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
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* 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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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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08/25/2002 - 08/31/2002
09/01/2002 - 09/07/2002
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03/16/2002 - 03/22/2003
03/23/2002 - 03/29/2003
03/30/2002 - 04/05/2003
04/06/2002 - 04/12/2003
04/13/2002 - 04/19/2003
04/20/2002 - 04/26/2003
04/27/2002 - 05/03/2003
05/04/2002 - 05/10/2003
05/11/2002 - 05/17/2003
05/18/2002 - 05/24/2003
05/25/2002 - 05/31/2003
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.

Friday, February 28, 2003

Posted 7:58 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90391413:

From the latest UMBS M-Talk:

"For those applicants who submitted their applications via Embark, our online application, decisions will be accessible at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, March 14th. In order to access your decision, you will need to use your username and password to access Embark and review your decision. Please note that we have moved up our decision date in order for notification to fall during the work week rather than the weekend."

Posted 2:00 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90356924:

Friday Deadline Countdown
* 14 days left until the UMBS Round 2 decision
* 31 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

Updated: UMBS decision date is March 14th, not 15th.

Posted 12:00 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90375515:

Six Month Milestone
It's hard for me to believe, but it's only been six months since my first post to the MBA Admissions Wire. Now, thousands of posts, nearly 100,000 visits, and several dings (ouch) later, the site is still going strong. Thanks to everyone for readings, and I hope to have more good stuff to write about in the months to come.

Thursday, February 27, 2003
Posted 7:03 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90386239:

You know you're a b-school applicant when...
...You're at a tough situation at work and immediately think, "This would make a great subject for an essay!" As I've mentioned before, I somewhat dreaded this Hong Kong trip, the main reason being that I'd be working closely ("closely" as in all day meetings, every day) with an individual with a reputation for pissing off, irritating, disgusting everyone around him. Sure enough, he's lived up the rep, and it's taken a lot of effort to not go off on him (when, say, he jokes about the recent space shuttle accident).

As I was walking to the office this morning, I realized that this is the perfect essay topic for the "Describe a difficult interaction/relationship you've had, and how you resolved it." That was asked on at least Sloan's app, and I want to say on another school's as well (CBS?) The answer I used was okay, but not "personal" enough (it was a bit "meta"). These two weeks would be perfect because 1) it is clearly a one-on-one, personal-level relationship that's 2) very, very difficult and 3) involves complicated power/political games, yet 4) will probably end in success and 5) as an aside highlights an international experience.

I am living the perfect essay! Hopefully I'll never have to use it...

Posted 8:59 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90383103:

In the spirit of self-reflection, why not take the "How Evil Are You?" quiz. Thankfully, it turns out I'm good.

Posted 8:30 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90383003:

Being abroad has allowed me to step back and reflect on the application process. From this perspective, getting so worked up about business school application seems a bit silly. After all, there's nothing I can do now to help my chances, so why get worked up over them?

My feelings about pursuing an MBA and reasons for doing so have evolved over the past eight months. The best way to describe this is to say that in both cases they've hardened. I remember when I first started getting ready to apply, back last June and July. It seemed like an exciting adventure that fit well with my career plans. My recommenders, who are friends in addition to being colleagues, were enthusiastic about it as well. I saw it as mainly a time management and writing challenge, but thought that if I put in the effort I'd have no problem getting several acceptances. Not happening.

Now, after several rejections, I've had to really reflect on why I want to get an MBA. In discussions with friends and recommenders, I've debated whether an MBA is really necessary for my career goals, which has forced me to more clearly delineate (in my mind) my objectives for b-school. I also have a newfound respect for how damn tough it is to get into a top program. I think that, if/when I do get accepted, I'm going to really appreciate it a lot more than had I not been dinged in the past. Frankly, I expected to pick-and-choose among a handful of accepts as I sauntered through the application process. That I've instead been forced to scrap-and-claw for every last opportunity will make success all the more sweeter.

Most days I don't spend much time thinking about missed opportunities and my remaining apps. The only times I really regret not getting admitted are when I'm having a bad day at work or am surrounded by irritating co-workers (which is thankfully very seldom, at least when I'm in the US), and then I feel like dashing off a quick app to Arkansas Agro-Business School of Management just to get out of the office.

Looking at the business week forum, I'd say the biggest value I've found in it is the chance to "chat" with some really interesting and intelligent people. That's perhaps the most bittersweet aspect of all this: Seeing frequent posters that you'd love to study with get accepted to schools while you are not. I can't wait to hang out in the "In at Kellogg" thread and others like it.

Well, it's 9:30 pm Hong Kong time, and I'm off to the pub with the Director of this office. Cheers.

Posted 12:59 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #390381958:

For those interested, here's a nice introduction to weblogs and related technologies. My site barely scratches the surface of what is out there, mainly because I still use [mostly] free technologies.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003
Posted 2:30 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #390376927:

Interesting. Just as I started this website to describe the experience of applying to b-school, Martin Wright started a blog describing being unemployed: "Where the Hell Did My Job Go?" It might give some encouragement to those of you currently looking for jobs.

Posted 12:18 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90376575:

Someone posted an article from the Wall Street Journal on BWeek, an article which describes the mounting difficulties facing internationals graduating from US b-schools. An excerpt:

"As if tougher student visa policies and stiffer competition from U.S. applicants weren't enough, M.B.A. hopefuls from abroad also are finding it harder to win admission to American business schools because of the continued recruiting slump. Like Rice, some schools are purposely limiting the number of international students because they currently have such limited career opportunities in the U.S."

Tuesday, February 25, 2003
Posted 6:58 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90375409:

One other thing about Hong Kong: The elevator doors close very, very fast here. If you're standing at a bank of elevators and one opens, you'd better sprint, or you're going to miss it. I've quicly learned that the best place to wait for an elevator is in front of the center door; it increases the chance that you can make it to a far elevator.

Posted 6:56 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90375398:

I had hoped to write some about Hong Kong and what it's like here, but so far I've seen very little of the city. Because of a Boston deadline being moved back another week, I've had to work on both Boston stuff and the Hong Kong-related work, which has limited my travels to just the office and the hotel. So all I've seen is a few blocks around Central station, which is in downtown Hong Kong.

But I'm not going to let that stop me from generalizing! Downtown Hong Kong is very dense with skyscrapers and office buildings. It's a density produced by geography, what with the sea on one side and fairly steep looking mountains on the other. In this regard, it reminds me a bit of the midtown area of New York City. Based on the world cities I've been to (not that many, mind you), I'd say Hong Kong is best described as a hybrid of New York and Tokyo (the style of the modern buildings), with a British accent thrown in.

As I expected, the project I'm doing here is very unpleasant, but there's nothing I can do about that. Hopefully as the days go by I'll get more free time in the evenings and over the weekend.

Posted 5:53 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90375155:

Kudos to "GFUNKDAVE" for posting the text for creating "automatic web status check" scripts. He posted the scripts to check Columbia's status, Kellogg's status, and others. The idea is that you cut the HTML text he posted, paste it into a text editor, change the name/ID/password bits, and then save that text as a ".HTML" file. Then when you click on that .HTML file, you will automatically be logged in to the respective school's online system.

For those of you who want to check your status repeatedly throughout the day (this might be me, once I return to the US), this could save quite a bit of typing.

Monday, February 24, 2003
Posted 4:58 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90369167:

One benefit from being in Asia during the decision release period is that the need to constantly check your inbox is gone. When I walk into the office at 9am, it's 7pm Central Time and all Kellogg decisions and Columbia invitations for the day have gone out. Thus, I do one check in the morning and that's it.

Posted 7:36 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90365959:

Things that make me go "hmmm": In our office here, why does the women's restroom require electronic ID cards to enter while the men's does not?

Sunday, February 23, 2003
Posted 4:38 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90363723:

Strange: I am away for a day and all of a sudden the Business Week forum has, like, a dozen new threads about US, Iraq, the impending war, etc. Personally, I wouldn't mind if BWeek cracked down on all that...not that policy debate isn't worthwhile, just that the b-school forum isn't the right place.

Posted 4:10 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #390363635:

The Flight Out
Quick run-down:

The Catcher in the Rye - Well. I can see how this is such a reputed work of literature. The writing really is that good as you do feel like Holden is a real person. However, what the book posseses in dialogue and tone, it lacks in plot and...likability, for lack of a better word. To be blunt: Holden is one of the most insufferable protaganists around, and I really didn't feel one iota of compassion for the little narcissist as he moped through his spoiled life, learning nothing.

The Life of Henry V - Despite the usual difficulties of reading Shakespearean English, this was a nice and quick little diversion.

The Springboard: How Storytelling Ignites Action in Kowledge-Era Organizations - I'm about a third into this book, and it's starting to get interesting. The book is about how businesspeople can use storytelling to launch changes in business structure and processes. It tracks the author's experience implementing a major "knowledge management" realignment within the World Bank, and how he (more or less) stumbled upon how effective the act of storytelling was in selling his radical ideas. More about this when I finish it.

Formula 51 - This is perhaps the worst "Pulp Fiction", British-underworld movie I have ever, ever seen. I'll put it this way: I would rather watch a two-hour interview with Quentin Tarantino than see this movie again. Unfortunately, after ten hours on the plane I was getting desperate.

Knockaround Guys - Has a strong, if eclectic, cast (John Malkovich, Vin Diesel, Dennis Hopper, Seth Green (!?!)), and turned out to be an eclectic movie. It's a fish-out-of-water comedy (Brooklyn wiseguys in Montana) meets a touching father-son drama meets an all-attitude crime flick meets a suspense movie, with Seth Green thrown in. Pulled in so many directions, it's no surprise the movie doesn't work, but it has a few moments.

Comedian - A documentary about Jerry Seinfeld's experiences crafting his first post-TV act, and a new stand-up's attempts to make it big. I didn't really laugh a lot, but it was really cool to see Seinfeld just hanging out with other stand-ups around New York, talking about their work.

Posted 6:29 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90361949:

Smooth setup: Just plug the high-speed network wire into my laptop and--Bam!--I'm back in business. Cool beans.



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