MBA Admissions Wire by "Tad Holbie"

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

Bond Market
How the Bond Market Works

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

Kaplan GMAT 2003

Kaplan 800
Kaplan GMAT 800
Message Boards & Chat Rooms
* Business Week Forum
* Wharton S2S Message Board
* Wharton S2S Chat Room
* scheduled chats
* Business Week 2003 Rankings (free registration required)
* Financial Times 2003 Rankings (PDF)
* US News & World Report 2003 Rankings
* Wall Street Journal 2003 Rankings
* Forbes Magazine 2001 Rankings
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* ZonkBoard - Message board (old)
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* WhoIS - IP/Domain Lookup
My Applications
Status: Admitted in R2!
* Homepage
* Ambasador Program
* M-Track Message Board
* Monroe Street Journal newspaper
* University of Michigan Merchandise
* UMBSA FAQ about life in Ann Arbor
* Ann Arbor Weather
My posts:
* List of essay topics
* Outlining the essays
* My alumni interview
* UMBS/Ann Arbor photos:
Image not available
(Click to enter my UMBS photo album)
Chicago GSB
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied Admissions after interview
* Homepage
* ChiBus newspaper
My posts:
* My alumni interview
* Approach/status of essays: 1, 2, 3, 4
* Posts on essay B: 1, 2
* Dinged!
* Chicago photos:
(Click to enter my Chicago photo album)
Status: Denied Admissions after Interview
* Homepage
* Online Status Check
* Finance Dept. homepage
* The Bottom Line Newspaper
* Columbia Merchandise
* Adrian Hind, student weblog
* New York weather
My posts:
* Info session summary
* My second campus visit
* List of essay topics
* Outlining the essays
* Posts on essay #1: 1
* Posts on essay #2: 1, 2
* Posts on essay #3: 1
* My alumni interview
* Columbia photos:
(Click to enter my Columbia photo album)
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied Admissions
* Homepage
* HarBus newspaper
* Adam Medros, student weblog
My posts:
* Info session summary
* Recommendation e-mail
* Approach/status of essays: 1, 2, 3, 4
* Essay word counts
* Posts on essay #3 and #4: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
* Posts on essay #6: 1, 2, 3
* Photos from campus
* Class visit experience
* Dinged!
* HBS photos:
(Click to enter my HBS photo album)
Status: Denied admissions after waitlist
* Homepage
* Online Status Check
* 2002-03 Calendar
* Kellogg Merger newspaper
* Professor McGee's Musings
* Northwestern University Merchandise
* Evanston weather
My posts:
* 2002 Waitlist Wrapup
* List of essay topics
* Starting the Kellogg app
* Outlining the essays
* Posts on essay #1: 1, 2
* Posts on essay #2: 1
* Posts on essay #3: 1, 2
* Posts on essay #4: 1
* Reviewing my essays
* My alumni interview
* Notes on my second campus visit
* Northwestern/Kellogg photos:
(Click to enter my August Kellogg photo album)
(Click to enter my April Kellogg photo album)
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied admissions after interview.
* Homepage
* Sloan Management Review
* 2002 Employment Report (PDF)
My posts:
* Info session summary
* Links to Sloan's tracks
* Note the mail-in items
* Approach/status of essays: 1, 2
* Cover letter: 1, 2
* Post on essay #1
* Post on essay #3
* My interview experience
* MIT/Sloan photos:
(Click to enter my Sloan photo album)
Stanford GSB
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied Admissions
* Homepage
* Stanford Reporter newspaper
My posts:
* Online recommender setup
* Posts on essay A: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
* Posts on essay B: 1
* Dinged!
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied Admissions after interview
* Homepage
* Student2Student message board
* Wharton Journal newspaper
* Laura Bennett, student diary
* Student Diaries
My posts:
* Info session summary
* Approach/status of essays: 1, 2, 3, 4
* Posts on essay #1: 1, 2
* Posts on essay #4: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
* Photos from campus
* The interview experience
* Dinged!
* Wharton photos:
(Click to enter my Wharton photo album)
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06/08/2002 - 06/14/2003
06/15/2002 - 06/21/2003
06/22/2002 - 06/28/2003
06/29/2002 - 07/05/2003
Taken: Once, in 2002
Score: 760+
Advice: Get it over with quickly, aim for 670+
* Thoughts on the GMAT: 1, 2, 3
Advice: Ask them at least 2 months in advance
* Initial thoughts
* On delays: 1, 2
Advice: Develop an overall message. Write outlines. Revise many times. Have a friend proofread. Be honest. Answer what is asked.
* My initial thoughts
* Don't write what you think they want to hear
* My process
Advice: Know yourself. Review your application, answers to common questions.
* AdComm or Alum?
* My list of prep questions
Application Process
Advice: Start early. Give yourself at least two months to finish your first application.
* The "bible" of MBA application's, Montauk's How to Get Into the Top MBA Programs
* Tips on where to start
* Living the double life
* Dealing with disappointment
Financial Aid
Advice: Start early, even before getting accepted anywhere. Americans should fill-out and submit their FAFSA forms as soon as they have 2002 financial/tax info.
* Department of Education FAFSA Website
* Request a PIN for the FAFSA
* List of documents needed to complete the FAFSA form
* FAFSA School Code Lookup
* Legal Disclaimer
Site Info
Started: August 28, 2002
Creator: "Tad Holbie"
Daily Traffic:

Emails Received: 909 (as of 6/26/03)
Rate this site:
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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, January 04, 2003

Posted 11:27 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86947345:

In case you're curious, Kellogg online apps are due at midnight on the deadline date (January 10th for R2). It's probably not a good idea to push it, though...

Posted 11:24 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86947233:

ROI for this Website, #429
I put a lot of time and effort into writing this website (though much less time than you'd guess), but I get a lot back from it too. Case in point: Because of comments posted to my message board last night (by "gr"), I discovered that I'd been mistakenly referring to Michigan's MAP (Multidisciplinary Action Program) as MAT. That would have been a very embarassing mistake to have in an essay, and it is just one of the many "catches" that site readers have provided.

Thanks gr!

Posted 10:47 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86945905:

72 hours, 2 recommendations, and 6 essays away: Can "PHILLYWAHOO" make the HBS Round 2 deadline? Will the submitted application be an example of grace under pressure, or a hurried pile of doo? Will the result be an accept...or the dreaded ding?!? Stay tuned...

Posted 10:44 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86945830:

I finished editing my Columbia second drafts. After the lone one (#1), most of the essays are in pretty good shape.

So my homework for tonight is:
1) Type into MS Word all the edits I made [on paper] to my UMBS and Columbia essays
2) Write a couple new paragraphs for Columbia #1 (to replace the ones I'm chopping due to redundency/confusion)
3) Restructure my UMBS #5 (i.e. the optional diversity essay)

If I could add an editorial comment, it would be that I absolutely don't think that UMBS applicants should feel that the optional essay is mandatory. It just so happens that I have a work experience that perfectly illustrates the value of diversity in the workplace, but if I didn't I wouldn't worry about leaving it blank. I always believe that "optional" means...optional!

Posted 3:46 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86932563:

Rather than move to my Kellogg essays, which I just finished doing [the third drafts of] yesterday, I decided to work on the Columbia essays (second drafts), which I hadn't looked at for a while.

Columbia #1 (the "Why an MBA, why our school" essay) was a mess. I think the problem was, after writing several 500 word versions of this essay for other schools, it was difficult moving to a 1,000 word essay on the subject. I found one whole paragraph that was a repeat of an earlire one, and there was one paragraph so convoluted I almost didn't know what it meant. That's going to take some work.

As I was moving on to essay #2, I got news that an elderly relative of mine had slipped and hit her head, ending up in the hospital. Thankfully, it was nothing too serious--it looks like "just" a concussion--but it still put me out of the mood to work on essays. I'm going to take a break and aim to resume my editing later in the afternoon.

Posted 12:50 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86927102:

I just finished reviewing my UMBS application from start to finish (for reference, it took about an hour or so). Essays #1-4 are all pretty close to complete; just a few words need changing here or there. I am going to need to work on the optional essay (about diversity) a bit more; the content is very good, but the way I explain it is clunky and boring. I think I'll try to jazz it up a bit with the next draft by playing with the order of its story.

So overall I'm very pleased, and think I'll be able to submit by Monday night at the latest.

Time to review the Kellogg essays...

Posted 9:45 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86921774:

4th drafts of my UMBS essays in hand. 3rd drafts of my Kellogg essays. 2nd drafts of my Columbia essays. I'm going to be spending most of my day away from the computer, reading through all these essays, hopefully ironing out any of the awkward points or weak spots. I might, after the first run-through, try to take in an early-afternoon movie just to break up the monotony (there's only so many times you can read the same essay without your eyes glazing over).

Friday, January 03, 2003
Posted 9:40 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86903321:

A first year Kellogg student posts on B-Week links to two of the most useful Kellogg webpages I've seen.

First is the "Kellogg Difference" website, which gives a sense of how Kellogg sees itself compared to peer institutions. After a quick jaunt through the site, it seems like the key points are 1) innovative curriculum that responds to the changing business world and 2) responsiveness to students. The other big emphasis, in the "culture" section, is Kellogg's focus on teamwork (duh).

The other site is the most recent issue of the Kellogg Alumni magazine, with an introduciton from the dean. He writes, in part:

"The Kellogg School continues to identify ways in which we can revolutionize graduate management education. We are now focusing on leadership across three levels: team leadership, thought leadership and market leadership. For our students, we offer opportunities to evolve from being excellent team players to serving as excellent team leaders. Students enter Kellogg with well-defined leadership skills, and they hone these skills here through activities both inside and outside the classroom."


Posted 9:29 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86902937:

Just got the monthly Stanford MBA program newsletter in my inbox. It reads, in part,

"All Round 1 applications are currently under review. All applicants have been notified via email that their applications are being read and evaluated. If you have not received an email from us, please make sure that your junkmail filters have been set to receive emails from and We are still inviting applicants for interviews, and will continue to do so until shortly before the deadline date. All of our Round 1 applicants will receive their decisions on January 22, 2003." (emphasis added)

Posted 9:20 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86902643:

Wrapped up Kellogg #2, so I have a complete set of third drafts done.

Posted 5:29 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86894918:

Does anyone else feel like, wow, it's January!?! I mean, I remember way back when my Friday Deadline Countdown read "67 days left until the Chicago Round 1 decisions"; now it's less than two weeks away! And (thankfully?) I'll be working on these R2 apps pretty much right up to the decision day...


Posted 5:06 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86893993:

I'm racing through Kellogg essay #2; the new approach is a big improvement...

Posted 4:05 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86891635:

I noticed that the link on Kellogg's website to the LEAP webpage is broken; FYI you can use this hyperlink to get more info on LEAP. I had glossed over it before, but it caught my eye now, and seems to be a pared-down version of the UMBS MAP program.

Update: Corrected MAT to MAP.

Posted 3:42 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86890766:

Friday Deadline Countdown
* 4 days left until the UMBS Round 2 deadline
* 7 days left until the Kellogg Round 2 deadline
* 12 days left until the Chicago Round 1 decision
* 12 days left until the Columbia merit based fellowship deadline
* 19 days left until the HBS Round 1 decision
* 19 days left until the Stanford Round 1 decision
* 42 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 - Done 3rd drafts of essays; Forms completed; Recommendation submitted
* Columbia - Done 2nd drafts of essays; Forms completed; 1 Recommendation submitted
* UMBS - Done 4th drafts of essays; Forms completed; Both recommendations submitted

This is going to be the busiest weekend of my entire, five-month application experience. I have to finish up the UMBS essays (thankfully, they're not far from off) and get my Kellogg essays as close to done as possible. Looking ahead to next week, I'm going to be naturally jumpy because of the chance for a call from Mr. Martin, the chance for interview invites from several schools, and the pressure to wrap up my Kellogg and Columbia applications. Plus much, much, more!

Posted 2:28 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86887824:

"Do you honestly believe there might be some [HBS] invitations coming out?"
Of course I do. There has not been any credible information otherwise (sorry, postings to any anonymous message board don't count as credible). In their communication with applicants, in interviews with the HBS press, the HBS AdComm has repeatedly stated that interview invitations could come out until the decision date, and based on last year's experience there will be invitations coming out until then.

So, do I know there will be more invitations? No, nobody knows the future. Do I believe there will be more invitations? Yes.

Posted 1:32 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86885539:

The trickiest part of writing good essays, as I alway say, is nailing the introductory paragraph. It's especially tricky since a good essay will read like a story, but it's awkward and difficult to start the story with an interesting summary. That's the conundrum I'm now facing with Kellogg #2...

Posted 1:13 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86884814:

My third draft of Kellogg #3 is only a page and a half long, which I take to be a very good sign. In general, the further below the word limit an essay runs (within reason), the more it signals a clear and concise vision for the answer. I am very happy with how this one turned out: Rather than a flat list of pros and cons, it is a clever romp through three high points of my application. It starts by confronting a "weakness" of my app straight on, and drives up to the peak of Mt. Holbie from there.

On to essay #2...

Posted 10:56 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86879480:

Right as I'm wrapping up a very strong Kellogg #3, I mean right in the middle of the concluding paragraph, I get a work call that I have to handle to start my day. What a momentum-killer! I hope that I can get one more non-busy work day to work on these essays...

Posted 8:12 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86874545:

Well, as the evening wore on I made a slight change to the plan for the Kellogg essays. As much as I wanted to keep it for #4F, the subject matter just ended up fitting back into my essay #2 too well. So that's where it will go. Instead, I will simply drop my 500-word, Wharton essay #4 into Kellogg #4F. It touches upon an extracurricular experience that I don't highlight elsewhere, and which further helps my application "stand out".

Otherwise, I now have detailed outlines for Kellogg #2 and #3 and now will try putting them to paper.

Thursday, January 02, 2003
Posted 11:18 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86860287:

That's what friends are for. While discussing my trouble with the Kellogg essay topics with a close personal friend, we came upon the solution to all my problems.

First, I'm going to keep my current essay #4F, meaning I have all three parts of #4 set. The reason I can do that is that I'm going to scrap my essays #2 and #3.

The problem with both of them so far is that they lack a good structure. With #2, it's more or less a laundry list of ways I can contribute to Kellogg (with essay #4F stuck in the middle). With #3, it's a bland, "plusses and minuses" rundown of my application.

The breakthrough for #2 came from me simply asking my friend, "How do you think I'd enhance the experience of the other Kellogg students?" His answer immediately focused on an aspect of my leadership/teamwork (this friend doesn't know anything about b-schools/Kellogg, so he wasn't biased by their reputation). I can't go into too much detail, but it's a very sharp approach--my essay will be much more like telling a story and less like a laundry list. That's always a good thing.

Similar situation for #3. I asked my friend for their general thoughts on my application, and they immediately lit upon how I stood out from others in my profession. Their suggestion was to start with the basics/assumptions coming from my stats and profession, and then "grow out" from there--demonstrate how I shatter the assumptions and stand out as a candidate. Again, this is a more interesting approach because the essay has direction: Starting out a bit dry and then rising to a crescendo. The feeling it should evoke in the reader while they read it is "And what else has he done!"

I'm feeling more upbeat about these essays now, since at least they will say something. I have a lot of work to do tonight on them--well, actually outlining and writing them. But after tightening up #1 and polishing #4, I'll finally be starting to get a set of essays that I'm happy with.

Posted 9:07 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86855082:

Tonight is Kellogg rewrite night. Hopefully I'll get a passable essay #1, a cleaned up essay #2, a juiced up #3, and a third topic for #4 done.

Posted 5:23 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86846866:

My second recommendation for UMBS has been submitted. So the Kellogg and UMBS apps are completely in my hands now.

Posted 5:19 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86846711:

An assessment of my Kellogg essays:
#1 - redeemable crap
#2 - so-so
#3 - boring crud
#4 - (only two parts done) pretty good

At least I end on a high note ;-)

Posted 4:49 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86845395:

In reviewing my Kellogg second drafts, I discovered that I used the same project experience in both essay #2 (how will I enhance the experience of other Kellogg students) and essay #4C. I think this is a result of writing and reviewing the essays at different times (and its exactly the kind of mistake that reading your entire application is geared to catching).

I am leaning towards keeping it in essay #2, since the story talks about how I improved morale in the workplace, which can tie in nicely with "enhancing" my classmates experiences. That means I'll need to think of something else for my third #4 mini-essay. It's not that I don't have plenty of other experiences to talk's that I don't like trying to shoehorn them into an absurd essay question. Sigh.

Posted 3:26 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86842027:

Survey says...
...that you all think it was a very good idea of me to apply to Columbia. That's just one conclusion to be drawn from my New Year's Survey. The details:

Interview Invitations
In order of most likely to least likely: 81% of you think I'll get a Columbia invite, followed by 65% for Sloan, 13% for HBS, and 11% for Stanford.

In terms of which school you think I'll be admitted to, UMBS leads the pack with 71%, followed by Columbia (65%), Chicago (61%), Sloan (47%), Kellogg (21%), HBS (8%) and Stanford (7%).

My Future
As for which school you think I'll be attending, 32% predicted Chicago, 22% Columbia, 17% Sloan, 9% UMBS, and 3% for HBS, Stanford, and Kellogg. 12% predicted that I'll be rejected by all eight of the schools I'm applying to.

I seem like a...
"dazed pelican", according to 52%. This result surprised me; after all, if I were so "dazed", how could I have pulled together the three R2 apps in under two weeks? I would definitely characterize myself as a "half-starved wolf" (maybe "hungry wolf" is better wording), as did 15% of you. 13% said "crippled hyena", 12% "disappearing mirage", and 9% "beached whale".

About half the respondents aren't applying to any R2 schools; the ress seem to be averaging 3 or 4 schools. Of the respondents who have already been accepted somewhere, Wharton led the pack (probably because of how active I used to be on the S2S board).

Thanks to all who took the time to respond. It's fun having the chance to see what you think about the site and my chances (after all, I spend most of the time showing you what I'm thinking)...

Posted 3:09 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86841286:

Unlike my UMBS essays, I still have a ton of work left on my Kellogg essays. Long story short, I don't have a single "home run" among them, and am struggling just to raise them to the "won't put the reader into a coma" level. I think the next eight days are going to be psycho-busy with the apps. The good news? If push comes to shove, I can take a day or two off from work because it's a new year and my vacation days are replenished.

Posted 3:00 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86840922:

A "BW Poster of the Year" thread has been started...

Posted 2:26 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86839487:

For all you UMBS Round 1 applicants, I notice that the login screen now has the following message posted:
"If you applied online in Decision Round 1 (November 1, 2002 deadline), a decision regarding your application will be posted online on January 15, 2003. On or after January 15, you can view the decision by continuing here with the login process. The decision letter will contain instructions on appropriate next steps."

Good luck!

Posted 2:24 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86839418:

One sign of my comfort with the UMBS essay topics is the fact that I am under the word limit on four of the five essays (and only over by a couple dozen words on the other). From the start I've known exactly the right experiences to use for their topics and not had much difficulty putting them to paper.

Posted 12:59 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86836175:

A reader e-mailed to warn everyone not to justify their Word documents when uploading to online applications. Apparently they discovered (after submitting) that the words looked kind of screwy (stretched or squashed) in the PDF version of their application, and attribute it to the fact that they justified the docs.

I don't think I justified my essays for the R1 apps, but will be sure not to for R2. I guess the overall lesson is to review the final PDF version of your app before pressing the "Submit" button...

Posted 12:44 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86835633:

I just spent about two hours hacking away at my UMBS third drafts. The papers are now a mess--I didn't hold back on the rewrites. I feel good about the progress I made on them, and think that the resulting fourth drafts are close enough to complete to upload to the online app (I usually upload my essays two or three drafts before submittal, so that I can review the entire application PDF while I review my essays).

Maybe it's just the start of a new year, but I'm feeling confident, optimistic, and energized again!

Posted 11:13 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86832194:

Oooh, it looks like the interview invitations are heating up again. The Sloan thread just went active...

Posted 10:34 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86830808:

Time to read-and-revise my UMBS essay third drafts...

Posted 9:09 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86828191:

Plan C
In the back of my head I've started considering a Plan C. I'm right in the midst of Plan B now--i.e. upon getting dinged by Wharton, launching my three R2 applications. Putting them aside, what happens if, come January 22nd, I've gotten rejected by Chicago, Stanford, and HBS. That would put my record at 0-for-4, with only Sloan, Kellogg, CBS, and UMBS outstanding. What to do?

The factors governing my decision would be:
1) I'm not going to apply to any schools final round (i.e. round 3 for most schools). That means my only choices would be schools that have four app rounds, because I could aim for a late-January R3 application.
2) I would have time to send off, at most, one or two apps.
3) The chances for getting recs in short notice would be even slimmer than today.

My motto is "be prepared", so over the next week I'll be checking out R3 (of 4) prospects. Hopefully I'll get the admit from Chicago or HBS or Stanford and this will all be moot.

Posted 8:51 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86827673:

Scary Thought
Since most schools have pre-term activities, first-year students generally have to show up at their schools at some point in August. Do you realize that August is only 210 or so days away?!? It's a bit scary to think that in the next 215 days I'm going to have to pack my stuff, move to a new city (perhaps even one that is thousands of miles away?), find an apartment there, close bank accounts, open bank accounts, arrange for health insurance, quit my job, change phone numbers, sell some property I own, keep my plans secret for another 4-5 montsh, and, oh yeah, arrange for loans totalling $100K-plus! And all of this is still contingent on getting admitted somewhere!

Does anyone else feel a bit intimidated when thinking about all this? Of course it's exciting and all...but I'm already exhausted by five months of essay writing, and it doesn't look like I'll be getting much rest thereafter...

Posted 7:51 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86826129:

I completely slacked off yesterday (ignoring my own advice) and didn't go near my application materials. I decided to get cracking on a New Year's resolution and clean and organize the crusted, chaotic mess that used to be called my "kitchen". After that, I stumbled upon this VH1 show "I Love the '80s", which spends an hour going through each year of the '80s. What a nostalgia trip! Alf, the Super Bowl Shuffle, day-glo orange...

Conclusion: I need to get moving on polishing my UMBS essays ASAP.

PS - Yes, I'll post the results of the New Years survey later today...stop bugging me!

Wednesday, January 01, 2003
Posted 9:13 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86785367:

Happy New Year! get back to those R2 essays!

Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Posted 3:07 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86759986:

As 2002 winds down, there are many people to whom I owe a great deal of thanks:

I am very thankful for having such an understanding and encouraging set of family and friends; understanding in the sense of "tolerating my disappearance over the past four months".

Second, I must thank my recommenders, who have come through for me repeatedly in terms of quality and timing. Special thanks go to my workhorse, who not only provided five original recommendations for the first round, but over the holidays wrote three more recs for R2.

Along similar lines, I owe a lot to my essay reviewer, who helped me push a lot of B+ essays into the A+ range.

This website wouldn't be possible without the free technology provided by many companies (I posted a complete list below). The most useful have been
Blogger, Hotmail, SiteMeter, HaloScan, and ZonkBoard.

Of course, we should all thank Business Week for their free message board (can you imagine MBA apps before it existed?), and the same to Wharton for S2S.

I've also benefited greatly from the insight offered by the MBA bloggers I've found: Adam (at HBS), Laura (at Wharton), and Adrian (at Columbia for a term).

Last, thanks to all of you who have read the site, left comments, posted to the message board, or e-mailed me. I've had a lot of fun writing, and gotten some good ideas from, this weblog.

I hope, and believe, that there will be a happy ending to my tale, so stick around!

Posted 2:19 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86758330:

"TexasCanuck" posts a nice summary of the MBA job-hunt schedule (both years).

Posted 1:16 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86755993:

MBA Wire, 2002 Year in Review

Started Bloggin':
Wednesday, August 28th, 2002, 7:57 am PST.

Emotional High:
Wharton interview day. Man, I was soooo sure that I'd get in there.

Emotional Low:
Take a wild guess.

Most Likely Accept:
Right now, I think Chicago's my best shot, because of background/personality fit and how the app turned out. Of course, I felt the same about Wharton...

I'd be Surprised If:
I got accepted to Stanford without an interview. Maybe "stunned" is a better word for it.

Post I'd like to Prove Wrong:
B-Week #34811.1282.

Fondest Info Session Memory:
Knocking back four or five screwdrivers at the posh Chicago GSB session...

Through the Looking Glass Moment
When I came across this post.

Most Supersticious Moment
December 19th, 4:05 am PST...

Biggest Ego-Trip:
People actually want to read about my MBA travails?!?

Most Missed in 2003:
Chatting on S2S.

Least Missed in 2003:
Living the "double life". Not being able to talk about MBA plans at work, having to keep things private on the site. It gets tiring.

Psychic Prediction for 2003:
January 14th will be a big day.


Posted 12:47 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86754824:

Completed a third draft of my UMBS essays. The biggest changes were to essay #2 (the "Why an MBA, why our school" essay). I decided that it was worthwhile writing a bit about non-career-related reasons I like UMBS. Hopefully this doesn't put my essay too far over the word limit (I'm at 555 words). Essays #1 and #3 also had a fair number of wording changes, and by the time I got to the optional essay I was getting worn down. Overall, I think this essay set is getting there, but still has a ways to go: I'd expect at least another four or five drafts before its submittable.

Posted 12:22 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86753859:

I chatted with my second UMBS recommender, and they apologized (yes, apologized!) for not having the rec done yet. I got assurances that it would definitely be submitted before next week's deadline, so I have no worries on that front.

Posted 10:35 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86750014:

Chicago GSB placement stats have been posted on B-Week.

Posted 10:29 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86749778:

For Wharton R2 applicants, don't miss Wharton's announcement last week of their new CitiAssist loan agreement.

Posted 10:18 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86749420:

The transcript for Business Week's December 19th chat with Don Martin (Chicago GSB AdComm) is now posted on their site at


Posted 4:42 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86740471:

I found Anderson's information package in the mailbox today, about two months after I ordered it and one month after I might have used it. Flipping through it, my first impression is that it's kind of bland--tons of information presented in a boring manner.

Posted 4:05 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86739649:

Cool! I've already almost received the maximum 100 responses to the New Years survey. I should have the results to report tomorrow, hopefully.

Posted 4:03 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86739610:

Not that it matters a great deal, but I couldn't find any indication of the exact time of the UMBS application deadline. This page suggests anytime up to midnight on January 7 would be fine. My goal, as with the rest of my apps, is to submit a day or two early, both to get the app "in front" of the bulk of applicants submitting the last day, and to avoid any last-minute scrambling.

Posted 3:45 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86739246:

With almost a full 24-hours without working on my essays under my belt, tomorrow (Tuesday, that is) will be UMBS essay day.

Monday, December 30, 2002
Posted 4:38 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86712571:

The Kellogg AdComm affirms that, often when it comes to extracurriculars, less is more.

Posted 3:58 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86711100:

In retrospect, 2002 will be the "Year of the Search" for me. I spent the first three months of the year searching for a new job (with mixed results--can't get into the details), and spent the final five months "searching" for a business school. Frankly, I'm a bit tired of "searching" now, so I'm hoping that 2003 will be the "Year of New Beginnings". Hopefully I'll end up in a new town, meeting new people, at a new school, embarking on a new career path. I'm keeping my fingers crossed...

Posted 2:48 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86708743:

Amazingly (since, like, half the office is taking today off), I'm actually kind of busy with work today. Sometimes paying work is a nice break from unpaid work...

Posted 12:09 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86703124:

I finished the second drafts for Columbia #1 and #2, meaning that I have all three schools up to second draft level. I think the smart approach from now on is to rotate the essay sets for revision; UMBS today, Kellogg tomorrow, CBS on Wednesday, etc. This will give me the chance to focus on a single school at a time plus give me a couple days "break" between looks at each set of essays.

Posted 11:24 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86701364:

Man, people are still posting to the "Wharton Dings" thread?!? Get over it...that's, like, soooo two weeks ago...;-)

Posted 10:52 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86700185:

No, I don't expect any interview invitation activity to start until Friday, at the earliest. I'm sure the AdComms pushed really hard to squeeze out every last invitation before the holidays, and it'll take a couple of days back at the office to get moving on any new invitations that may be remaining. I expect the twelve workdays of January 6th through January 22nd to be exciting and busy, as Chicago releases its decision (I've got my fingers crossed), and HBS and Stanford send out any final interview invitations (and I do think each school has a few invitations left to go, based on human nature and previous years).

Posted 10:21 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86699163:

I've taken a bit of a breather from essay work this morning. In the past I've found that trying to repeatedly revise the same set of essays in a short period of time can lead to diminishing returns; it's best to let a bunch of essays sit for a while before trying to polish them. Unfortunately, with now only a week to go until UMBS decision II, time is not on my side.

Anyway, I'm not actually wasting my essay downtime, but instead using it to fill in the blanks in my online apps. I've discovered (or rather, been reminded) that for the Stanford app I had to write very short (4 or 5 line) blurbs about my job responsibilities, which I have reused in the UMBS forms. Sweet.

Posted 7:41 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86695244:

I'm back to my uber-early schedule, at least for the next week or two. While I'm toiling away on these essays, feel free to participate in my New Year's Survey, the results of which will be the new year.

Sunday, December 29, 2002
Posted 9:43 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86679680:

I've revised and completed second drafts of the two Kellogg essays and one UMBS essay I started over the weekend. This is important because, going forward, I can read each schools complete set of essays at the same time, which is absolutely critical for creating a well-rounded application.

Posted 7:34 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86675456:

I'm going to see if I can't revise the five first-drafts I wrote this weekend. If I could get all my essays to a second draft by tomorrow morning, I'd be in pretty plum shape for the R2 deadlines.

Posted 4:38 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86670140:

Now to see if I can take advantage of the gorgeously bright day...

Posted 4:35 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86670039:

Before I get too swept away with the joy of completing all the first drafts, I do still have a laundry-list of application related stuff left to do (I mean, in addition to editing and revising the essays):

* Employment - I have to fill out the Responsibilities for all of my jobs. Since there doesn't seem to be any word limits, I might just cut and paste from my resume...
* Activities - I guess this is the "activities resume" that Columbia asks for. Ugh. I'll see if I can't cut this from some of my other applications (I think Chicago asked for something similar).
* Recommendations - Got to make sure my second rec gets done ASAP.

* Honors and Activities - Page 4 of the application
* Responsibilities - for the three (?) jobs they ask for (Page 6)
* Super Resume - page 17, "one- to two-page resume that highlights your education, academic focus, and honors you received; work experience, responsibilites, and accomplishments (organized by company); and organizations to which you belong. Your resume can also include bullet points highlighting specific skills such as languages as well as personal interests or leadership qualities."

* Thankfully, all they need are the essays (Note to self: check this-"If you are uploading your essay, please include at least a one inch top margin on each page.")


Posted 4:19 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86669601:

The synergy of the cut-and-paste. I decided that, with much chopping, I could use my UMBS essay #4 as the third mini-essay for Kellogg. I think the subject is a good fit--i.e. how I use creativity and humor to improve the workplace--but, as with any chop job, it's going to need some extensive editing.

The good news is: Just nine days after the Wharton rejection, I have completed first drafts (and in many cases, second drafts), for all thirteen R2 essays. Not bad for a dazed pelican, if I do say so myself!

Posted 3:55 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86668842:

Well, after much consideration, I've put together a decent first draft of Kellogg #3. I did it as a pretty straight up-and-down review of my application, hopefully adding some focus (and punch) through the opening and closing paragraphs. It's good enough to go with for now, and I'll work hard to spice it up a bit more in the editing process.

Posted 2:03 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86665725:

BTW, anyone struggling to complete the final mini-essay in Kellogg #4 (where they ask you to address three of six topics), I've printed below the topics from last year. I think that Kellogg allows you to use the previous year's essay topics (and if push comes to shove, you can always shoehorn one into the last option, "I wish Kellogg had asked me"):

"A. Through the course of your life, what would you identify as your most valued accomplishment?
B. Outside of work I enjoy...
C. The best mistake I ever made was...
D. People may be surprised when they learn that I...
E. What personal qualities would you like to develop to become a more effective leader?"

Posted 1:49 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86665336:

Phew; I wrapped up CBS #1. It's not pretty (yet), but I got down onto paper pretty much all the points I wanted to make. I followed my "new approach" to "Why MBA, why our school" essays: Focusing first on the future (i.e. career goals), then the past (i.e. career to date), and then on the "present" (i.e. how Columbia's program bridges the two). I can foresee this essay taking many, many drafts to get perfect...

Posted 1:20 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86664589:

I'm really struggling to finish of Columbia #1. It really should be simple, since (as I've long admitted) there are tons of good, logical reasons why the CBS program is a good fit for my career goals. Yet I'm having trouble translating those bullet points into nice, flowing, essay form.

Posted 11:48 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86662182:

I just stumbled across one of the best written rundowns of a b-school finance department ever, on the website for Columbia's finance dept. It's a treasure trove of useful information, and by useful I mean information that can be incorporated into the "Why Columbia?" essay.

For example, I'd never heard of this distinction before:
"One must also distinguish between mainstream second-year courses (B8000 series) and practitioner second-year courses (B9000 series). The mainstream courses are central to a clear understanding of such fundamental concepts as the measurement of risk and the pricing of uncertain cash flows...The practitioner courses are most often taught by adjunct faculty with current careers on Wall Street."


Posted 10:57 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86660909:

Taking my mind off of Kellogg's essays for a moment, I turned to Columbia #2 ("a specific situation in which you demonstrated initiative"). As I started to write about a recent work project, I realized that I'd already written a similar essay. Digging through my submitted applications, I found it: Sloan #2 ("an example of when you had an impact on a person, group or organization"). I copied the 750+/- word essay over to Columbia's app, chopped out two or three unnecessary paragraphs, put together a nice opening paragraph and voila!--a really nice first draft is done! In these second round of applications, I'm finally finding ways to capitalize on previously written essays (there was very little overlap among my first round of essays).

Posted 10:26 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86660205:

I am still at an impasse with Kellogg essay #3, the "evaluate your own application" essay. My original approach was to do a by-the-books evaluation: Covering my career, plans, extras, etc., with an emphasis on my fit with Kellogg. That looks good on paper, but it was just turning out really, really dry (i.e. boring as spit).

Since last night I've been trying to come up with a more exciting approach--an impassioned argument (from the third person perspective) of why I should be admitted. I have a great opening paragraph for this essay. The problem is that no Kellogg admissions officer could ever submit such an evaluation, because it sounds like pure propaganda.

So I'm swinging back to the original idea, but am still faced with how to make an evaluation of my application exciting. I feel all the more pressure because none of my other Kellogg essays is a homerun. To be honest, out of my three R2 schools, I've had the hardest time connecting with the Kellogg essays. I think it is because they are the most abstract--asking about reasons and explanations, not experiences. Think about it: #1 asks "what are your plans, and why Kellogg", #2 asks "what will you contribute to Kellogg", and #3 asks "what do you think of your app". There's no "describe a leadership situation" or "talk about a team experience" question, nothing that concrete. I'm a concrete sort of guy, so they are tricky for me...

Posted 9:41 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86659253:

A helpful reader left some information on UMBS' MAP program, including the link to an overview of the 2000 program. Many, many thanks, because it answered many of my questions on the details of MAP:

How are Projects Chosen?
Apparently companies come to UMBS with specific projects. There is a MAP project fair at which the companies advertise themselves, and students get a feel for what the choices are. Then the students bid on particular projects.

Where do Students Live?
Since I would be gunning for a Wall Street MAP project (of which there seem to be a few; I saw Chase and JP's names on various lists), this was of interest to me. It seems like the companies cover any expenses involved in trips to their offices (very cool).

Update: Found the site for the 2003 MAP program info.


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