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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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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06/01/2002 - 06/07/2003
06/08/2002 - 06/14/2003
06/15/2002 - 06/21/2003
06/22/2002 - 06/28/2003
06/29/2002 - 07/05/2003
Taken: Once, in 2002
Score: 760+
Advice: Get it over with quickly, aim for 670+
* Thoughts on the GMAT: 1, 2, 3
Advice: Ask them at least 2 months in advance
* Initial thoughts
* On delays: 1, 2
Advice: Develop an overall message. Write outlines. Revise many times. Have a friend proofread. Be honest. Answer what is asked.
* My initial thoughts
* Don't write what you think they want to hear
* My process
Advice: Know yourself. Review your application, answers to common questions.
* AdComm or Alum?
* My list of prep questions
Application Process
Advice: Start early. Give yourself at least two months to finish your first application.
* The "bible" of MBA application's, Montauk's How to Get Into the Top MBA Programs
* Tips on where to start
* Living the double life
* Dealing with disappointment
Financial Aid
Advice: Start early, even before getting accepted anywhere. Americans should fill-out and submit their FAFSA forms as soon as they have 2002 financial/tax info.
* Department of Education FAFSA Website
* Request a PIN for the FAFSA
* List of documents needed to complete the FAFSA form
* FAFSA School Code Lookup
* Legal Disclaimer
Site Info
Started: August 28, 2002
Creator: "Tad Holbie"
Daily Traffic:

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

Welcome! First time visitors are encouraged to start here.

Saturday, January 11, 2003

Posted 8:13 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87284289:

I'm finding it hard to work up he energy to dig into the Columbia essays, both because they're already in pretty good shape and I'm just tired of working on essays. Plus there's a whole Sunday available to polish them off...

Procrastination is tempting me...

Posted 7:12 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87282434:

If you are sitting there reading this site on a Saturday night, do yourself a favor: Turn off the computer, find the movie schedule, and go see Chicago. I'm not a musical fan or a Richard Gere fan, but it was the most entertaining two hours I've spent in a movie theater in a loooooong time. It's funny how the word "entertaining" applies to so many movies these days...

Posted 4:21 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87276901:

I might have more work left on the CBS application forms than the essays themselves! I filled it out back in August, right when I was starting my MBA applications. There are tons of little details that need correcting (job titles, dates, etc.) The essays are looking pretty solid (I'm meeting the friend who's reviewing them on Monday for his thoughts).

Posted 12:01 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87268020:

To avoid needless speculation, I'll say it once: I will post my Chicago GSB status only on Wednesday, January 15th (assuming I know it by then ;-).

On to the Columbia essays...

Posted 12:00 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87268006:

I should clarify my comments about the B-Week forum from yesterday. I originally started going to the B-Week forum both to share ideas about essays/applications and to help out anyone with [basic] questions. Now that I have a lot of application/essay writing experience under my belt, the need to go to B-Week has diminished. Taking a day off from it yesterday was a helpful reminder that (once your applications are in) it is mostly a big waste of time.

Since submitting my apps, have I learned anything truly important from B-Week? I've read plenty of theories, speculation, rumors, lies, insults, questions, and dumb questions. I've seen when the Chicago calls and MIT invites started going out--pretty much when the schools said they would. I know nothing more about what is truly happening in the "real world" (i.e. with my application) than I would not having read it.

I still like to help people out as they start applications (though considering the late date, there are fewer and fewer people in this situation), so I might visit once in a while. The rest is just nervous, out-of-touch fluff--a delusional world created mostly be poeple who aren't going to be accepted anywhere (and I mean that not in an "I'm above them" sense, but in a "it's a mathematical reality" sense).

To aid in this effort, I've taken two steps:
1) When I'm on BWeek, I've started using this cool "Ignore" feature. If you check each post, in the bottom left there's a drop-down list of "Options". By choosing "Ignore this Author" you can hide all posts by anyone you know is, pardon my Frency, full of shit (my list is rapidly growing). If someone never has anything worthwhile to say, why waste your time with them?
2) Changed my "Preferences" so that I don't get e-mailed when someone posts something directed to me. Getting e-mails saying someone left a message for you is a big temptation to check them out. If you click on the "My Forums" link in the upper right, then scroll down you'll see a "My preferences" link. From there you can set that.

So, going forward, if anyone has questions or comments specifically for me, here is the best place to leave them.


Posted 11:42 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87267394:

246, 254
249, 244

Friday, January 10, 2003
Posted 10:14 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87247815:

I must say, I highly recommend taking days off from the B-Week Forum.

Posted 5:13 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87211828:

I'm probably going to take the rest of the day off from blogging. 1) I'm not going to be doing any application stuff; 2) I'll be busy with other things; 3) I need a rest; and thus 4) there's really not anything I want to write about. But before I go:

Friday Deadline Countdown
* 5 days left until the Chicago Round 1 decision
* 5 days left until the Columbia merit based fellowship deadline
* 12 days left until the HBS Round 1 decision
* 12 days left until the Stanford Round 1 decision
* 35 days left until the MIT Sloan Round 1 decision
* 64 days left until the UMBS Round 2 decision
* 80 days left until the Kellogg Round 2 decision

My status:
* HBS - Submitted for Round 1
* Stanford - Submitted for Round 1
* Chicago - Submitted for Round 1; Interviewed
* Sloan - Submitted for Round 1
* Kellogg - Submitted for Round 2
* Columbia - Done 4th drafts of essays; Forms completed; Recommendations done
* UMBS - Submitted for Round 2; Interviewed


Posted 4:30 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87210974:

I have submitted Kellogg part II. Two Round 2 apps down, one to go. I'm pretty exhausted; I'll probably be getting in late to work today. Tomorrow I'll launch back into the Columbia essays, which are in pretty good shape (i.e. even as fourth drats, they're better than my submitted Kellogg essays).

Interestingly, I found the Kellogg app easier to submit, both technically and emotionally. On the technical front, I had forgotten that I already paid the application fee (with part I), so was a bit surprised at how few clicks it took to submit. Emotionally, because I have not yet had my Kellogg interview, I feel like I still have a "second chance", i.e. even if
my essays weren't home runs I'll get a shot a knocking it out of the park in the interview.

Thursday, January 09, 2003
Posted 9:05 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87195329:

Light at the End Of the Tunnel
I'm starting to see it. I've got a fair amount of work left on polishing the Kellogg essays to a spit-shine, but am sure I'll have them done at some point tonight (and by tonight I mean anytime before, say, 5am tomorrow). And then I will rest. And then I will finish off Columbia, which aren't that far from done either.

Posted 5:30 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87186072:

I noticed that the MBA Admissions Wire officially passed 100,000 page views this afternoon (I also see visits by,,, and over the past hour); thanks for stopping by!

Posted 5:15 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87185393:

I'm trying to decide which is worse:
1) Sitting in meetings, wondering if Don Martin has called.
2) Feeling your cell phone vibrate during a meeting, knowing you can't take the call, wondering if it was Don Martin.
3) Getting out of the meeting, seeing that you have a voice mail waiting, and then finding out it isn't from Don Martin.

I guess it has to be #2...

Posted 3:03 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87179719:

Be Careful Posting Links
It looks like someone accidentally posted an HTML link on B-Week that allowed people to access his or her HBS application materials. Oops. It's probably a bad idea to cut and paste anything from an online application anywhere...

Posted 1:36 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87176005:

Can I believe my eyes?
Popped back to my desk for a few minutes between meetings, and was checking out the websites for my possible "Plan C" schools (i.e. schools I might apply to after finishing up the R2 apps next week). Checking out the Fuqua application, I was startled to find that there are only three essay questions, of 250, 400, and 500 words?!? Do my eyes deceive me? I reprint below:

"1. Describe your professional work experience since earning your bachelor’s degree and discuss how you chose your career path. (Limit your response to 250 words.)
2. What are your short and long term career goals once you earn your MBA? Why will The Duke MBA help you reach these goals? (Limit your response to 400 words.)
3. Fuqua’s culture values the individual contributions that each student brings to the community. What qualities and life experiences will you bring to Fuqua, and how will they enable you to contribute? (Limit your response to 500 words.)"

The brevity of these topics, and the fact that Fuqua only asks for two recs, immediately moves it to the top of my Plan C pile. Now I only need to investigate the minor detail of how strong Duke is in finance/Wall Street/general academics...

Posted 9:33 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87166016:

I've finally passed the "satisfied" bar with my Kellogg essays. That's a big step, because it means that if push comes to shove I can submit the app and not feel like I've wasted $200 (or whatever the price was). There still some cleaning to do, some awkward phrases here and there, and other improvements. It's still probably going to end up being my least favorite set of essays I produced. But I'll be satisfied that I did my best and produced a quality result.

I won't be at my desk much of today and tomorrow, so it looks like the only time available for doing the bulk of this work is tonight.

Posted 9:12 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87165255:

I would urge everyone who regularly reads B-Week to take any advice or "inside information" about certain schools with several grains of salt. There are definitely a few posters on B-Week who 1) enjoy messing with people, 2) get pleasure with denigrating certain schools, and 3) claim to be accepted to places where they are not. I have some special insight on this because of reader e-mail, online chats, messages on my bulleting board, and the other technical facilities this website offers.

I don't have the time or inclination to "police" the B-Week forum, though it does raise my ire sometimes when I see someone trying to mislead others. In the end it's not worth getting into a "flame war" on an anonymous, public message board (really, there's no point to it), so I just put [those posters] on my ignore list and move on. I just wanted to post this message so that everyone stays alert, and when someone pops up out of the blue claiming "I've heard this program sucks because ____" or "I've been accepted to HBS, but will turn it down for Iowa State Agro-Business School" or something that smells fishy, it probably is fishy.

That's the end of my public service announcement. Now back to your regularly scheduled blogging.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003
Posted 7:26 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87137938:

Adam (first-year HBS) is open to questions for you HBS applicants...

Posted 7:24 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87137839:

It looks like a long 48 hours (give or take) until the Kellogg deadline. The essays are in much better shape, just in need of some heavy-duty polishing. Unfortunately, I'm going to be in meetings most of the next two days, meaning my time to work on them is limited. And I feel a slight headcold building--better start with the vitamins and Dristan now, to head that off at the pass.

Sloan is inviting people
Chicago is calling people
Stanford and HBS are silent
I'm busy with Kellogg

Posted 5:37 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87133248:

...Meanwhile, on the Sloan thread, the invites continue apace...

Posted 4:22 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87130078:

Must focus on revising Kellogg essays, must focus on revising Kellogg essays, must focus...

Posted 4:16 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87129875:

...and right after I mention the stress level, we have the first reports of Chicago Don Martin calls going out (the news broke first...on my message board; cool)!

It's funny, my phone rang about 30 minutes go with the display showing an outside, unlisted number. I answered it in my professional sounding voice, only to be let down when it was a wrong number. Sigh...

Posted 3:35 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87128104:

The "stress level" on the B-Week forum has done a quantum leap this week, probably as a result of tons of R2 application deadlines (Kellogg, UMBS, HBS, Stanford, Wharton, oh my!) and the run-up to some of the big R1 decision dates (HBS, Stanford, Chicago in the next few weeks; Sloan starting interview invitations). I think these pressures have led to three effects:

1) A simultaneous increase in the number of posts and decrease in the value of them
2) A greater "snippiness" in some of the posters (i.e. people are quicker to take offense, and give it)
3) A greater urge to check B-Week (let's be honest, we all want to know the second that someone, somewhere hears from Chicago's Don Martin)

Not a fun mixture. My recommendation would be to intentionally limit B-Week viewing to specified times in the day (every hour, twice a day, or something like that). I'll admit that I'm having a tough time following this regimen, but when I end up being a lot happier and productive.

Posted 2:02 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87124276:

The UMBS Interview Experience
I've completed my UMBS alumni interview, my third MBA interview (after the mandatory Chicago and the Wharton on-campus interviews). Overall I'd rate it the best of my three, and coming out of it I feel a restored sense of confidence and a very positive image of UMBS.

I specifically chose a recent (as in the past three years) graduate for this interview, and I think it paid off. He was an American of the same generation as me, which meant that I was able to click better with him (in contrast, my GSB interviewer was 8+ years out of school, and my Wharton interviewer had a very different background than me). Plus, the UMBS experience was still fresh in his mind.

To be honest, I was a bit nervous before this interview, more so than the prior two. I attribute this to the Wharton ding: I don't think my interview "sunk" my app, but it obviously didn't do enough to "raise" it above the bar.

Interestingly, only the first fifteen to twenty minutes of the interview was taken up by questions to me. The questions I got were:
* Why are you seeking an MBA?
* What got you interested in UMBS?
* UMBS is not a "finance school" per se (like Wharton or Chicago), so why do you favor it?
* In going over my resume in general, we got into a discussion of my management experience, which led to questions like do you like leading teams? Why?

After that, the floor was open for me to ask questions, and I think I had many good ones. At different points in our talk, the interviewer complimented my resume and my knowledge about the UMBS program, which are both good signs I think.

After about 35 minutes or so, the interviewer started signalling that it was time to wrap up. Since we had hit it off, I took it to mean that he made it a rule to limit interviews to a half-hour, so didn't take it as a bad sign (the B-Week UMBS thread confirms that others have had the same experience).

Overall, I feel like, combined with the UMBS essays (which I think are my best of all 8 schools), this interview might have put me over the top there.

Posted 1:44 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87123547:

Weird, Irritating Morning
$600-$1200. That's what it's going to cost to fix a leaking pipe in my place of residence (and those numbers don't include fixing any of the ceiling/walls that have to be opened up to get at the pipe). That's about double what I was expecting (and I will be getting a second opinion on it).

What made that worse is that the plumber showed up over two hours later than scheduled. If the second plumber is 1) close to being on time and 2) in the same ballpark, he'll be getting my business.

Still, it was good to be focused (in a shocked, incoherent rage sort of way) on something other than MBA applications for a while. On second thought, not really.


Posted 9:11 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87112238:

This is a pretty damn good summary of the R1 application numbers, if I do say so myself.

Posted 7:47 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87109606:

One week left hear from Chicago GSB. My hopes are high: I have a good background and career fit with them, am happy with my essays, and think the alumni interview went pretty well. If I weren't stuck in the middle of Kellogg and Columbia apps, I'd probably be on pins and needles by now...

Tuesday, January 07, 2003
Posted 5:36 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87080271:

I just wrapped up rewrites of Kellogg #2 and #3, and both are looking much better. After discussing my struggles with them, my workhorse recommender volunteered to review them for me, and gave them positive marks. He hated the opening to #2, but then came up with a sentence that will be, by far, my best opening line of any essay. I'll be typing in his changes to create a completed set of Kellogg fifth drafts.

On another front, I just spoke with the friend who reviewed all my other essays, and he's willing to read over my Columbia essays (which are now in their fourth draft). Since a good portion of Columbia #2 and #3 come from other schools' essays, I don't think there's much work left on them either. #1 still needs a little bit of rewording in the "Why Columbia?" section.

Though exhausted, I'm feeling generally upbeat about this turn of events...

Posted 5:15 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87079418:

From the HBS online login page:

"Due to heavy application submission activity, we are extending the Round 2 Application Deadline until 1/8/2003 at 5:00 PM EST for applicants and recommenders. Please keep trying to submit your application. We thank you for your patience."

I think they're goin' easy on those R2ers...;-)

Posted 3:37 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87075164:

It looks like Kellogg R1 decisions are starting to come out. Good luck all!

Posted 12:14 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87066975:

...In the meantime, check out a fresh new crop of MBA applicant weblogs, all started over the past few weeks:

MBA Admit - Dalton's applied to Kellogg, Chicago, Haas, Anderson, Marshall, Sloan, and UMBS. Now he's blogging about the waiting process.
Modz Blog - New Yorker Modz Speranto is busy waiting for R1 results and applying to R2 schools.
GSB/HBS Blog - Whatever happened to this person? They spent the time and energy to create a blog, then could only muster one post.

Everyone else should jump onboard the MBA blogging bandwagon!

Posted 10:50 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87063428:

BTW, today Stanford has an online chat. I've tried to attend these four or five times, and have given up. If you do manage to get in and hear anything interesting, post a comment.

From the Stanford e-mail:
Stanford chats
* Tuesday, January 7 from 1-2 p.m PST
* Thursday, January 16 from 3-4 p.m. PST

Posted 10:19 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87062196:

Blogging will be light over the next few days. I'm swamped juggling many different things: Getting an electrician to come by to fix a light socket (it shoots out sparks whenever I try to put a new bulb in), finishing the Kellogg essays, preparing for an interview, investigating some water damage in my living room (a 2-inch hole opend in the ceiling), working on my Columbia application, and, oh yeah, my paying job (and the start of the year meetings-fest that is on the way). Blogging comes last on this list.

Posted 8:20 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87058122:

I do have an idea for essay #2, and am about halfway through it. It's nothing fancy; more a rhetorical device for linking the experiences together. Still, it does answer the question, help the essay flow, and tie together my experiences. That puts it head-and-shoulders above any of the previous drafts...

Posted 7:55 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87057376:

Hmmmm. Are Adam and Jenny the alternate-universe versions of Jenny and Adam? In the former, Adam is a security guard in Australia (the exact opposite side of the globe from Boston); in the latter, Adam is a student at HBS. In the former, Adam and Jenny are planning to get married. In the latter, they have gotten married. Think about it!

Posted 7:37 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87056862:

Yes, I did submit my UMBS application yesterday. I thought the essays were ready, gave the complete application PDF a final run-through, and then pressed submit. Five essays, seven drafts, two original recommendations, one ETS score report, and one alumni interview, all in the eighteen days since the Wharton decision. Dazed Pelican indeed!

Monday, January 06, 2003
Posted 7:36 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87032441:

Just so it's clear, it's my policy to immediately remove any offensive material posted to my website, without comment. Period.

Posted 4:51 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87025219:

I'm wrapping up my Kellogg essay #3 (I guess this is, what, the fifth draft?) and it's a solid enough effort. I've tried to keep it as brief as possible, and it should weigh in at about a page and a half. It's not going to knock anyone's socks off, but it'll hammer home the themes mentioned in the rest of the application. [Shrug].

Posted 4:07 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87023246:

Now this is awkward: Both my boss, and his boss, have stopped by my desk today to sound out my interest in a new role on my project. I've had to diplomatically turn down the new role, because 1) it would be a move in the wrong direction for me (i.e. further away from the business areas of the firm I'm interested in) and 2) I don't expect to be around to see it through to completion. Well, I should also mention 3) it's exactly the type of work I'm not interested in (i.e. why I decided to get an MBA).

I really feel like I'm walking the tightrope right now at work. Naturally I jump at any increase in responsibility or visibility, so it's out of character for me to turn this down. Still...even if I'm rejected from all 8 schools, the last thing I want to do is take this new role...I don't take pleasure in disappointing my boss or keeping my plans hidden.

Posted 1:24 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87016399:

Okay, I think I've gotten "the idea" for Kellogg essays #2 and #3. Here are my thoughts:

2. Each of our applicants is unique. Describe how your background, values and non-work-related activities will enhance the experiences of other Kellogg students.
Boiled down, I can rephrase this question as "What can you--through your background, values, and interests-- uniquely contribute to Kellogg, and how does it enhance others' experience?" I think the key word in the question is "unique"; after all, 90% of applicants are going to be able to contribute a "strong work ethic", "teamwork skills", "intelligence", "humility", etc. The overlooked word of the essay topic is "describe"; this verb means that I not only have to explain these unique contributions, but how they benefit the other students.

I have thought up a theme to the essay that 1) clearly answers the "how" [my experiences benefit others], 2) is (hopefully) somewhat original/interesting, and 3) ties in very nicely to the work/extracurricular experiences I wanted to mention in the essay. The only downside (a minor one, I hope) is that the theme is a bit...well, let's just say it's a tad poetic sounding. A bit fancy. Still, it beats all my other attempts on #2 so far, and I'd rather get dinged after going all out on an essay than dinged after pulling my punches.

3. You have been selected as a member of the Kellogg Admissions Committee. Please provide a brief evaluative assessment of your file.
On essay #3 I'm moving in the opposite direction from #2: My essay is going to be much less dramatic and much more factual. Why? I'm guessing that they key word in the essay topic is "brief", and so I am going to try for as brief an evaluation as I can possibly be without letting anything slip under the covers. At worst, it will be a short but boring recap for them to read. At best, it will be a short and slightly interesting recap that touches on some questions for them.

Neither of these essays is a home run (though, if written well, I might be able to stretch #2 into a ground-rule double), but they could be marked improvements on my previous attempts. Plus I just want to write something and be done with them.

Posted 11:59 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87012853:

The morning has started off pretty quiet on the work front. I might take another stab at Kellogg #2 and #3, and try to find a way to 1) answer the question asked, 2) highlight the best parts of my background and experiences, and 3) make the answers interesting enough to keep a reader awake. So far I've been only abe to simultaneously do two of these three things...

Posted 11:36 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87011933:

Plan C Schools:
So far, my list of Plan C schools (i.e. those that I might apply to if I get a trio of dings from Chicago, Stanford, and HBS over the next two weeks) is:

Anderson (January 30) - Third of four rounds; only two recs needed.
Fuqua (January 30) - Third of four rounds; only two recs needed; interview required.
Haas (January 31) - Third of fourth rounds; only two recs needed.
Yale (March 14!) - Third of fourth rounds; three recs needed;

I guess I could add Darden to the list, but I'm sorry, I just don't see myself as a Charlottsville man. To each their own!

Posted 10:34 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87009437:

This B-Week post suggests that all us Chicago R1 applicants need to chillllllllll for the next few days.

Posted 10:32 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87009380:

The great thing about Subway brand sandwiches is that they not only taste delicious, but are also quite nutricious!

Posted 10:17 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87008793:

If I were to rank all 8 of the essay sets I've worked on (and submitted) so far, this is how I would rate them:

1) UMBS - I found the questions very straightforward, the word limits just right, and was able to put my previous essay writing experience to use. The result was a set of essays that I was happy with after only (only?) seven drafts.
2) Sloan - Though it took fifteen drafts to perfect them, I think my Sloan essays were very strong too. Most important, I absolutely nailed the cover letter, which is the most important of the bunch (I think).
3) Columbia - I am taking a more risky approach with these essays, but am overall very happy with how they are turning out. Once again, I think that I was able to build on the experience of previous essay sets to the benefit of this one.
4) Wharton - I was very happy with how the essay set turned out, feeling the topics offered a nice balance of work and extracurricular highlights. It'll be interesting to get the feedback in May (right now I'm guessing it was the interview/overall tone that did me in, but who knows?)
5) Stanford - Essay A is still my best essay ever. I'm not sure about how great essay B is, though, especially vis-a-vis knowing the Stanford program.
6) Chicago - Only asked for three essays, and I am generally happy with the results. I think my essay C (the speech) is great, A is pretty good, and B is adequate.
7) HBS - I did the best I possibly could with the short word limits, and am happy with the results.
8) Kellogg - I'm still struggling to write essays #2 and #3 in an interesting manner, and think that Kellogg's is going to turn out to be my worst essay set to date. Right now it is the only set of essays that I'm unhappy with the results. I have four more days to rectify this.

Posted 9:36 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87007307:

There were surprisingly few errors or problems in my Columbia essays. #2-4 are pretty much done; maybe one or two drafts (tops) remain. I need to rewrite a paragraph or two in #1 in describing the advantages of CBS, but overall I'm happy with how that's turned out, too. If only CBS was due on Friday and Kellogg next week...

Posted 7:54 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87004179:

I think I'm going to start the day reading through my Columbia essays. I know I should put them aside until Kellogg is complete, but frankly I'm just sick to death of those Kellogg essays, and need to give them some time to "rest".

Sunday, January 05, 2003
Posted 11:13 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86990029:

Tip for Sloan Interviewees
I just noticed the following note posted on the Sloan curriculum webpage:

"The 2003-04 curriculum is currently undergoing a redesign. Information on the new curriculum will be available in spring 2003 (Dean Richard Schmalensee addresses business ethics and the redesign in a Boston Globe op-ed)."

Posted 11:04 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86989615:

The Week Ahead
I'll posting hot and heavy on:
1) Finishing up the Kellogg essays
2) Details of my UMBS alumni interview
3) Getting the Columbia app ready
4) Pins and needles for Don Martin's phone call (check the B-Week interview for the details)
5) Hoping for some interview invitations

On the last point, there are now only twelve business days left until the HBS and Stanford deadlines (remember, Monday the 20th is a national holiday in the US). The clock is ticking...

Posted 10:25 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86987910:

Good News, Good News, Bad News
The first piece of good news is that I think I'm done with the UMBS app. I just completed the seventh drafts of my essays, and feel happy with the state they're in. I've uploaded them to the online app, and after I print it out (for some reason PDF printing doesn't work on my home PC) tomorrow morning and give it a last check over I'll submit it. The UMBS essays might just be my best set of essays yet.

The second piece of good news is that I just spoke with my second Columbia recommender and he promises to have his rec done by Thursday at the latest. That's one less thing to worry about, as his rec will be the last one I need for R2.

The bad news is that, after reading through my Kellogg essays, despite the improvements I've made I still think #2 and #3 are crap. Before they were flavorless crap--think old oatmeal--and now they are poorly flavored crap--think old oatmeal with Tabasco sauce and honey mixed in. I'm feeling a bit stressed now because I've tried two approaches with these essays and neither has come out the way I liked. I feel the Friday deadline looming.

Still, with UMBS down, a revision of my Columbia essays, and much improved Kellogg #1 and #4, I have to mark this as a successful weekend.

Posted 3:25 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86972014:

On to review the Kellogg fourth drafts...I'm in the zone with these essays right now...

Posted 3:22 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86971936:

How about this AFC wildcard game? Mud, snow, grass stains, Browns, and Steelers; that's what football's all about.

Posted 2:54 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86971033:

A reader writes to ask if I'm from Pasadena, as the background in my photo resembles that area. Close (or not so close?) but no cigar. The photo actually has an interesting story behind it, one that I'll share when this is all over.

Posted 2:51 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86970906:

I'm on a roll now, having just finished reviewing my UMBS fifth drafts. I found quite a few corrections/improvements, but most were of the cosmetic variety. I am feeling very comfortable with these essays, and think I might have only another one or two drafts to go on them. I'm definitely on track to submit tomorrow night at the latest.

Posted 1:10 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86967635:

I'm going to see if I can get another round of essay reviews (specifically UMBS and Kellogg) done before evening reaches us. I generally think that reading over an essay draft that you just finished is of limited value, but heck, with UMBS due in 48 hours my options are limited...

Posted 10:43 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86963570:

Am I the only one slightly suspicious of someone claiming to have already been accepted to Sloan? I mean, they have just (apparently) sent out their first big wave of interview invitations, yet this guy (or gal) already has an acceptance letter? I hope that anybody interviewing on campus next week will ask about this (even for the sake of self-interest: does Sloan release admission decisions prior to the decision date?)

Posted 10:40 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86963496:

I just wanted to interject that resumes that are greater than one page in length are a pet peeve of mine. A resume is a particular form of business correspondence, meant to summarize and highlight a candidate's relevant experience, not to cover a candidate's entire history. Maybe it is because I've sometimes had to do interviews for my group at work that I've come to see this as a problem; I've seen countless two, three, even four page resumes that immediately convey to me that the candidate has difficulty organizing information and presenting themselves.

I know that some business schools specifically ask for more info in the uploaded "resume" than is typical (i.e. they ask for a resume that covers all educational, work, and extracurricular experience); in these cases, since what they are asking for is not truly a business resume, I guess it's okay to run over one page. But otherwise...I think people need to realize that resumes are marketing documents, not biographies. Stick to one page!

Posted 10:32 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86963336:

I've finished up my UMBS #5 (optional essay). It only required some structural re-jiggering; I open it with more of a bang, and then lifted a more zesty description of the experience from my Columbia #3 essay. The result is a bit longer than before but 1) a much better read and 2) more clearly linked to the question asked.

So now I have a complete set of fifth drafts for UMBS, fourth drafts for Kellogg, and third drafts for Columbia. I'll print them all out, and then catch a few hours of shut-eye before going into another round of revisions.

Posted 8:31 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86960554:

Holy $#!+, Jackpot!
I just wrote the single best paragraph in answer to "Why our school?" ever in my fourth draft of Kellogg essay #1. It is perfect, because 1) it is a true--although minor--reason I got interested in Kellogg, 2) it has a personal touch (that none of my other "Why our school" essays achieve), 3) it is probably very unique among applicants, and 4) it highlights a central "theme" of Kellogg's. With one paragraph, I think I've taken this essay from a B- to a solid A.

Posted 8:06 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86960053:

Surprisingly, there are very few big changes needed in my Kellogg essays. Probably #1 is the worst off...I really need to do a better job of conveying why I want to attend Kellogg (i.e. I need an injection of passion). Beyond that, #2 is pretty good; I don't come close to talking about all the ways that I would enhance the Kellogg experience, but the essay is pretty readable and interesting. The third essay is even better; I'd give it a solid B+ for readability and content. Finally, I've always been happy with my three mini-essays for #4, and they only need minor word tinkering.

More than any other application, I think my Kellogg essays both 1) show a strong progression from so-so to great (i.e. they end on a high note) and 2) work the hardest to differentiate myself from the stereotype of my profession (an effort that was much less explicit in my other apps).

Incidentally, if I can find the photos I took earlier in the year during my Chicago area visit I'll post them to my MSN group photo album...I'm not very good of keeping my photos orderly (or in one place, for that matter)...

Posted 7:26 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #86959299:

Have dragged myself up before dawn to continue the crusade...

Last night I did finish typing in the third drafts for CBS #2-4 and fifth drafts for UMBS #1-4. Not completed are the couple of paragraph changes to CBS #1 and the rewrite of UMBS #5 (optional essay).

I did, however, start reviewing my Kellogg [third drafts] and have started the morning with that task...


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