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 email@example.com (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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
Deja Vu All Over Again My feelings about starting the round 2 essays reminds me of my undergraduate application days. Unlike now, I then knew exactly which school I wanted to get into. Thankfully, that school also offered an early decision program, so I submitted my application in October (if memory serves correctly). The other four schools I intended to apply to all had applications due in early January, and as the Christmas holidays approached with no word from my top school I had to face the fact that I hadn't even started any of the essays. I was basically gambling that I was going to be accepted to my top choice (which had an 8% acceptance rate, I think); if I didn't get in I was going to spend all of Christmas and New Years cooped up writing essays for Harvard and the rest (oops! Guess I gave away that I didn't go to Harvard).
Long story short, a couple of days before Christmas I got the acceptance letter (things were done by letter, back then, by golly!) and never had to lift a finger on the other essays. While all the other high school seniors were sweating over their decision letters in March and April, I was kickin' back and relaxing.
No doubt this experience is shaping my reluctence (okay, my laziness) to get started on the other applications now. I know that I'm up against a much more elite competition now, but on the other hand I've applied to five schools rather than one. In all honesty, I don't see how I'm going to motivate myself to make any progress on these essays over the next three weeks, what with the business trip, job, Christmas shopping, Wharton decision, and (hopefully) another interview or two coming up. Plus, in the back of my mind there's a voice saying, "Tad, relaaaax, my man! You're sure to get into one school, if not all five! Kick back and don't sweat Yale and Kellogg."
Will history repeat itself? Will Tad succumb to complacency and all those loud, insistent voices in his head? Will he be accepted? Or will he crash and burn, ending up a dejected loser begging for crumbs from the doorstill of life?
I tell you what, it was so much easier doing applications back in the Fall, when the weather was sunny and warm. Now it seems like every day is gray, the sun starts setting before 4:00 pm, and going outdoors is a chore. Ugh. As much as I have enjoyed restarting the application process and thinking about new essay topics, when it comes down to actually starting the writing I feel very blah. I remember sitting outside in the sun reading over my Stanford essays, what?, only six weeks ago? It seems like a different world...
That's why I'm trying to start the writing on the easy stuff, like the Yale resume. But now I'm realizing what a tedious job that is; it's going to be easier to simply write a new resume from scratch than try to hack up and pad my current resume to fit their needs. Ugh. This is the first part of the Yale application I really don't like.
As I have started working on my Yale essays, I happened to glance through my HBS application. Ugh. Essays that I thought were great at the time look pretty limp now (four completed applications later). Jeez. I'm banking on the fact that HBS's application was probably the first one for eveyrone else, too.
This is just another reminder not to look at submitted applications until it becomes necessary (i.e. in preparation for an interview).
Anyway, now I'm working on crafting my resume for Yale. Though they ask for a "current" resume, the details they specify are not usually on a professional resume (i.e. every single job, starting and ending salaries, etc.) I'm going to take my Sloan resume (which is my standard resume with the extracurricular activities left off) and use it as the starting point for Yale's. Since I have to list every work experience, I'm going to have to shorten the descriptions greatly.
In February 2002, Business Week interviewed Yale's Director of MBA Admissions, James Stevens, and a 2nd year student. The transcript is posted here. The key paragraph is:
"There's no single factor that weighs most. Most of all, we're looking for a record of success in all areas, and we are looking for demonstrated leadership in all of our candidates. We look at all parts of the application and balance them off to enroll the strongest group" (emphasis added).
I think my first and second themes touch on this nicely.
Yale Essays: Themes, Approach, and Outline Once again, I want to walk through an application from the very beginning.
Themes More than any other essay set that I've seen, Yale's does the best job of delivering a clear picture of what it's about. I think the Wharton and HBS essay topics were created solely to extract information about the candidate, whereas Yale's topics both ask for information and deliver a message: "Yale is about leadership". In my opinion, no other school used its topics in this way.
The themes I want to use for the Yale application are slightly different from the other schools. For my other schools, I tried to emphasize 1) leadership success, 2) working well with others, and 3) creativity. For Yale, I think a better mix is:
1) Leadership strength
2) General success
I couldn't think of a better label for the third theme than "awareness". By that, I mean such qualities as self-awareness/self-understanding, awareness of my role and effect on society, and awareness of current events and things happening in the world. Of all the essay sets, Yale's is the one to most explicitly tie the applicant's future activities to the world around us (yes, I know HBS talks about "creating leaders for all society" or whatever, but they don't convey it through the application).
Outline Here's how I plan to tackle the essays:
Essay 1 This is a prime example of Yale using an essay topic to deliver its message. "The mission of the Yale School of Management is to educate leaders for business and society. In this context..." Breaking down the essay topic, I find that Yale is asking for four things:
1) What are my goals
2) What are my plans for reaching those goals
3) How have my previous experiences led me to this path
4) How are my goals related to being a leader for business and society
I think the fourth point is the most critical, and is one that most applicants overlook (as it is not explicitly part of a question). This is pretty much the standard "Why an MBA? What next?" style question, and is probably most similar in wording and approach to Wharton #1. The word limit is about half, however (my Wharton #1 was two pages single-spaced, whereas Yale asks for two pages double-spaced), so I'll need to tighten things up and focus on the leadership aspects of my experience.
Essay 2 Again, Yale delivers a message in the essay topic ("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...With this in mind, tell us why the Yale MBA program is the right learning environment for you..."). This is the standard "Why our school?" question, one that I think I am good at answering. Basically, I try to demonstrate how the MBA program fits into the "story" of my past, present, and future.
With Yale, I'm also going to try to work some of my extracurricular activities into this essay, since there is really no other essay for me to do so. The best way to do so is where I describe how my interests tie into the non-business aspects of the Yale experience, which they seem fond of pushing.
Essay 3 This is the classic leadership question, and I'll use my (now classic) leadership experience answer (used in Wharton #2, Sloan #2, and HBS #1). This does not mean I'll simply cut and paste the answer; I think there's no surer way to create an ugly essay than to take anohter essay and try to squash it into a new word limit. Rather, I will use the experience I have from writing those other essays to craft a good one specific to Yale.
Essay 4 I'm loving this question, as it requires knowledge of current events and the ability to write a good argumentative essay. I think this is the topic that will trip up the most candidates, as the temptation to rely on cliches will be too great. I write about current events almost every other day (on my other website), so this is one essay just asking to be hit out of the ballpark.
Essay 5 If this topic didn't start, "From a professional standpoint...", I would use this essay to go into an extracurricular. Instead, I will use it to highlight my second and third themes, by describing what motivates me and tying that to a particularly great work experience (that I used for Wharton #3).
Naturally, until I start writing the essays I can't say for sure how great they will turn out. There have been a few essays in the past where, going in, I thought for sure I could turn out a winner but have been a dud (Chicago B comes to mind). But overall, I'm much happier about the Yale essay topics than Kellogg's, and might even start to work on them first.
The only trouble I'm running into with the Yale essays is that I can't find one in which to talk about my extracurricular activities. #1 and #2 are the basic "Why an MBA? Post-MBA plans?" and "Why Yale?" questions (I guess in the latter I could mention a sentence or two about extras). Essay #4 is an analysis of current events. #5 starts out "from a professional standpoint..."
That leaves essay #3: "Part of leadership is the ability to make a difference under difficult circumstances..." Maybe it's just me, but very few of my extracurriculars actually had many "difficult circumstances" (I don't think they'd be that enjoyable if they did). In contrast, I have many great work examples that I could use here (I cut literally cut and paste my Sloan #2 into this essay, had the word limits been the same). If I do go with a work experience, it will mean that I've barely touched upon any activities in the essays.
I don't know if this is such a big deal, in that Yale does provide a whole separate section to "list important extracuricular involvement during college and activities undertaken outside the context of your regular, full-time employment or academic work...please be thorough in your response." This makes it sound like Yale intends for applicants to use the essays for professional/academic experiences and this other section for extracurriculars/activities.
If anyone has comments or suggestions, please post them below. I'm all ears.
Second Reader Survey Results I've closed up the second (and last, for a while) reader survey. I got 69 responses, and here is the executive summary:
Your Nationality Just over half (56%) of the respondents were Americans, the remainder made up mostly of East Asians (13%), South Asians (8.7%), and Middle Europeans (8.7%).
Other Websites 95% of you use the Business Week forum and just over half of you use Wharton's S2S site for MBA news.
How My Story Will End 52% of respondents are hoping that I succeed in getting into the school of my choice; 31% would like to see me struggle a bit to wipe that cocky smirk off my face. 15% are hoping that I not only succeed, but that we end up on the same team. 2 respondents are waiting to watch me crash and burn.
Your Chances 51% of the respondents would call themselves either "a lock" or "very hot"--in other words, they expect to get into their top schools.
New Functionality 45% of you wanted to be able to leave comments on this site (which I've set up--just click on "Leave a Comment" after any post); 34% wanted search functionality (I'm still looking for that); 28% wanted chat functionality (the message board is pretty close to this); and 20% wanted better organization of the posts (which I've obliged).
My Profession 33% think I'm in the computer field, 22% think I'm a consultant, 15% vote for engineer, 10% think it's research analyst, one thinks I'm a shepherd and another a male gigalo. How did he know?!?
My Nationality Only 59% of you think I'm American (come on, my oversized ego gave this one away!) with the rest divided between British, Isreali, Canadian, and others.
My Status 70% say I'm single and "on the prowl", pretty much everyone else says I'm single with a steady relationship.
My Future School 45% of you think I'll be attending Wharton next year. The remainder predicted Chicago (16%), HBS (10%), Sloan (8%), and one of you said I'd be a cult leader by then. Thank you for the vote of confidence.
Tad's Favorite Food Pizza won with 43%, followed by sushi (!) at 20% and peanut butter and jelly at 13%.
Well, of the four questions that I already know the answer to, the respondents batted two for four, which isn't so great. As for the grand summary of these findings: There isn't none. They were just a little distraction to enliven the wait for interview invites. Thanks for playing along.
I'm really liking the Yale essay questions. They feel like the most intelectually challenging, especially #3 and #4. And #1 and #2 are the most focused "Why an MBA, why our school?" topics I've ever seen. Good stuff. I'll publish my themes and outlines (as I did for Kellogg) in the next 24 hours.
Posted 11:31 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #390251332:
Friday Deadline Countdown * 20 days left until the Wharton Round 1 decisions
* 38 days left until the Yale Round 2 deadline
* 42 days left until the Kellogg Round 2 deadline
* 47 days left until the Chicago Round 1 decisions
* 54 days left until the HBS Round 1 decisions
* 54 days left until the Stanford Round 1 decisions
* 77 days left until the MIT Sloan Round 1 decisions
My status: * HBS - Submitted for Round 1
* Wharton - Submitted for Round 1; Interviewed
* Stanford - Submitted for Round 1
* Chicago - Submitted for Round 1; Interviewed
* Sloan - Submitted for Round 1
* Kellogg - Started forms, essays
* Yale - Started forms
It's hard to believe that there are fewer than three weeks until the Wharton decision. And the Yale and Kellogg apps are due not too long after that! I'm definitely going to have to get cracking on those...
Posted 10:21 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90251331:
A couple of aspects of the Yale and Kellogg recommendation forms have caught my attention:
1) I do trust my recommenders a lot, but it does slightly bug me to have to write my social security number and birthdate on the form that I give them. That's pretty sensitive information, were it to get into the wrong hands.
2) Both Yale and Kellogg's forms do not have a place for the applicant to waive his to review the recommendation. I assume, therefore, that applicants do continue to have that right. I doubt my recommenders will notice this (and I certainly don't plan to use that right); I wonder what the story is.
3) I just checked, but Kellog's is the first recommendation form (that I've seen) to specifically ask about intellectual ability.
Posted 10:17 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90251330:
Recommendations for Kellogg, Yale My recommenders are tired of writing recs. My workhorse has written five of them, and the other two have written four and three, respectively. I think that the two recommenders who had't written recs before, they underestimated the amount of work to be done. Furthermore, the timeframe is shorter (a little over a month) and there's the chance that I won't even use them. So how am I going to hit them up for four more (one for Kellogg, three for Yale)?
Kellogg's the easy one, as my workhorse had already agreed to write the [single required] "Career Progress Survey" for round 1. He even told me he felt guilty for not getting it done, once he saw that Kellogg was #1 in business week (I told him that it was no problem, since I was not going to submit round 1 anyway). So that's off the table.
What about Yale? Here, I'm just plain lucky, as Yale's rec form doesn't ask specific questions about the candidate. Thus, they will be able to re-use the rec they wrote for other schools that don't provide a numbered list of questions, namely Chicago and Sloan. Thus, I can pitch it to them that they can just cut and paste their previous recs, just switching the school names. Phew.
Posted 10:00 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90251329:
On deck for the long weekend:
1) Starting the Kellogg first drafts
2) Outlines for the Yale essays
3) Maybe some survey stuff
4) Not much else
Alas, I have to head into the office tomorrow, to get done all the work I should have been doing while I was writing (and re-writing) my application essays. Need to get it done before heading off to Massachusetts on biz. The cool thing about working the day after Thanksgiving is that nobody else is around, so there are few distractions. That's also the uncool thing--it'll be kind of lonely.
Thanksgiving At the core of the American holiday of Thanksgiving is the idea that sometimes we need to stop and appreciate what we have been blessed with. On this Thanksgiving, here is a list of what I'm thankful for (pretty much in order of importance):
1) My family, relatives, and myself have our health and happiness.
2) I have been blessed with a family that shows me love, patience, support, and encouragement.
3) I live in the wealthiest, strongest, most democratic, most diverse, most meritocratic country in all of human history. I can speak freely, worship whichever God I choose, work as hard as I want, and associate with anyone I prefer.
4) Of course, the freedom and wealthI enjoy would not be possible without the volunteers who make up America's armed forces. We all owe a great big "thank you" to each and every member of the world's greatest peace-creating force, the US military. Americans need only look at Japan, whose citizens can be kidnapped without consequence, and realize the importance of our men and women in uniform.
5) I feel that God has given me many talents, which (by hard work) have afforded me the possibility of attending some truly excellent educational institutions. I consider it my responsibility to make the most of the tools I have been blessed with.
6) I am very grateful to my three friends who took the time to write, from scratch, the twelve recommendations that I have already submitted and (hopefully) the four more that I need for R2. Likewise, I am grateful to my friend who the time to read through all forty four pages (!) of essays and provide very excellent feedback on them.
7) We all should be thankful for the internet, which has made school "shopping" infinitely easier. I, in particular, am glad that Blogger, SiteMeter, Hotmail, BlogHop, ZonkBoard, SurveyMonkey, and all the other free tools I use to produce this site are around.
8) I am very happy that some of you have found this site to be useful or entertaining in some, albeit small, way. It really makes it so much more fun to write a Weblog when you know someone out there is reading it. Don't hesitate to leave a comment, ask a question on the message board, or write me an e-mail.
I'm sure that I'm forgetting some stuff, but this is the crux of it. Happy Thanksgiving to all!
"THOLBIE: FF - Since the R1 pool was more competitive than expected, would that translate to a relatively higher # of acceptance letters too?
THOLBIE: FF - Are those already interviewed guaranteed one more reading? Or are things just hashed out in a committee?
FANATICALFAN: Tad - Q1.Yes.
FANATICALFAN: Another reader will review the app (including the notes from the interviewer). Some decisions will be made then (some positive, more negative). For those remaining, these are possible candidates, and are discussed in committee, and this is where candidates are perhaps compared against each other. The Director of Adcoms, Rose Martinelli, signs off on all decisions to admit."
So those interviewed, you get one more reading. If they like your application, it goes on to the committee (if they don't, you're dinged). The committee weighs it against other apps to try to build a good class to accept.
There were 2,600 applicants, roughly 1,300 interviewed. Say 30% of those interviewed (rather than last year's 25%) are accepted, makes...about 390 acceptances (tops).
Update: Just to make clear, the final two paragraphs are my analysis of what was said in the chat.
Update 2: I'd also like to emphasize that the Wharton S2S chats, as Alex mentions in the comments below, are intended to be anonymous and unrecorded. The only reason I copied and pasted the exchange above was that I was the one asking the question.
"I read in the news that state governments are all going to be in big trouble when it comes to their budgets this year. California, in particular, is going cut over $1.7 billion of its budget if I recall correctly. Furthermore, it is not exempting any part of its budget unlike some other states which have publicly stated exempting sectors like education. Being a publicly funded university, how do you think this will affect the Anderson School?"
Posted 4:32 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #390251321:
The Inside Scoop site doesn't look like it's been updated in a while, but still could prove handy to Yale SOM applicants. It collects descriptions of various aspects of the SOM school and life written by former students. For example, there's a rundown of all the core courses.
A lot of you, both in e-mails and in the second reader survey seem to think that Wharton is definitely my top choice. Contributing to that impression is the fact that I probably talk about Wharton the most, because 1) they have the biggest web presentce, 2) I just interviewed there, and 3) they're the first school to announce decisions. All fair enough, and I did have a great time down in Philly.
That said, I definitely haven't given much thought to which school is my "top choice" or what order I'd rank them, for the simple reason that I haven't attended classes at any of the other schools. So sure, I got along great at Wharton, but who's to say I won't feel even more at home at Sloan? Or that I won't fall in love with the atmosphere at Stanford? Or that I won't find HBS's case method irresistable? Or that I won't click with the Chicago students?
Posted 2:48 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #390251318:
About GMAT score reports and Yale, I think they only require two reports: The official one that ETS mails them (after you specify Yale as a recipient), and a photocopy of an official ETS report that [the applicant] includes in their mail-in items. I'm not sure what use the photocopy is, unless Yale doesn't trust the numbers you type (twice)into their online forms...
I was just filling out some of Yale's data forms, and my they have a bizarre system. Page 1 of their application asks for personal details and your contact address (among other things). Page 2 asks for academic history and full-time employment history. Page 3 asks for the academic record (again). Page 4 asks for contact address (again). To cap things off, Yale requires a resume (and not just your usual resume, one containing every job, starting and ending salaries, etc.) Sheesh!
Posted 12:10 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90251316:
One complaint I have about the message boards (both B-Week and S2S) is their search technology. I would say that 95% of the searches I do are to find a particular thread that has "slid off the screen". The search pages do not offer any way to search for a thread name, so I get random useless responses. For example, I'm trying to find the Yale round 1 thread on B-Week right now. Searching for "Yale R1" (and its variants) return garbage.
Posted 11:03 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90251315:
Two things I like about the Yale application are that it doesn't provide a transcript request form and one of the essay questions deals with current events. I like the former because, when I graduated, I purchased several official, sealed transcripts from my school in anticipation of using them for job/grad school applications. Finally I will get to use them in an application! I like the latter because I think too few Americans (especially) know what's happening in the world (or even in their own country). Especially for schools that focus on training leaders, I think awareness of current events is very important.
Posted 10:14 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90251313:
The reason I applied to five schools in R1 was that I need to have a decision ASAP. Why? I've kind of hinted at the reason, but really don't have any need to keep it secret. I own a little bit of real estate in the area I live (nothing major--like oil fields or mines--just a little property that's residential in nature). If I am fortunate to be accepted into business school, my goal is to sell that property, since it represents a substantial part of my (meager) savings. The real estate market can be very volatile, and selling a property, while juggling a job and preparing to move off to school, does not sound pleasant.
So with all the R1 decision dates completing by February, I would have at least five months to market and sell this property. That is a very comfortable amount of time, as it would put me under less stress, give me the opportunity to make any touch-ups to the property, and give me more leverage over any potential buyers.
But here is where my R2 strategy comes into question. Should I not be accepted to my R1 schools, if I wait for Haas and/or Anderson's third rounds (January 31 and January 30, respectively) I would not be hearing a decision until May (May 15th in Anderson's case). I'd have ten weeks to make my moving plans, find a place to live in California, wrap up my work projects, and sell this property. Frankly, that sounds impossible (well, if not impossible, then brutal, exhausting, and stress producing).
So now I am faced with a further wrinkle in my backup R2 plan: I can only apply to schools in which I'd get a decision back before, say, April (leaving me four months to do all the work, which is tight but doable). That list reads as follows:
Haas Round 2 - Due December 13 (decision by March 17)
Anderson Round 2 - Due December 27 (decision by March 27)
Yale Round 2 - Due January 6 (decision by March 31)
Kellogg Round 2 - Due January 10 (decision by March 31)
I look at that list, with the holidays looming, work picking up steam, and other things going on, and, being honest with myself, know there is no way I'm going to make the Haas deadline. I know very little about their program, haven't received a brochure, have barely glanced at the essays, etc.
Kellogg definitely tops the list of R2 schools, and I've already started its application. That leaves Yale and Anderson back in the running; right now I'm leaning back towards Yale, because I just know the program a lot better (have visited the campus once, read the brochure, etc.) Thus, I would be aiming for submitting Yale and Kellogg on January 6 and 10, should I be dinged/waitlisted by Wharton. That means I'd better get to work on gathering 4 recommendations from my 3 recommenders, which is going to be tricky. I guess the earlier I start the better; hopefully they will be able to reuse much of their previous recs in order to complete these.
Of course, these plans will only come into play should I get the thumbs down from Wharton. But, as confident as I am, I want to keep in motion and prepare for all the possibilities. After all, the extra work I have to do now is nothing compared to waiting another year to apply to business school.
Posted 7:41 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #390251312:
I'm gonna be closing out the second reader survey and the site redesign survey pretty soon, so if you want to make your voice heard do so now. I'm a bit tired of the surveys, so these will be the last for a while. I'll post the results over Thanksgiving.
I got the Tuck brochure in the mail yesterday (still nothing from Haas, Anderson, or Darden, despite having requested brochures from them over two weeks ago). Tuck is a very appealing school to me, sort of like a mini-Stanford off in the woods of New Hampshire. Part of me would love to get away from the city for two years at a Tuck or a Darden or a Cornell, but in the end I know that option just won't work out.
After reading this B-Week post, I logged into my Chicago online app and found that I too now have two "applications" listed. More specifically, from the main portal page, under the "My GSB" section, in the "My Applications" section there are two "Campus Autumn 2003" lines listed. The bottom link goes to a status page that says "Submitted Online, Processing". The top link goes to a page saying "Received, Processing" (both pages show November 8th as my submittal date).
I can only guess that this means that Chicago has matched up all my documents.
Checking out Anderson's online application page, I notice that it already has an Embark application "live" and says that an ApplyYourself one is coming soon. Does anyone know for how long Anderson's been promising the ApplyYourself app? If they've been saying it's coming soon for the past three months, then I'll go ahead and start the Embark app. If it really is only going to be a couple weeks, I'll wait for ApplyYourself (which I've found to be far superior). (Update: Actually, the ApplyYourself app is up; my browser had an old version cached locally--thanks "MAILTOPC").
Why am I checking out Anderson's site anyway, you may ask? Sometimes when I'm both very tired and not so motivated to write essays, I find the most productive thing I can do is fill in [potential R2 schools] data forms. I'm going to have to do it anyway, and it's a pretty mindless activity, so why not get it over with when you're dog-tired?
One more comment about my Wharton interview: After getting the invite, I scheduled the interview for only a few days later. It was partly because of business, but partly because I thought the longer I waited the more I'd stress about it (though I normally don't get too nervous during interviews). This strategy worked out great, as I was busy preparing all the way up to the interview and didn't have any idleness. I highly recommend not dallying when invited.
I notice that Haas, like Chicago, asks to which other MBA programs the applicant is applying. Ethical question: I only plan to apply to Haas if, by January 30th, I haven't been accepted to any of my R1 schools. Should I list schools that I've already been dinged at here? Discuss amongst yourselves...
The Kellogg AdComm answered my questions about submitting to R2 early. I think that rather than rush the application and hope for a speedy turnaround I'll follow my earlier plan and submit only if Wharton dings me.
The Wharton photos seem to be popular, so going forward I'll try to post the ones I took at Kellogg and Chicago this summer (the bottleneck is that I don't have easy access to a scanner). Hopefully if I head to Boston in the next couple weeks I'll have the chance to (at least) walk the HBS and Sloan campuses, and take some pix.
I haven't yet received any interview invitations from HBS (which started Nov. 12th or so), Stanford (which also started mid-November), or Sloan (which will start in late December). I don't feel worried at all (if January rolls around and I haven't gotten any more invites, I'll start to worry), and feel like I'm entering a calm period now. Over the next couple weeks I'll be working on my Kellogg (R2) app and, if that goes well, maybe starting a Haas or Anderson app (i.e. following the Round 2 plan I laid out a couple weeks ago).
Incidentally, while prepping for my Wharton interview I glanced through my HBS app (to see how I handled a particular question). Gosh, it was amateur, nowhere near the quality of my later essays (especially Stanford's). Still, I'm not too pessimistic, since I'm sure everyone else is in the same boat.
Interview Prep I prepared for my Wharton interview by reading my entire application once (and boy, I could do a much better job now--I found several word repetitions) and then writing out a list of brief pointers on how to answer certain questions. The questions I prepared for were:
* Tell me about yourself.
* What do you do for fun?
* What are your career goals, and how will our program help you achieve them?
* Why do you want an MBA? Why now?
* Why do you want to attend this school? To what other schools are you applying?
* Why should we accept you?
* What would you add to the program?
* What are your greatest achievements?
* What sort of international experience have you had?
* Describe a recent leadership experience.
* Describe a recent teamwork experience.
* What kind of manager are you?
* What do you like/dislike about your job?
* What is your greatest weakness?
* What are your strengths?
* Why did you choose your undergraduate school?
* What did you like/dislike about your undergrad education?
* Where do you see yourself in 5/10/20 years?
* Describe an ethical dilemma you faced?
* What would you do if you don't get in?
* What are your short-term and long-term goals?
* Which two qualities would you want me to highlight in the interview report?
* What clubs and activities do would you get involved in?
* How would co-workers describe you?
* How would managers describe you?
* What role do you take in team situations?
* What makes you unique?
* How do you define success?
* Discuss your biggest failure and what you learned from it.
This list pretty much covered the interview, though going forward I will add some follow up questions to provide drill-down. This will be especially important if I get an HBS invite, as their interviews are not blind (see this B-Week post for a description of one) and thus, are in a sense a long "follow-up" to your essays.
I also wrote out some questions for my interviewer, which came in handy. I definitely wouldn't have been able to think of many good questions on the spot.
The Wharton Interview As with most on-campus interviews, my interviewer was a second year student. We spoke for about fifty minutes, more than the usual amount of time, and I think overall it went very well. I felt very relaxed and confident speaking with him, and felt like I was chatting with a peer rather than trying to prove myself to an inquisitor. Things went well enough that I was able to unleash some of my dry humor, to good effect.
This was my first MBA interview for a couple months, so I was a bit rusty in parts. I think that the area I need to work on the most is delivering a "topic sentence" at the start of my answers to frame what follows. It's not a big deal, since I got my points across, but I think it would just make my presentation all the better. For example, when asked why I was pursuing an MBA, I launched into my story, and about a third of the way in he said, "Oh, I see, so you want to change to a career in X." That should have been the first words out of my mouth when I answered: "I want to get an MBA to change to a career in X, and here's how I came to that decision..." It's not a big deal, and think that our rapport overcame any minor details like that.
The questions were fairly straightforward overall, and don't require much studying. Basically, if you know your essays (and wrote your essays honestly) you should be fine. The trickiest questions were actually the follow-ups to my answers, because those required the most divergence from the essay answers. From my notes, I was asked to discuss the following items:
* Talk about your career and current position.
* Talk about a team/leadership experience.
* Talk about an international experience.
* As a follow-up, talk about a lesson you learned in the international experience (this caught me off-guard a little, but I think I answered it well)
* Talk about something you're interested in outside of work/school.
* As a follow-up, talk about how you would use this interest at Wharton (this completely stumped me at first--I lamely said something like find a club in the area--but then pulled a sweet recovery).
* What are the key points you want me to deliver back to the AdComm?
There might have been one or two other minor questions, but that's about it. The strengths of my interview were: 1) Very compatible with the interviewer; 2) I did a good job (as I had done in my essays) conveying clear reasons for why I wanted an MBA; 3) I drove home several of my key points. The lessons for the interview are: 1) Be ready for the follow-up questions; 2) Be ready to explain how all outside interests could be contributed to the school.
Posted 10:38 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90251298:
The Wharton Students Visiting the campus gave me a chance to chat with Wharton students in the admissions office, after the class I sat in on, and during lunch. I came away very impressed.
Every student I met seemed friendly, smart, and excited to be there. I immediately felt like an equal, like I was simply a classmate that they hadn't met before. I don't mean this in a fluffy, sense--I didn't feel stirrings in my heart that this was the home I'd always been looking for, or something like that--just in the sense that I felt I could really "fit in" there.
The students (and I include my interviewer in this group) were all very honest about their Wharton experience, both its plusses and minuses. I had one student admit that their alumni network was not as strong as it should be, and that it was a major focus of the administration. When I first saw how open everyone on S2S seemed to be I thought there must be some kind of angle, some kind of spin going on, but take it from me, its genuine.
I sat in on a first-year class, and was very impressed by the lecture the professor gave. Looking around the room, I definitely could see myself "in the picture"--in the sense that, yes, these seemed like people I'd like to study with. This was on an almost subconscious, "gut feel" level.
This is exactly the reason I wanted to visit the campus, and would recommend that everyone do so before making a decision.
For those planning to visit... Here are the answers to some of the questions I had before visiting:
* How do you sign up for a class? Just go to the admissions office (4th floor of Huntsman) a little early, get a class list, and choose a class. A first year student will take you there.
* How do I sign up for lunch with students? Just be in the admissions office around 12:00. A group will gather and head on out.
PS - It was kind of cool to meet some of the other applicants, too. They seemed nice, but a bit nervous for the interview, so it was hard to tell.
Posted 10:14 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90251297:
Wow, a couple of you have already signed up to join my MSN group. That's very flattering, but to be honest I don't really have any plans for the group yet. I created it mainly to post photos, and am not sure all the functionality MSN offers.
But if you want to sign up, feel free. I guess I could use it as a "valued customer" mailing list? If you have any ideas, jot them down in the message board to the left...
The Wharton Campus This was the second time I've been on the Wharton campus, so I spent less time walking around than before. The Wharton campus is very big and pretty nice, in the sense that you really feel like you're on a college campus. It's not the most gorgeous campus I've visited (that would have to be Kellogg or Duke), but I didn't see any run-down buildings either (MIT has a few of those).
Vance Hall (site of the old admissions office) was not bad at all, but Huntsman Hall is absolutely gorgeous. The great thing about it is that it feels very "light" inside, probably because of the many windows, atrium, and skylights. I saw plenty of study rooms (with flat screen computers and other gadgetry) and many "gathering areas". In between classes there was a feeling of bustle and excitement and I think the building was (well) designed to foster the sense of community.
Huntsman is right on Walnut Street, which seems to offer some small shops and restaurants (I walked around that area a lot more during my previous visit). There was a really nice looking multi-story gym across the street, which I assume could be used by students(?). During both visits, I didn't feel at all nervous about walking around alone.
On my previous trip I drove in to campus, and (because of some wrong turns) ended up coming in from the southwest. That area is definitely not a pleasante area of the city, but I definitely didn't feel that it was as bad as the area around University of Chicago (where I actually felt nervous driving around on a Sunday afternoon in the daylight).
As many of you no doubt know by now, I was invited to interview by Wharton. The big news is that I have since already completed my interview, an on-campus one at that!
I'll be posting a detailed run-down of the interview, the Wharton campus, and my conversations with current students throughout the day. Until then, below are two photos I took of Wharton's gorgeous new building, Huntsman Hall (clicking on either photo should take you to my public MSN photo album):
(Huntsman Hall, looking west along Walnut St.)
(Main lounge inside Huntsman Hall)
Incidentally, apparently none of you are very psychic, because nobody predicted the correct day and time in the survey (BUTCH, you came the closest).
Posted 12:54 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90251294:
An idle thought: If it is possible for a few Wharton applicants to get their dings early, isn't it possible for a few accepts to slip out ealy too? All I know is that I'm going to start checking my Wharton online status daily from Decemer 15th on...
Posted 12:32 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90251293:
Kellogg Essays: Themes, Approach, and Outline Since I'm now starting the Kellogg application process anew, I'm going to post a more detailed account of the process, step-by-step. Yesterday I sat down to create my plan for the essays, and here it is:
Themes As suggested by the Montauk book, it's good to come up with a few messages or "themes" you are trying to convey through your essay set. Why is this important? Because remember that the schools are trying to learn who you are, just from these essays. If you tell 4 unrelated, unconnected stories, the schools might come away thinking, "Wow, those were interesting stories, but I still don't see how they tie together; I still don't get a sense of who Tad Holbie is."
On my notepad, I wrote down three themes that I want to convey through the Kellogg essays:
1. Leadership success
2. Variety of team experiences
3. Creative intelligence
Note that these are virtually the same themes I've used for all my essays; I think the themes are useful only if they accurately capture who I am, and shouldn't be tailored to different schools.
On my notepad, I then listed out all the job and extracurricular experiences that could fall into these themes; I have five experiences for the #1 and #2 and three for #3.
Weakness Next, I considered what my weakness, as a candidate, was, from Kellogg's perspective. I think the biggest weakness would be a lack of extracurricular leadership. I have gotten involved in a nice set of activities both in college and since then, but they have tended to be either more individually focused or participatory, not leadership roles. Determining how to overcome this weakness is key, and I have two answers: First, I will emphasize a leadership/management role I've recently assumed in a current extracurricular activity. Though this role is not necessarily indicative of my level of extracurricular involvement in the past, the more emphasis I give it the more active my entire application appears. Second, I will strongly emphasize the leadership positions I've earned on the job.
Outline I then turned to the essay questions, outlining my points for each.
Essay 1 This is a standard essay, asking for three things: A description of my career to date, my future goals, and why I want to go to Kellogg. I think the last point is the most important, and essentially they want to see whether you know the school and how it will fit into your plans.
In my first outline point, I want to hit my career to date: First describing how I've enjoyed tremendous success in leadership and team projects, and then transitioning into both why I want to change careers and what I have done to prepare myself for that change. Since this section is going to be only two or three paragraphs at most, detail is going to be sparse.
My second outline point is the "Why Kellogg" component. This is the toughest, and will need more research on my part. The two ideas I want to convey here are 1) that I know Kellogg is not just a finance shop, and I welcome the chance to get a rounded education; and 2) I want to get involved in Kellogg student life.
My third outline point is my future plans; since these are very concrete, they should take only a paragraph or two to describe.
Essay 2 This essay asks how I uniquely will enhance the experiences of other Kellogg students. This is a pretty open question, and I can think of many different ways. I think that open questions like this pose the danger of spreading yourself to thin and diluting your message, and so I decide to focus in strongly on my first and second themes. In the two page essay, I'm going to use one page to describe how my successfull team and leadership experiences will benefit other students, and the second page to hit home on my involvement in activities--as an undergrad and currently--will translate into involvement in Kellogg activities.
To be honest, this is the essay that is the most personal, and most specific to Kellogg, so I'm going to have to do more research into the school before writing this one out. Right now I'm not sure if using the two pages for "separate" items is a good approach, and will want to see if I can tie the two together. Regardless, this will be the essay that I use to emphasize my involvement in activities.
Essay 3 This essay topic asks me to evaluate my own file as if I'm a Kellogg AdComm member. This is a sly topic, because it not only asks for you self-critique but also is subtly asking whether you understand what Kellogg is looking for.
My approach is to use a couple of paragraphs to hit what I call the basics: My scholastic abilities (remind them of my undergrad school, GPA, and GMAT), career successes (track career progress, promotion, raises, a few key leadership roles), and goals. The remainder of the essay I'll use to argue why this candidate (me) fits at Kellogg, focusing on three key points: I get involved, I bring innovation, and have the right attitude (not a cocky prick).
Essay 4 Here I have two of the three topics I'm going to use chosen.
I have the perfect response to 4B (lesson about leadership). It's a one word answer that I've used before, perhaps in Wharton #2 (it's hard to remember). Anyway, it's a single word that is not trendy, but really conveys the message that I "get" what leadership is about. It also ties in very nicely to the emphasis on teamwork. Sorry, I'd love to share it all with you, but it's really too good to give away.
I'll then go to essay 4A (valued accomplishment), and focus on a tremendous job experience I had. It's an experience that was pretty unique, and is chock full of teamwork lessons.
I'm thinking of using 4F (pick your own topic) as my last essay, and focus on what my long-term dreams are. But I'm not sure that these goals really fit with my themes or other essays, so I'll need to give it more thought. I guess I could choose to do 4D (and focus on an extracurricular activity) but...nothing really inspires me.
Summary None of the essay topics leap off the page at me; I'd put this set of essay topics somewhere between my favorites (probably Wharton's, with Stanford's right behind) and my least favorite (Chicago's). The only "home run" I see is 4B, and that's only going to be two or three paragraphs. I think I can do a very strong job with (the usual) #1. But to me, the most important essays are #2 and #3, and they are going to take both more research and a lot of crafting.