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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* 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)
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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 18, 2003

Posted 3:51 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87650609:

For those of you interested, the Financial Times has released their 2003 MBA rankings. The top 10 are:
1) Wharton
2) HBS
3) Columbia
4) Stanford
5) Chicago GSB
6) Insead
7) London Business School
8) NYU
9) Kellogg
10) Sloan

As always, it's best to look at the ranking criteria in interpreting the numbers.

Update: After some digging, I found the Financial Time's MBA frontpage, which links to not only the rankings, but also articles about business education (there's even an article about all the conflicting rankings). Unfortunately, most of the articles are accessible only by FT subscribers.

I think like all business school rankings, this one has its own quirks. It seems to put disproportionate weight on schools whose graduates have large salaries and "international mobility". Whenever salary increase comes into play, the winners are schools that graduate a lot of Investment Bankers (and, to a lesser extent, Management Consultants), over schools with less Wall Street connections. That's a fair enough measurement of things, but as expected, its not the complete picture.

For example, if you ranked cars based on front seat headroom and style, my VW New Beetle would be a clear winner. However, if you ranked them based on rear seat legroom or load carrying capacity, it would be at the bottom of the list. It would be ridiculous to choose one ranking over the other and say, "See, this particular car is rated the best car in the world"--just as ridiculous as taking any rankings as gospel.

Friday, January 17, 2003
Posted 10:11 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87621694:

I very much doubt I'll be posting much over the weekend. I plan to rest, rest, rest some more, and read over my Sloan app. I might take a peek at my HBS and Stanford apps one last time, to be reminded of what they are basing their decision on. All this means there will be very little to no posting until Monday (which is the Martin Luther King holiday in the US).

Everyone, have a great weekend. Hopefully next week will bring a wave of good news to all who deserve it!

Posted 6:07 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87612950:

The Hong Kong plans remain shaky: It could be in a couple weeks, it could be in March (which I'd prefer for so many reasons), it could fall through.

Now that all my apps are submitted, I've found myself getting back into the swing of things at work. To be honest, I've been reminded that, all in all, my current job is a fair bit enjoyable. It's funny, back when I was grinding through essays, the job seemed like only an irritating distraction. Now it's good to be getting away from the forums, the e-mails, and everything else. I think this process will continue for a while...

Posted 4:38 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87609356:

Adam (first year, HBS) posted his thoughts on the GMAT, low quant scores, etc. last June.

Posted 4:26 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87608840:

Friday Deadline Countdown
* 5 days left until the HBS Round 1 decision
* 5 days left until the Stanford Round 1 decision
* 28 days left until the MIT Sloan Round 1 decision
* 57 days left until the UMBS Round 2 decision
* 73 days left until the Kellogg Round 2 decision
* ?? days left until the Columbia decision

My status:
* HBS - Submitted for Round 1
* Stanford - Submitted for Round 1
* Sloan - Submitted for Round 1; Invited to interview
* Kellogg - Submitted for Round 2
* Columbia - Submitted for Regular Decision
* UMBS - Submitted for Round 2; Interviewed

All my apps are submitted; all my essays, written; all my cards, played.

Posted 2:55 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87604845:

"PSAAM" wrote the best post that I've read on B-Week in a long, long time. I especially like point #4, which I've made before:

"...If you felt in early November that you had a very strong application and haven't been interviewed, you should still feel that you have a strong application, and as such, a decent chance of being accepted..."

Posted 2:05 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87602627:

I must confess, I'm heartened by the Stanford chat yesterday (see B-Week posts 35834.1025 and 35834.1029). The two items of most interest:

1) Stanford is the first school I've seen say that the GMATs are very important (most other schools stick to the "just another datapoint" party line). For obvious reasons, the more weight Stanford puts on GMAT scores, the happier I am.

2) It seems much more likely that applicants who have not been interviewed will make up a sizeable chunk of the accepted pool. Originally I was thinking that 90%+ of the accepted applicants would be interviewed; now I guess it won't be higher than 75%. This comes from the AdComm's statements that last year "over half" were interviewed, and the "5-10 year goal" is to interview every accepted candidate.

Even more important, it is not the "superstar" or "clear admit" candidates that Stanford isn't interviewing, it is simply the candidates who cannot be paired with an alumni interviewer (of which there probably aren't many, since the program was started last year). This gives me hope: despite being in a large city, up here there might not be a lot of alumni (or trained alumni) around. Were I a San Francisco applicant without an interview, I think I would have much less of a chance because it's likely that a large number of alums live there.

So on both counts, I'm feeling slightly more hopeful than I was last week. If my GMAT is taken seriously enough, if I turned enough heads with my essays, if..., if...

Posted 10:34 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87593082:

Proving that they continue to be the most innovative MBA program to not accept me (sorry Alex, couldn't resist ;-), Wharton's put together a really slick website that organizes all its student diarists into one place:

The front page has a nice interface for searching diary entries by words, date ranges, and/or author (and I see that they now have four students participating). Also nice is the "quick links" to each diarist's latest entry and bios that give you some background on each.

Wherever I end up, I'm gonna have to petition the AdComm to be made an official diarist (note to Rod Garcia: Have your people call my people, we'll do lunch, work something out ;-)...

Posted 9:10 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87589600:

In January, MIT/Sloan has a free month between terms, its IAP (Independent Activities Period). For a taste of what's offered then, the website is:
(Thanks to "Ravi" for posting it).

Thursday, January 16, 2003
Posted 7:57 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87562674:

There are some really great summaries of the [good part] of the Stanford chat on B-Week. My summary? Hope lives!

Posted 7:49 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87562340:

Jeez. I take back all the complaints I wrote about Stanford not holding enough chats. I finally was able to log into the tail-end of this afternoon's chat, and it was a zoo--the number of freaks/middle school boys outnumbered MBA applicants 5-to-1. If I were an AdComm, I wouldn't waste my time with that. I think should offer some sort of chat functionality that only allows people who have started online applications to participate.

The other question that came to mind: How does Alex Brown (and the rest of the Wharton crew) keep the S2S chat room so civil?

Posted 4:32 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87553326:

Wow. I thought that the 7 day wait between when the Chicago decisions started going out and when I was dinged was tough. I just checked out the Kellogg Round 1 thread: the decisions for their R1 started in December and presumably will continue all the way until the decision date...January 27th!?! I guess after the first few weeks (!) of being on pins-and-needles, at some point you just lose interest and say "Que sera, sera"...

Posted 3:11 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87549608:

Stanford Chat
The Stanford admissions committee is hosting a chat today, January 16, from 3-4 p.m. PST. I've had a lot of difficulty getting the Yahoo chat software working, first due to Java and second due to my corporate firewall. That said, I might give it one more shot tonight.

The address is


Posted 12:59 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87543230:

The reason I felt a bit relieved when I got the Chicago ding? Look at Treeman, still holding his breath on the 16th...

Posted 11:48 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87539926:

The Sloan invitation is great news on so many levels:
1) It's a confirmation that I put together a very strong Sloan application.
2) It shows that the Wharton invitation was not a fluke.
3) For many reasons (i.e. this very web page) I think Sloan is a good fit for my personality and background
4) Rumors suggest that a Sloan invitation is much more important (statistically) than a Wharton invitation; i.e. last year they only invited 25% of applicants to interview and accepted about 50% of them (and, if this B-Week post is true, the significant decline in R1 applications this year will only boost interviewees' chances) (NOTE: Mr. Garcia did say on a different occassion that Sloan interviewed 40% of the applicants, not 25%.)
5) It means that, so far, not a single school has dinged me without an interview.
6) It's a nice salve to the Chicago rejection.

Because Sloan gives you a very short notice on the invitation (i.e. they specify the week in which you [really should] interview), the preparation has to be very focused:
1) Review my app, know it inside and out
2) Do as much research on Sloan as possible (which is tough because of the paucity of information on their website)
3) Relax

Of course, I'll post a detailed account of my interview experience, say, by next Friday (1/24). So stick around, buckle your seatbelts, cross your fingers and hold your breath!

Posted 11:09 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87538156:

Rod Garcia Rocks!!
"Refresh" finally payed off:

"From: Rod Garcia
To: Sloan MBA Applicants
Subject: Sloan Applicant Interviews

Dear Applicant:

We have now had the opportunity to review your application to the Sloan MBA Program. We are impressed with your written materials and would like to have the opportunity to meet you in person at [location], during the period January ##-##, 2003. Because of the short notice, we would appreciate hearing from you about your availability at the earliest opportunity. Your decision will be communicated to you online through your ApplyYourself account by February 14, 2003...

Please call our office (617-###-####) between 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. EST to schedule your 30-to-45-minute interview. We will indicate the times available for your interview with [names of possible interviewers], who are members of the Admissions Committee, empowered to make a decision. The interview will take place in [the location], and will cover a wide range of topics. If you are not available during the above weeks or wish to interview in another location, please send me an email so I can arrange an alternative date and/or location...

We look forward to hearing from you about your availability.

Rod Garcia
Director of MBA Admissions

P.S. If you have a friend or colleague who is also applying to the Sloan School but has not been invited, please let him/her know that we are still evaluating applications and will invite candidates to interview through February 14, 2003. Out of concern for our interviewers’ privacy, we would appreciate it if you would not disclose their identity to persons unknown to you."

Posted 10:57 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87537584:

Tad Holbie is actually a Norwegian name meaning "really really white guy."
("DAN20090", on B-Week).

This had me keeled over laughing at my desk. Bravo!

Posted 9:40 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87534135:

Tad Holbie Myths
I'd just like to blow up a few myths that have been floating around about me, before they get too out of hand:

I'm Arrogant
Well, this myth is partially true. Obviously I think I'm a very qualified MBA candidate--but then again, why apply to the top schools if you don't think so? I do think that I was humbled by the Wharton decision, and have a better understanding of the process and the factors involved in b-school admissions (i.e. the top schools ding many "very qualified" candidates). Also, I think the fact that I'm willing to admit my mistakes, to tell the truth when I'm dinged (heck, I even post the ding e-mails!), etc. shows that I don't have too over-inflated a sense of ego.

Then again, I started a website about myself. Sigh.

I Coasted on my Stats
I have repeatedly said that stats matter very little in b-school admissions. At best, having strong stats (GMAT, GPA, undergraduate school "brand", job "brand", etc.) just gets your foot in the door. Stats are never a net positive; at best, they are a neutral, at worst, a negative. I think that in my application they are a neutral.

I Am A Guru on Applications
Yes, when people e-mail/post questions to me, I don't shy away from answering. Basically, I find that common sense answers 9 out of 10 questions. But never have I claimed to be an expert/guru/master of b-school admissions. I just like to help out people!

My Goal Is To Be A Trader
Not true. Not related to my essays. This just took on a life of its own. My goal is to transition into a finance career on Wall Street; I cannot at this point say with certainty what that job will be. (Edit: In my essays I discussed one possible finance career path that interests me, and that I could make a good case for based on my experience/background/skills. It served to show that I wasn't changing careers simply because I "like finance" or whatever, but that I had done a lot of research and was prepared for the new career.)

Phew. Hope that clears up a lot of questions. For more info, you can check out the long list of disclaimers that run down the left side of this page.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003
Posted 3:41 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87493296:

I just confirmed with my boss: there's a small but growing chance that I'll be spending a week in the Hong Kong office in early February. It's a relief that the trip would fall after most of the R1 decisions are made...and since I like travelling abroad, I'm kind of geeked up about this possibility. I've never been to Hong Kong (or any part of China, for that matter), so it would be pretty damn cool to go expenses-paid.

If any of you know the Hong Kong area well, any suggestions for cool places to see, good restaurants, or any great bars (for Americans) are appreciated...

Posted 1:12 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87486137:

The end of Plan C
I've given it a lot of thought, and talked to friends, family, advisers, and consigliore, and I've decided not apply to any more schools this cycle. Of course, I know that I'm giving up a slight increase in my chances by not doing so, but at some point you have to step back and say, "I've taken my best shot. Enough is enough." In the unlikely chance that I'm rejected by every school, I'll re-evaluate my options and look to [possibly] re-applying in the Fall.

Both Duke and Haas are very appealing schools, and I wish I had looked into them more last September. If I had built a strong knowledge, connection, or passion for either one by this point, I would go ahead and apply; but I haven't. With my R2 schools, I had long planned to apply to Kellogg and Columbia, and knew their programs in detail. And over the month of December I came to know and love the UMBS program as well.

Looking at Duke, my research indicated that I just wouldn't fit in there (sorry, details will remain private for now). Berkeley was more appealing, but in the end, I have to admit the only reason I was considering applying there is that it was easy (through recs and essays) to do so. That's not a good reason to apply to a business school, and would not lead to a strong application.

Thus, my lot is cast, let the chips fall where they may, etc., etc. I'm feeling confident about Sloan, UMBS, and Columbia; I'm eager to rock the house in an Kellogg alumni interview; and I'm still hopeful about Stanford and HBS. Blogging will naturally be much lighter going forward, as I don't have any ongoing applications to write about. But I'll continue to post news, links, comments, and other items of interest as I go along, and of course, will eagerly share any and all happy news as it arrives (knock on wood).

Posted 10:06 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87477575:

Laura Bennett, second year Wharton student extraordinaire, has resumed her online diary (their winter break just ended). It's a great [and very detailed] window onto the daily life of an MBA student.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003
Posted 11:59 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87458786:

Tonight I had dinner with the friend who reviewed almost all of my essay sets. In chatting about the latest news, I mentioned that I had some regrets about doing the HBS app first, because I'm sure I could do a much better job. He questioned that premise, and suggested I take a second look at the HBS app, saying that it was better than I thought. So after getting back from dinner, I gave it a fresh read-through, for old time's sake.

Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. Though I might change a word or two here or there, overall I don't think I could improve on it much today. I now feel satisfied that I really did give HBS my best shot, and if I am rejected next week, it'll be for a lack of "qualifications" (i.e. not enough management job experience or not enough extracurricular activities) rather than a failure of presentations. That gives me some peace of mind tonight.

Posted 9:31 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87450736:

Now that we all had our fun on B-Week, I would like to move back to the "normal blogging". Application stuff and all. I'll be staying away from the "Theories on Tad Holbie" thread for awhile, for everyone's sake. It's just gotten too crazy.

Posted 4:54 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87437974:


I see that I'm getting a ton of new visitors today. Here's the story so far:

Who is "Tad Holbie"? Well, it's a pseudonym for an American, first-time b-school applicant (some of my stats are posted along the left side of this page). I started this website way back in August of last year, mainly to record my experiences as I went about the application process, but also so others might find some insights from my experiences. I also started posting frequently to both B-Week and Wharton's S2S message boards at the time.

Time went by, and the more I wrote about my experiences, the more e-mails--both questions and ecouragement--I got. This website sort of expanded to include the message board to the left, the comment system after each post, and various surveys (all of these are free on the web--see the list at the bottom of this page). Traffic continued to increase.

So, I applied to HBS, Wharton, Chicago, Sloan, and Stanford in the first round; as this list suggests, I was juuuust a bit self-assured about my chances. After the Wharton rejection on December 19th, I went ahead and applied to Kellogg, Columbia, and UMBS in the second round. At this moment, I'm still awaiting decisions from HBS, Stanford, Sloan, Columbia, Kellogg, and UMBS (phew!).

I was kind of cocky when I started this site, but dings from Wharton and Chicago have kind of toned that down. I never claim to be an expert or guru about getting admitted to b-school; how could I when I haven't been admitted myself? But if people want to ask me questions or query me for advice, I'll do my best to give a common-sense answer.

I plan to continue blogging until I get accepted to business school...whenever that may fall.

- Tad Holbie


Posted 4:16 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87436183:

I tell you, I really needed a good laugh after the Chicago ding, and this whole "Theory of Tad Holbie" stuff has provided it. And it hasn't hurt my site traffic one bit, either.

I've think some thanks are in order, first and foremost, to my number one fan RICHEYRICH. Dude, don't stop being you, I love you, your great! Take a bow, RICHEYRICH, everyone!

I've got to thank Mr. [EDITED] too. His site on Macintosh stuff is really great, if you're into computers. I highly recommend it. Mr. [EDITED], everybody!

Now back to my regularly scheduled blogging...


Posted 4:03 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87435586:

[EDITED] sits perplexed in front of his computer. "Why are there so many visitors to my weblog from", he wonders aloud...

RICHEYRICH's eyes roll down to post 39268.227, and he freezes, coffee at mid-sip. A bright crimson flush creeps up his neck and cheeks; stomach starts to curl, and mixtures of rage and desire writhe within his chest...

Everyone throughout his office hears Tad's laughter, a real gut-shaking laughter, and they wonder what the joke is...

Posted 12:30 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87425855:

One more comment about Plan C: I have in no way decided to apply to one of these schools. To be honest, right now I'm leaning towards saying, "Enough is enough, I've cast my lot" and just seeing how my current applications pan out. If I get dinged by all eight schools (which I still think is very, very improbable) I'll just pack up shop and re-apply the following fall. I'm weighing all the options...

Posted 11:18 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87422722:

Am I reading this right? According to B-Week, last year Haas' selectivity was 11%?!? That makes it more selective than Kellogg, Sloan, and Wharton (no offense to Haas, but that's a bit surprising to me)! I'm going to have to look into this...

Posted 10:25 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87420454:

Plan C?
Well, here we are now. My Plan C has narrowed down to two schools, Fuqua and Haas. Though I am interested in Anderson and Yale too, their third (of four) round decision date is way too late for me--May 15th and 30th, respectively. Haas' decision is also kind of late--May 1st--but I've always kind of liked that school.

The thing about Fuqua is that I know woefully little about it. I never really considered applying there originally, just because...well, I didn't know much about it and North Carolina just seemed like an ulikely place for me to end up. That said, as I expanded my schools to include UMBS for Round 2 (which is in a college town, not a big city), I don't see why I shouldn't also include Fuqua (similarly, in a college town rather than a big city).

The three factors that also encourage me to apply to Fuqua are:
1) Duke only asks for two recs (as opposed to 3 for Yale)
2) The Fuqua application only has three very short essays
3) The Fuqua Round 3 decision date is March 20th, not May

The factors that discourage me from applying to Fuqua are:
1) An on-campus interview is required (meaning applying will cost at least $500 bucks)
2) At this moment, I have no passion for Fuqua, I don't know anything about their program, so it'll be tough to put together a good app.
3) In the end, if I cannot get my sorry ass accepted at a single one of eight schools, why should I expect to get into Fuqua? I know, I know, each school is different, but come on, if I don't fit with 1 out of 8, the odds are that I won't fit with 1 out of 9.
4) I am not sure if Duke's location is a good fit for me (again, for private reasons; the same reasons I ruled out Darden, Tuck, and Cornell)

I've always been intrigued by Haas, for some reason. I think that of all the applications I've seen, it has the most interesting essay topics. I tend to enjoy the really creative essays topics, and think I could handle them well.

The factors that encourage me to apply to Haas are:
1) It only needs two recs
2) All the essays are short and creative
3) More creative vibe a better fit for me?
4) The location is attractive

The factors that discourage me from applying are:
1) The decision isn't until May 1st.
2) Still don't know a lot about their program
3) See #3 above

I'll be giving this issue some deep thought over the next couple days, with the aim to make a decision by Friday.

Posted 7:23 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87413775:

In the end, the Chicago decision came quickly and quietly. Once I went home last night, I really didn't expect to get any news until today (especially not dings--I would have thought their IT staff goes home at night), so I let my guard down and felt more relaxed. I just decided to log into my account late at night, almost on a whim, and I saw the link to the decision letter then.

The feelings? First, relief--no more waiting. I would say that I was less disappointed than when the Wharton news broke, because Wharton was first, I felt really close to that school, and thought that I did a better job on its application.

Anyway, now I feel like "screw them"! If these schools are too dumb to accept a [EDIT: Removed the long list of qualifications that would give away my identity] candidate, that's their problem, eh?

But, I'm not the sort to stay pissed for long. It's a real waste of time and energy. Best to forget about it and move on...

What Have I Learned So Far
1)'s a lot harder getting into good schools than I thought when I started this. Oops.
2) You really, really cannot make a single mistake. With Wharton, my one mistake was...well, I'm not sure, but I guess my tone in the interview. With Chicago, it was that I wasn't prepared for the "Why Chicago?" question in an early-September interview.
3) I must learn from these failures. I think that I put these lessons to use in my UMBS interview, in which I rocked the "Why UMBS" question (the interviewer praised me on my knowledge of the program, and asked if I had spoken to any other alums) and maintained a better tone throughout.
4) Though it is very tempting to take these two rejections as a bad sign for all my other apps, it would be dumb to do so. I made mistakes in these applications that I won't make again; the schools have different goals and different applicant pools; and in the end, no matter what GSB and Wharton say, I know I'm a strong candidate. Plus several of my other apps were better than these two. So I've got to stay focused, stay pumped, and be ready to pounce on every opportunity.

See, this is why I write this weblog. I started this post dejected, and the very act of writing has both emptied out the bad feelings and reminded me of the chances at all my other schools.

It only takes one!

Posted 4:12 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87409234:

Well, on the bright side, the waiting (for Don's call) is over:

"Your application to the Graduate School of Business has received careful consideration of our Admissions Committee. I regret to inform you that we are unable to offer you a place in our entering class.

The superb quality of this year's applicant pool presented us with some very difficult decisions. The Admissions Committee read your application before a final decision was made, reviewing and taking into account every piece of information that you supplied to us. Due to the number of spaces available compared to the number of applications received, we are unable to offer admissions to many qualified applicants.

Though we are unable to offer you a seat in the entering class, the Admissions Committee extends its thanks to you for your efforts and wishes you success in your future endeavors.

Donald C. Martin
Associate Dean"

Monday, January 13, 2003
Posted 5:29 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87374426:

Just to make clear, this is not my photo. I thought the general weirdness of it would make that clear (and the fact that neither of the individuals pictured looks at all like me, as you can tell by my (true) photo in the upper-right corner of this site). I consider the "Theories on Tad Holbie" thread a prime target for playing around. I find it bizarre enough that people start up threads about me, and relish the chance to ratchet up the bizarreness level any chance I get.

This whole website started out as a simple diary. Soon people were e-mailing me questions, asking for advice and tips, etc. Then I added the message board and comment system, and the rest, as they say, is history. Now I try to maintain a straight face about this whole "Tad Holbie" thing, but it's hard, it's hard (see: "Prayer for Tad", "Who is Tad?", "How Many Acceptances for Tad?", and "Tad's Possible Identity" for examples of how surreal and laughable the whole "Tad Holbie" experience has become).

Posted 5:22 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87374079:

I just heard a rumor (around my office) that there's a chance I'll be sent to the Hong Kong office for a week or two in the near future. Maybe that would be cool if I had an acceptance under my belt, but now I dread it (weird hours, cell phone useless, unable to last-second on-campus interviews). I'm praying that it's just a rumor...

Posted 4:11 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87370646:

HBS and Stanford Angles
So now there's only 8 days left until the HBS and Stanford decision dates, and I'm 0-for-2 on invitation invites from them. What's my take?

Well, the short answer is: Hope is still present. I figure that my app is grouped in a career set that is not a feeder industry (like IBanking or MConsulting) but isn't completely unusual for b-schools. So the hope is that my app is considered borderline, and that right now HBS and Stanford are poring through both 1) the R2 apps to see how strongly this career is represented and 2) reviewing the interview results from other R1 applicants in this career. Then, as the decision date rolls up, the hope is that they feel like they want to see how I'd perform in an interview, give me the late call, and the rest is up to me.

That's my hope, anyway.

Posted 3:55 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87369879:

Stress Relief Ahoy
This is a nice break from the stress of MBA applications, plus it introduces powerful drama, is a window into a different culture, and addresses such weighty issues as "man's inhumanity to man", the death of civility, etc. (warning, for those of you in the office: put your computer on mute before clicking on the link).

Posted 3:43 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87369382:

Things You Don't Need
The e-mail account I use as my contact e-mail for all my applications doesn't seem to be working now. Or rather, I sent it a test e-mail from my work account over twenty minutes ago and it still hasn't arrived. I can't say this delights me.

Posted 3:36 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87369078:

Looking over my Chicago app:
* I think I have a pretty good essay A.
* Essay B is so-so; a bit dry and boring (in generaly, I don't like hypothetical questions)
* Essay C is damn good
* The rest of the app is pretty good - I put in some choice paragraphs into the community service, activities, and travel sections
* The interview went pretty well

Posted 1:56 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87364754:

Okay, I admit it: I am still awaiting my Chicago decision. I have not been called, have not gotten an e-mail, and my online status still reads "Complte, Processing".

I find the Chicago process infinitely more nerve-wracking than Wharton's. The reasons for this are:
1) Well, of course, before Wharton I hadn't been dinged, so was a bit more...innocent.
2) If I don't get into Chicago, that will make two dings from the two most "finance" schools of my R1 applications. Based on my career goals, I would think I'm a more natural fit at the finance schools than the general management ones like HBS and Stanford. Thus, a ding from Chicago might mean I have to wait until February 14th (Sloan) to hear from my next "good fit" school. I really don't want to be in limbo another month.
3) I much prefer knowing an exact decision announcement time, like Wharton, than know that at any moment over a ten day span my cell phone might ring with good news (or my online app my switch over to bad news). It was much easier for me to chill out before December 19th, 8:00 EST. Sure, it meant that I got the news slightly later than the decision was made--but that doesn't bother me. Right now the cell phone feels like a thirty-pound weight on my hip, and I'm as jittery as a Heroin junkie going cold turkey.

Logically, I know that the fact that I haven't gotten any news (good or bad) means that my app is still waiting to be reviewed by the esteemed Mr. Martin. Emotionally, it's a lot harder to swallow.

All that said, I completely understand why Mr. Martin wants to do things this way. It can't be fun rejecting 8 out of 10 applications that you see, most of which are probably very interesting and represent a lot of hard work. Being able to deliver the good news is a compensation for that.

Posted 10:53 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87356558:

For you Sloan Applicants, I found an interview with the Dean from December ('02). He does mention the curriculum redesign that's underway:
"Q: Another part of taking stock is to look ahead. What challenges face Sloan — and how do you deal with them?
A: We have a superb MBA Program that takes advantage of our strengths and of our unique ties to MIT. For 50 years, we have provided leaders with the tools they need to drive change. But if we are going to pound a drum that says, "This is what we do," then we ought to have a program that isn't just good, but as good as we can make it. And quite frankly, we really haven't designed our current program to be sharply focused on innovation. That's why we're embarking upon a clean slate redesign of our MBA curriculum as well as our Mid-Career programs."

Whenever a school makes a radical redesign of the curriculum, it can either be good or bad. There are three aspects of the Sloan curriculum that attracted my attention: 1) The short core curriculum (leaving the Spring term free to "beef up" for an internship), 2) the financial engineering track, and 3) the tracks' proseminars. I hope they keep all of these features.

Posted 9:47 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87353902:

I take a weekend off from B-Week, and when I check it this morning there are hundreds of posts in the HBS R1 thread ranting about some mysterious, temporary, hidden field that might or might not mean anything. Does the chance of getting into HBS really mess with people's minds that much?! I mean sure, it has a great brand and reputation and all, but...mysterious, disappearing fields?!?

Posted 9:01 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87352554:

I finally got around to reviewing my Columbia fourth drafts. There were only a few marks on the paper when I was done with them, and only one grammatical error. Phew.

Sunday, January 12, 2003
Posted 6:20 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87323378:

The Week Ahead
It'll feature:
The Non-Event - Submitting my Columbia app (yes, I'll submit it no matter what happens with Chicago--all the work is done, on my and my recommenders part)
The Main Event - The Chicago decision (full confession: I haven't heard yet either way. Feeling confident but of course, much more nervous than before the Wharton decision because...of the Wharton decision)
The Background Noise - I'm going to have to gather the intel and make a quick decision if I'm going to go for Fuqua round 3 (should I be dinged by Chicago)
The Surprise Twist? - An invitation from Stanford or HBS would rock my world
...and much, much more!

Posted 10:03 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87306071:

Since this blog is going to be quieting down over the next couple of days, I highly recommend expanding your MBA blog reading list to include:

Both are in the same boat: awaiting decisions from a multitude of schools.

Posted 9:39 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87305476:

I wish I had something more interesting to write about my Columbia application, but basically I don't. I have one paragraph in essay #1 (why an MBA? why Columbia?) that I want to rewrite, but that's it. Essays #2 and #3 were pretty much copies of essays I wrote for other apps, so there was never much work there. And the 250 word essay #4 practically wrote itself (I love really creative essay topics--ala Chicago #3 or the entire Haas app). I've scoured the application for any typos, cleaned up my online aplication, and pretty much am just waiting to chat with my essay reviewer (a friend) before submitting.

Posted 9:14 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87304813:

Try not to panic when you read that others are getting their scholarship letters when you've not even received your first acceptance...

Posted 9:08 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87304667:

I was just looking over my Chicago application, and am happy with what I found. If I am accepted to Chicago I think the deciding factor would be my essay C; if I am ultimately denied admissions, the deciding factor will be that I didn't provide a convincing enough answer to "Why Chicago?" during the interview. I made the mistake of requesting an interview waaaay to early in the process (in part, because I thought it would take longer to set up the interview than it ultimately did), and thus didn't have a clear understanding of how to handle the question.

I guess we'll see how it all turns less than four days!


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