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
Got the call earlier today from the UMBS AdComm, not 4 hours after arriving back home from HK. E-mail to follow soon, Embark will reflect decision on Friday, binder to come sometime after that, admit weekend April 4-6. Feelings are a mixture of elation, relief, exhaustion (I've been up about 26 straight hours), anticipation, pensiveness, vindication, and excitement.
Will write more in the next few days as decision, implications, travel plans settle down.
Posted 11:47 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90426111:
I found a rather odd e-mail from UMBS when I arrived home. The gist of it is:
"The University of Michigan Business School is pleased to announce that we will implement on line decision posting for Round 2 (January 7, 2003 application deadline) MBA applicants to the MBA Class of 2005. Since you applied on line, you can take advantage of this feature to obtain your decision on line. Decisions will be available on line effective 12:00 p.m. (Noon, Eastern Standard Time) on [March] 14, 2003." (corrected from "January 14th").
I noticed that the decision time changed from 12:00 midnight to 12:00 noon, which is pretty inconsequential, but odd nonetheless.
Update: Naturally, the B-Week crew has chewed this over already. The text of the e-mail suggests to me that it was simply a mass mailing, not a pre-ding e-mail ("University of Michigan Business School is pleased to announce that we will implement on line decision posting"--it doesn't get more general than that). That, plus the R1 rejected applicants did not get a pre-decision date e-mail. No point in worrying about it now.
Well, that's it for me in Hong Kong. The trip was long and painful on the job front, but the MBA news went exactly as I expected. I can't wait to get home and head into UMBS decision week. And now that we're only a few weeks from the Kellogg deadline, I expect to start hearing of more and more accepts. In conclusion: Excitement, anticipation, optimism ahead!
Something I hadn't heard before: Columbia provides "waitlist managers" for each of its waitlisted candidates?!? Impressive. This must take some of the sting out of a WL and help the process run smoother (from the applicant's perspective)...
Posted 7:16 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #390418207:
Question for Hong Kong Readers I'm hoping to tap the immense multicultural knowledge of my readers to answer a question I have. As I mentioned earlier, I've purchased a custom-made suit here in Hong Kong. I visited the suit shop three times this week: to choose the materials, to get it fitted, and to pick up the final product. The tailor I've dealt with is a Hong Kong man in his mid-30s (I'd estimate), though he works with two older colleagues in the shop (who are his bosses/owners of the shop, I assume).
The question is this: after each visit there, as I leave the shop he follows me out to the street chatting me up, pointing out the subway station, and suggesting other shops in the area ("If you want custom-made shoes, go there...if you want nice watches, go here..."). From my [very] limited knowledge of Chinese culture, I assume he is trying to direct me towards businesses that he's friends with, in a networky sort of way (he scratches their backs, they scratch his). Or he could have been just providing thorough customer service. Or maybe he was expecting a tip each time we met (incidentally, how much are you supposed to tip tailors? I gave him a tip only on my final visit, picking up the suit). Regardless, it was just awkward to have him tagging along with me for several blocks.
Posted 1:37 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #390365877:
Michigan Decision Process Here's a description of the UMBS R1 decision release process, e-mailed by a helpful reader (and R1 admit). For point of reference, the announced decision date was Wednesday, January 15th:
"Official decision letters mailed 1/15. I was notified the afternoon of 1/9. I believe notifications started 1/8 maybe? They divy up accepted people across the admissions committe and notification occurs based on personal style. Some call and then send a follow-up email, others just send email, others just call. You'd have to verify via the "in at michigan" thread, but I'm fairly sure the calls were 98% done by monday. If you hadn't heard by then, you wouldn't recieve a notification until wed (they released on tues 12:00am) through embark. I am not aware of any rejects or waitlist notifications being released prior to the stated date/time."
Based on a similar pattern, R2ers should start getting called/e-mailed around Monday, March 10th (i.e. a week before the 3/14 decision date). Hope to hear quickly, because if you don't hear by the date it's almost certain bad (waitlist) or worse (ding) news.
In reading through the Kellogg R2 thread, I couldn't help but notice that this candidate interviewed over a week after me, and just received the "denied admissions" notice. I wonder if I can expect a decision in the next week or two? It's probably more random than that...
I feel that the endgame is soon upon us. Exciting!
Last night I was in a very reflective mood, enhanced by the atmosphere. For dinner I went to Zeffirino, an Italian resteraunt on the 31st floor of the Regal Hong Kong Hotel. The weather was overcast and drizzly, offering a dark and poignant view of Hong Kong Harbor. It really hit me what a big deal it is to go to business school, how risky and, ultimately, human an act it is.
As I looked down over the glittering city, I thought to myself, "I have things pretty good right now. I'm gainfully employed in a job that pays fairly well and provides some challenges. I get to travel, staying in nice hotels. I own my abode, and have a comfortable lifestyle. And I'm willing to trade all of this for two years in a small apartment with no salary, in a city I don't know, working my ass off, all for the possibility of moving into a new career that I think I would like?!?"
And the answer was, "Yes." I think most of the successful b-school applicants reflect on this. It's a natural instinct to covet and protect the comforts you have in the present--safety, a comfortable environment, economic stability, etc. To willingly trade those in for a vague goal, a dream, an ambition--that seems profoundly human. What an ambitious, optimistic, self-confident lot we business school applicants are!
As I left the restaurant I realized this might be (nay, this hopefully will be) my final expense-account trip before returning to the student lifestyle. So be it.
This has come up once and a while on B-Week: Do I think that AdComms have read this site, figured out which application is mine, and dinged me for it? The short answer is "No, I am not that paranoid." But I sometimes like to imagine just such a scenario...
[The scene: Sam, Joanne, and Freddy, AdComms at school X, gather in sub-basement 5, the "Decision Chamber". They are proceding through a large stack of applications. A single red lightbulb shines overhead, which adds a hazy mood to the room but makes reading more difficult.]
Sam [taking an application off the stack]: Now, let's see who we have here...This is application #1209, Jordon Cooper's.
[All three open their copies of that application]
Joanne: Let's see. Good stats--let's admit him! [The all laugh at the inside joke] Anyway...strong work experience...started three charities in his spare time...fluent in five languages...
Sam: Six, if you count his diplomatic experience.
Joanne: He had a good interview...comes across as "charming, sophisticated, erudite, constipated, and has good hair"--exactly what we want in a business leader.
Sam: His experience as national spokesperson for Subway sandwiches is an added bonus.
Joanne: I say that this person is a pretty clear admit, if not worthy of a full scholarship.
[Sam and Joanne turn to Freddy, who's remained curiously silent throughout the conversation. Freddy takes a final drag from the cigarette he's been smoking away at, then stubs it out on the steel tabletop.]
Freddy: Normally, I would agree with you.
[He pauses for dramatic effect]
Freddy: ...but in the course of my research into #1209, I've come across some disturbing...nay, shocking, information.
[Tension fills the air. Freddy leans forward]
Freddy: My research indicates that #1209 has been dinged by several other schools...
Sam: What?!? How can you possibly know that?
[Joanne shakes her head silently]
Freddy: ...because #1209 is actually...Tad Holbie!!!
[Sam gasps audibly, and Joanne covers up her face sobbing]
Joanne: ...no....no, he can't be...
Freddy [rising out of his chair]: Yes, yes Joanne, yes! I read over Tad' entire blog, all 12,491 arrogant posts of it! All the details match this application--male, white, high GMAT--how many other applicants fit that description?!?
Sam [slowly lifting his head]: It...must be...so.
Freddy [returning to his seat, confident of his victory]: I think...it's clear to all of us what must be done here...
Sam [slowly]: Yes...
Joanne: Yes...we can't be the school to accept Tad. We'd...be the...laughing stock...of the B-Week forum.
Freddy: We'd never, never live this down. Why, Richie Rich alone would post hundreds of messages a day mocking us.
Sam [slowly inserting his copy of the application into the shredder by his side]: Goodbye...#1209. I wish you all the best...
[They all shred their copies]
Freddy [rising from his chair, shadow enveloping his face]: mm-hmm...hmm-hmm...mwaha-ha-ha-ha-haaaaaa!
Okay, this BabelFish thing is addicting, so I will allow myself one more non-English musing:
Hmmmm... que je ne connais pas vous, mais je pense ce website "bruits" infiniment plus frais en français. Il a un aspect débonnaire à lui. Avant que j'aie écrit, "peut-être nous boirons des bières ensemble à Ann Arbor". Maintenant je dis, "peut-être apprécierons-nous le vin sous les étoiles dans Evanston"?
Speaking of the blogging wave, Francophiles out there can check out the sophisticated musings of Kellogg admit and Sloan applicant Thibault at FrenchMBA.blogspot.com. I don't speak French (short aside: In American public schools, children are offered the choice of learning Latin, French, or Spanish. I chose the latter, since it is most useful within the US), but thanks to AltaVista's BabelFish, can get the gist of it. Naturally, for me the key paragraph was:
"Pour finir, je rends hommage au célèbre Tad Holbie, dont le site m'a été très utile tout au long de la préparation de mon MBA."
Which translates as:
"To finish, I pay homage to famous Tad Holbie, whose site was very useful to me throughout the preparation of my MBA."
To which I can only reply:
"Je suis sûr que ce logiciel ne traduira pas correctement mes pensées. Beaucoup de mercis de vos mots très aimables."
Seriously though, I think it's cool to read about other MBA application experiences, especially those with a non-American perspective.
Disconnects At work, a 24-month project is being started that is tangentially related to my current project. The timing of it is nice--it'll really get going in April, after I've heard from all my b-schools. Should none of my applications pan out, I think I'll be able to get into the project on the ground floor in a position of some responsibility--maybe with management duties over a few people. I would then consider re-applying to b-school in two years (or rather, in the winter of '04), with (hopefully) a nice eighteen [more] months of management responsibility under my belt. Two more years of seasoning (and salary) could only help my application, I think.
That said, I don't relish the thought of working for two more years in a job that I don't see a long-term future in. The sooner I get my career onto the right track, the better.
"A friend of mine went and did the tour today. He said the admissions coordinator told him that the R2 decisions would start going out after 8th. So from 10th till 13th they will send emails and call the accepted students. On the night of 13th and the morning of 14th the decisions would be online at embark."
1) If you like cars, the Central neighborhood (i.e. downtown Hong Kong) is the place to be. Ignoring taxies and lorries, is seems like 90% of the vehicles on the road are Benz's, BMWs, and Porsches. I've even seen a few Lotuses (Loti?), Lamborghinis, and Bentleys thrown into the mix. Natrually, there are a few Volkswagen New Beetles (the "Chariot of Champios", as I like to call them) driving around too.
2) Bowing to suggestions from all my friends and colleagues in the US, I'm having a custom-fitted suit made. It's just too good a deal here--I'm paying a couple hundred dollars less for a suit crafted to fit my (bloated) body. I only wonder if it will be appropriate to wear my fuschia silk suit to a possible CBS interview...
3) The most fun way to get around town is the double-decker trolley.
4) I see the BWeek threads are starting to buzz with the approach of R2 decisions. Being across the globe really innoculates you from that.
The Fantasy B-School thread is going strong. I would feel weird rating other applicants, especially since it's hard for me to keep track of who said what. In the end, I just hope most applicant get into the program they will be happiest at, whereever that may be.
Posted 6:58 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #390402185:
I missed the discussion on the UMBS thread about how important it was to fill out Michigan's optional essay (about diversity in the workplace). I generally agree that if a question is marked optional it truly is optional. In this case, I had a work experience that highlighted the issue (and even better, it focused on how I added diversity to a group--go figure), so I did the essay.
Posted 1:21 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #390398465:
This trip has served to remind me that large corporations are, in the end, social organizations. When you meet someone who, through obliviousness rather than malice, completely disregards the social strictures of a company, you realize how important those human aspects are. I'm not talking about social activities like going out to dinner or drinks, but the more basic niceties of life in an organization: making a pleasant first impression, not badmouthing other people in the company, understanding that managers sometimes have other priorities than what's on your mind at that moment. No matter whether or not that individual provides an economic value for his salary, sooner or later the organization will seal itself off and expunge him.
Admissions Update Things are rolling along pretty much as expected. Most of the early (yes, it's still pretty early) Kellogg decisions are dings, though there have been a few accepts so far. If R2 continues to follow the R1 pattern, the accepts should start coming more frequently after Friday. UMBS will probably remain silent this week, with next week being action-packed. Columbia continues churning along, although the decisions (both positive and negative) are coming out a bit slower than I would have thought (in that it's now about 8 weeks since January 3rd).
In my opinion, one of the least advertised parts of the UMBS program are the M-Treks. Towards the end of my interview, I was asked if I planned to do one, and replied "of course" (vaguely remembering that they were some sort of pre-matriculation activity). Since then, I haven't read much about them. There is an article that sheds some light on M-Trek in the latest Monroe Street Journal, and here's the B-Week thread dedicated to them. My take is that they would be a fun way to kick off the b-school experience and get to know your classmates. Plus nobody is gonna complain about leaving work an extra week or two early...
"The outlook for full-time hiring for the first year class isn't much brighter either. Career Services expects most companies which visit campus to do most of their full-time hiring from their summer internship classes."
For current applicants, the message is clear: Especially if you intend to go into banking or consulting, your summer internship search should start the day you set foot on campus, if not earlier.
ChiBus also has a very thorough admissions update:
"Two hundred and eighty (280) students have been admitted already.
· The target for this year's class is 525 students...
· Twenty-nine percent (29%) of the admits are female, though women comproised 12% of applicants...
· The target for decisions on Round 2 is the third week of March...
Rapidly becoming a GSB trademark, each admitted student was contacted individually, by phone, by Dean Martin or someone on the admissions staff. While doing so might take a bit longer, it certainly creates some memorable stories.
· One admitted student wouldn't stop weeping when she found out, saying it was her lifelong dream to come to the GSB.
· One admit was interrupted while on their honeymoon - "but that's all I can say about that," explained Dean Martin.
· One student was convinced that it wasn't really Don Martin on the phone. "This is a reality TV show, isn't it?" she asked repeatedly in disbelief...
As of Round 2, applications on the whole are down. After a record increase (up 70% last year), that is to be expected. Though it's impossible to know exactly why we've seen a decrease (besides the obvious regression to the mean), Dean Martin cited two potential reasons.
For one, the economy is not projected to recover quickly, as it was last year. Students in the Class of 2004 entered thinking that the job market would turn around during their two-year tenure at the GSB.
Secondly, heightened tensions resulting from world events has probably had a negative impact on foreign applications. Students coming from abroad are less likely to want to relocate to the United States, given the uncertainty and various terror warnings."
Posted 6:50 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #390397264:
Odds and Ends, from Hong Kong
1) Hong Kong is the first place I've been where private banks are licensed to print the currency. How do I know this? It's printed right on the money. A quick glance through my wallet produces:
* A government printed $10 bill
* A Bank of China $20 bill
* A Standard Chartered (British bank!) $20 bill
* A Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited $20 bill
* A Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited $100 bill
* A Standard Chartered $500 bill
(These add up to about $85 American dollars) I wonder if the large number of currency producers has led to a higher incidence of counterfeiting. Each set of bills looks slightly different, with the government's design by far the ugliest (abstract, fuschia geometric shapes--yeah, that conveys power and grace).
2) I'm normally not a big fan of Chinese food in the US, mainly because its often doused in thick, sweet sauce. Thankfully, that hasn't been the case here (maybe it's an "innovation" to please sugar-addicted American palate?) The two meals that stand out in my mind are the Dim Sung and Szechuan (sp?), which is a hundred times spicier here than in the US.
3) I haven't seen a single fortune cookie, much less received one after a meal. Another American conspiracy (albeit a good one)?