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
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Currently Reading:
Liar's Poker
Liar's Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street

Bond Market
How the Bond Market Works

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Kaplan GMAT 2003

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Kaplan GMAT 800
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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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06/08/2002 - 06/14/2003
06/15/2002 - 06/21/2003
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, November 23, 2002

Posted 11:37 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84994449:

I've got a very rough outline of my Kellogg essays now. I'll describe them in more detail tomorrow. I feel like I still need to do a little more research on the school to get a better feeling for the fit...

Posted 6:51 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84985638:

Starting to outline my Kellogg essays now...

Posted 6:49 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84985586:

I just realized that Kellogg's essay 4 topics changed from last year to this year. Here are last year's:

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. Outside of work I enjoy...
C. The best mistake I ever made was...
D. People may be surprised when they learn that I...
E. What personal qualities would you like to develop to become a more effective leader?
F. I wish the Admissions Committee had asked me...

...and this year's:

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�c
E. Describe an ethical dilemma that you have faced and how it was resolved.
F. I wish the Admissions Committee had asked me�c

When I wrote the first draft of my Kellogg essays, I chose topics B ("Outside of work I enjoy...") C ("The best mistake I ever made was...") and E, which led to a pretty weak set of essays. I like this year's topics much better; I know I could write knock-out essays for B and C, and think A is pretty easy too. A big improvement, from my perspective.


Posted 1:12 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84975408:

While chatting just now on S2S, I came up with a slogan that really captures my attitude towards the application process: "Relentlessly Positive: I may hit some speedbumps, but I'll always keep moving forward". So sure, I'm confident about getting into my R1 schools. If I don't, it's their loss and I'll move on to the R2 schools. Regardless, worry and/or dwelling on failure are wastes of time.

Update: I changed the slogan from "Relentlessly Optimistic" to "Relentlessly Positive". Optimism sounds a bit like wishful thinking.

Posted 11:58 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84973057:

I just found this interesting post on the B-Week Kellogg R1 thread. Apparently Kellogg releases decisions on a rolling basis--and for R1 applicants (whose deadline was November 8th) they will start releasing decisions as early as December 2nd! I am assuming that the early decisions would go to applicants who: 1) submitted their online stuff early; 2) had their mail-in items matched up quickly; and 3) already interviewed.

This provides me with the option of employing a different tactic with Kellogg. I could submit Part I now, hoping to get an interview in December, and aim to submit my online and paper application materials several weeks before the deadline (say, get the mail-in items over there by mid-December). The reward for this effort could be an ealry R2 decision in early February (which could still come before Sloan's R1 decision on February 14th!) In effect, I'd be trying to force Kellogg's R2 app into a [late] R1 timeframe.

Right now, I think this plan is a bit too delicate for my tastes; there are many factors that could end up pushing the Kellogg decision back into March. Plus I'd be out $185. Plus I'm gonna be busy enough as it is over the next four weeks to do a good job on the Kellogg app. Plus I think I'm gonna get into Wharton, making the whole discussion moot. But I'm not yet ready to dismiss it out of hand; maybe I'll see how my essays go, and if they're progressing nicely I might switch tacts...

Update: I asked the Kellogg AdComm about this option...

Posted 11:40 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84972491:

As an aside, if any of you are stressed out waiting to hear from R1 schools, I'd recommend starting on your R2 apps as a way to get away from the "constant Inbox refresh" lifestyle. Maybe because I enjoyed the application process in general, I feel this way, but it's genuinely exciting to be thinking of a new school, new location, new program all over again.

Posted 11:29 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84972152:

One thing I noticed on Part II's essay upload pages was this warning:
"If you are uploading your essay, please include at least a one inch top margin on each page."

Something to keep in mind as I work on them...

Posted 11:28 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84972133:

I thought the Sloan application was short and to the point, but Kellogg tops it by far. It doesn't bother asking for: 1) tons of job details; 2) part-time employment history; 3) a resume; and 4) a cover letter! Heck, I'm practically done with Part I of the app already (just need to paste in my job responsibilities--7 lines at most!--and done). And only one receommendation required!

It's also really great that you can work on Part II of the app before submitting part I (part II is only the four essays!) If I can put the essays together in a reasonable amount of time, I could have everything done very quickly. The trickiest part will be convincing my "workhorse" recommender to do another rec, but heck, he originally agreed to do all 7 schools so even that shouldn't be too hard!

It's nice that a school of Kellogg's quality makes it so painless to apply...

Correction: I see that a resume is required, and is supposed to be mailed in with the transcript, recommendation (called a Career Progress Survey--CPS), and signed honor code sheet.

Posted 11:06 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84971471:

Kellogg's finance department website has a really useful page listing the appropriate courses for several different finance careers. I wish all schools had something like this.

I notice that Kellogg, like the University of Chicago, offers both Finance and Analytic Finance majors.

Posted 10:52 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84971010:

If I could add just one other comment: I am not saying that I think Kellogg is a worse school than Wharton. For me, Wharton just fits my goals, temperment, and background very well. It's close, but it's hard to imagine myself choosing Kellogg over Wharton. (Note: I am only comparing it to Wharton because W is the only school whose decision will be released before the Kellogg R2 deadline).

Posted 10:48 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84970905:

Kellogg App, from the Ground Floor
Okay, this is not actually the ground floor. Originally, I planned to apply to Kellogg in the first round, as one of seven R1 schools. I visited the campus over the summer on a Chicago business trip, and have even done a small amount of work on the essays, way back when. In the end, I decided not to apply R1 for various reasons, chief among them being that Chicago's app was due on the same day, I had already interviewed with Chicago, and felt that I had a better background fit there.

I'm now restarting my Kellogg efforts. If I am accepted to Wharton on December 19th, I probably would not submit this app, but I need to prepare for the chance that I am not. I like many things about Kellogg: Its academic excellence (of course), its gorgeous campus (the best out of the seven schools I've visited this year), its non-quant image. I feel that it has a good, if slightly underappreciated, finance department. And I like its less pretentious attitude (at least that's the vibe I get).

When I decided not to go for Kellogg R1, I took all the materials I had collected/worked on to that point and stuffed them in a large brown envelope. Taking them out now, I find: 1) I have already sent them my GMAT score (I did that on test day); 2) I have already gotten an official transcript for them; 3) I have their school brochure; 4) I have a printed set of my essay first drafts (dated 9/16/02) with "Rework all" written in large letters on the front. I see that the schedule for the second round requires that I request an off-campus interview by January 10 (the R2 deadline) and that, to do so, I'll need to complete and submit part I of the app (and fork over the application fee, which is probably smart on Kellogg's part--it was free to interview at Chicago).

Thus, the best approach would be to fill out part I of the application and then let it sit until December 19th. If I'm dinged by Wharton, I'd submit it that day and request an alumni interview. Meanwhile, I'll be starting the essays from scratch...

Posted 9:18 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84968663:

Check out this very detailed post describing the Stanford interview experience.

Friday, November 22, 2002
Posted 5:09 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84943713:

Breaking: Someone is reporting that their Wharton online app status has changed to "Deny - Without Interview".

Posted 4:59 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84943338:

Sloan Email
I just received a Sloan information e-mail in my Inbox; all R1 applicants should have received it. Here's my quick-read summary:

1) Consider your application complete unless you hear from us
2) Decisions will be released through the online system on the evening of February 14th
3) Interview invitations will start going out in late December, and run through February 14th
4) Interviews will be on campus or in hub locations
5) The last chance for a class visit this year is December 11th

Posted 4:15 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84941411:

Going into the weekend (gosh, it gets dark early here in NYC! It's only 4:00, and the sun is down--ugh), I am starting to get enthused about working on a new crop of applications. I'm going to try to be more diligent about posting about each step of the process on the Kellogg app, hopefully giving a "from the ground floor on up" view of my thought process. I'm very happy with how that little message board is working out; already there are a couple useful posts about the Haas app. And reader sentiment seems to be running 2-1 in favor of the new site design. Feeling good and ready to rumble!

Posted 3:16 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84938902:

I must of missed this, but HBS' "Updates and FAQ" page does state that they started interview invitations on November 12th:
"While we will not interview all candidates, all admitted candidates will have been interviewed. As of November 12, we began inviting candidates to interview for the first round. Interview invitations will be extended up to and including the notification date of January 22. The timing of your interview is not a reflection of your status so please do not be concerned if someone was invited before you. Should the Admissions Board require an interview, you will receive an email invitation with supplemental information about the process."

Posted 2:58 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84938099:

Round 2 Essay Topics
More for my benefit than yours, I've compiled the list of essay topics for the four schools that are on my "possible Round 2" list, with my immediate comments following them:

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 double-spaced)...
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…

(Comments: 1 is standard. 2 is a question often asked in interviews, and should reflect a good knowledge of Kellogg. 3. I like this question, because it gives me the chance to reinforce the themes and address any weaknesses; 4. Immediately subjects for 4B, 4C, and 4D leap to mind, so no worries. Overall: A fairly straightforward series of essays, the key is develop and deliver my message through them)

1 : The mission of the Yale School of Management is to educate leaders for business and society. In this context, tell us your career goals and your plans for achieving them. Please be specific. Describe how your previous experience will help you to reach your goals. Length: two pages, typed and double-spaced.
2 : We believe that the best education for leadership in any sector of the world economy is two years of rigorous business fundamentals. This approach to learning will prepare you for any career you might pursue, be it in the business, government or nonprofit arena. With this in mind, tell us why the Yale MBA program is the right learning environment for you. Length: one page, typed and double-spaced.
3 : Part of leadership is the ability to make a difference under difficult circumstances. With this in mind, describe a situation in which you exhibited such leadership. Length: one page, typed and double-spaced.
4 : Drawing on current events, discuss the relevance of market forces and government regulation on corporate values. Stake out your position on this issue and support your argument with specific details and examples. Length: one page, typed and double-spaced.
5 : From a professional standpoint, answer one of the following: a. Describe a risk you took. b. What motivates you? Length: one page, typed and double-spaced.
6 : (optional) Is there any information not presented elsewhere in the application or any aspect of your credentials that needs an explanation to help the Admissions Committee understand your candidacy?

(Comments: 1 and 2 are standard. I like 3 a lot, with its focus on leadership; a few experiences come to mind for it, but I'll definitely need to mull this one further. 4 - I love this question, since I avidly follow current events. I wish more schools tested the knowledge and ability of applicants to analyze present-day issues. 5 is interesting, but nothing special. Overall: I like some of these questions, and overall I get a very strong "leadership" vibe from them. Will require a lot more work than Kellogg's, I think.)

4. Describe something you feel passionate about.
5. What is your most valued tangible possession? What is your most valued intangible possession?
6. If you could have dinner with one individual, past or present, who would it be? What would you order?
7. Briefly state what you view as your most significant accomplishment (3 sentences or less).
8. If you could change one characteristic about yourself, what would it be?
9. If you had 4 extra hours each day (i.e., a 28-hour day), what would you do with them?
10. Do you feel that your academic record (i.e., grades, course load, etc.) is an accurate reflection of your ability and potential? In comparison to your college friends and classmates, do you feel that you were particularly advantaged or disadvantaged? Please explain.
11. Please provide an account of any gaps in your employment since your undergraduate degree.
14. What are your professional goals? How do your past and present experiences relate to those goals? (1–2 pages, double-spaced, not to exceed 500 words)

(Comments: By far the funnest application. I will definitely enjoy 5, 6, and 9, which require a lot of imagination and flair. Interestingly, this essay set might be the most difficult one in which to deliver a coherent message.)

1. Please provide us with a summary of your personal and family background. Include information about your parents and siblings, where you grew up, and perhaps a highlight or special memory of your youth. (Limit to 1000 words.)
2. Discuss a situation, preferably work related, where you have taken a significant leadership role. How does this event demonstrate your managerial potential? (Limit to 500 words.)
3. Discuss your career goals and why you want an MBA degree. How will the skills you have developed to date contribute to your effectiveness in fulfilling your post-MBA career objectives? (Limit to 1000 words.)
If you are a concurrent degree program applicant, please incorporate in your answer how the dual program fits your professional interests.
4. Why specifically, are you applying to The Anderson School and what, in particular, is most compelling about our program relative to your goals? (Limit to 500 words.)

(Comments: 1 comes out of left field, but since I have an interesting family (I think) I can handle it. 2 is a piece of cake, after having written so many essays like it. 3 and 4 are standard. Overall, a pretty straightforward, slightly boring application.)

Posted 2:25 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84936719:

R1 Applications Down?
In last week's B-Week chat, the Kellogg AdComm said that their R1 apps were down this year too...

Posted 1:30 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84934411:

Restarting the Engines
I can't let these feelings of happiness sap my will: It's time to fire up my Round 2 plans. I'm going to start working on an outline for the Kellogg essays this weekend.

Honestly, it's easy for me to sit back and assume I'm a lock for my Round 1 schools. But with only a half-dozen weeks (and several holidays among them) until the R2 deadlines start, it's prudent to get going on them.

I need to keep reminding myself: No, I haven't gotten an HBS invite yet. No, I haven't gotten a Stanford invite yet. No, I haven't gotten a Sloan invite yet.

Posted 12:55 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84932812:

Friday Deadline Countdown
* 5 days (3 workdays) left until the Wharton Round 1 interview invitations are done
* 27 days left until the Wharton Round 1 decisions
* 45 days left until the Yale Round 2 deadline
* 49 days left until the Kellogg Round 2 deadline
* 54 days left until the Chicago Round 1 decisions
* 61 days left until the HBS Round 1 decisions
* 61 days left until the Stanford Round 1 decisions
* 69 days left until the Anderson Round 3 deadline
* 70 days left until the Haas Round 3 deadline
* 84 days left until the MIT Sloan Round 1 decisions

My status:
* HBS - Submitted for Round 1
* Wharton - Submitted for Round 1; Have...well, I'll post on Monday...
* Stanford - Submitted for Round 1
* Chicago - Submitted for Round 1
* Sloan - Submitted for Round 1


Posted 12:39 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84932076:

Customer Service is Job 1
The responses to my second reader survey suggest that you want this site to have chat/message board functionality, as well as better organization. Well, the site redesign took care of the latter, and I just added a message board to the left for the former. It allows real-time message posting, and best of all is free (thanks!) You ask, I deliver.

Update: One thing about the message board is that you'll need to refresh the page to see any updates. Automatic refreshing does not come free (it's part of's enhanced package).

Posted 11:27 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84928961:

If you're one of the ones still waiting for a Wharton interview, don't go to the B-Week "Darden R1" thread--people are already getting acceptance calls!

Posted 10:40 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84926910:

Yes, that's a photo of me (taken only two months ago). Yes, I posted it to give everyone a better idea of who I am (in following with the site's new mission statement). Yes, the 24% of you who thought I was female were wrong. Yes, some guys do drive VW Beetles (they're pretty cool cars, and have tons of head room for lumberjacks like myself (ha!)). No, I am not a member of the "Blue Man Group" (I blued out my face so that my interviewer(s) can't ID me).

Posted 9:33 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84924186:

Mission Statement
Ever since submitting my final R1 application, I think that this site has lost direction a bit. I've spent more time writing about writing about MBA applications, rather than focusing on my experiences as an applicant.

Henceforth, I aim to return this site to its original mission: Describing my experiences as I apply to business school and sharing any information that's useful to my fellow applicants. That means it'll feature more open descriptions of what I'm up to, photos from various schools, and links to useful posts/websites, and fewer comments about traffic levels, surveys, and "Stress Relief Ahoys".

As always, everyone should feel free to e-mail me with any tips, comments, or questions.

Posted 7:57 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84920915:

Site Redesign
As you can tell, the new site design is up. I hoped to accomplish a few things with this new design:
1) Organization: The links running down the left are much more useful now. I've collected links related to each school's application, organized my "advice", and pushed the unimportant stuff to the bottom.
2) Readability: I used a slightly larger font and decreased the page margins to make the site easier to read.
3) Color Scheme: I felt the old "blue-on-blue" color scheme was a bit...cold. If I had to name it, I'd call the new color scheme "camel and cream"; I think it's a little lighter to the eye and looks a bit classier. I'm going for the "British aristocrat on safari" look.

As you'd expect, if you want to give me feedback on the new design I've got a spankin' new feedback form for you to do so.

More new stuff on the way...

Thursday, November 21, 2002
Posted 7:58 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84897627:

Get ready: Tomorrow the MBA Admissions Wire will have a completely new design and mission statement...

Posted 7:21 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84895955:

The always-proficient "EMBEAY" posts a summary of the Stanford chat.

Posted 7:19 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84895878:

R1 Applications Down?
Anderson's Admissions Director is reporting that R1 applications there might be down as much as 20% this year compared to last. Sloan's are down 25%. Wharton's are down a little less than 10%. Tuck's are down. An outlier is Darden, which reported an increase of 4.5%. Though changed R1 deadlines play a role in this, the overall picture seems to be that the quantity of applications for the first round has decreased this year (this link to a previous post on this subject doesn't seem to be working right now...)

BTW, I recommend reading the whole Anderson article, because it goes into a lot of detail about the admissions thought process in general.

Posted 6:33 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84893934:

I'm hangin' around the S2S chat room if anybody wants to chat...

Posted 6:12 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84893123:

The HarBus newspaper has a very in-depth article reviewing HBS' core curriculum. It doesn't pull any punches, either:
"In the end, both from the EC [Elective Curriculum] perspective and from the students at other schools, there is disbelief at HBS's seemingly continued weakness in finance. From the ECs, there is frustration that the seemingly finance department does not "try harder," while a Wharton student identified finance as "the only weakness that outsiders perceive" at HBS. Many cannot help but wonder why this perceived weakness has not yet been turned into a resounding strength" (emphasis added). Since I am interested in finance, this caught my attention.

Posted 6:05 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84892782:

Stress Relief Ahoy!
It's time to reveal the true source of my power: I am a fully trained ninja...

Posted 5:53 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84892198:

Well, silly me, but again I'm foiled by the chat software (the only place I've gotten Java chats to work is at home). If anyone hears anything good at the Stanford chat, please e-mail me.

Posted 5:12 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84890466:

Stanford Reminder:
There's a Stanford chat at 3:00 pm PST (6:00 pm EST), one of their twice-a-month chats. I might actually be able to make this one, east-coast style!

Posted 4:53 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84889589:

Mae from Wharton posted this morning that they've sent out over 800 invitations to interview. Of its 2,600 R1 applicants, Wharton planned to interview between 40% and 50% of them, or 1,040 to 1,300. That means there's about 240 to 500 invitations still waiting to be sent out over the next five workdays, meaning 50 to 100 a day. Will you be the one?

Posted 4:29 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84888522:

Sorry about the 24-hour disappearance; I've been out doing...other...things...(I must say, November weather can be bleak, eh?)

I just got huge news at work: the project I'm working on has been moved to the "very high priority" level, which is always good in terms of job enjoyment and compensation. If I am unfortunate enough to not get into any school, at least I know I'll have something (moderately) interesting to work on for the next 12-18 months.

It'll also mean a bit more business travel. I'm actually writing this afternoon from our New York City office, and a Boston trip--during the first week of December--looks like a go. Of course, it would be too perfect if either Sloan or HBS invited me for an interview while I was there...

I'm very geeked up, in a very good mood about things..."Everything is falling into place"...


Wednesday, November 20, 2002
Posted 7:11 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84841305:

I've got to get the Java on my work PC up and running again. Now whenever I go to a site that has any Java in it, it crashes my IE. So basically I can't use my work PC to go to the S2S chats...

The cubicle behind mine is empty (after the layoffs) so I can jump over there for short periods of time, but I don't want to draw too much suspicion...

Posted 4:04 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84832750:

Reminder: As usual, the Wharton crew is hosting an online chat tonight at 6:00 pm EST.

Posted 4:00 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84832594:

The HBS Round 1 thread on the B-Week forum has heated up, so now we can start checking our inboxes for that invitation, as well.

From what I've read, it sounds like HBS actually specifies a day and location to do the interview...

Posted 2:57 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84829704:

While going through HBS's interview information page, I came across this gem: "You will be notified of the Board's final decision on the decision notification date (January 22, 2003) if your interview is completed before December 21, 2002." Ugh...From what I read about last year's applications process, a large chunk of the interview invitations didn't go out until the final couple weeks before the decision date (to me more direct: I don't expect to get an invitation until January, just...'cause). Obviously, January 22nd is a very loose "deadline"...


Posted 2:34 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84828799:

Stress Relief Ahoy!
Only a week remaining for Wharton to send out interview invitations! I thought that reading a bit about the bling-bling life of true gangstas would give y'all inspiration, so check out the Icy Hot Stuntaz (and find out your gangsta name here). Don't hate me 'cause I'm a playa (I can't keep a straight face while typing this)...

Posted 11:36 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84821202:

I notice that I've picked up a bad habit from my essay-writing days. I started eating very large breakfasts and skipping lunch, so that I could use the lunch hour to work on my essays. It's a bad habit because: 1) Eating big breakfasts is unhealthy (from my experience); 2) I feel kind of stuffed in the morning, and don't get much work done; and 3) I miss the social time with my coworkers during lunch.

I'm going to have to nip this in the bud, especially before the holiday feasts begin...

Posted 9:56 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84816450:

One reader suggestion that I'd like to do is posting pictures from various b-schools on my site. I found that I can post digital photographs on my hotmail "start page" (or whatever they call it), so all I have to do is scan in some photos I have. Maybe that'll be helpful to those of you who can't do campus visits? I think I have shots from Kellogg, Chicago, and Wharton (forgot to bring my camera when I went to Boston the last time).

Posted 9:48 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84816054:

R1 Applications Down?
More feedback from yesterday's and this morning's posts. A reader writes that during a recent conversation, a Tuck AdComm member admitted that applications were down "as we've seen with all of the top business schools." A reader also writes to report that at last week's UCLA info session, Linda Baldwin (Director of Admissions) indicated that applications were down there too.

If you've got any info supporting/refuting this, don't hesitate to e-mail me.

Posted 8:02 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84812180:

I'm browsing through the responses so far to my second reader survey. It's amusing; some answers are pretty on the mark, and some are way off in left field. And to the person who guessed that my profession is "male gigolo", sorry, you're wrong. I do that on the side, more as a hobby, not a profession.

Posted 7:57 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84811981:

A reader writes to say that during last night's chat the Darden AdComm stated that their R1 applications increased 4.5% compared to last year. That's the first school I've heard of to announce an increase, albeit a minor one (not along the 30%-50% increases of last year).

Tuesday, November 19, 2002
Posted 9:00 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84791204:

Both the B-Week forum and Wharton S2S site seem to be down right now...

Posted 6:28 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84785891:

If you're interested in the new Wharton loan policy, you really should read Pat Harker's summary of it. Yes.

Posted 6:01 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84784677:

To save time for any of my readers who enjoy shameless grovelling/snivelling, I've created a "Do I have hope" form letter on the S2S site. Feel free to use it at will.

Posted 4:58 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84781751:

R1 Applications Down?
First Wharton's R1 applicant numbers drop (2,800 to 2,600); now it seems Sloan is admitting to 25% fewer R1 applicants (1,600 to 1,200). Though both schools did move up their R1 deadlines (by a month and two weeks, respectively), I think this might actually be the beginnings of a trend. Anybody know how Chicago's R1 pool looks?

Posted 4:39 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84780853:

Since I don't put much stock in the MBA consultants, I had overlooked this post. But "HenryHill" brought it up on the S2S board, and I found it interesting: Sandy Kreisberg states that the interview plays a very, very minor role in the decision at Wharton; i.e. they already know who they want to accept/reject, and it's very hard for those in the "to be rejected" pile to push themselves "over the hump".

Posted 4:32 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84780502:

The story so far...
I've noticed a recent pick-up in first time visitors to this site, so I thought I'd give a little recap of what the idea behind it is.

I am a first-time applicant to some elite business schools; namely, over the past four weeks I have submitted MBA applications to Harvard Business School, Wharton, Stanford, Chicago, and Sloan (in that order). I write this "weblog" to give me a chance to vent on the application process, to record my thoughts and choices pretty much as they happen, and (hopefully) to provide some useful tips and information to fellow applicants.

"Tad Holbie" is not my real name; it's a pseudonym I came up with to protect my identity until I'm accepted. I welcome reader e-mails (I try to respond to all of them), anonymous feedback in my reader survey, and am a frequent poster to both the B-Week forum, Wharton S2S message board, and S2S chat room.

Good luck on your applications, and I hope you enjoy the site!

Posted 3:43 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84778206:

Just Curious:
Wharton has two people--a second year student and an AdComm member--read over each application. If the two disagree on whether an interview is warranted or not, it goes to a third person (another AdComm member, I believe) for the tiebreaker. I suspect that the tiebreaking happens fairly quickly, but would still have to take some amount of time. Thus, it would seem that those candidates invited to interview earlier in the process were less likely to have needed a tiebreaker than those invited towards the end of the process. I wonder if this is the case...

Posted 3:26 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84777449:

I've been going through the Johnson brochure that I got yesterday. It seems like a pretty cool idea; you spend a semeseter "immersed" in a particular field. I was particularly impressed that they have three finance-related immersions: One in Investment Banking, on in Managerial Finance (i.e. corporate finance), and the new Research, Sales and Trading Immersion. Johnson's pitch (as I see it): "We're a more practical version of Tuck".

Posted 11:37 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84768508:

Stress Relief Ahoy!
Traffic instructions made fun (BTW, this was posted from a weird place).

Posted 4:34 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84754632:

Since I added a "Surveys" section to the left, I'm just going to leave my second reader survey up over there for as long as I can.

Posted 4:11 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84754118:

I was just awoken by a very strange dream (nightmare?) I had been accepted to some business school (I couldn't tell where), and was a the pre-term orientation. Sitting around a picnic bench, I was chatting with my fellow first-yearers, and we went around the table telling how many years of work experience we all had. The three other people at the table (one woman, two men, if I remember correctly) all answered "twelve", so when it came to my turn (last) and I gave me true work experience, everyone expressed surprise at how little I had. Then, all of a sudden, Steve, a co-worker of mine, appeared and started making fun of my age.

Bizarre, but reflective of an inner worry?

Monday, November 18, 2002
Posted 9:15 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84738768:

The Johnson brochure came in the mail today. It's a very well done brochure, because it seems to be light on the fluff and heavy on the details. In particular, it goes into some detail on the immersions, which look very cool. I'll give it a more thorough reading sometime this week. If only Johnson's website had this much information...

Posted 4:03 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84724274:

As you may have already noticed, blogging is going to be light this week. My project has kicked into high gear, and I have several weeks worth of work (i.e. the stuff I should have been doing while revising my Chicago/Sloan essays) that needs to get finished by Thanksgiving (which will result, I hope, in a biz trip to Boston after Thanksgiving). Plus my R1 apps are done, so right now I'm mostly biding my time ("biding my time" sounds a lot cooler than "sitting on my ass refreshing the Inbox", doesn't it?) in the hopes of multiple interview invitations.

Posted 1:46 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84718051:

Reminder: Darden Chat is hosting a chat with Darden AdComm members and students tonight at 6:00 pm PST (9:00 pm EST).

Posted 12:39 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84714961:

Stress Relief Ahoy!
Most of you (me included) don't have $4,950.00 to plunk down, but just dreaming about Santa bringing you one of these will melt the stress away...

Posted 12:32 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84714597:

Word to the wise: Whatever you do, do not drink Vanilla Diet Coke. A ranker mixture of sickly sweetness and cloying creaminess I have not tasted.

Posted 11:40 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84712226:

Because of the Thanksgiving holidays (November 28th and 29th), I figure that there wouldn't be enough participants for a November 27th "Wharton Big Day Chat". I won't let that stop me from exulting in triumph/making a fool of myself, though. I hearby plant my flag in the sand: I will announce, on this site, whether or not I have been invited to interview at Wharton on November 27th at noon PST (3:00 pm EST)! Mark your calendars, buckle your seatbelts, etc., etc...

Posted 10:11 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84707918:

Customer Service
A reader pointed out the free web comment system YACCS. I'll check it out, as it has the key feature of being free, and apparently many of you think it would be cool to leave comments on the site.
Update: Ahh, too bad. They're no longer accepting new users.

Posted 9:55 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84707075:

International Connection
A helpful reader from Japan, after filling out the reader survey, sent me some the link, which looks like it is the Japanese equivalent of the B-Week forum. It might come in handy to someone reading the site.

As always, tips/comments/links are welcome.

Posted 9:11 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84705947:

Should we all be hoping for a phone call from Don Martin (Chicago's Associate Dean of Enrollment Management)? This post suggests so, in answer to why GSB's decisions might come early.

Sunday, November 17, 2002
Posted 10:03 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84687525:

I noticed that some of the international respondents to my latest reader survey mentioned using non-English MBA sites. If you find an MBA site that could be useful to others, even if it is in Japanese or French or whatever, send me the link and I'll post it for all my readers to use. It's a way to spread the knowledge and help out your countrymen!

Posted 8:17 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84682780:

This post suggests that Chicago decisions (or rather, the positive ones) started going out before the deadline last year. That would mean the first couple of weeks in January...

Posted 4:44 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84674109:

Continuing my series of tips on applications, here are my notes on...

1) The single most important quality to have in a recommender is reliability. No matter how great a writer, how much they love and admire you, how famous they are, if you cannot rely upon them to a) do their rec in a timely manner, b) understand how to fill out the rec, and c) be able to submit by the deadline, they are useless to you as
recommenders. (See this post and this post as examples of what I'm talking about.)
2) Avoid, at all costs, telling the recommenders the true application deadline. Tell them that "my deadline is ____", and give a date that is a week to ten days before the true deadline. Ask them to do your recommendation at least two months before that date. Don't expect them to start the rec then; they will probably procrastinate for the first month. But then you should be able to use the guilt trip ("you've had it for over a month!") to get them going with plenty of time to spare.
3) If given the choice between an online recommendation and a paper one, choose the online one (unless the recommender is absolutely clueless about using a computer). Online recs give you a quiet way to monitor progress and ensure that your recommender doesn't put the wrong recommendation letter in the wrong envelope. Plus you don't have to worry about mailing; either there it got submitted or not.
4) Do not write your own recommendations. It might not hurt your app, but it definitely will not help. Look, the only value a rec has for a school is in a "new perspective" on the applicant. No matter how creative a writer you are, you won't be able to write about yourself from someone else's perspective.
5) Do give your recommenders: Your resume, a career history, a "mission statement" telling why you want an MBA, a list of extracurriculars you've been involved in, and contact information for yourself. Take them out to lunch to discuss your goals, and ask them for feedback ("Do you think this is realistic?", "Do you have any advice?"). Besides giving you some useful info, that serves to make them feel important and "invested" in your application.
6) Waive your right to review the recommendation. If you don't waive your right, it shows you don't trust your recommender. If you don't trust your recommender, why did you ask them to write for you?

Posted 10:25 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84661829:

I put together another reader survey, just for the fun of it. If you want something to do for a minute or to, check it out. Otherwise, whatever. I guess since everyone learns so much about me from reading this site, I get a kick by sometimes learning about you.

Posted 9:37 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84660578:

Hmmm. I just realized my Wharton Predictions survey is now a bit out of date, since it only allowed you to guess interview dates through the 21st. doesn't (for good reason) allow me to go and change the possible answers once the survey results are coming in, so...

This means that the smartest strategy (from a statistical point of view) would be to guess the 21st at night, since that would be the closest answer were I to be invited on any day after that.

Posted 9:32 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #84660489:

That's what not having any essays to write does for you: Last night I had some of the happiest, most pleasant dreams in a long while.


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