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
Kellogg Decision Messages All Kellogg decisions are delivered via their online status page, with accepted candidates sometimes also getting calls from AdComm members. Kellogg uses two different "decision made" messages in the status page which give away whether it was a positive or negative decision. From "DAMCKIE's" post on the subject:
If your online status reads:
"Your admission decision is complete. You will be able to access it shortly. Please try again later."
...then you have been dinged.
If your online status reads:
"Your admission decision was completed on 1/11/2002 and will be sent via electronic or postal mail. Please allow adequate time for the arrival of your decision. To ensure confidentiality, we are unable to accommodate requests to release decisions by phone. Thank you for your interest in Kellogg."
...then you have been accepted or waitlisted.
Accepted candidates were often--although not always--called by AdComm members, and waitlisted candidates usually received the official letter a few days after the online status update.
Update: It seems like, in R1, sometimes applicants got an e-mail alerting them to the status change and sometimes they didn't. The only reliable sources for status changes were checking the website and admit phone calls.
"At this time, all Round 2 files and interview requests have been processed...
We have also begun releasing Round 2 decisions, and will continue to do so through the end of March. Upon posting your decision, we will send you an email notifying you that your decision is available online. Again, the vast majority of Round 2 decisions will be released during the final weeks of the notification period. Thanks for your interest and your patience!"
It begins... The first R2 Kellogg dings have been sent out, about a week earlier than I expected. But in retrospect, it matches the R1 pattern pretty well (the first dings started about 6 weeks before the official decision date then, too). If R2 follows R1 closely, the first accepts should start about 3-4 weeks away from the decision date (i.e. the first week in March).
Good luck all!
Update: I also remember the Kellogg AdComm once writing that the earlier you interview, the more likely you are to receive an early decision. This is partially confirmed by the fact this candidate interviewed back in mid-January...
Update 2: Yep, I asked Kristen this question way back in November...
Posted 12:31 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #390328929:
Friday Deadline Countdown * 22 days left until the UMBS Round 2 decision
* 38 days (at most) until all Kellogg Round 2 decisions are complete
* ?? days left until the Columbia decision
My status: * Kellogg - Submitted for Round 2; Interviewed
* Columbia - Submitted for RD; Pending Decision
* UMBS - Submitted for Round 2; Interviewed
Wow, the countdown is getting short and sweet. Basically, the only school I want to hear from over the next two weeks is Columbia, my thinking being that Kellogg will be releasing mostly dings early on. I am positive about my UMBS app, hopeful that the Kellogg interview can overcome my so-so essays, and eager to be given an interview slot with Columbia.
Posted 11:11 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90354668:
Based on some of the CBS timelines I've seen on the B-Week forum (here and here, for examples), it looks like the "sweet spot" for getting interview invites comes two to three weeks after the app goes to "Pending Decision". I have now entered that time frame, and my gut tells me that if I don't hear from CBS by the time I get back [from Asia], it's bad news. My gut also tells me that I will get an invitation from CBS. It also mentions that it would appreciate some food, since I skipped breakfast.
Posted 10:00 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90354286:
I make frequent use of the grammatical tools "i.e." and "e.g." when writing, but it's easy to confuse them. This article clearly explains their meaning and proper usage. "i.e." ("id est") means "that is", and should be followed by an explanation, where as "e.g." ("exempli gratia") literally means "for example".
I must confess, good reader, that when I stumbled across my old copy of the Yale SOM application I did stop and seriously contemplate applying for Round 3. Yale has four application rounds, and the third--on March 14th--is reputed to be equivalent to the previous two. I did some research on Yale back in December. And I feel that I've learned a lot during this entire process, and could produce an even better application.
Yet, in the end, I have stuck with my decision against it. This has nothing to do with Yale itself, which I think is a great program. Part of my decision relates to optimism: I feel like I have a live shot at any one of my remaining three schools, any of which I would [probably] choose over Yale (based on what I currently know). Part of my decision relates to time constraints: Meeting the March 14th deadline will be tough, what with my HK trip looming.
But more important than those factors, I simply decided that, if I indeed have learned many application lessons over the past six months, I would rather apply those lessons to a nice set of schools next fall than take one shot at Yale. In other words: Let's say I am dinged by Kellogg, UMBS, and Columbia. If the insights I gained from the preceding eight applications (all unsuccessful) turned out to be enough to get me into Yale, wouldn't I always wonder what other schools I could have gotten into next fall?
And thus, I have put the application forms aside for this season. My lot is cast.
Some days are good luck days: Got a couple pieces of great news today (unrelated to business school). A friend of mine's going to be in Hong Kong the same time as me, so my weekend there took a turn for the better.
A long while back, I mentioned that I had two bad omens related to Wharton (one before my interview and one on the decision day). I'm not the supersticious sort, so I said it slightly tongue-in-cheek, but with the way things turned out...Anyway, I define an omen as anything that is sufficiently 1) rare, 2) bizarre, and 3) negative to stand out from the daily routine.
The latter omen will have to remain private for the time being, but I thought I'd share my interview omen. It still stands out as a very bizarre incident...
So I show up nice and early at Huntsman Hall, the day of my interview. I'm decked out in my freshly-pressed suit, and read through the newspaper in the student lounge as I wait for the admissions office to open (I'm an early riser). The plan was to attend a morning class and get back in time for my interview (which was 11:30-ish, if I remember correctly).
After breakfast, I make a stop in the restroom on the way to the office (bear with me, it's relevant). I go into a stall, and reach down to open my zipper, when I feel a sharp, painful jab into the index finger of my right hand. I pull my hand back, and find a small hole punched in the very tip of my finger, underneath the nail, with blood starting to trickle out. Lo and behold, a staple from the dry cleaning service that had pressed my suit had somehow gotten stuck in my fly, and (even more unlikely) gone unnoticed the entire morning until that moment.
I cleaned up my hand and went on to the admissions office, where (to their credit) the staff was very friendly and provided bandaids from a first-aid kit (I didn't tell them exactly how this had happened). The "injury" was quite minor and didn't bother me the rest of the day, but still, it was just weird. The odds of an individual staple slipping into the fly, then going unnoticed as I dressed and [visited the restroom earlier], only to draw blood right as I was heading up to the AdComm office, are astronomically small. That's why, looking back, I semi-jokingly refer to it as an omen.
Thankfully, nothing nearly as bizarre has happened before any of my other interviews. There was the incident on Wharton's decision day, but that story will remain untold for now...
Posted 11:48 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90348531:
I've recently been asked a couple times whether I definitely will attend if I get admitted to one of my remaining three schools (for example, here and here). The short answer is yes. The longer answer is yes, for several reasons:
1) I only applied to schools that I wanted to attend.
2) As many of you have probably realized, I am not particularly hung-up on the rankings, and honestly don't believe that my future success hinges upon which (of the three remaining schools) I get into (Note: this does not mean I think all the schools are the same. Far from it.). This may, in part, be due to the fact that the career path I'm interested in is not as MBA-centric as, say, strategy consulting.
3) Because of personality, background, and many other factors, I value my time a lot. Even at 25, I don't want to "waste" a year of my life in a job that is not, ultimately, what I want to do. Especially as a career changer (to Wall Street, no less), the younger I make the switch the easier, I believe.
4) This really feels like the right year to me. I felt it when I decided to apply to school (last May), and I feel that way today.
5) What's that expression, "a bird in hand is worth two in the bush"? By nature, I would be very, very reluctant to throw away any acceptance for the possibility of being accepted elsewhere next year. That reluctance relates to reasons #1 through #3, but also the simple fact that, even if I put together better apps next fall, it's not a guarantee I would get in at other schools.
At this point, the only reason I would turn down an admission is if I visited the school, took in the classes, went through the admit weekend, and got a deep feeling in my gut that I didn't want to attend there. Considering that every class visit I've done has only increased my interest in the programs, I think this is very, very unlikely.
I haven't written much about the "fundamentals" of my applications and what role they might have played in the outcomes so far. I define the "fundamentals" of a candidate as his (or her) job experience, academic background, extracurricular activities, and stats. There are several reasons for not writing about these factors. By their very nature, they are hard to change in a short amount of time (i.e. once I decided to apply to b-school, there's not really anything I could have done on the job to help me). Second, to discuss them without revealing too many private details is difficult. Last, it is very difficult to compare one candidate's fundamentals to another (who is "better": the candidate with 3 years as an I-Banking analyst or with 5 years in corporate finance? how can anyone say?)
The biggest weak spot in my fundamentals is probably the extracurricular activities. If I were an AdComm, I would divide extracurricular activities into three piles: Those that increase the school's network, those that improve the school experience, and those that are solely personal in nature. Examples of these are being on the board of directors of a charity, working in student government, and stamp collecting (these are very crude examples).
I don't have a ton of extracurriculars, more like a handful from my undergrad days and present. I honestly don't think the number of activities matters that much (this B-Week post agrees). The problem, if there is one, is that most of my extracurricular activities would fall into the second category, "contributing to/enriching the school experience".
If I do not end up at any school this year, then, I will of course go through the feedback schools give me. If their feedback confirms the suspicion voiced above, I'd look for non-work activities that are more networking-oriented, to strengthen my app in that area.
I'm sad to see that so many MBA applicant weblogs have petered out. Treeman's MBAAdmit is no longer accessible; Joe Smith wrote a total of three posts; this Joe went from stressful waiting to accepted at S/H in one post, and then disappeared (again); only Modz seems to be hanging in there. I enjoy reading about other people's experiences almost as much as I enjoy sharing mine, so it's a disappointment to see them go...
Posted 4:35 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #390344967:
Funny Juxtaposition I just got the usual e-mail from Stanford GSB advertising their bi-monthly online chat. Because they use a Yahoo group to host the chat, Yahoo has affixed an ad to the bottom of the e-mail. What's the ad for? The University of Phoenix online degree program...
BTW, this Kellogg AdComm FAQ thread (note: it's read-only) on B-Week probably answers most (if not all) of the questions you were thinking of asking Kristen. All K applicants should give it a read-through for details on their status, the admissions process, etc.
Well, as the Kellogg AdComm suggested last week, they are finishing up matching all the R2 apps. I logged into the status check page this morning (no, I didn't receive any email) to find this message:
"All the required elements of your application are complete...
The next status check update will be the admission decision (Admit, Waitlist or Deny). As the majority of decisions are updated twice a week, we recommend checking the status on Tuesday and Friday, between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Central Standard Time, toward the end of February. Please note the majority of decisions will be posted during the last several weeks of the deadline."
Translation: The first week or two of decisions will be mostly dings, so your odds of a positive decision improve slightly if you make it into the middle of March).
Posted 10:10 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90338845:
Quiet Week It'll be a very quiet week, since I don't expect any major MBA news. I really don't expect any action until March, when this whole enterprise will draw to a close with the UMBS and Kellogg decisions and some sort of news from Columbia. Besides which, I'll be somewhat busy this week packing/preparing for the trip.
I completed and submitted the FAFSA form. Overall, filling it out took less than an hour, with my 2002 1040 in hand. I consider my EFC reasonable; it's about 1/5th of my income. I think that two of the factors that kept it low (compared to some people) were:
1) I filled the form out before receiving my year-end bonus for last year, meaning that my cash on hand was very, very low. This probably cut my EFC down by several thousand dollars. If you haven't been paid your bonus yet, fill the FAFSA out now.
2) I don't have any investment wealth other than my primary residence. I think this is another instance where the US Governmen is biased towards homeowners (not that I'm complaining!) If I had $40,000 equity in stocks, it would count towards my EFC; since I have it in a house, it doesn't.
The only confusing spot in the form is where you have to specify a housing option for each school. I'm not sure the relevance of that, so I put "on campus" housing for each. Other than that minor point, the online form was surprisingly user-friendly (surprising in the sense that "user friendly" is not a term often used to describe government functions).
Anyway, as I've said before, I consider all this very academic, since I expect to pay the bulk of the costs through loans from one source or another. Frankly, this is how it should be, in my opinion.
What Will I Do If Not Accepted Anywhere? Of course this question has been on my mind ever since the first ding, in December. And it ties into something that came up during the Thursday night, Sloan applicant happy hour.
One of the applicants mentioned that, even if he didn't get in anywhere this year, he'd probably quit his job and look for a new one. I got a sense that a couple of the [people there] shared that sentiment, if not intent. Looking at the B-Week boards, and the delight some people seem to anticipate in walking off their job, I am guessing this is widespread. It is a sentiment I don't share, and I wonder if that hurts me in the application/interviews.
In my applications, my basic story is this: I am fairly young (25), in the short number of years I've been in the workforce I've been very successful (project-wise, promotions, raises, bought my own house, etc.), I more or less like my current job, but over the past few years have discovered that my true calling is finance (in the sense of as I worked with colleagues and clients in the finance field, I have become much more interested in finance than my current role). My original thinking was that past success plus clearly researched future career would mean application success (note: this is greatly, greatly simplified), but obviously that hasn't been the case.
I now wonder (slightly) whether I am not at a disadvantage to those who really don't like their current jobs. In interviews, do those candidate show more passion/hunger/intensity to go to business school? For me, I want to go to business school this year because I've found a new goal in life and want to start down that road. For them, it's because their dying at work, they can't stand their job, etc., etc. For me, I could do a career transition to Wall Street finance without an MBA (I would be much more limited in my options than if I had one, but I could still do it). For them, this is their only hope of escaping misery.
I'm exaggerating somewhat in the above paragraphs, but it is a point I wonder about. Since I am not desparate about my current job, maybe my apps just lack an edge? And should I be dinged by all my schools, I wonder if that rejection/humiliation would give me the edge should I reapply in the future?
So, what will I do if I get dinged by UMBS, Kellogg, and Columbia? Well, there's no way I'm quitting my job (what, and turn down monthly trips to the Four Seasons Boston?!?) I see three choices before me: Stay in my current position and reapply in 6 months; stay in my current position and reapply in 2004; or start looking at switching into a Wall Street analyst role sans-MBA. At this moment, I'd probably be leaning towards the second option for various reasons, but there are too many variables up in the air now to say. A big factor will be the feedback I get from some schools.
If I do reapply at some point in the future, I will be a much hungrier and determined candidate, I will have done a lot more research on each school, and I will probably apply to a much shorter list of schools as well. I truly don't think it will come to this, but we'll see what happens.