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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Applicant Weblogs
* League of MBA Bloggers - best resource for listing all MBA blogs.
* Modz (Anderson-bound)
* Thibault (Kellogg-bound)
* Michael (Wharton-bound)
Currently Reading:
Liar's Poker
Liar's Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street

Bond Market
How the Bond Market Works

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

Kaplan GMAT 2003

Kaplan 800
Kaplan GMAT 800
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* Business Week Forum
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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
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06/22/2002 - 06/28/2003
06/29/2002 - 07/05/2003
Taken: Once, in 2002
Score: 760+
Advice: Get it over with quickly, aim for 670+
* Thoughts on the GMAT: 1, 2, 3
Advice: Ask them at least 2 months in advance
* Initial thoughts
* On delays: 1, 2
Advice: Develop an overall message. Write outlines. Revise many times. Have a friend proofread. Be honest. Answer what is asked.
* My initial thoughts
* Don't write what you think they want to hear
* My process
Advice: Know yourself. Review your application, answers to common questions.
* AdComm or Alum?
* My list of prep questions
Application Process
Advice: Start early. Give yourself at least two months to finish your first application.
* The "bible" of MBA application's, Montauk's How to Get Into the Top MBA Programs
* Tips on where to start
* Living the double life
* Dealing with disappointment
Financial Aid
Advice: Start early, even before getting accepted anywhere. Americans should fill-out and submit their FAFSA forms as soon as they have 2002 financial/tax info.
* Department of Education FAFSA Website
* Request a PIN for the FAFSA
* List of documents needed to complete the FAFSA form
* FAFSA School Code Lookup
* Legal Disclaimer
Site Info
Started: August 28, 2002
Creator: "Tad Holbie"
Daily Traffic:

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

Welcome! First time visitors are encouraged to start here.

Saturday, December 21, 2002

Posted 4:18 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86372005:

I think I must be exhausted...
...because three hours ago I sat down on my bed to get some work done and the next thing I know it's now and I can barely lift my drowsy head.

Posted 9:58 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86361131:

Notes from the Columbia Information Session
I attended an on-campus information session one evening when I was in New York City. This was way back in the very beginning of the summer, so some of the information may be out of date. Here are the highlights I jotted down:

* The GMAT range was 660 - 750, which (I now know) is pretty standard for top schools
* Classes are 50-50 case method versus lecture
* I am now quoting from my handwritten notes: "Essay 2 & 3: Use 1 for non-professional experience." I am not sure if that is my opinion or something the AdComm said or a question asked by a student; it's probably my opinion. Anyway, since I plan to use an extracurricular for essay #2, I guess that will cover that.
* The AdComm did mention that "more is not better" in terms of essays; write quality instead of quantity.
* Last year, 86% of the admitted class was interviewed, and 50% of those interviewed were accepted(?) (my notes are less clear on the latter point)
* Columbia admissions judges applications by three aspects: 1) Professional promise/potential to lead, as judged by essays, realistic goals/career path, and letters of recommendation; 2) Academic exellence--GMAT and GPA; and 3) Personal characteristics, reflected in the activities, resume, and interview.

Hope that helps some of my fellow Columbia applicants.

Update: A helpful reader points out that the 50% number probably refers to the percent of applicants interviewed.

Posted 9:48 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86360927:

Wow. I just went through Columbia's essay topics and stunned at how perfectly they fit my background. I can put it this way: after one hour outlining the Columbia essays, I feel about a hundred times more confident/comfortable with them than I do with the Kellogg essays, which I've probably spent ten hours working on already. I think sometimes people just click with certain questions (Chicago essay C comes to mind), but rarely with a set of multiple questions. Perhaps its because the topics are so clear about what they are asking?

"1) What are your short-term and long-term post-MBA goals? How will Columbia Business School help you achieve these goals?"Clear and to the point. It's asking what is your destination, and how will Columbia help get you there. I have a very specific career plan in mind (when I write on this blog that I'm interested in Wall Street/finance, it is because I don't want to reveal the exact field I'm interested in, not because I don't have a clue), and demonstrating how Columbia can help me get to Wall Street should be like shooting fish in a barrell (remember, I've always agreed that CBS is a perfect fit for my goals).

"2) Please cite and explain a specific situation in which you demonstrated initiative."
This is the perfect setup question for me using my main extracurricular (the one I used in Wharton #4...wince). Basically I took an interesting but not spectacular activity/idea and pushed it to the next level, and then pushed it a bit further. I think that counts as "initiative".

"3) Describe an experience in which the relationships you developed enhanced the outcome of a team effort."
In general, I think I'm a fun person to have on a team (people I work with tend to agree), mainly because I work hard, have a positive attitude, and (when appropriate) keep everyone laughing. So I have a few team experiences to use here.

The sweet thing is that I have one project that fits this so perfectly I am compelled to use it. Not only does it highlight a team experience that had a good outcome, it brings up a very interesting/unique job that hopefully differentiates me a bit.

"4b) If you were given a free day and could spend it anywhere, in any way you choose, what would you do?"I live for "imaginative" questions like this, and I am licking my lips on this one. I have an answer that is both 1) honest (always a plus), 2) ties into my goals (essay question #1), and 3) I am 90% sure nobody else will mention.

I am feeling very excited about this set of essays; there wasn't a single question I really felt bored/uninspired by (like Chicago B). Looking over my outlines, the only minor concern I have is that I do not talk as much about my current career/position. I think that is okay because 1) I'm looking to switch careers and 2) my recommenders will do so. I think it's better to write inspired essays about the topics you want than to try to force your current job into a particular essay. And of course it will be mentioned in #1.

Hell yeah, I'm fired up again!

Posted 8:30 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86359444:

It's nice to wake up early, log in to an online application (in this case, Michigan's), and see that both recommenders have started their recommendations (that's why I like the online recs: "In Progress"). That peps me up to start my work too.

Rather than dive right back into essay-writing, I want to work on outlines for the Columbia and UMBS essays. Once I have outlines for all three (R2) schools, I'll be able to shift back and forth among them as need be, hopefully making more efficient use of my time.

Friday, December 20, 2002
Posted 4:38 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86335246:

The Week Ahead...
The Christmas holidays are upon us, and I look forward to many, many hours spent typing in front of the computer.

But seriously, I do have at least two, if not three days off from work next week, and they will be, for the most part, employed doing the essays. Since all three R2 applications are due at pretty much the same time, if I get stuck on one essay I will freely move to another school's. Thankfully, none of these apps offer a real mindbender (think Stanford A), so I feel confident that I can complete passable versions in two weeks time. I'm afraid that some of the editing/revising process will be cut short, though.

You'll probably see me posting early and often for the next three weeks. I wish a Merry Christmas to everyone, enjoy your holidays, and good luck to all my fellow R2ers!

Posted 3:54 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86333674:

Online Recommendations Warning
Although I much prefer online recommendations, the dangerous part is in the setup. I just caught my second UMBS recommender as she headed out for a week's vacation. I asked if she had gotten the e-mail from UMBS (at her Hotmail account), and she said she hadn't (this is the same account that had given us trouble with the Stanford rec request). We rooted around her account together, checking the Inbox and Junk Mail folder: nothing. Last we checked the Trash folder, and there it was. As usual, the lesson is to always follow-up.

Posted 2:42 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86330959:

Well, I've started going through some of my R1 apps for inspiration/snippets to reuse, and am really pleased with how the Sloan cover letter came out. The beautiful thing is that it covers my career arc and decision to switch careers in two exciting yet complete paragraphs. How did I do it? Clean, concise, personable, to the point: I'll take it. (An aside: Maybe my other R1 essays are not so terrible after all! Note to self: schedule time to review all R1 essays).

Posted 2:08 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86329591:

Going all out
For my five R1 schools, I think I tried to keep my essays "interesting, informative, and well structured." Yet when I think about which essays is the best, its Stanford essay A, the least structured but the most personal. If the structured and informative approach works, I'll probably get into (at least) one of my R1 schools. But if it doesn't work, if it lacks the spark that catches the reader's attention, I'm out of luck.

Out of luck, that is, unless I take a different tact in my R2 essays. This would mean going "balls to the wall", getting as personal and "from the heart" as possible, trying to show off how interesting I am even if it doesn't touch on each and every facet of the essay topic. I don't want to sit down in April with a set of eight rejections and, after reviewing my essays, say to myself, "Gee, I really made myself look boring." It's time to throw caution to the wind, take off the gloves, and rock their world (yes, Holbie's got his groove back).

Posted 1:33 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86328162:

I'm about two-thirds of the way through Kellogg essay #1, but am starting to get a bunch of calls at work that are tripping me up. Plus I get to play the game where I have to check my desk every time I step away to make sure that I haven't left any application materials are showing.

Update: Actually, as I re-read what I've written, this essays is pretty damn bland and passionless. I think it would just be boring as hell to read. I think with some of these R2 apps I want to shake things up a bit; I've got to be able to inject more passion into the essays. Particulary, the "Why our school?" sections should sound like I'm in love with the school and willing to walk through heaven and hell to attend; maybe I come across as too detached and logical when talking about schools in the previous essays...

Posted 1:18 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86327627:

Friday Deadline Countdown
* 18 days left until the UMBS Round 2 deadline
* 21 days left until the Kellogg Round 2 deadline
* 26 days left until the Chicago Round 1 decision
* 26 days left until the Columbia financial aid application deadline
* 33 days left until the HBS Round 1 decision
* 33 days left until the Stanford Round 1 decision
* 56 days left until the MIT Sloan Round 1 decision

My status:
* HBS - Submitted for Round 1
* Wharton - Denied admissions after interview (12/19)
* Stanford - Submitted for Round 1
* Chicago - Submitted for Round 1; Interviewed
* Sloan - Submitted for Round 1
* Kellogg - Started essays, forms; Recommendation in progress
* Columbia - Started forms; Recommendations in progress
* UMBS - Started forms; Recommendations in progress

As the schedule shows, I've got to make the most of the next ten days; work won't be busy and I have plenty of holidays. Three to four weeks from now the R2 deadlines hit in force, and the R1 decisions start rolling in.


Posted 12:01 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86324535:

Ooh, a bite!
I just checked the traffic log of my other [personal] website. I see that, at some point over the past two weeks it has received a visit from someone at one of the remaining schools to which I applied R1. Moreover, the visitor was not referred to my site by a search engine--they had to have entered the address on their own. Since I don't know anyone personally at the school; and since it was during [that school's] business hours; and since nobody from that domain had ever visited the site before and hasn't visited again since that one time; and since it was right in the heart of application review time; I can only conclude that my application is being actively reviewed by that school.

I guess this isn't really big or earth-shattering news, but it's cool to me. At the very least, it means I wrote something in my application interesting enough to peak the reviewer's fancy. Cool.

I spend a ton more time working on this MBA site than I do my personal site, mainly because [this site] has a ton more readers (okay, full confession: the site I'm talking about only gets one or two visits a day, if I'm lucky). I probably check the traffic on my personal site every week or two, making it easy for this to have slipped by unnoticed before. I'll be checking more often from now on...


Posted 10:47 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86321478:

I'm marching through Kellogg essay 1 like Sherman on the way to the sea (sorry to all my southern readers--couldn't think of a better analogy)...

Posted 9:34 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86319109:

I've gone back through my Wharton essays, and they still seem pretty airtight in my eyes. The one area I want to improve on in my R2 essays is the "Career-to-date and Why MBA?" essay.

As someone looking to change to a finance career, I feel that I have a special burden in this essay to 1) show that I'm not doing it on a whim, 2) demonstrate how my past experiences lead to the new career, and 3) lay out a clear post-MBA path. Of those, I think I have #3 nailed down. I know very clearly what I want to be doing right after my MBA program.

I think, however, that I tend to get a little bogged down in #1 and #2. Frankly, I think I might be overcompensating for the fact that I am a career switcher--spending too much time describing the many steps in my career that led to this decision. This is probably because I suspect that most people switching to a finance career really have little "evidence" to back up this change, and I want to show that I do to help my app stand out. But by dwelling on the sequence of projects leading up to this decision might have two negatives: 1) I spend less time talking about the feelings and motivations that play a role in the switch and 2) it takes away essay space from other things. If AdComms are willing to believe, "Well, he says he's interested in finance so that's fine", without me having to back it up with tons of evidence, I should leave that out.

Thus, in my next three sets of essays I will take a much more streamlined approach to this subject: State my goal; give a general summary of my career plus (at most) one good project example; then describe the motivations behind the switch (rather than trying to "prove" that I really do want to switch). I'll then have a bunch more space to use on the "Why our school?" part of the question.

Posted 9:12 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86318330:

Now, I get it
Despite what many of you have assumed, Wharton was not necessarily my first choice. However, I can say that it was, by far, the school I had the most personal connection to, simply because of the incredible amount of interaction I had with its students and AdComm on the S2S boards. Now that I've had a chance to visit HBS and meet a bunch of their students, I have a bit of a personal connection there as well, but it's nowhere as strong.

Now that Wharton's out of the picture, I feel a strong sense of "now, it's time to get down to business." As great as it is to have a personal feeling of closeness to a particular school, my end goal is not to feel "close" to a school, it's to get into a business program that will provide me the skills, experiences, brand and contacts to successfully launch a career in Wall Street finance. All of the schools I have applies to in R1, and all that I will apply to in R2, have been chosen because I believe they will help me reach that goal.

I think prior to yesterday I was not taking my goal seriously enough. Posting about, well, these are my school preferences is both a bit presumptious (as its based on getting accepted to all of them) and, frankly, irrelevant. There are so many other factors at play--which, if any programs will I get into? how much financial aid will be offered? do I like the school visit?--that it's stupid to play favorites now. Now is the time to get back to business: the cold, hard business of being accepted to one of these programs.

Posted 7:49 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86316030:

I must confess, I did feel a twinge of sadness removing S2S from my "Favorites" folder this morning. No more chats with FF and the crew. Heck, no more hanging out in the chat room, period ('cause I'd feel like a real loser even "setting foot" in there after being dinged). Sigh.

Posted 7:26 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86315445:

There's nothing like the smell of awaiting essays in the morning! I'd forgotten the secret thrill of awaking before dawn, squinting at the computer screen, and explaining my career, motivations, life, and dreams. Woo-hoooo.

Thursday, December 19, 2002
Posted 11:49 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86304199:

It brings back memories: I see that one of my recommenders has already started the UMBS rec. Not bad turnaround, eight hours.

Things are starting to click. Let's see if I can get my groove back by cranking out a Kellogg essay tomorrow morning.

Posted 11:34 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86303552:

When starting new applications, I usually just do a quick pass through the online app filling in the personal/family/educational/work highlights. That should take care of about 70% of the information the apps need. After picking off that low-hanging fruit, I leave the rest of the forms to later.

Starting tomorrow, I'm going to be returning to my bright-and-early schedule, kicking off with the Kellogg essays.

Posted 11:28 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86303367:

Well, here I am once again, in the midst of Embark and ApplyYourself webpages. I decided that, as distasteful as it may be, the sooner I get the mindless form-filling out of the way, the better. It's not like I'm in the mood to write essays.

Columbia's online app looks very similar to Wharton's, in terms of layout and functionality. The upside of this type of app is that it allows online recommendations and eliminates the need for any paper; the downside is that it doesn't allow essay upload (just cut and paste).

Part II of the Kellogg application (using Embark) is a dream; it's basically just the essays, which can be uploaded as documents.

UMBS also uses Embark, meaning they too allow essay uploads and stuff. Glancing through the app, it seems to be pretty average in the amount of detail they want (though the 4-line limits for employment descriptions is nice and short).


Posted 10:28 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86300969:

A key date for Columbia, from their online app: "Applicants who wish to be considered for a merit-based fellowship must submit a complete application by January 15, 2003. Fellowship recipients for the September class are announced between April and June."

Posted 10:27 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86300954:

Mail-In Item Checklist
For my own records, mainly:

* Transcript - Got this summer
* Resume - Done
* Recommendation ("Career Progress Survey") - Awaiting
* Kellogg Honor Code

* Doesn't require any mailed-in items!

I can't find a handy checklist at the the minimum I remember they require mailing in several postcards/address labels.


Posted 8:28 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86296435:

Well, it's been a long, busy, tough day. It started early with excitement and anticipation, abruptly switched to shock and disappointment, followed quickly by embarassment. Then it slowly shifted into reflection, confusion, and (yes, a bit of) anger. Now I'd say I'm pensive, busy, but starting to buck up again. I'm going to give myself a night off before diving head-first into the essays.

Thank God I wrapped up the detailed outlines for Kellogg last week. If all goes well, with the many days off over the next week I'll be able to get those essays churned out.

The UMBS essay topics don't look too bad; all are short and sweet. The problem is that I really don't have a good grasp on what UMBS is all about. The brochure I ordered weeks ago still hasn't arrived. Here's a thought: Maybe I could get an interview scheduled quick enough in order to use it to learn about UMBS...

Columbia is the easiest, since it doesn't have a deadline. But I am sure the sooner I apply the better.

Conclusion: I am going to be very, very, very busy over the next three weeks.

Posted 7:46 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86294918:

Hit the Ground Rolling
I feel like I've gotten the engine in gear and got a ton done today in preparation for my new round of apps:
1) Ordered my GMAT score sent to UMBS
2) Submitted Kellogg Part I
3) Requested a UMBS interview
4) Talked with all three of my previous recommenders and lined up their support for the R2 recommendations
5) Printed out all the essay topics for the three schools

Posted 7:32 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86294369:

Of course, the movies were The Blues Brothers and Animal House.

Posted 5:32 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86289865:

The [movie] quotes that are inspiring me right now (I'll post the movie names later, for those of you who don't get them immediately):

"It's 106 miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses...Hit it!"

"Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!"


Posted 4:56 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86288427:

Year End Silence
Well, I think we're about to enter a two week silent period vis-a-vis interview invitations, because of the Christmas/New Year's holidays. Things are going to pick up hot-and-heavy starting Monday, January 6th: Chicago will start contact admits, a few more HBS and Stanford invites will go out (as suggested by this post to the HBS thread--BTW, it's clear that "LIQUITIT1" is a much-needed voice of sanity on B-Week), plus the R2 deadlines will come to a head. I guess the "radio silence" from my R1 schools will give me the chance to focus (like a madman) on my R2 schools.

Posted 3:31 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86284939:

From the Chicago online chat (I can't connect to the chat server, but am able to read the "Chat Log" almost realtime):

12:21 pm Will round 1 admits be notified prior to Jan 15th?
12:21 pm We will most likely notify round-one applicants of a decision between Jan. 6 and our posted deadline of Jan. 15..."

Notifications will come through the online status page, mailed letters, and the (now-famous) phone call from Mr. Martin himself.


Posted 3:12 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86284198:

Round 2 Essay List
More for my reference than yours:

1A. 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…

I. What are your short-term and long-term post-MBA goals? How will Columbia Business School help you achieve these goals? (Limit 1000 words)
II. Please cite and explain a specific situation in which you demonstrated initiative. (Limit 500 words)
III. Describe an experience in which the relationships you developed enhanced the outcome of a team effort. (Limit 500 words)
IV. Please select and answer one of the following essay questions: (Limit 250 words)
a. Please tell us about what you feel most passionate.
b. If you were given a free day and could spend it anywhere, in any way you choose, what would you do?
V. (Optional) Is there any further information that you wish to provide to the Admissions Committee? (Please use this space to provide an explanation of any areas of concern in your academic record or your personal history.)

1. What has been your most significant professional achievement? What has been your toughest professional challenge and how did you address it? (500 words)
2. Describe your post-graduation career plans. How will your education, experience, and development to date support those plans? How will an MBA from the University of Michigan Business School help you attain your goals? (500 words)
3. Describe a failure or setback in your life. How did you overcome this setback? What, if anything, would you do differ-ently if confronted with this situation again? (500 words)
4. Answer one of the following:
a. Describe an idea you’ve had for a new business or product or a new service line of an existing entity. (500 words)
b. What’s the most creative solution to a problem or situation you’ve ever developed? (500 words)
c. What makes work fulfilling? Describe a situation where, as a team member or project leader, you have made work more interesting or enjoyable for your group. (500 words)
Optional Questions
You may answer one, both or neither of these questions. They are optional.
1. Describe any experiences you’ve had that highlight the value of diversity in a business setting. (500 words)
2. If there is any other information that you believe is important to our assessment of your candidacy, feel free to add it to your application. (500 words)

Posted 3:02 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86283806:

Ooop Apparently the BWeek Chicago chat with Don Martin is 3:00 pm EST, as in starting shortly...

Posted 2:14 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86281876:

Again, it begins...
With a quick pivot, I've settled on the Round 2 schools I'm going to be applying to. Interestingly, two of the three schools were ones I planned to apply to way back in August, when I started all this. Here we go:

1) Kellogg - I wanted to apply R1, just didn't have the time. Added bonus of only requiring one recommendation.
2) UMBS - The new school. Still need to do a lot of research on it.
3) Columbia - Getting dinged kind of woke me up a bit. Columbia fits all of my career and location needs; I'm putting aside any worries about NYC life and making a go of it (plus there is no hard app deadline).

So I figure I now have three or four weeks to nail three applications. Hopefully, I'll be able to use much of my previous 5 apps to complete these. Anyway, buckle up, it's going to be a bumpy ride...

Posted 1:43 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86280711:

Chapter 2...


Posted 10:58 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86273858:

I have to confess, in this sobering moment, I've started re-considering my decision not to apply to Columbia. Logically, it meets all my criteria: elite, super-strong in finance, located in a big city, very close ties to Wall Street (where I want to end up). My only reason for not applying has been the feeling that life in NYC as a poor student would be pretty miserable. Also, I wasn't impressed by the info session I attended last summer.

In the cold light of rejection, the logic of a Columbia application is starting to overwhelm petty personal biases such as these...

Posted 10:52 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86273629:

Well, if this can be called an "upside" to be rejected, my workhorse recommender took pity on me and agreed to do two or three more R2 recommendations for me.

Thank goodness my work deadline was Tuesday. If I actually had to try to get work done now I'd be screwed. I just don't have that fire back yet.

Posted 9:51 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86271234:

I really feel embarassed now having to go back to my recommenders. They worked so hard to help me out, with nothing (yet) to show for it. Sigh.

Posted 9:46 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86271053:

For those of you that are curious, here's the Wharton "Accepted" thread on S2S (I see REALITARIAN, Henry Hill, and DKMBA got in, among others). Congrats!

Posted 9:19 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86270125:

It appears there is hope for career changers; at least one attorney-to-finance switcher was accepted to Wharton...

Posted 8:49 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86269051:

The things that are keeping my spirits up right now:
* Talking to friends
* Remembering the HBS students I met who were dinged at other schools but got in there
* Keeping busy getting the wheels rolling on my next set of applications
* Reminding myself that this ding has the most impact because it's the first decision I've heard from
* When all is said and done, I think it's Wharton that should be kicking themselves for letting this fish get away

Things that are tugging at my spirits:
* I thought that my Wharton app was spot-on
* I thought that I had a very good fit with Wharton, especially my career goals

Posted 8:11 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86267884:

The most worrying aspect of the Wharton ding is that, as I've said before, it was one of my best apps. I'm really going to have to focus and work hard on the Kellogg app now.

Posted 8:07 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86267778:

I had my phone call (with family), got my condolences. Very surprised and disappointed, and I'll definitely be calling Wharton for the feedback this Spring no matter what happens.

I feel a bit shaky, so the best thing to do is get started on my Plan B...


Posted 8:05 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86267734:

Well, that's that:

"Thank you for your recent application to the Wharton MBA program. It is with regret that I must inform you that the Admissions Committee is unable to offer you a position in the Wharton MBA Class of 2005.

We very much appreciate the time and energy you put into scheduling and appearing for an interview. Please know that the interview was not the sole basis for our final decision and that your application was thoroughly re-evaluated afterwards by several members of the Admissions Committee. The interview provided an additional source of information about you when comparing your candidacy with the rest of the pool of applicants who were invited for an interview. The fact that we have not offered you admission should not be taken as a reflection of your intellectual abilities, personal achievements, or potential for a successful career.

As you may be aware, the Wharton MBA program receives approximately 7,500-8,000 applications annually. In a pool where virtually every candidate offers significant work experience, demonstrates leadership ability, and submits persuasive recommendations, the Committee's task in selecting the entering class is extremely difficult. We are left with the unpleasant task of denying admission to many fine individuals who would, no doubt, succeed academically at the School and contribute to Wharton's standard of excellence.

The Admissions Office will keep your application on file for two years. If you plan to re-apply during this period and would like feedback on your application, kindly call our main number (215 898 6183) in May 2003 to schedule a feedback session. For instructions on the re-application process, please follow the procedures that will be included in next year's application (available in August 2003). All reapplications will be reviewed within the context of the overall applicant pool at that time.

Thank you again for your interest in Wharton. I wish you success in your graduate studies, as well as in your personal and career endeavors."

Posted 7:58 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86267546:

I'm happy so many of you are interested; hope not to disappoint...

Posted 7:43 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86267134:

Another thing: Remember that admissions decisions are not "judgements" about 1) how good a person you are, 2) how successful you'll be, 3) how interesting you are. Rather, they are simply a statement that the AdComm feels, based on the application materials you provided, that you'd be a great addition to the MBA class they're building.

Posted 7:37 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86266983:

Honestly, at this point no. I would trace it back to being raised in a very loving environment. I am very secure of myself, my success, my family, and friends. Sure, if I get bad news in, what?, 30 minutes, I'll be disappointed. I'd love to attend Wharton and put a lot of effort into getting accepted. But in the end of the day, a rejection will only be a speedbump.

So relax and enjoy the ride.

Posted 7:10 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86266268:

To the S2S chat room, one and all!

Posted 7:05 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86266148:

Bad Omen
I just had a very bad omen (which I define to be an event that is weird, rare, and bad happening that might foreshadow more bad news). I can't describe what it is, but I'm not a supersticious guy and I still felt rattled.

The only consolation is that I had an even weirder "bad omen" right before my Wharton interview and it went swimingly. I think.

Posted 5:18 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86263906:

The MBA life: It's not glamerous...

Posted 4:25 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86262862:

Stanford is also scheduled to do a live chat today, from 3:00 to 4:00 pm PST. After trying several different times on several diferent computers to attend the Stanford chats, I've long since given up...

Posted 4:17 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86262700:

Wow, the Wharton S2S chat is still going strong!

Posted 4:06 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86262485:

Good luck everyone! Remember that a ding is not the end of the world and an accept doesn't mean you're god! It's been a fun ride!

Wednesday, December 18, 2002
Posted 10:06 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86250783:

Just imagine if you lived in Hawaii: The Wharton decision would come at, what 2:00 am?!?

Posted 7:32 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86244111:

It looks like many of you are as excited as I am...

Posted 5:26 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86239245:

You're either going to be offended by the slogan of the Red Meat Club, or you'll think it's funny as hell...

Posted 4:46 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86237471:

It's probably not the best timing in the world, but Business Week is hosting an online chat with Chicago GSB's Don Martin, tomorrow at 3pm EST. I guess I should try to attend, just to hear any news about the R1 process, but I think at that point I'll either be too delirious or too dejected to do so.

Posted 4:42 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86237296:

Note to self: When you go into a meeting and find your mind wandering off to the Wharton decision, do not accidentally blurt out "Wharton!" if called by your boss to report the project status.

Posted 3:20 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86233808:

Who Else Do You Want To See Get Into Wharton?
This might be a good way to spend the time: If there are other BWeek posters (besides yourself and myself) that you'd like to see get accepted to Wharton tomorrow, click on the "Leave a comment" link below and drop the names...

Posted 2:42 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86232284:

(As if you didn't already know) Wharton has its weekly chat tonight at 6:00 pm EST. This week a couple of the GIP (Global Immersion Program) students will be dropping in. I may be wrong, but I suspect that they will be overwhelmed by the hungry masses desparately awaiting the decision fourteen hours hence.

I don't know if I'll be able to make it tonight (I'm back at my Java-busted computer, plus I hope to find something fun to do during the evening hours) but I'm sure I'll drop by the S2S chat room at some point over the next day...

Posted 2:16 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86231212:

I was just going through some of my old posts, and found two of them relevant to tomorrow's decision. On Saturday, November 10th, I wrote a post (#84317285) about my chances at each school. Here's the paragraph about Wharton:

"Wharton - Good. I think Wharton is an excellent school and a tough one to get into, but I really "got" the essay topics. I felt that, though not flashy, my Wharton essays were my strongest all-around set, from #1 to #4. Top worry? Whether they accept my plans for career change?"

Out of all the applications I put together, Wharton's was my best. The only news since that post is that I was called to interview and felt pretty good about the experience. So why would I think any less of my chances today than I did the day I submitted?

As for why I am, in general, such a confident guy, I discussed my qualifications for B-School here (Post #83784091).

Posted 12:26 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86226719:

I just checked out the traffic tracking page for my personal website (it looks the same as the one for this site). My eye was immediately attracted to a visit yesterday by someone at the domain Was the "Tad Holbie" cover blown?!?

I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the referral for their visit: A google search on a topic completely unrelated to MBA Admissions (i.e. the topic of my other website). The "Tad Holbie" mystique lives on another day...

Posted 12:18 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86226371:

BTW, I did check my app's online status, and it still just has that "Check back Dec. 19th" page up. It looks like there won't be any accidental early decision leaks.

Posted 12:17 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86226317:

Hmmm...the running time on "Lord of the Rings" is 179 minutes. I'm not a huge LOR fan, but heck, paying $8.00 for three hours of not thinking about tomorrow sounds like a pretty good deal about now...

Posted 12:04 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86225762:

I am starting to realize what a boon having a busy work project was the past few weeks. I'm now here sitting at my desk, staring at the screen, and have neither the assignments nor the interest in doing any work. If that were true the past three weeks, the days would have dragged by like a lame donkey. Thankfully I now only have, what?, twenty hours left.

I'll have to find some sort of work to do today...even something menial is better than sitting in idle.

Posted 11:01 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86222932:

The Kellogg applications Part I was a bit more involved than I remembered. I just checked it now, and realized that I had to fill out the work history part. Thankfully it was short (one 7-line answer for each job) and only asked about full-time employment. I typed that in and printed it out, so it's all ready to go.

Posted 10:22 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86221270:

In case I haven't made it clear previously, I will post my Wharton results tomorrow morning, probably before 9:00 am EST (I'll want to tell my friends, family, and recommenders first--well, maybe I won't tell my recommenders if I'm dinged, but...).

Yes, I am starting to get that anticipatory buzzing feeling...

Posted 10:00 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86220393:

I got my first nice sleep in two weeks last night, though my brain still feels kind of drowsy this morning. With my project delivered yesterday, my work days until January will be pretty empty, so I'll have plenty of time to ruminate on MBA stuff.

Preparing for Plan B
As regular readers know, I just haven't made up much ground on my potential second round applications. I have completed a set of detailed outlines for the Kellogg essays, but that's about it. With my work schedule finally settling down, I figure I have enough time to complete one more R2 application in time, should the need arise (i.e. should Wharton ding me tomorrow).

After some consideration, I've decided to go with UMBS based on several factors:
1) General reputation (both from rankings and talking to people)
2) Alumni network
3) Application requirements, especially only requireing two recommendations
4) Acceptance rate (higher chances than at other potential R2 schools)
5) Location acceptability (meets my personal criteria)

In preparation for the possibility of being dinged tomorrow, I've created a checklist of what to do next (hey, it beats idle speculation/nervous waiting):
1) Talk to my two recommenders (to get them prepped for the UMBS and Kellogg recs); I'll do that today (my first day back in the office in eons).
2) Immediately submit Part I of the Kellogg app in order to get the alumni interview scheduled for as soon as possible. I'll check to make sure I've completely filled out Part I today.
3) Immediately contact a Michigan alum to arrange an interview (which must be completed by January 15th).
4) Immediately fax ETS a GMAT score report request for UMBS (that's already filled out).
5) Get cracking on the Kellogg essays!

So I have a little bit of work to do today, and plans to set in motion tomorrow in case of a disappointing response from Wharton.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002
Posted 6:31 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86189491:

Adam is blogging finals week at HBS...

Posted 6:20 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86189029:

Home, Sweet Home
That's it for business travel through the end of the year. The past three weeks have just been a blur to me. On the one hand, they passed by in the blink of an eye. On the other hand, my stomach feels like it has about twenty days of half-digested meat stuck in it. Word to the wise: The resteraunt selection in downtown Boston is pretty limited to American/Irish food; I probably ate more beef over the past three weeks than I had in the preceding three months.

Heading off to bed to catch up on the Zs, and will awake with less than 24 hours to go. I don't think I'll have any trouble sleeping, either now or tomorrow night, because in the end, I can easily remind myself of the many things in my life that are way more important than business school.

Posted 9:52 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86167404:

Hmmm...I guess with all the build-up I've given it, it would be pretty darn embarassing to get dinged or waitlisted by Wharton on Thursday ;-)

Posted 9:34 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86166681:

That's customer service: I called the hotel and asked if I could cancel the room I had reserved for last night. They said no problem, and hoped that I would be staying there in the future (I will, if/when I return to Boston--in January, I hope). I've switched my flight too, so I'll be out of here in a few hours.

Posted 6:06 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86160562:

Isn't it weird how, even after you've been up the entire night, as the morning starts to roll around you feel more awake? It must be the biological rythm of life, the connectedness with the universe, yada yada yada, in conlcusion I no longer feel like retching into the trash pail.

Posted 5:44 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86160060:

Let's see: If I get to the hotel by 8am, I could sleep til 2pm, be drowsy through the evening, and wake up in Wednesday with less than 24 hours to go 'til Wharton d-day. That's the plan!

Posted 12:11 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86150979:

Pivot Point
I feel the exciting, exhausting, demanding, revealing application process starting to wind down, like an old freighter slowly pulling up to the dock. I feel like I've been eating, breathing, digesting, contemplating, discussing applications for the past four years, not the past four months.

One of the cool things (for me, you probably don't care much) abut this site is I can look back and see the entire story. I know that three months ago I was overjoyed that my second HBS recomendation had commenced; two months ago I had just submitted my HBS app; and one month ago I was basking in the freedom of the first essay-free weekend in a while. Looking forward, one month from now I will have Wharton and Chicago decisions in hand; two months from now I will have decisions from all five schools, and three months from now I will probably be closing in on my decision.

Now that we're in the calm before the storm, I'd like to take a moment to thank everyone who's read this site, contributed to it with comments and posts, or e-mailed me. The readership has made it a thousand times more fun and a thousand times more rewarding than I ever expected it to be. Cool, and thanks.

Monday, December 16, 2002
Posted 4:29 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86129420:

One other factor in school choices is financing. A friend of a friend got into Columbia and another great school (I think Wharton, though it might have been HBS); he ended up going to Columbia on full scholarship. I'm definitely not independently wealthy, and can't say that I wouldn't be swayed by cash.

Why did I just bring this up? I read this post about the Joseph Wharton Leadership Awards, which grant an average of $10K to about 5% of the incoming Wharton class. Who knows what other scholarships/grants/awards the schools have (okay, I guess I'm supposed to know, but I have done a woefully poor job researching b-school financing to date), and how they will play into our final decisions?

Posted 4:06 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86128398:

In case you were tempted... check your Wharton status: I just logged in and checked my Wharton application status; it still read "Invited to Interview" that it had three weeks ago.

Yes, I am starting to get excited...

Posted 3:22 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86126314:

If you were a painter, and you intended to paint a picture of Boston today, you'd only need two colors in your pallette: gray and gray.

Posted 2:53 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86124981:

One of my coworkers here in Boston spotted the B-Week forum open on my desktop and asked, "So when are you applying to business school?" Luckily, he doesn't know me that well (plus doesn't have the greatest memory) so my "Well, I've been thinking of doing so a few years down the road..." probably covered it up. I think I'm starting to get sloppy with this...

Posted 12:27 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86118413:

I don't know how I missed it, but last week Alex Brown posted a detailed rundown of how the Wharton admissions decision will go out on Thursday.

Posted 4:52 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86101820:

Heading off to Boston again...

Sunday, December 15, 2002
Posted 7:18 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86027172:

Am I stressing about HBS & Stanford?
Regular readers know that my honest answer is no. Why not? As usual, the reasons are simple:

1) When I submitted back in October, I felt that I had put together two strong applications. Has anything happened between then and now to convinece me otherwise? No. The fact that some people have been invited to interview is not in any way a reflection on the quality of my application.
2) I generally don't stress about things I can't control. Really, what's the point of it?
3) I am a positive person. Until I'm told otherwise, I'm assuming that I'll be accepted to all the schools I'm applying to. So far, I've batted 1,000 in college admissions (and my undergrad school was just as selective as HBS or Wharton).
4) I generally believe what the Admissions Committee says. By personality, I don't tend to believe conspiracies or plots (especially those spread on public message boards). Thus, I believe that HBS is busy interviewing, will be inviting candidates all the way up until January 22nd, have not already interviewed all the people in my profession/from my town/with my hair color. And that I will be called to interview before January 22nd.
5) I don't think of each day (until the deadline) as a lottery. What I mean by that is that I don't think that my chances are "dwindling" as the days go by, as if each day the AdComm picks a lucky few from a hat. I do believe that HBS has a set of applications, a subset of which will be accepted, and it just takes time for them to decide on that subset. If I'm invited to interview tomorrow, great. If I'm invited to interview January 21st, great.
6) Naturally, nobody likes to wait for good news, which an interview invitation invariably is. But then, see #2.
7) I've been really, really busy at work the past three weeks so really haven't had tons of idle time to speculate on these schools.

I guess I'm just grounded and positive about the whole experience, which helps keep me from getting too frazzled by the whole process.

Posted 7:05 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86026959:

Sunday morning dawns with me in the office, doing work and filling out expense reports.


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