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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The MBA Admissions Wire would not be possible without all the cool stuff available for free on the internet:
* Blogger - Publishing tools
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* MSN - Groups
* SiteMeter - Traffic monitoring
* SurveyMonkey - Web surveys
* HaloScan - Commenting system
* Tag-Board - Message board
* ZonkBoard - Message board (old)
* BlogHop - Weblog rating system
* FreeFind - Free website search engine
* 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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06/01/2002 - 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)
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 25, 2003

Posted 8:56 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #88004654:

The Fuqua information package arrived in the mail yesterday (I ordered it back when I was considering applying for R3). I'll add it to the stack of a dozen or so other brochures I have. Until I get accepted somewhere, I'm not throwing out any materials. After all, who knows if I might need them next year?

Friday, January 24, 2003
Posted 5:10 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87978147:

Travel, Travel
Heading to Boston early next week; will probably be in Boston again during the week of the Sloan decision; and am expected to be in Hong Kong February 17th to 28th. This is earlier than I'd hoped, and gives me a very short window for the [mandatory] Kellogg interview (for which I'm still awaiting an invitation) and a potential Columbia interview. Still, I'm happy to be busy at work (i.e. paying employment ;-) in the intervening weeks to the Sloan decision.

Posted 12:39 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87965569:

Friday Deadline Countdown
* 21 days left until the MIT Sloan Round 1 decision
* 50 days left until the UMBS Round 2 decision
* 66 days left until the Kellogg Round 2 decision
* ?? days left until the Columbia decision

My status:
* Sloan - Submitted for Round 1; Interviewed
* Kellogg - Submitted for Round 2; Awaiting interview
* Columbia - Submitted for Regular Decision; In Process
* UMBS - Submitted for Round 2; Interviewed

The next six weeks are going to be a roller-coaster ride, both because of MBA news and work-related stuff (more on that later). I tell 'ya, I can't sit still on the Sloan decision. I'm both very optimistic, after a good set of essays and great interview, and very nervous, having come up empty so far. It's probably going to be my tensest decision day so far...

Posted 11:18 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87961782:

Apparently there is a downside to submitting your application very, very early: You could get dinged. This unfortunate soul submitted their R2 Kellogg app so early it was apparently processed with the R1 apps, and he/she just got a ding to show for it. For once, my procrastination pays off.

Posted 11:10 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87961394:

Thank You Letters Do Matter
I've always made it a habit to send handwritten thank-you letters/cards to my interviewer the day after the interview. I recently had an e-mail exchange with my UMBS interviewer regarding a small detail he wanted to check before filing his interview report. During the e-mail exchange, he strongly praised the thank-you letter I sent, going so far as to show it to co-workers in his office. The long and the short of it is that I knew I had left a very positive impression with him, just by spending a few minutes and 37 cents writing the letter.

What was so special about this letter? Sorry, it would reveal too many personal details to explain. I'll just say that I took a very unique approach which both delivered the requisite thank-you's and highlighted a hobby/talent of mine. I'll post a photocopy of it later in the year, if all goes well.

Posted 9:51 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87957686:

Wow, someone blew a couple blood vessels venting about my post on the Stanford decision [to admit a "frequently unemployed" candidate]. This issue is of so little importance to me that I hesitate to write further, but I'd like to add some caveats. 1) I understand that in this economy many valuable, productive people have been fired. 2) I understand that often employees have limited control over whether they are downsized or not. 3) I understand that it's not fun being unemployed. And I'm gonna leave it at that.

Posted 8:24 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87954283:

The Sloan Interview
I am so, so, so happy. The Sloan interview* was both my best and most pleasant interview to date. I put to use the lessons I learned from the Wharton interview (i.e. aiming to be "serious but personable" rather than "chummy and confident"). The interview format (non-blind, i.e. the AdCommer had reviewed my application) is, in my opinion, by far the most applicant-friendly format. Coming out of it, I haven't felt this confident about my chances for a long time.

Starting things off, the interviewer explained the purpose of the interview (i.e. flesh out my app), told me to as much time as I needed to think about my answers, and to try to use examples that weren't mentioned in my essays. He really did a good job of putting me at ease (not that I was especially nervous) and created a real "conversational" tone to the situation.

He had a sheet of paper with four or five questions typed on it with space under them for him to write answers**. I do believe that the questions chosen were specific to my application. One of them directly mentioned a section of my application ("My interest was peaked when you talked about X...can you explain that in more depth?"), the rest were situation questions (like "Describe a situation in which you took responsibility without being asked to?" or "Describe a situation in which you were faced with an ethical dilemma?"***). Though its possible Sloan uses those same questions for everyone, I got the sense that they had chosen them to answer real questions that my essays had presented; i.e. that all of my questions were chosen with my application in mind.

I was able to think of non-essay examples for all of my questions but one. After giving an answer, the interviewer sometimes had follow-ups, like asking for my feelings on the situation. But it was in a much more conversational way--I never felt like I was grilled, and it was truly great to have a chance to go into some depth on my experiences (which isn't always possible in blind interviews). Once or twice we got off tangent discussing other topics--that's how conversational the whole thing was.

To me, the best news from the interview was the questions the interviewer didn't ask. I was not asked about my post-MBA plans, nor my eagerness for attending MIT. I believe that this indicates that they felt my essays provided complete answers to these questions, not that they are not willing to ask them. I attribute this success to writing a strong cover letter (which was the best part of my Sloan application).

At the end of the interview (which lasted about an hour) there were a couple of minutes for my questions. I did briefly ask about the curriculum changes, but more as a way to reinforce "why I want to go to Sloan". The AdComm member didn't know (as nobody knows) about the new curriculum, but expected that it would be released well before the MBA decision date.

In conclusion, if you have a Sloan interview coming up, my advice would be to 1) know your app fairly well, 2) think of experiences that are mentioned in your app and how they might be used, 3) relax (it's not a grilling) and 4) review what you know about Sloan only if you think you didn't do a convincing job in your cover letter.

- Tad

* Note: Readers should not assume that my interview was yesterday; as my disclaimer states, I sometimes write about interviews at varying times after the fact, in order to protect my identity.
** He did not have my application on the desk in front of him. I think this probably varies from interviewer to interviewer.
*** These are not the exact questions I was asked, but rather are meant to represent the types of questions I got.

Posted 7:28 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87952614:

Maybe it's just on my computer, but my website seems to be taking forever (at least three or four minutes) to load today. Since I didn't make any changes last night, I think it must be a technical problem with the server. Hopefully it will be resolved soon.

Posted 6:37 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87951403:

For everyone who complains about waiting for an admissions phone call to come before the published decision date, take a look at what happened at UNC yesterday (their decision day), in which the following message greeted applicants from the UNC website:

"Due to inclimate weather we will not be able to post admission decisions today. We hope to have admission decisions posted by the weekend."

(It's the old "cold weather saps the internet's power" excuse--how many times have I used that one myself?) Incidentally, it looks like most people were able to find a "back door" way to access their applications and get their decisions--making the situation doubly embarassing for the involved parties.

(Thanks to AL for tipping me off to this story.)

Thursday, January 23, 2003
Posted 4:50 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87919922:

Well, I've gotta kick out of here a bit early. Coming tomorrow: The Sloan interview experience, Friday wrapup, a surprising e-mail from my UMBS interviewer, and much, much more!

Posted 3:17 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87915508:

"DJK01" posted a link to Sloan's announcement of plans for its new campus. Right now most, if not all, Sloan courses are in the Tang Center (there are some photos in my Sloan photo album). The new building is not expected to be completed until 2006, so it has no impact for current applicants.

Posted 12:10 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87906943:

Thanks for rubbing it in!
I just got this e-mail from $#@&ing Chicago GSB:

"Thank you for your interest in the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. In addition to our full-time Campus M.B.A. and I.M.B.A. programs, we offer Evening and Weekend part-time M.B.A. programs in Chicago, as well as part-time Executive M.B.A. Programs based in Chicago, Barcelona, and Singapore.

For more information about the Fulltime Campus M.B.A. program, please visit:

or email us with any new questions which occur to you at:"

What the $#@%!?! I'm fighting the urge to reply to this with a torrent of profanity...

Posted 11:54 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87906118:

Out of the Blue was bonus day at my company. Obviously, over the past few weeks I've been completely engrossed in the MBA decisions, so it kind of snuck up on me. The news this year (for our company) wasn't good, and everyone took a pretty sizeable hit. But I count the blessings that 1) I'm still employed (though perhaps that's a detriment to Stanford ;-), 2) I received a bonus this year, and 3) the reduction in my bonus wasn't as bad as we were expecting (this has more to do with being in a strategically/politically important group than my performance).

I tell you what, bonus day is an in-my-face reminder of what a huge, huge step business school is. It's also a reminder that life goes on...

Posted 11:17 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87904374:

This B-Week post has a nice summary of the stages of a [successful] CBS application review process: 1) In process, 2) Received, 3) Pending decision, 4) Invited to interview, 5) Interviewed, 6) Complete, 7) Admitted.

Posted 10:49 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87903031:

The Halfway Point
4 applications down, 4 to go. Nows the right time for an honest assessment of what's happened, what will come, and what approach to take in the future. I'll break it down to good news and bad news.

Good News
1) Getting invited interview at Wharton and Sloan indicates that my application is "in the ballpark" at the top schools, especially the more finance/quantitatively oriented ones (this would be confirmed if I got a Columbia invitation in the coming weeks).
2) Overall, I think the essays for the remaining four schools turned out better than those of my dinged schools.
3) I think that I've gotten my "interview technique" ironed out a bit since Chicago (September) and Wharton (November), with the result being a very good UMBS interview. Hopefully this will come to my advantage, since I have an interview invitation from Sloan, interivewed with UMBS, and will have an alumni interview with Kellogg (i.e. only CBS is by invitation).
4) The remaining four schools have a slightly higher acceptance rate than the previous four.

Bad News
1) Of course, I have been able to "close the deal" on any school yet. I can't help but worry that it is an indication of my application's desirability to top business schools.
2) Not even getting invited to interview with HBS and Stanford indicates I had trouble with "fit" at those two general managment schools. Will the same be true of Kellogg and UMBS, I wonder; Hopefully, the mandatory interview will help me address this issue (as I did in the UMBS interview).
3) After seeing other really high-quality applicants get dinged by the top schools (and also seeing some of the people they accept), it's hard not to worry that the competition is just too tough, and that forces out of my control could ding me.

In the end, as I read over my list of "bad news", I recognize that item #1 and #3 are out of my control, and thus aren't worth worrying about; item #2 I need to consider very carefully and attack head-on.

Posted 8:10 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87896392:

I finally stumbled across the photos I took from last Fall's visit to Chicago, and more specifically, to the Northwestern campus. I'll get them scanned and hopefully have them up within the week.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003
Posted 8:14 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87871595:

Well, tomorrow's going to be pretty quiet on the blogging front. I'm kind of spent from today. Quick update of my mood/status:
Sloan - Confident
Kellogg - Pondering
UMBS - Hopeful
Columbia - Waiting

Posted 5:22 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87863615:

Well, got overloaded again. I'm tired of switching back and forth between the chat servers, so I've reverted the page back to its normal arrangment.

Thanks to all for hanging out here to chat; it made an otherwise unhappy day a bit more fun.
Congrats to all who got into HBS and/or Stanford today!

Posted 4:29 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87860862:

Stanford E-mail:
"Thank you for applying to the Stanford Graduate School of Business. We have completed the review of applicants to the Master of Business Administration Program, and I am sorry that we cannot offer you admission to the MBA Class of 2005.

We evaluated your application along three dimensions: (1) demonstrated leadership potential; (2) strength of academic aptitude; and (3) contributions to the diversity of the Stanford community. We assessed the overall quality of your written application, including the essays and letters of reference. If we asked you to interview with an alumna/us, then we also considered the feedback from your interview.

As we explain in our literature, the evaluation process is not one in which we merely separate out those candidates with weaknesses and admit all the rest. Were we to do that, we would have a class several times its intended size. We carefully evaluate each individual file, and then review it in the context of the entire applicant pool. In an effort to create an engaging student community, we select those applicants who, collectively, represent a breadth of background, talent and experience.

Please know that we make admission decisions carefully, sincerely, and humanely. Our deliberations are neither quick nor effortless, and many involve difficult choices. We typically receive well over 5,000 applications for our class of 370 students. Because there are many more qualified and deserving candidates than places available in the class, there is necessarily a subjective element to the evaluation process. This is why there are rarely precise reasons for an applicant's denial. The final results simply reflect our best efforts.

I am sorry that I could not bring you better news, especially since we know that you have invested considerable time and effort in your application. We appreciate your interest in the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and thank you for the privilege of reading your application.

Derrick Bolton, Assistant Dean
Director of MBA Admissions

MBA Application Process, 2002-2003
Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. We hope that this supplemental information will provide you with context for better understanding the selection process. We truly appreciate your interest in the Stanford MBA Program, and we wish you the very best in your academic and professional pursuits.

* * *

Can I receive feedback on my application?
As we mention in our application materials, we do not offer individualized feedback opportunities. Frequently, candidates who are not offered admission assume that there must be specific deficiencies or faults in their applications. The reality of highly selective admissions is that there are many more qualified and deserving applicants than spaces available. It is precisely because most of our applicants are well-qualified to handle the rigors of the Stanford MBA Program that there is rarely one, clear-cut, "fixable" reason for a candidate's denial. By the same token, the reasons why some applicants stand out more than others are not easily categorized,
since we recognize that excellence itself does not come in uniform dimensions.

We hope you understand that participation in a selection process with a very low admission rate means that there are factors affecting the ultimate decision on your candidacy over which you have no control (e.g., the nature of all other applications). Please do not feel responsible for factors you cannot impact.

Can you explain how you reached your decisions?
We realize that, from your perspective, the admission process may seem arbitrary: many qualified candidates with impressive achievements and professional contributions are not admitted. Please remember that each file is evaluated in the context of the entire applicant pool. The only way to understand why we make the decisions we do would be to read the thousands of other applications we receive; this alone would provide you with the perspective required to understand fully the rationale behind each of our admission decisions.

We understand the limitations of our application process. We acknowledge that it may not always capture, to the fullest extent, the personality and potential of each candidate. However, we work hard to do the best job possible given these limitations. We are guided in our actions by the knowledge that there is a person behind each application, and we recognize the duty of care that we owe to each applicant. Please understand that our decisions are neither capricious nor random, and truly reflect our best efforts.

How close was I? Is there an appeals process?
We do not rank order candidates for admission. Since our decisions are based both on the strength of an individual application and on its merits relative to the rest of the applicant pool, each decision is final.

May I be added to the waitlist?
We have already selected a limited group of candidates for the waitlist, and we will not add names to it. Each admission decision is final.

I was not invited to interview. Did that impact your evaluation of my application?
We do not use the interviews as a "first screen" for applications. We select candidates for interviews when we feel that the interview would provide additional information to aid us in our decision. While we eventually will interview all of our admitted candidates, we will likely admit some candidates who are not interviewed, and most candidates interviewed are not admitted.

I was invited to interview. How did the interview impact your evaluation of my application?
We use the interview to confirm our preliminary impressions and to contribute new information that is not captured easily on paper. We also want to give you an opportunity to meet with one of our alumni and speak with them about their experiences in the MBA Program. Please do not assume that you were not offered admission because of the feedback from the interview. More often than not, it was because the interview did not provide, on a relative basis, information to further distinguish the applicant in positive ways from other candidates.

If I improve my GMAT score and/or get more work experience, will this compensate for my undergraduate academic performance?
Although strength in one area can sometimes compensate for weaknesses in others, we tend to favor candidates with strengths in as many areas as possible. For every candidate with an uneven profile, there are many others with a balanced profile of excellence in all areas that we consider in evaluating the application.

Do you have any advice for a reapplication?
If you wish to submit another application to the Stanford Graduate School of Business, we recommend that you visit the Admission Criteria section on our Web site for more information about how we choose our incoming class ( These criteria act as the lens through which we evaluate all applications, and when thoughtfully considered, they may offer you some insight on how to improve your reapplication.

At the same time, it is important to understand that you cannot fully control the outcome of your application. While we would welcome your reapplication to the Stanford Graduate School of Business, you may wish to accept an offer of admission at another school, since there is no guarantee of admission as a reapplicant. Enrolling in another program would allow you to begin working immediately towards your life and career goals."

Posted 4:07 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87859804:

Jeez, it's pretty $&#@ing tough to see unemployed people getting into Stanford (nothing personal,! that's a %!#+ing downer for someone who's managed, at a bare minimum, to stay employed the past few years...)

Posted 3:41 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87858548:

For my fellow interviewees, these are the two most useful posts on B-Week about the Sloan interview:


Posted 3:20 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87857505:

Apparently BusinessWeek has a chat going on shortly (3:30 EST) with the UMBS director of career services...

Posted 12:06 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87848411:

Bad News from HBS
Alas, my HBS online application had the dreaded link to the following message:

"The MBA Admissions Board appreciates your interest in our MBA Program and the considerable effort evident in your application. Unfortunately, we are unable to offer you a place in the MBA Class of 2005.

The MBA Admissions Board carefully and thoughtfully assesses the leadership potential, academic ability, and personal qualities and characteristics of each candidate. Because of the strength of and the large number of applications we receive, we are unable to admit many candidates who have excellent credentials and who demonstrate strong promise for careers in management.

You exhibit many qualities that should serve you well as you pursue your personal and professional goals. Thank you for considering our MBA Program, and please accept our best wishes for future success."


Posted 8:04 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87838012:

Live Chat Rules
Just a few rules for the chat above:
1) No disclosing people's private information/identification without their wishes
2) No personal attacks on anyone (I am the final judge of whether you're joking or crossing the line)
3) Of course, no racialially/sexually/religiously offensive materials
4) Have fun, let off some stress, but respect one another.

I host this site for fun, so if someone joins the chat and behaves in a way that embarasses me, I won't hesitate to delete their posts and ban them. EOS.

Have fun and good luck to all HBS and Stanford R1 applicants!

Posted 6:46 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87835777:

Hope... one of the most valuable emotions we have. I think we should cherish it, and I, for one, won't ever voluntarily give it up. Until you've been in the hospital room of people who have given up all hope in life, you realize how precious it is.

At this moment, the chances are slim for any kind of positive outcome from HBS or Stanford (positive means anything other than a ding). But all it takes is that one crack--one waitlist, one interview invite--so until I get that "After reviewing your application, we cannot offer you admissions..." e-mail, me and hope are best buddies.

Not to mention the Sloan interview, upcoming Kellogg interview (whenever it gets scheduled), Columbia and UMBS apps...

Posted 5:11 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87833396:

For all who don't know, there is a rumor going around (my chat room, at least) that Stanford has already set up admitted student's e-mail addresses. The website can be used to anonymously check if an e-mail address exists. Several chat participants who were interviewed claimed that when they checked, the e-mail address "" existed, and likewise several participants who have not been interviewed (myself included) got back that the e-mail address didn't exist (Note: This is unlike HBS', which has a "catch-all" that makes any e-mail address to fool such programs). Whether this all pans out, who knows, but finding an e-mail address with your name on it at Stanford would seem to be a good sign...

Just another reason to keep your browser locked on!

Tuesday, January 21, 2003
Posted 9:59 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87818309:

The e-mail verification address is:

Posted 9:48 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87817806: (my main message board service) is down right now, so I switched the chat board over to (less powerful, but will do the trick).

Posted 9:38 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87817306:

Hmmm...the message board seems to have gone down (temporarily?)...

Posted 2:31 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87796767:

If you want to see the domains (,,, etc.) of the recent visitors to this site, you can always check:

Posted 1:20 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87793541:

Just Curious
Why are schools so stingy about the reasons applicants were rejected? I'd definitely appreciate any feedback a school would give, even if it were something as basic as "Recommendations not strong" or "Not enough extracurricular leadership experience". As far as I know, the only school that gives any post-rejection feedback is Wharton, and I need to wait until May for that.

Heck, I'd even pay money for that kind of information. Think: If HBS charged an extra $30-$50 to applicants so that they could log on and get a brief description of why their app was rejected, how much money would they pull in (and how much goodwill would they lose from potential reappliants)? Hmm...

Posted 1:04 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87792775:

HBS E-mail to Applicants

"As a Round 1 applicant to the Harvard Business School MBA Program, you will be notified of our final decision on January 22, 2003 via an online decision notification system. You will receive an email tomorrow (January 22) letting you know when your decision is available.

Decisions will be delivered through the same online system that you used to apply to HBS, located at the following URL:

Please use the same PIN and password that you used previously to apply to HBS to access your personal account. If you have lost or forgotten your PIN or password, you can use the automated search lookup on the website noted above to find this information.

Thank you for your interest in the HBS MBA Program.

MBA Admissions "

Posted 12:53 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87792283:

Even if you decide to chat on this site, don't miss the HBS R1 Yahoo group's many online polls.

Posted 12:46 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87791934:

Posted on B-Week:

"Please be advised that Round One applicants will be notified of the MBA Admissions Board's decision via email on January 22, 2003 between the hours of 9:00 am and 5:00 pm.

Thank you for your interest in Harvard Business School.

MBA Admissions
Harvard Business School"

Posted 11:46 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87789125:

Wow, hosting chats is a definite traffic booster.

Posted 11:44 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87789013:

I thought this was worth a shot: If anyone wants to leave a tip to help cover the cost of the enhanced chat/message board and extra Hotmail storage, click the button to the left.

Posted 10:46 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87786378:

The first Stanford accept? "GIFLE" posts on B-Week at 7:34 am PST...

Posted 10:06 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87784587:

The Humanity of if all
If I've learned one thing during the application process, it's that, like all human institutions, AdComms aren't perfect (no, I'm not about to go off on how they made a mistake dinging me). What I mean is that, despite the best plans, projections, expectations, and forecasts, things don't always go according to the AdComm's plans. Case in point is the Chicago decision process: Despite all their plans, a reduced number of R1 applications (?), etc., as of yesterday morning (January 20th!) there were still candidates who hadn't been informed of their decision.

My point is that despite the best intentions to interview every accept, or the best intentions to get all the decisions out tomorrow, there could always be slip-ups, delays, and exceptions, as befits this very human enterprise. If/when that happens, we should could the AdComms some slack, because it must be a monstrously difficult job construct a dynamic, interesting class from such an excellent set of candidates.

Posted 9:39 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87783344:

Attention Stanford Applicants
I was just reading through their e-mails (the automatic ones sent after your application has been submitted), and came across this tidbit that bears repeating:

"Although you can start the financial aid application process now, the suggested filing date for Round 1 admissions is January 30, 2003. For U.S. citizens and permanent residents, please be aware that the 2003-4 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form will be available after January 1, 2003 at
For more information on financial aid and the types of funding available, please visit the Financial Aid Office Web site at"

In other words, if you're fortunate enough to get in to Stanford, you have to move quickly on the financial aid front. The same might apply to other schools as well, so readers are advised to check their e-mails and/or school webpages.

Posted 9:31 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87782985:

I expanded the message board to accomodate chatting on the decision day. Keep it clean and enjoy!

Monday, January 20, 2003
Posted 6:22 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87751592:

Thank You
Before the news comes out, I wanted to thank everyone who took the time to send me encouragement by e-mail, message board, or comment. It definitely makes writing this weblog more fun, and helped me keep my head high after the two dings.

- Tad

Posted 4:03 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87745206:

HBS, Stanford Chatting
To accomodate chatters, I'll be expanding the size of my message board starting tomorrow. So if you want to chat about things, feel free to drop on by (keep it clean, though).

Someone ("Henry Hill"?) set up a Yahoo chat area for HBS Round 1 applicants to use, at:

It has a nice chat room (let's chat!), polls, an applicant database (!), and more (Note: I think you need to have/create a Yahoo ID to participate). If I can make it in there on Wednesday (I've had both Java and firewall issues from the office), I'll definitely drop in. Otherwise, I'll be hanging around here.

Posted 3:11 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87742763:

The Week Ahead
Pretty simple: On Wednesday, I will either be in delirium (acceptances from HBS and/or Stanford), confusion (waitlisted or invited interview from HBS and/or Stanford), or resigned melancholy (two more dings on my stack).

By Friday, I will have posted my thoughts on how the Sloan inteview went, which could range from a new sense of hopefulness or further melancholy.

That's pretty much it. I don't have any more application work to do, and the decisions on the rest of my apps are many weeks away. Whenever I get a Kellogg and (?) Columbia interview invitation, I'll post on that, but that's about it. I don't expect things to pick up (weblogging wise) until/if I get accepted somewhere, at which point I'll need to go into full financial aid scrambling, move planning, resignation announcing, craziness mode.

Hey, I should be taking advantage of this lull to get some rest...

Posted 1:46 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87739263:

I just checked both my HBS and Stanford online apps, and neither has changed any (i.e. no status alerts or links or fields or anything out of the ordinary).

Posted 1:19 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87738061:

I've also gone over my Sloan application in detail. I've thought all along that Sloan's was my best R1 application, and still think it is one of my best to this day.

Most of all, I really, really liked the cover letter. Maybe it is simply the act of writing to someone, or maybe it is because I've met Mr. Garcia, but for whatever reason I felt less constrained writing it than any other essay. It is my most passionate sounding essay too--it really conveys the depth of my feelings for Sloan (long story). Essay one (example of creativity) is interesting and well written, essay two is my standard [work] leadership example, and essay 3 (difficult interaction with somebody) is a bit of a stretch (in the sense of answering the question), but brings up an interesting experience. And I had no problems with essay 4 (write your own reocmmendation), maybe because, once again, it was in the form of a letter.

The lessons I've learned from my Chicago, Wharton, and UMBS interviews are as follows:
Restrain Humor - Unless the interviewer has a similar sense of humor and background (like UMBS'), I must at all costs restrain my sense of humor. I think I have a tendancy to wisecrack when under pressure, and think this might have cost me in the Wharton interview.
Stay Focused on Message - Above all, I need to keep hammering home on points related to being admitted to b-school.
I Love Sloan - If asked, convey the same passion for Sloan that I did in my cover letter. I think I crashed and burned on the "Why our school?" question during the Chicago interview.

Posted 9:55 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87729263:

With some free time over the weekend, I read over my HBS and Stanford applications in detail for the first time since submitting. I wanted to be reminded of what I was being judged by come Wednesday.

In the HBS application, the weak points are definitely a lack of awards, essay #5, and essay #6. In essay #5 (strengths and weaknesses) I gave a pretty lame weakness; I wish I had been more introspective there. And I know that I could do a much better job today in essay #6 (why HBS?) having sat in on a class. Overall I think the application is strong, and gives a lot of interesting supporting details, but I wonder if it lacks the "knockout punch". I guess I'll know by Wednesday.

My Stanford application is almost the opposite: I think my essay A is an absolute home run, but wonder if it is the details that trips up the application (in essay B). It reads a little...mushy, a little vague. The section on how Stanford would help me achieve my goals is especially vague, reflecting my lack of information about the program last October (not that I have much more info now).

If I had to choose a stronger application, I'd go with Stanford's, simply because I think it's better to wow and AdComm with your story and slip up on a few details than get all the pieces right but not add them up to a whole.

We'll see...

Sunday, January 19, 2003
Posted 12:40 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87685648:

From last year's HBS R2 thread, yes, it is possible to get waitlisted (without having been interviewed) on the decision day...

Posted 12:28 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87685264:

Weblogging News
First, congratulations to Modz Speranto for getting an acceptance to UMBS last week!

Second, prospective Tuck students can check out a brand new blog by first-year student Pat Murray. His site is one of the most technologically advanced weblogs I've seen, what with its comment system, traffic tracking, and reader accounts (thanks to Adam for the link).

Posted 10:46 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #87682060:

Many thanks to "DONRAMON1" for posting to B-Week a zip file containing copies of the old Sloan track webpages. These are a useful reference for all Sloan interviewees...though with the curriculum changing, their applicability is somewhat in question (i.e. you probably don't want to say in the interview "The reason I want to go to Sloan is for its Financial Management track"--after all, it might be gone by next year!)


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