2 In advance Third of four rounds
Darden 1/10/03 2 In advance Third of five rounds? Interviews on campus only
Cornell 1/15/03 2 Invitation
Anderson 1/30/03 2 Invitation Third of four rounds
Haas 1/31/03 2 Invitation Third of four rounds
Right now, I would feel comfortable ruling out the two California schools (too far from WS) and Darden (just doesn't seem like the right fit). Columbia would be the logical choice for finance, but...I just didn't click with it when I visited. Kellogg is a great brand and great school and has the advantage of requiring only 1 rec, but I don't know if I fit there. That would leave Yale, Tuck, and Cornell (all in the northeast) as the three main contenders, based on finance strengths and proximity to Wall Street.
Anyway, I'm going to order info packets from all of the schools and have a lot more research to do. Heck, all of this will be moot as soon as I hear from Wharton...
Some people need to relax: There's still two weeks to go until Wharton starts dinging. If you find yourself panicked and asking these types of questions, you should realize that you're probably already dinged for nervousness anyway. Business leaders don't crack under the "pressure" of a few of weeks of waiting.
Coolest Set of Essay Questions In researching possible schools for R2 applications, I came across Johnson's (Cornell) application. They have the coolest set of essay questions that I've come across, by far, and I reprint the highlights below:
2.Answer one of the following two questions:
a.Leadership is highly valued at the Johnson School.Describe a leadership decision made by a person who you admired and respected.What outstanding leadership skills were demonstrated and what impact did the decision have on you?
b.In a recent lecture at the Johnson School, Benjamin Zander,conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra,explained how he gets the most from his students.First,he gives them each an “A ” in his course,,then
he asks each one to write him a letter dated one year into the future.The letter begins “Dear Mr.Zander,I received an “A ” because …” and must then describe the person she/he has become over the course of that year.Write a letter to the admissions committee,dated at the end of your first year of your MBA program.The letter describes the person you have become during that year.
4.Answer one of the following five questions:
a.Write the table of contents and opening paragraph of your autobiography.
b.Upon completion of your MBA at the Johnson School,what will classmates say about you or how will they remember you?
c.What does “community ” mean to you?? How do you currently contribute to your community and how would you contribute to the Johnson School community?
d.What characteristics and capabilities would you like your future classmates
e.What do you think others ’ first impression of you is when you enter a room?
What is their impression once you have left the room?
I absolutely love question 4a...I'd salivate at the chance to do that essay.
FYI, fellow Sloan applicants, if you want to print out the PDF version of your entire application, first click on the "Submit" button and you'll get a page with a link to it. I think this is the standard way of getting to the PDFs for all ApplyYourself online apps.
Stanford Chat Scoop Thank you to all the readers who e-mailed me the details of the Stanford chat from earlier today (B took the prize with the quickest email--thanks B!). The important points seem to be:
1) The have already begun reviewing the applications.
2) The reviewers are AdComm only, no student/alumni reviewers.
3) Interview invitations will start next week and extend all the way up to the deadline day. Of course, interviews are alumni only. That's probably a fair policy--there is no advantage to those who can visit the campus.
I reviewed my MIT Sloan cover letter and essays. There were very, very few corrections to be made (basically one or two per essay). After typing in the chanes to my docs, I'll upload everything into the online app and print out my entire app for review (it's always good to start that sooner rather than later). I'll definitely be able to submit my essays to my friend for review by Thursday or Friday.
If anyone is attending the Stanford chatstarting in 2 minutes, could you ask about the application review timeline (when will they be reviewed, when will interview invites start, etc.) and e-mail me the answers? Thanks!
Rose, a member of the Wharton AdComm(?), has some useful posts on Wharton's recent changes to its financial aid programs. The news for domestic applicants:
"We have adopted the CitiAssist program through Citibank as the loan of choice for our Domestic and U.S. permanent residents. The good news is that students will be able to borrow up to the student budget less any other financial aid. The major change is that students will have to be credit worthy. If you visit the financial aid website, there are links to the Penn/CitiAssist program."
Stanford Online Chat Today The Stanford GSB AdComm will be hosting a chat at 13:00 PST (16:00 EST) today in a Yahoo Group (alas, I'm not going to be able to attend because I can't get the chat applet running on my work PC). Another opportunity to learn about their school down the drain...
Posted 12:13 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84067770:
Well, I've gotten to work and there are mounds of unclaimed printouts next to the printer. A quick rifle through them didn't turn up the missing essay pages, but there are litterally hundreds of pages here. I just took the whole pile and dumped it into a recycling bin on the other end of our floor. Better safe than sorry.
Posted 11:26 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84065630:
I've finished up with the eight drafts of my Chicago essays. Essay A had only minor changes, a word here or there. As I wasn't as happy with B, I've moved and reworked some sentences, and am much more pleased about the results. It's definitely not a home run, but it reads a lot better now. The reader wont linger with distaste in their mouth. I didn't find a single change to make in C. That's my grand-slam home run.
Vote Today! I would like to take a moment to urge all Americans to go out and make an informed vote today. Right now we have troops fighting for our nation in countries around the world; the economy has stagnated for almost two years; global warming threatens to wipe out humanity in a decade (well, not really, but it sure sounds dramatic); the least you can do is go to the polls and contribute to the political process.
That's Why You Read the Seventh Draft In reviewing the seventh draft of my Chicago essays and application, I came across a doozy of an error. One of my sentences ended, "...and that's why I have earned responsibility for increasingly." Looking back through previous drafts, the error has always been there. That's why you have to review your entire application again and again and again, and have someone else review it too.
Not Again! Apparently I've created another opportunity to blow my cover (in the sense of my current team finding out I'm applying for an MBA). This morning I am reading over my full Chicago application. I get up through essay 8a, so-far, so-good. I then turn the page and nothing: The final two pages of my application were missing! The only conclusion I can come to is that when I printed the app out yesterday morning at work, I accidentally left the final two pages in the printer.
The good news is that they are pretty non-descript (i.e. no GSB logos or anything) and just look like pages of text. Unless someone picked them up, read through them completely, and knew my background, they probably couldn't match them to me. But I still am worried, since one of the essays does contain my name in it.
As I've mentioned before (here and here, for examples) I'm sooooo tired of this secrecy $#!+. Getting that weight off my shoulders will be reason enough to celebrate when I'm through with all the apps.
This is one of the weirdest threads I've seen on the B-Week forum. You can post your questions to someone who didn't even apply to HBS because he expected to be dinged. The sad thing is that some people take this guy seriously! If you want a laugh, read through it.
I was awoken by a terrible, repulsive nightmare. I don't want to sicken you with the details; suffice to say it involved gigantic spiders and the use of humans as "hosts" for their parasitic young...
In an unrelated note, when I really wake up tomorrow morning I want to work on Chicago 8b some more. I'm just not happy with where it's at. I want to make sure I'm answering the question, that I'm going into more depth than just cliches, and that the style is good. I'm worried that my answers are too generic ("all three team members should be smart and hard-working"--duh!) I'm not sure whether these worries are related to the giant spiders, though.
Chicago application review process (from the chat):
Three readers: A first year student, a staff reader, and then senior staff. I think I remember them mentioning at the info session that they want first year students to review apps since they will still be at the school when/if you matriculate.
I'm looking over the Tuck website now, which I must say is very easy to navigate. I notice they only require two recommendations, and the second round (or actually the third round) deadline is January 3rd, which is tight (after Wharton's Dec. 19th response).
With so much free time opening up in my application schedule, I've started seriously considering possible Round 2 schools (which are contingent on my not getting into Wharton on Dec. 19th). Kellogg is the only definite, because of the quality of the education, reputation, beauty of the campus, and only one rec required. The next two up are Columbia and Yale. Columbia is very strong in finance, but...well, I'm just not enamored by the idea of living the poor student lifestyle in such a stressful, overwhelming city like New York.
Thus, Yale is much more appearling, but has its own downsides: Three recs needed, uses Embark, not as well known as CBS (but still holding its own in finance). I just...don't feel "where's the love?" when I consider these schools, especially when compared to the five I'm applying to R1.
Further down the list in the "don't know nearly enough about them to make a decision" pile are Cornell, Haas, Anderson, and maybe Tuck. To me Cornell is the dark horse of the group--why does nobody hear about it or know about it? Maybe I need to start requesting those info brochures again (I remember doing that, like, 5 months ago for my current applications).
One difficulty I've noticed as my application pressure has decreased is a difficulty in getting back into the rythm of work. I'm not really hung up on the "waiting for news" aspect (honest!) as some people are. Rather, as late as last week I was under the gun, working my hardest to reach my goals, explain who I am, etc., my future in my hands. Now I'm settling back into the mundane everyday work world. My project actually is pretty cool, but coming off the pressure, intensity, and excitement of the three-week essay-writing jag I've been on, it's like trading in a Porsche 911 for a Honda Accord. I miss the pressure.
Some days, you just can't stand people asking others to do their work for them. There's nothing wrong about posting a specific question about a specific essay, but "What should I do with this essay?" is really pathetic. Luckily, you can rest assured that people who post that kind of question are not the ones attending the top schools.
I took the scalpel to my Sloan resume, and am pleased with the results. I was never that enthusiastic about adding personal activities to my resume (because most companies don't care about them, and I believe my MBA resume should pretty much match my job search resume), so don't feel it's a big loss taking them out. Anyway, there's plenty of space to highlight the important activities in Sloan's additional info section.
Oooh, just missed! My resume turns out to be a few lines over 50, the Sloan limit. I'll have to see where/what I can cut. No big deal, just a bit irritating, since I was happy with the "completeness" of my current resume. The easy cut would be the communities/activities list, since I can talk about those in the app.
Posted 12:46 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84012588:
You know that you're starting to freak out...
...when you ask the Wharton AdComm to tell you at what hours of the day the interview invites will be emailed, so you know when to check your inbox. Three words: chill freakin' pill. Take one.
Posted 12:39 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84012306:
Reminder for GSB Applicants Chicago GSB's Associate Dean for Enrollment Management and others will be part of an Accepted.com chat tonight at 6:00 pm PST (9:00 pm EST). Go to Accepted.com for the details. I haven't participated in any of their chats yet (mainly because I didn't realize they were going on), but will try to make it tonight. I plan to ask about their admissions process (do they start reviewing apps right away? etc.).
Accepted.com posts transcripts of the chat so you'll be able to see the answers even without attending.
Posted 12:31 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84011963:
Call me cold, but I can't wait until the laid-off woman sitting behind me leaves. It's depressing overhearing her daily conversations about being let go and how many more firings are coming. I don't feel too worried because I'm on a big, strategic project (we've actually hired several people over the past two months), but don't want to get bummed out every day at the office.
Posted 11:49 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84010199:
Minor nit-pick about the Chicago on-line application. When you print out a preview of your completed app, it does not include the essay questions above the essays themselves. When reviewing your essays, I believe reading the exact question beforehand is very important.
Posted 11:19 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84008780:
My job is picking up speed at just the right moment (in the sense that I am less and less busy with my apps, so I need something to fill the waiting time). Besides my [fun] usual project, which has a big deadline looming at the end of the month, I also have to spend some time working on a [boring] side project.
Posted 11:00 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84008045:
I posted this on the B-Week forum, but I thought I'd also post it here: This is my list of the quirks of the Sloan application:
>> Mail-in items due this Wednesday, but the online app isn't due until next week.
>> Essays are requested to be single-spaced, despite allowing uploads of Word documents.
>> Cover letter - not many other schools have them.
>> 12:00 PST deadline time, wheras most schools are 5pm or midnight.
>> Two separate pages to mail in--the standards form and the mail-in item checklist--with your transcripts and recs.
Overall, I like the Sloan application because it asks for a much smaller set of personal history info (basically, just the resume). Chicago is just the opposite, asking for mini-essays on all the job experiences, travel, extracurriculars, etc., which is tedious to fill out and spellcheck.
I read over my Sloan essays this morning. I just finished producing my Sloan sixth drafts, and there were even fewer changes needed than to my Chicago essays (which are at the seventh draft now). Essay #1 shortened by 5 words, essay #2 by 7 words, and essay #3 by 1 word. This is a sure sign that these essays are just about in the bank. I'm going to mess around a bit with the formatting for #4, but that's about it.
For those of you interested, there is a new thread on Wharton's S2S board discussing the recent changes to their loan requirements for international students. It seems plain to me that Wharton is choosing financial health over a lowering of its international student population (I don't think this will hurt its reputation in any way; it might, justifiably or not, help its reputation in the US?) Especially now, with both the worldwide economy in so-so health and war-time America scrutinizing its visa applicants more closely, these moves do not seem unreasonable.
Looking ahead I think this is going to be a quiet but intense week. Of course, at the top of my list is finishing off Chicago, followed by Sloan. There are also some online chats coming up, and as my free time allows I'll start posting some thoughts on the entire application process. Naturally, towards the end of the week I'll start checking my e-mail more frequently for that Wharton interview invite that everyone hopes to get. Oh yeah, minor reminder that Tuesday is election day in the US, so make plans to vote.
I'm hoping that my horoscope is wrong, as today's reads, "Plans will not go as you wished. Be ready for delays and be willing to make adjustments." This might be a more interesting week than I planned...
Time Capsule Moment:
What was I doing exactly two monts ago? Apparently whining about my Wharton essays:
"I wrote up the new version of Wharton essay #4 based on the outline I wrote Sunday, and boy does it suck. I've managed to take an engaging and interesting topic and create a short, stilted blob..."
Talk about a blast from the past! And I see that on the same day I posted the earth-shattering news...that GSB's online application was up!
I finished reviewing the Chicago essays. No major changes, just a few word selections here and there and a sentence fragment dropped once in a while. I replaced "shifted" with "changed", "trying" with "exploring", dropped an "also" and a "so" while adding a "has" and a "behind it". Anything to make the essay as a whole just flow as smoothly as a Rockie mountain brook (they do flow smoothly, don't they?)
I'm in a very good position with these essays. After typing up these changes (i.e. creating a seventh draft), I could submit the app if I wanted to. They're that close. Of course, I'm not going to throw away five days of polishing and hearing my friends comments.
In the back of my mind I have some second-thoughts about pushing the Kellogg application off to round 2. But I have to admit I'd be busy like a madman if I had two apps due next Friday, plus Sloan only five days later...
Part of editing this late in the game is to face up to sentences that don't work. As I've mentioned before (here and here, for example) the concluding paragraph was weak, ending on a bland and slightly confusing tone. At this stage (sixth drafts), I had to fish or cut bait: Admit that the final sentence sucked and come up with something new or live with it. The urge to move on to the next essay and forget about it is great, but I want to get into Chicago, so I had to face it.
The new final sentence is much stronger. Not to go into too much detail, but it went from:
"I would motivate the team by doing X and Y."
"By doing X, Y, and Z, I would propel the team to success."
That sentence is much more dramatic, strong, and ends on a high note, which is important in the concluding paragraph. The previous sentence, laundry-list-like in nature, did not end strong.
The latest issue of the Wharton Journal has an article about changes to Wharton's student loan policy to start with the Class of 2005 (me!). Apparently with the economic downturn the default rate on student loans has climbed, especially among international students. In response, Wharton is tightening availability of student loans to international applicants. There don't seem to be many changes to American applicants, or so my reading suggests.
Here's the paragraph describing the changes:
"Incoming international students to Wharton will notice two primary changes in the loan package from years past. First, students must acquire a visa first before applying for loan assistance. In order to obtain a visa, an applicant must demonstrate that he/she has available assets to cover his/her study in the U.S. for two years. Upon receiving a visa, students will then apply for a Wharton loan, which will now cover only tuition and mandatory fees. Though the loan is not guaranteed in writing, in principle, the visa holds the ticket to the loan. The three marked differences from years past are the visa/loan relationship, the expense coverage (tuition and mandatory fees), and the interest rate (prime plus 2%). International students used to be able to use the loan as a guarantee for the visa; now that the reverse is true, and given the more stringent visa regime in the U.S., visas will likely be harder to come by. Second, the tighter borrowing amount exposes a real gap between mandatory expenses and the cost of living for an MBA student."
Read the whole article for details. I'll keep a lookout to see if other schools follow suit, which would not be unexpected considering almost everyone is affected by the economic downturn and student loans are naturally getting harder to come by in these times of war. Thanks to SHINDOBINDI for posting this on B-Week. I think this would be a great question for S2S...
Here's a good example of one type of correction I'm making now to my Chicago essays: Deleting unneeded, confusing, or conflicting information. This sentence is taken directly from one of my Chicago essays, with only the subject matter changed:
"Especially since working...[so hard]...on [a certain project] and taking [some night courses on finance], I have [decided to change to a finance career]."
This sentence is meant to describe the event which made me decide to pursue finance. The key word is "since", used here with the meanings of "after" and "because of". After reading this sentence, which was pretty long, I decided to cut out the part (in bold above) describing taking night courses. Though the night courses did play a role in my decision, I felt it was awkward to say "Especially since X and also Y, I did Z..." The sentence is much cleaner in the form "Especially since X, I decided Z". It shows more action and just reads a lot better. In the editing process, I always try to cut or change, never add, words.
I have some free moments on my hands again, and will give my Chicago essays another reading. They are the sixth drafts, so most grammar and spelling errors should have been corrected by now, through a combination of my reviews and MS Word's grammar checks. At this point, what am I looking for?
This far into the essay writing process I am trying to correct any awkward phrasing. Basically, as I read the essays, if I come to a part that is even the slightest bit confusing or awkward "sounding", then I know I have to find a better way of phrasing it. After all, if I, the writer, am a tad confused by a sentence, surely the reader will be as well. It's guaranteed.
As I review my essays again, if I come across a good example of this I'll share it with you...
I don't know how it was last year, but the B-Week forum has just died the past week. There is no activity there, suggesting that most of the visitors are HBS/Wharton/Stanford applicants. There has been some activity of late on the Sloan thread, which is good to see, but even with deadlines this week the Chicago and Kellogg threads have been ghostly quiet. Further signs of drop-offs in B-School applications?
Posted 11:52 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #83961555:
Keeping an eye on the future, I've checked out the Kellogg application again. Both for my records and yours, here are the essay questions from their 2003 application:
1. All applicants must complete A, B or C as appropriate. Please number your essay responses.
A. Master of Business Administration applicants only. Briefly assess your career progress to date. Elaborate on your
future career plans and your motivation for pursuing a graduate degree at the Kellogg School. (one to two pages
2. Each of our applicants is unique. Describe how your background, values, academics, activities and/or leadership skills will enhance the experiences of other Kellogg students. (one to two pages double-spaced)
3. You have been selected as a member of the Kellogg Admissions Committee. Please provide a brief evaluative
assessment of your file. (one to two pages double-spaced)
4. Complete three of the following six questions or statements. (two to three paragraphs each)
A. Through the course of your life, what would you identify as your most valued accomplishment?
B. What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in a leadership role?
C. Describe your most challenging professional relationship.
D. Outside of work I...
E. Describe an ethical dilemma that you have faced and how it was resolved.
F. I wish the Admissions Committee had asked me
At first glance, #1 is the usual "Why MBA, why our school?" essay. Topic #2 is interesting, as I don't remember any other school (so far) asking something like that. My quick take is that its a "Who are you, what will you contribute?" question (note: this takes the onus off of using #1 to talk about what you'd contribute to the school). #3 is a creative one: I think that they're trying to trip up people into really criticizing themselves, which would be a mistake. This is the perfect question for framing your application in the readers mind. And #4 is meant for them to get a better sense of who you are outside of work/school.
I probably won't start thinking about these seriously until later this month. Of course, I'm not even sure whether I'll apply to Kellogg (it would hinge greatly on whether I get in to Wharton), but the fact that they only need one recommendation makes it easier to "jump in" at the last minute.
Posted 11:37 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #83961102:
Gosh, I hope everyone is having as much fun with these applications as I am. I feel like a kid with Christmas approaching: I've been a good kid and written a list of things I want, and as Christmas day approaches the excited, nervous buzz of anticipation grows in my belly. How many of my gifts will Santa bring?
Hmmm...perhaps because Santa always brought at least one of the toys I'd asked for I've come to expect to get what I want. Yet my life has pretty much worked out that way (with a ton of hard work to help the process)...
Enjoy these times, my friends, for they are literally once in a lifetime!
Aha, I caught something that I hadn't noticed before in the Sloan online app instructions:
"Prepare a cover letter (between 500-800 words) seeking a place in the MIT Sloan School for use by the Admissions Committee. Address your cover letter to Rod Garcia, Director of MBA Admissions."
Also note that instructions for the resume read:
"Prepare a resume or curriculum vitae (up to 50 lines) for use by the Admissions Committee." I think my resume meets this requirement, but will have to double-check.
I reviewed a printout of my Chicago application including the essays (fifth drafts). I scribbled out a moderate amount of wording changes, but nothing major. Essays 8a and 8c (espcially) are very close to complete, and I am happy with how they turned out. 8b is getting there, though the concluding paragraph is a bit weak. If any of [my essays] are going to be the deciding factor in my admission, it will be 8c.
Now I'm going to type in those changes to my document and move back to giving my Sloan cover letter (second draft) and essays (fourth drafts) another reading.
That's the thing about blogging ("Weblogging"): It's very easy to slam out that first post in a fit of excitement, it's very difficult to continue posting day-in and day-out. Joe, you coulda' been a contenda'!