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 Blogger.com
and after a free registration you can have your own Weblog too! Even better, they offer free hosting on their
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 firstname.lastname@example.org (and no, that isn't my real name).
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".
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 email@example.com.
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
1) Setup my H&R Block appointment for Sunday the 16th, so I will be able to finish off the FAFSA stuff before Hong Kong.
2) "BLUEDOG27" posted a compilation of the 6 major MBA rankings, for those interested in numbers. I guess it has some value, but using rankings to make a decision between two or more schools still sounds pretty stupid to me. For my four remaining applications, the rankings are #3 for Kellogg, #6 for Columbia, #8 for Sloan, and #12 for Michigan.
3) The movie "Shanghai Knights" is neither as funny nor as fun as "Shanghai Noon", but it still has some good moments.
4) I'm enjoying reading about Modz's thought process as he decides between UCLA and UMBS (BTW, I have the same problem with spaces before HTML tables).
Wow, increased site traffic has its advantages! The "Final Results Survey" I put up this morning has already reached the maximum 100 responses that SurveyMonkey.com allows. Going straight to the numbers
Predicted Decisions By School In order, the percentage of readers predicting I'd be accepted to each school:
UMBS - 80%
Sloan - 46%
Kellogg - 20%
Columbia - 17%
I'm a bit surprised that so few of you think I can make it into CBS, since it seems the closest fit with my career goal (Wall Street).
Final Results Come this fall, where do you see "Tad Holbie":
Entering Sloan - 40% (Pretty much everyone who predicted I'd get into Sloan thought I'd go there)
Entering UMBS - 29%
Still in my current job, getting ready to reapply - 14%
Entering Kellogg - 8% (I guess some of you think I'd turn down Kellogg)
Fired and homeless - 5% (You love me, you really love me!)
Entering Columbia - 2% (Wait...I'm more likely to be homeless than go to CBS?!?)
Still in my current job, resigned to my fate - 2%
Conclusion My conclusions are:
1) Readers are still confident that I'll be accepted to one of my remaining schools.
2) For some unknown reason, people really don't think I'll go to Columbia (seriously, I don't know what that's all about)
3) I come across as much more humble now that I have a few dings under my belt.
Just to make sure I'm okay, I took the step of calling all four schools to inquire about FAFSA deadlines. Here are the answers I got:
I talked to Mr. White, who was very friendly and provided a lot of info. He said that most schools have FAFSA deadlines in March and April, and suggested that I get started on the form. The deadline for UMBS is March 1st. He said that you can specify up to six schools on a single FAFSA form.
"Unlike most schools", Columbia doesn't have a fixed deadline. Once an applicant is admitted he/she will be asked to submit the FAFSA.
Kellogg also doesn't have a fixed deadline. Admitted applicants will be asked to submit.
MIT Sloan 617-253-3730
I was told that I should be "worrying about admissions, not" the FAFSA right now. The guy I talked to suggested that if admitted, I should try to submit the FAFSA within a month or so.
Conclusion Better safe than sorry. I'm going to scramble to get my taxes done and submit the FAFSA before I head to Hong Kong (2/22), which should be doable. I got the general impression that these deadlines are not that strict, but of course everyone should check with their schools on that point.
I think that b-schools use the FAFSA mainly to determine need-based scholarships, which I really doubt I'll receive. Though I don't have tons of cash/savings/money laying around, my current salary is high enough to push me out of the needy category. Still, there's no harm in trying.
Posted 12:53 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #390291132:
I used the Department of Education's School Code Lookup to find the codes for the four schools I'm applying to. I then went to each school's site to confirm the code (you should as well):
"002178 MASSACHUSETTS INST OF TECHNOLOGY" (confirmed here)
"002325 UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN - ANN ARBOR" (confirmed here)
"E00302 NORTHWESTERN UNIV KELLOGG MGMT" (confirmed here)
"E00116 COLUMBIA UNIV BUSINESS GRAD" (confirmed here)
Posted 11:48 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90269695:
Friday Deadline Countdown * 7 days left until the MIT Sloan Round 1 decision
* 36 days left until the UMBS Round 2 decision
* 52 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; Interviewed
* Columbia - Submitted for Regular Decision
* UMBS - Submitted for Round 2; Interviewed
The first step in filling out the FAFSA forms is to apply for an electronic PIN number (i.e. an identifier number with the US Department of Education).
I do still have a [small] student loan remaining from my undergraduate days, but am not sure if I used a PIN then. I guess the loan must have a PIN associated with it, but for the life of me I can't find it. So I'm going to go ahead and request a new PIN, which, according to this page, will automatically make any old ones obsolete/useless.
UMBS has a nice web page describing the general process of applying for financial aid. From what I've read, the sooner you get started on the FAFSA form, the better (i.e. even if you haven't gotten accepted anywhere yet, it's better to have that form done and submitted).
Here it is, my final results survey. I'm curious to see where the site readership thinks the "Tad Holbie" story will end. Will I be accepted to three of the remaining four schools? None? Make your voice heard!
The CBS Bottom Line newspaper has an interview with the Vice Dean after his trip to the G-7 meeting (yes, apparently HBS, Wharton, Kellogg, Chicago, Columbia, Sloan, and Stanford call themselves the "G-7"). It contains an interesting discussion about grade non-disclosure, which, as I noted below, is currently being studied at Kellogg.
Apparently Chicago, which recently implemented a strict non-disclosure rule, is experiencing a lot of trouble with it:
" Many folks at Chicago were not pleased with the policy's adoption. The administration believes the policy hurts weaker students, based on anecdotal evidence that recruiters "quiz" the students, and the faculty was upset to see that class participation dropped by 16%, according to post-policy student surveys. They feel the policy exacerbated already existing bad classroom habits...Personally, I'm increasingly against adopting a non-disclosure policy."
As you can see, blogging is going to be somewhat light over the next few weeks. Besides waiting for decisions and passing on the usual bits of news and whatnot, there's really not much to talk about (until/unless I get a CBS interview invite). At this moment, I'm feeling fairly confident about Sloan, fairly confident about UMBS, somewhat confident about Kellogg (I gave it my best shot), and hopeful about Columbia. Obviously, I'm a pretty optimistic guy.
Slowly but surely, my work projects are starting to heat up again. I'll be in Boston much of next week to meet a deadline at my fabled client site, and then of course, the much anticipated Hong Kong trip. And by the time I get back (March 8th) the UMBS decision will be on us, with the Kellogg decision not far behind.
I feel like this whole process has reached the beginning of the end. Relief, anticipation, excitement, and impatience all greet this prospect.
It brings back memories... The minutes of the January 6th Kellogg GMA meeting (Word DOC) highlight a problem, nay, a crisis, that is sweeping across the business school landscape: undergrads crashing the b-school happy hours.
"President Grant opens a discussion about the defeated vote over standardizing cups at TG to prevent underage drinking. President Grant brings forward a new proposal: Asking people to rotate week by week in the role of monitor to look out for suspects."
Posted 11:45 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90284575:
Kellogg Interview Experience The Kellogg interview went pretty well, and fit what I've learned about the school to a T: down-to-Earth, friendly, good sense of humor, fun. It was by far the least formal, most relaxed, and ultimately, most open and honest, interview I've had. Because of that, I think that the Kellogg interviewer comes away with the clearest understanding of "who I am" than any other interviewer. Whether or not that results in an acceptance now depends on whether I am the type of person Kellogg wants at their school. I dearly hope the answer is "yes".
I met the alumni after work at a Starbucks, but because of the noise there I suggested we head to a nearby restaurant. The resulting interview lasted nearly ninety minutes, and it really was more of a dinner conversation than an interview. The alumni did ask a few "standard" questions, but they all just came up in the flow of the conversation. We touched on why I was seeking an MBA, what made me interested in Kellogg, what clubs I was interested in participating in, what other schools I was applying to, etc. As conversations usually are, it was a two-way street; I got a great first-hand view of Kellogg from her perspective.
My impression is that, more than any other school (I've interviewed with), the purpose of the Kellogg interview is personality fit. That's why there were no situational questions and very little discussion of job experiences. I think that applicants are being sized up with one quesiton in mind: "Would I want to spend two years working on team projects with this person?" The result of this focus is the strength of Kellogg's class: friendly, supportive, and not uptight.
As for the two big mistakes I'd made in prior interviews, overusing my sense of humor and not explaining why I wanted to attend the school? For the former, I think I kept the humor in the tolerable zone (and thankfully Kellogg alums seem to have better sense of humor than...other schools) so didn't blow it on that front. And, if nothing else, I think I presented every strong reason why I would be a great addition to Kellogg as I could think of.
"...we're still processing Round 2 files, all day, every day, and will continue until finished. I'll have a better idea by Monday of our projected completion date. Also, I'll let everyone know when we've completed the files so that you can check for an updated status at that time."
Posted 10:18 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90280691:
I'm not superstitious, but today is shaping up very nicely. My CBS app has gone from "Incomplete" to "Pending Decision". I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed and knocking on every piece of wood I can find: With the Hong Kong trip moved back a week, could I possibly get an invite to CBS and squeeze in an interview before then?
In the minutes of the [Kellogg] GMA's January 27th meeting (Word DOC), the issue of grade non-disclosure has come up (I believe that Kellogg currently does not have a non-disclosure policy):
"Issue 4 – Grade Non-Disclosure
· The only study that has been done. The decision that needs to be reached today is whether or not to further study this issue.
· What more would we look at?
· We need to understand the full implications of going non-disclosure (potential to decrease overall GPA)
· Other schools don’t have open list for interviews. Therefore, the grade disclosure mitigates this issue somewhat..."
Posted 8:37 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #390280591:
I was just going over the Kellogg Graduate Management Association (GMA) website, which has tons of useful information. The 2002-2003 student club guide? They got it (Note: Word document). Link to the new Kellogg Globe website for international students? Got it.
For those interested, here's the executive summary of the GMA:
"The Graduate Management Association is the representative student government at Kellogg. The GMA representative body consists of the Executive Committee and the GMA Board. The Graduate Management Association's Executive Committee and Board constitute the elected student government of the Kellogg School of Management's full-time program. Their mission is to enrich the Kellogg experience by representing student interests, providing resources and leadership for student activities, and partnering with administration, faculty, and students to initiate positive change."
Good Omen Finally, a very good omen on interview day!
So my Kellogg alumni interview was originally scheduled for yesterday, but after a last-minute scheduling issue moved to today. I was talking to a friend about this, and she said that it was very good news. She broke out a calendar of hers that showed the "luck level", for lack of a better word, on each day of the year. Yesterday was the worst possible luck: people following that calendar shouldn't do anything important or try anything new (she didn't tell me about this after I had originally set up the interview). Today, on the other hand, is the best possible luck. Perhaps the fates are smiling on me?
PS - Of course I don't really believe in all that...but it's nice to have good omens before an interview rather than bad ones, don't you think?
For Kellogg-bound readers: Check out the Evanston Roundtable (local paper) for an insider view of life in that area. The Evanston Police Department also has a crime statistics website, although I notice the PDF file for their latest (2001) annual report mysteriously leaves off the pages with the data (i.e. the doc's index says the "Offense Summary" starts on page 39, but the PDF file only goes up to page 38). Hmmm...
Posted 12:45 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90276211:
Now that the first round of admissions decisions for most schools have gone out, in the Business Week forum several threads have appeared of the "School X vs School Y" variety (for example, see "Chicago vs Wharton - Finance"). Though these can be good ways of learning more about different programs, I can't help but feel that they perpetuate the myth that there is an absolute way to measure a school's quality.
In the end, I really don't think that there will be a substantial difference to your career and life success if you go to Chicago versus Wharton, Kellogg versus Stanford, UCLA versus Michigan versus Duke, etc. This is not to say that the schools are all the same, but rather that if you're motivated enough to have attain success, whether the route goes through Evanston or Ithaca, you'll probably be fine.
That's why I've long said that, should I be accepted to more than one school (knock on wood), it will be my gut that plays the biggest determining factor. If a school--meaning its program, its students, its alumni--just feel right to you, it's probably the right choice. People can go back and forth until they're blue in the face about different stats, recruiting numbers, rankings, etc., but in the end, I don't think that's what the business school experience is about. It's about the people.
For those interested: Stanford e-mails to remind everyone that they're hosting another bi-weekly chat, today between 1pm and 2pm PST. That's a very convenient time, especially if you're unemployed (sorry, I couldn't resist ;-)...
The Wall Street Journal has a short column this morning (page B1) entitled "These Days, It Pays To Be a Bit Secretive About a Job Search". It pretty much sums up the reasons why I have been hesitant to let my company know I'm applying to business school (i.e. I don't want to be escorted out the door the same day--as the article shows, it does happen). My "How To" guide to alumni interviews is at post 88213590.
A reader writes to encourage everyone (or rather, all American applicants) that the sooner you start filling out the FAFSA forms, the better. To be honest, since 1) I haven't been accepted by any school yet (knock on wood), 2) I haven't even begun to do my 2002 taxes, 3) I tend to procrastinate on financial matters, I haven't yet looked into this.
But I think it's good advice, and maybe later in the week (i.e. after I've wrapped up the Kellogg interview) I'll look into this subject. I'll be interested to learn:
1) What is the FAFSA?
2) Where/how is it used?
3) Does current salary/assetts affect it?
4) Where do I submit it?
5) What role do outstanding student loans play in the whole process?
Here is the US government's web page on the subject. More on this later in the week...
"MCK3A" posted an excellent summary of last year's Sloan R1 thread on the Business Week forum, complete with links and all. Kudos and many thanks. The most important paragraph (to me) was the timeline of events on the decision day (February 14th this year):
"Dings went out in the mid-morning (10:00am-ish), WL went out late afternoon (4:30pm-ish), admit emails went out shortly thereafter (5:00pm-ish)."
Surely Sloan wouldn't keep us waiting by the computer on a Friday, Valentine's Day evening? "HOPE_2003" says maybe so:
"Decisions will be available online (through your ApplyYourself account) on the evening of February 14, 2003...Because we give each application full and thorough consideration, we ask that you give us every opportunity until the early evening of February 14 to review and, if necessary, change our decisions."
Of course, I'll switch this site into full chat-room mode on the 14th for the decision. The timing might actually work out well for me; if I'm up in Boston that week, I can fly home Friday morning and [hopefully] not miss the excitement...
This is too funny. Remember that whole "Steve Franks" commotion on Business Week a few weeks ago (if not, don't worry, you didn't miss much)? Here is a different perspective on the whole affair (for one thing, it's Steve "Frank" not "Franks")...
Kellogg Round 2 acceptances "may" not start going out until the end of February, according to the Kellogg AdComm (on BWeek). That fits the pattern of Round 1 (a pattern which would also predict that R2 dings start going out in a week or two).
"Site Purpose: To record my application experience, provide commentary 'n information on da admissions process, 'n foster a supportive community fo' izzall MBA applicants n' s**t.
AdComm Members - Talk someone claiming be Tad Holbie? Verify that shiznit by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org!"
Posted 11:24 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90270729:
My summary of "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind": Dark, dirty, unpleasant, slow, and ugly. It was shocking how different the actual movie was from the trailers, both in terms of tone and viewer enjoyment. I went in expecting a hip and funny look at a spy's double life, and ended up with the portrait of a self-loathing spy as his life spiralled out of control.
I completely missed this story, but Kellogg appointed a new Director of Admissions a few weeks ago. I doubt it will have any affect on this year's admissions, but it could spell changes for those of you planning to apply next year.
Posted 12:32 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90266938:
I wonder how long admitted students have to decide on a school. I know a few schools allowed admits until May to reply, but I just read this BWeek post about a Carnegie Mellon only having until March 21st (i.e. before the decision dates of many second round schools). I would hypothesize that higher ranked schools would allow admits more time, whereas lower ranked schools would want a commitment sooner (to get a better sense of how large their class is). Interesting.
Posted 10:08 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90266309:
Kellogg Interview Preparation In preparation for my interview this week, I've broken out my copies of the Kellogg application for review. One of the aspects of this app that I liked was that it asks for very little redundant information. Basically, Kellogg seems fine in trusting your resume, unlike some schools which ask for a resume and a mini-essay about each job you've held since high-school.
The only weak spot in Part I (the data form) is the Academic Honors section. Personally, I think this section matters the least, because I don't even pretend to have been an awesome student. I was much more interested in trying out different subjects, doing extracurricular projects, and just enjoying the college experience to care much about my GPA. I also don't have a long list of extracurriculars, but feel that I have a few that I can really get into real depth on, so that's a wash.
Looking at the essays, I remember that I had a tough time with some of them (thankfully, I got some great advice from a friend in the final days enabling me to submit on time). I think I make two good points in essay 1 ("Why Kellogg, why an MBA?") but don't really tie them together well (two pages of double-spaced text is not a lot). I'll want to explain myself better during the interview on this point.
The second essay ("What will you contribute?") is a bit better; I used a nice [work] example to support my points. I would still like to re-emphasize this message in the interview, giving more tangible examples of what I would contribute. I think this essay was a bit too hypothetical.
Essay 3 ("Evaluate your own application") is flawless. There's nothing I need to emphasize on that one.
In essay 4, the three mini-essays, I chose B, A, and F. For 4B ("Valuable lesson about leadership?") I gave my "classic" answer, and I think it speaks for itself. I talked about a [work] team leadership example in which I managed several individuals and coordinated among several global teams, and the real lessons I learned from it. This was probably the essay that came most naturally to me.
With essay topic 4A ("Most valued accomplishment?") I again chose the work experience route. That's not entirely true though; the experience I discussed was really more a combination of a professional, social, and personal accomplishment. Regardless, I used 4F to write about a very personal accomplishment that [hopefully] added a nice twist to my essays.
I feel very grateful that my interview is coming now. First, I enjoy interviews, both because the excitement of having to perform under pressure and the chance to learn [even] more about the school. Second, I feel that I have a second chance to more clearly answer the first two essay questions: Why I want to attend Kellogg and what I can contribute. I think the essays laid out some good ideas, but now I need to do a better job of tying them together.