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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* 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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06/22/2002 - 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.

Friday, February 14, 2003

Posted 8:48 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90326259:

Have a great Valentine's Day, nice weekend, and (for US readers) a nice Presidents' Day holiday.

Posted 8:10 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90326217:

Kellogg Round 2 action is starting to pick up. According to the AdComm:

"Round 2 file matching/processing will be completed within the week, and the first decisions for Round 2 will be released shortly thereafter. Please keep in mind that the vast majority of decisions will be released within the final days of the deadline (end of March)."

Based on how R1 went, applicants should hope not to hear from Kellogg until March, because the bulk of the early decisions will be dings.

Posted 1:42 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90324679:

Obviously, a tough decision to take. I thought that my background, goals, and quality of my essays (along with a nice interview) would push me over the line. I guess not.

I can't say I feel very confident about my remaining schools. I am happy with how their applications turned out, but I was happy with the Sloan and Wharton apps too, so... I'm just hoping that my app "clicks" with some school.

I'm feeling a bit stressed now; being at a client site in Boston means I can't really step away from my desk and just vent. I can't wait to get home and unwind a bit (or a bunch). Then it's on to doing the taxes and FAFSA and preparing for Hong Kong (thank God I don't have to leave tomorrow for that).

Thanks to everyone for the encouraging words. I'm still hoping that I'll have some better news to share come March.

Posted 12:51 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90324426:

Ouch. The bitter, bitter sting of the dreaded ding:

"February 14, 2003

Dear _____:
The Admissions Committee of the MIT Sloan MBA Program has considered your application and has regretfully concluded that we cannot offer you a place in the incoming class.

As you no doubt realize, the MIT Sloan School is comparatively small, with approximately 315 MBA students entering each year. While our size offers advantages to both our students and faculty, it also creates an extremely difficult selection process––this year, well over 3,000 candidates will compete for the 315 places in the class. I think it is no exaggeration to say that the majority of our applicants would be good students for our program. But since we have so few spaces to offer, the problem is not only choosing academically and professionally qualified applicants, but also choosing the very strongest candidates from a field of extraordinarily talented individuals.

We realize this news comes as a disappointment. I do hope, however, that you will accept our best wishes for your success.


Rod Garcia
Director of MBA Admissions

P.S. Unfortunately we cannot conduct post-evaluative interviews with candidates we could not admit. As you can imagine, with over 3,000 applicants that procedure would consume almost the full-time attention of two employees. We are simply not staffed to be able to provide that service."

Posted 11:55 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90301480:

Friday Deadline Countdown
* Today is the MIT Sloan Round 1 decision
* 29 days left until the UMBS Round 2 decision
* 45 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 RD; Pending Decision
* UMBS - Submitted for Round 2; Interviewed

Posted 10:20 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #390323435:

From the online application main page:

Friday, February 14, 2003

Round I decisions will be posted every two hours starting at 12 noon EST. Once your decision has been posted, a link will appear at the bottom of this page. Click on the link to access your decision letter.

If a link does not appear, please try again at in two hours (2:00 p.m. EST, 4:00 p.m. EST, etc.).

MBA Admissions Committee
MIT Sloan School of Management

Posted 9:02 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90323022:

BTW, good luck to the NYU applicants that are getting decisions today.

Posted 7:07 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90322664:

It was nice to get a chance to chat with some other MBA applicants about things (heck, I even learned a thing or two about application tactics). When I have talked to actual MBA students and fellow applicants, they have invariably been nice and smart (which makes me suspect that over 50% of the people on B-Week didn't get into the schools they said they did, and another 20% are still in high school). The Happy Hour ran from about 7:30 to 10:00, and the only down note was the fact that the Cambridge Brewing Company only serves wine and beer, so no screwdrivers came my way.

Yesterday was kind of a rollercoaster. Once calls started going out around 10:00am, I was wired and excited, and naturally as the day wore on I got more and more nervous. But after calling the Admissions Office and seeing the posts on B-Week, I do think that 1) it is completely dependent on the interviewer's schedule and 2) there will be more calls today. Whether I will get a call or not who knows; there's nothing I can do about that now.

I'm hoping Sloan will follow their pattern last year in terms of releasing dings at once in the morning. At least that will be a clear point, and if you don't get dinged then things start looking up. We'll see...

Thursday, February 13, 2003
Posted 5:43 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #390320447:

Sloan Applicants Happy Hour (Final Reminder)

When: Tonight, at 8:30 pm EST (or even a bit earlier)
Where: Cambridge Brewing Company (see this post for details).
Who: Ask for the "Businessweek Forum" people, or look for DAMCKIE
Why: To celebrate the early calls and gripe about still waiting

Posted 4:36 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90320107:

I decided just to ring up the Sloan school now (Telephone: 617 253-3730) and see what the story is about admissions. The conversation went like this:

Tad: "I just wanted to know if all of the acceptance phone calls are going out today?"
Sloan Admissions Office: "It depends on the interviewers. The interviewers are calling the applicants."
Tad: "But will they all be done today, or some tomorrow, or?"
Sloan Admissions Office: "I really don't know, sorry. It depends on the interviewers..."
Tad: "Thank you."

Take that as you will.

Posted 11:46 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90318512:

It looks like Columbia RD decisions have started going out too...

Posted 11:27 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90318408:

Sloan has started calling admitted students, a day earlier than expected. Excitement level: High. Fingers: Crossed beyond the breaking point. Chat room: Expanded. I guess I'll be checking my office voicemail a ton today...

Posted 9:29 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90317781:

Reminder: The URL of the Sloan online application is:

Posted 8:00 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90317396:

Reminder: Sloan applicant happy hour tonight, see DAMCKIE's post for details.

Posted 7:37 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90317373:

The Four Seasons Hotel has noticably tighter security now; there is a manned guard desk in front of the elevator bank, and they check the ID/room key of anyone trying to take the elevators up. It's probably in response to terrorist threats on hotels...

Posted 7:23 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90317316:

For as big and tough as SUVs look, I find them extremely cramped on the inside. The cab I caught to the office this morning (can't shake that early-rising habit) was a Ford Explorer model, and I had to sit sideways in the back seat. I am taller than average, but still--I don't have that problem in the large American cars or (most) normal taxis.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003
Posted 11:19 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #390316236:

Program Notes: Sometime tomorrow afternoon I'll expand the message board to kick off the Sloan chat. Tomorrow evening's the Sloan applicants Happy Hour, and then, of course, Friday's the big day (during which time this site will be in full chat mode).

Posted 5:32 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90314963:

The Wall Street Journal's CareerJournal has an article on how to handle tough questions in interviews. Many of the questions listed, which come up in job interviews, have direct paralells to b-school interview questions ("Why should we hire you?" = "What would you contribute to our school?").

Posted 4:50 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90314784:

I tell you, being on a business trip the last few days before a b-school decision is great, for two reasons. First, I am more busy than usual, leaving little time to worry. Second, the daily routine is shaken up, making the day pass by much quicker. The workday here [at our Boston client] starts around 9:30 or so, with lunch coming only a couple hours later (and we actually take lunchbreaks!) Since my normal routine sees me in the office by 7:00, skipping lunch and leaving by 5:30, this is quite a change of pace. And now that the day has flown by and there are only 48 hours to go until the Sloan decision, I'm feeling good and calm and ready to rock.

Posted 11:55 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90312444:

On the flight here, I read through the two Bloomberg Markets articles that I mentioned below, "Revenge of the Bond Traders" and "Goldman Sachs: Exit the Millionaires".

The first article (PDF) discussed the reasons behind the bond markets resurgance the past few years, and the work of fixed-income product trading in general. For anyone interested in a trading career post-MBA, it makes for a very insightful read. I put aside all the facts related to why bonds are hot now (fixed-income and equities will always go through cycles where one is hot and the other isn't), the key insights for me were:

1) Bond trading is becoming increasingly technical--the article discussed how top firms now like to hire people with "engineering, mathematics, and physics degrees".
2) For those interested in the money: "A junior trader can earn $100,000-$175,000 as a base salary and an equal amount in bonus; traders with more experience can earn as much as four times that; and a manager can make more than $5 million a year".
3) Traditionally, very few traders had MBAs (or any sort of higher degree). However, as markets/products become more sophisticated, higher degrees are increasingly common (all of the top managers interviewed for the article has them, most were MBAs).
4) What school names came up in the article? Wharton, Harvard (twice), MIT (twice), Stanford, and Carnegie Mellon. (Note: Some of these references were to those schools' engineering programs).
5) Also, as an introduction to what traders (especially in the more complicated financial products) do, the article is great.

The Goldman Sachs article (PDF) was about how many of the top figures in that firm are leaving because of the IPO moneys they made in 1999. It focuses on how these relatively young bankers--most in their forties--are using their wealth to start more socially-active endeavors, like charities and whatnot. The two business schools mentioned in that article were UVA and Stanford.

Posted 10:48 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90312382:

Boston looks exactly as it should in the winter: Pale blue skies, a wan sun, and fresh-fallen snow on the ground.

Posted 5:00 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90310665:

The latest [March] issue of Bloomberg Markets magazine has a couple articles that might be of interest to some of you (one on bond trading and on on Goldman Sachs millionaires). I've printed them out for reading on the flight.

Jeez, I almost forgot to bring my Sloan application login and password. It's been so long that I'd forgotten it...

Tuesday, February 11, 2003
Posted 9:26 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90310618:

I think the Thursday night Sloan Applicant Happy Hour will separate the men/women from the boys/girls. Why? Try forecast lows of -1 degree.

Posted 8:47 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90310587:

In free moments, I like to browse through my [free] SiteMeter traffic-monitoring account to see who's dropping by. What an assortment! I see,,;,, and even a (!?); visitors from Mexico, Australia, and France.

What an thing, the internet. Welcome, one and all. I really, really hope I don't make a fool of myself over the next few weeks.

Posted 8:42 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90310566:

I must say, as I pack up for the Boston trip, there is a fateful feeling in the air. It's quite a coincidence to be heading there right as the Sloan decision approaches. Kismet.

Posted 4:57 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90309682:

The Columbia threads on B-Week have been unnaturally quiet as of late. My guess is that, with a huge wave of applications rolling into their office between January 3 and 15, the AdComms are currently strainging under the weight (good luck guys!) I would expect to see more and more interview invitations going out, starting next week.

Posted 12:39 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90308314:

It's funny, my coworkers also give me a lot of good-natured ribbing for driving a VW Beetle. Not that I care: trust me, the front seat of a Beetle is more roomy than the biggest SUV out there on the market. Anyway, our [numerous] discussions on the subject ended with their conclusion that the only way a Beetle can be manly is if it has an armor-piercing machine gun mounted on the roof.

Posted 7:16 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90306699:

Tension Building
It's for me not to see this Friday's Sloan decision as a pivotal moment in my application experience. For many reasons--background, the quality of the application I [thought I] put together, interests--I would take a Sloan rejection pretty hard. First, it would mean I had completely struck out on my R1 applications. Second, it would mean another dismal month-long wait in limbo. Third, it would seriously diminish my hopes for the other schools.

On the other hand, an acceptance from Sloan would bring a sense of relief, vindication, and renewed optimism. I would take it as an indication that I have improved at interviews over this process. With an accept from Sloan I would go so far as to predict my ending up with two or three accepts, when all is said and done. Plus the tightrope walk at work would be over: I could begin laying the plans for a soft transition off of my project (I like my coworkers and company enough to not want to leave them in a lurch when I depart).

I'm not going to go so far as to say Sloan is my top choice, but it truly is an important choice. As Friday draws closer, I feel an electric tension building in my gut.

Monday, February 10, 2003
Posted 2:34 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90303488:

The MBA admissions blogging tidal wave picks up steam:

Posted 1:07 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90303170:

I called up the Cambridge Brewing Company and here are the instructions they gave me for walking there from the Kendall Square T-Station:

1) When you come out of the Kendall Square T station, you'll be facing Main Street. Turn around and cut through the Cambridge
2) Marriott (it's public access) to Broadway.
3) Turn left and walk along Broadway.
4) Cross over to the other side of Broadway at some point
5) You'll pass over a set of train tracks.
6) After you pass the Draper Laboratory (on your right), bear right onto Hampshire Street
7) Take the next right onto Cardinal Medeiros Ave and One Kendall Square is on the right corner ahead.

This very detailed (PDF) map of Cambridge can help out (look in the bottom-left corner of square B8 for One Kendall Square).

Posted 12:56 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90303019:

Possible Ann Arbor Trip
I've long wanted to visit Ann Arbor, since UMBS is the only of my four schools that I haven't been to. As my work schedule has turned out, it's going to be pretty much impossible to do so before the R1 decision. I am, however, considering a three day Chicago & Ann Arbor trip in mid-March if I do get into UMBS, as a chance to visit the school[s] (I would also drop by Kellogg to sit in on a class) and just relax a bit from the HK stint. Naturally, if this works out photos will follow.

Posted 11:46 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #390302668:

Readers that are insterested in a sales and trading career should check out the Columbia Sales & Trading club's website. It contains a very thorough run-down of the various Investment Banks' summer programs, which very from very flexible to highly product-specific. Some even offer a "Bloomberg training course". ;-)

Posted 10:51 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #390302368:

I was glancing through the Kellogg Waitlist thread, and found this tidbit:
"They generally waitlist 300 people and accept 100 of those..."

Posted 8:26 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90301812:

Exciting Week
I'm looking forward to an exciting, or at least busy, week. I'm off to Boston Wednesday through Friday, with a big work deadline coming Friday evening. Thursday is the Pre-Decision Day Happy Hour. Friday looks ot be a cacophony of events: Delivering at work, awaiting the MIT decision, flying home, Valentine's Day. Job, money, education, love, honor, air travel--Friday's got it all! Sunday I'll have my taxes done and [hopefully] complete the FAFSA stuff too, and then I need to start preping for the Hong Kong trip. To top it off, the timing would be right for a Columbia interview invitation (come on, CBS, look at my GMAT! Look at my Wall Street career goals!)

Sunday, February 09, 2003
Posted 1:26 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90298782:

Sloan Pre-Decision Day Happy Hour
Thursday night at the Cambridge Brewing Company.
See this post on B-Week for the details.

It'll be kind of cool to meet fellow applicants, on the last day that we're on equal footing. Luckily, I'll be in Boston on business from Wednesday through Friday so will be able to make it...


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