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
Spoke with my real estate broker and I feel much more relaxed now. She gave me two pieces of good news:
1) It's still a strong seller's market here; most properties only last a week or so in the market before going under contract.
2) For an August closing, it would be best to put the property on the market in early June. Thus, there's no need to meet with the realtor until early May.
That gives me more than a few weeks to get the property prepared for sale, which is a relief.
Posted 4:26 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #390727185:
The Week Ahead I look forward to posting about:
* The M-Track website, which I'll begin to explore this weekend
* The UMBS admit binder (I guess it's possible that I could get a scholarship, which would truly make me do backflips)
* Commencing the selling process on my property
* The Kellogg waitlist letter
* My Columbia interview (I usually like to wait a week or so before posting the rundown of an interview, just to be safe; my short summary is: cautiously optimistic)
Most important, I just want to catch up on sleep. I haven't been hit too hard with jetlag from Hong Kong, but I tell you, after 7pm it's been an effort to keep my eyes open.
The Future of This Website ...is short. I started this website last August in order to share my application experiences with the world. Basically, I was already into blogging and, frustrated by the dearth of MBA-related weblogs, decided to start one myself. I like to think that this site provided a small window onto what it's like to apply to the top business schools in America.
Obviously, my time as an "applicant" is winding down, as I slide into the "prospective student" role. I think this is just as interesting an experience--although naturally more limited in scope--so I plan to keep the blog going throughout the coming months and summer. I'll continue to share the experiences which I wish I could read about, including:
Come the summer, once I've made my school decision and let my company know of my plans, I'll begin sharing some of my background on the website. How much I share depends on how I feel at the time, but at least I feel I owe everyone an explanation of my career background, factors in my school decision, and other hot topics.
And then, come matriculation in August or September, the blog will fall silent, the message board close down, and Tad Holbie will disappear into the wind...
Actually, in all fairness, I did mull over throwing together some Tad Holbie merchandise way back in October. Maybe it'll be a fun little project to do this spring, if for no other reason than to have a memento of this whole experience...
Posted 12:31 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90700887:
Well, I am able to login into the M-Track Class of 2005 site, but for technical reasons can't do much (my company prohibits "Active-X" from running on our desktop). Will have to wait for the weekend to read up on fellow admits.
Posted 11:38 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #390700598:
The Graduate Management Admission Council has posted the results of its 2002 Corporate Recruiters Survey. It confirms what you'd expect--recruiting is down, there is a newfound emphasis on experience, and MBA students need to understand how to job search in a down market. But the article also has some interesting insights on how recruiters do their jobs. Some excerpts are below:
"When the extremely important and very important categories are combined, the most important criteria in selecting schools at which to recruit are:
* reputation of the school (76%);
* existing relationships at the school (76%);
* retention history (50%);
* a sufficiently large candidate pool (50%); and
* academic quantitative admission standards (46%)."
I found this interesting, especially the fourth item, which effectively says that smaller schools in out of the way locations might have it tough.
There's also some good news for career switchers (I'm not sure if I fit the criteria below or not):
"In contrast, a smaller group agrees that they wouldn’t hire MBAs unless they had already worked in the given industry (29%)."
And perhaps the most important item:
"Selection Criteria in Hiring New MBAs Overall, the MBA selection criteria respondents considered most important (extremely/very) were:
* internship and/or work experience related to job requirements (70%);
* history of increased job responsibility (66%);
* internship and/or work experience related to their industry (61%);
* MBA functional area/concentration of study (61%);
* reputation of MBA school (59%);
* history of leading teams (55%); and
* having a specific number of years of professional work experience (52%)."
I have several hundred pictures from Hong Kong on disk, and as I go through them I'll put more up. In the meantime, I have posted a few shots that give you a sense of the city in a MSN Group Photo Album.
Hong Kong at Night
Naturally, when I go to Ann Arbor and Chicago, I'll put together a UMBS photo album, and maybe add some more shots to the Kellogg and University of Chicago photo albums (which I might be visiting for personal reasons).
My work accomplishment for the week: Finishing off my expense report for the Hong Kong trip. After several hours and thirteen pages, they better damn well approve it. And it came out to less than a grand a day (which makes this post all the more appropriate, and poignant)!
I came to the realization that the admissions decision waits aren't tests of patience, but rather tests of handling uncertainty. I realized this when I got what must be the fifth e-mail from my recommender, asking if I'd gotten the UMBS admit binder and/or Kellogg waitlist letter yet. She's really impatient to hear the details, whereas I'm very, very relaxed about it. Once the outcome is certain, I have no problem waiting a few days to get the details. It's the uncertainty of the decision waits that was most stressful.
Spring must be coming... So I'm sitting here working away in a nice bright office, and look down at the clock. 4:47 pm!?! This is the first day where it's been noticably bright outside as quittin' time approached. Sweet!
Chicago, Ann Arbor Travel Plans Things fell into place nicely, the vacation days are scheduled, and I've bought the airline tickets. I'll be in Chicago Wednesday and Thursday (April 2 & 3), spending the bulk of Thursday taking in the full Kellogg experience (class visit, info session, and tour), then drive over to Ann Arbor for the Go Blue Rendevous weekend.
It's going to be a busy five days, but I'm really geeked up about this trip, and happy that the schedule worked out so well. I've long said that before making a final decision on any schools I wanted to sit in on the classes, talk to the students, etc. Here's my chance.
Posted 10:11 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90561795:
A few more interesting articles:
* Business Week's recent chat with four MBA students on applications, b-school life, and the job search
* Brian Hindo's article on b-schools' new emphasis on "placeability" in admissions (thanks to Sandy for posting it on the forum). On the one hand, as a career changer, this issue has concerned me. But I feel that my experience and background provides a much more compelling story than others trying to transition into finance, and I did (in my essays) lay out a very clear post-MBA career path.
* Lying on your application: a big no-no!
BTW, the first article does touch on the GMAT score being used in job recruiting:
"Q: How important is your GMAT score for the job search, especially for management consulting? Sucharita: I've had my GMAT score asked a couple of times in a handful of management-consulting interviews. But it seems like there are other factors that are more important -- your performance on the case, your reason for wanting to be in consulting, and ultimately whether or not your interviewer likesyou as a person.
George: Duke's not the first stop on many consulting interview tours, and it does seem that the initial screen for the Big 5 companies has been GMAT score. But the smaller firms seem to emphasize experience more."
For reference, I checked out when classes start at each of my three remaining schools:
UMBS (PDF): It looks like MBA orientation starts August 25th.
Kellogg: Fall classes started September 23rd last year; CIM (?) and TEK camp were the preceding two weeks, with the KOA starting August 31st. I didn't find this year's schedule.
Columbia: Orientation tentatively scheduled for August 18-22; classes start the following week.
That means we have 23 to 25 weeks until business school starts. For selling real-estate, that's a very tight schedule. That's why I pushed so hard to apply to as many schools in the first round as possible: my ultimate nightmare is to be stuck unable to sell this property as the start of school looms. "No sale" pretty much means "no b-school", unfortunately. And that's why I'll hold off telling any coworkers about b-school, until it is absolutely, 100% sure that I'll be going.
I don't want to sound overly pessimistic about this: from casual conversations with my real estate agent over the past few months, it seems like the market here is still pretty hot. But I expect that the longer the uncertainty about war drags on, the longer the economy muddles along, the fewer the number of people willing to buy.
I was just going over the UMBS financial aid webpage. The three main points:
1) Get the FAFSA in ASAP; the deadline was March 3rd.
2) They also require tax information (W2s and such), due by April 30th.
3) Official awards notices will be mailed starting in June.
I'm sure the admissions binder will have all the details...
Posted 12:33 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90522902:
Must-read article for banking-bound MBAs:
"Down and Out on Wall Street For thousands of laid-off investment bankers, the tough part isn’t tightening the belt and doing without high-wire deals and weekends in Vail. It’s the reality that they’re not likely to get rehired, and even if they do, the days of million-dollar bonuses—and the lifestyle they afforded—may be gone for good...
One out of every ten employees in the securities industry has been relieved of responsibility since April 2001; by all reports, the cutbacks continue. But now it’s not just lost jobs. Two trends are at play in the Top-Down Recession: the worst layoffs in a generation and, for those who have dodged them, the withering away of Wall Street bonuses. In 2000, the financial-services bonus pool was $19.4 billion; last year, it was $7.9 billion. The average bonus dropped from $104,600 to $48,500. Wall Street hasn’t seen a two-consecutive-year decrease in bonuses since the eighties. “What I keep hearing now is base pay of $80,000, and the bonus is eat-what-you-kill,” whispered one once-and-future investment banker at a networking session for unemployed executives in midtown. “If you don’t close a deal, you don’t get a bonus.”...
Michael turns to me. “These are people who’ve basically done everything right,” he says. “They’ve gone to good schools, taken the right jobs. And not passively, either—they took risks from time to time, they did entrepreneurial things. Then this recession made them ask if they even picked the right career in the first place.”
“Sometimes,” says John, “I think the worst thing that ever happened to me in my life was being accepted by Harvard Business School.”
Posted 11:20 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90522302:
Nice. It now looks like I can push back the Chicago/Ann Arbor trip from next week to the first week of April (by "looks like" I mean "it's 80% certain"). That means I'll be able to sit in on Kellogg classes plus make the Go Blue Rendevous (an aside: would it be worthwhile to reach AA on Thursday to sit in on a "real" class there?). I'll know by the end of the week for sure.
Regardless of how everything else plays out, I don't expect* to make a major push to get off the Kellogg waitlist until I can visit the school again, attend some classes, talk to more students, and get a firmer sense of the environment there. Unfortunately (for me), the Winter term ends this Friday, meaning the next opportunity to sit in on a class isn't until the week starting March 31st. Which, coincidentally enough, is the week of the Go Blue Rendevous. So my current thinking is that I take a couple weeks to reflect on the WL letter, then head out to Chicago and Ann Arbor in one big Midwestern trip, after which I'd commence the waitlist efforts.
By the way, I definitely appreciate all the encouragement and suggestions you've been sending me. Feel free to either post them using the comment links below or e-mail them to me. Much obliged.
* The only exception would be if the WL letter pointed out a particular weak point that I could address right away, before a school visit.
Jetlag has helped me calm down a bit from the news flurry this morning. I got caught up mulling over all the possible outcomes related to waitlist decisions, timing, etc. I feel like I'm in a great situation: accepted to a school I'm eager to attend, given a "second chance" at another school I'd love to attend, and with an upcoming interview to a third school that would be great to attend. No complaints here! I'll be eagerly checking the snail mail for materials from UMBS and Kellogg, and in the meantime continue to prepare for the CBS interview.
There are still so many factors up in the air/out of my control that the speculation whirlwind remains a futile exercise...
A detailed explanation of the Columbia admissions process has been posted on the B-Week forum. The key part:
"You can expect a decision in 6 to 12 weeks from the date that your application enters this [the "In Process"] status if:
a)you applied on or after January 3, 2003
b)you submitted all of the required application materials "
Posted 12:50 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #390464941:
My head is kind of spinning right now. What with the jetlag, the CBS interview coming up, the UMBS acceptance this weekend, and now the Kellogg waitlist, things have kicked into very high gear.
My initial thoughts, in all their jumbled glory:
1) Holy ****!
2) When I got the undated status check e-mail, I thought for sure it meant ding (heck, I said so myself back in February!) So I thought, "Well, I never hit the groove on the Kellogg essays so..."
3) Then I log into the online status check and am nearly knocked out of my chair when I see the word waitlist!
4) I can't wait to get my hands on the WL letter, to find out if I'm a borderline candidate or an "admit with a glaring flaw"
5) What is the time frame for the R2 WL decisions? I realize I have to make a decision on UMBS by mid-April.
6) If anything, this makes it more likely that I'd visit Chicago and Ann Arbor early rather than waiting for the GBR weekend.
As much as my mind is racing with the possibilities (strategy? timing? visit? conservative? hail mary?), there's nothing I can do but wait for the WL letter and prep for the impending CBS interview. I honestly never, ever thought I'd be waitlisted at any school, so...I'm dizzy.
Posted 12:32 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90464832:
The Adventure Continues:Waitlisted at Kellogg!!!
"While we are unable to offer you admission to the Kellogg School of Management at this time, we are pleased to offer you a place on the wait list. You will receive your official letter via postal mail.
If you would like to provide updates or inform us of any material changes to your candidacy, please feel free to submit this in writing via postal mail to the following address:
Kellogg School of Management
Office of Admission & Financial Aid
Donald P. Jacobs Center
2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, Il 60208-2001
Attn: Admissions Committee - Waitlist Update
Because we are interested in receiving information and updates directly from our candidates, we discourage the submission of additional letters of recommendation.
We wish you the best of luck in the admissions process.
Posted 12:15 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #90464750:
I just got the dreaded "Status Check" e-mail from Kellogg:
"Thank you for your interest in the Kellogg School of Management.
The Committee has completed the review of your application and your decision is available. Please refer to the status check feature on our web site at http://www.kellogg.nwu.edu/admissions/apply/ to receive your decision.
Please do not reply to this message. This is an automated message sent by the Kellogg School of Management. For general admissions questions, please review our web site or contact the Admissions Office directly."
UMBS Just admitted, in the process of trying to put together an Ann Arbor trip. Awaiting the admissions binder. Glad that my UMBS essays, interview, and follow-through lived up to my expectations.
Columbia Interview scheduled, will happen shortly. I'm in full-cram mode now, brushing up on my notes from last year's visit (nearly a year ago now!), the website, and more. On the flight home I went over my essays in detail, looking for the dreaded weak spot. Since I am happy with how the CBS app turned out, I'm feeling confident and excited about the interview. If I have the chance I'll dig up and post my old photos from the Columbia campus.
Kellogg The good news is that I'm still waiting to hear from them. As in Round 1, the first few weeks of decisions were mostly dings. I expect that over the next two weeks we will see a more balanced mixture of accepts and dings. I'm hoping that a very pleasant ninety minute dinner interview will put me over the top in Evanston.
So I'm now still in a bit of limbo. I know that I will be heading for b-school next Fall and will start making the steps to facilitate that, while still waiting and working to get another two accepts from CBS and Kellogg. I want as many options open to me before making my decision.
Funny, what with all the excitement over the past few days, I completely forgot to mention an e-mail that I received while in Hong Kong with the subject line "Project Interview":
"Dear Mr. _____:
As part of the continuing evaluation of your application, the Admissions Committee is pleased to offer you an interview. Your interview will be conducted by a Columbia Business School Ambassador. Ambassadors are alumni of the program who have volunteered to conduct interviews and would also be glad to answer any questions you might have about the program. You should schedule an interview with ONE of the following individuals listed below as soon as possible, but within 30 days. We recommend that you bring an extra copy of your resume to the interview. Please also bear in mind that all interviewers are busy professionals and it may take a few days to make contact.
The following Ambassadors in your area are:
Once your interview is scheduled, please register the interview online at www.gsb.columbia.edu/admissions/online/. This will automatically generate an email to your interviewer with a web link and instructions on how to submit his or her feedback following the interview. Should you not have a password to access your account, please retreive it at www1.gsb.columbia.edu/admissions.emaillpwMBA. The interview is not mandatory; if you choose not to interview, please indicate so with a brief note, explaining your reasons.
Regardless of when the inteview takes place, your admissions decision will be made 6-12 weeks from the time you submitted your application in complete form...
The Admissions Committee"
So, for me anyway, the interview invitation came right during the "sweet spot"--i.e. three to four weeks after my application went "Pending". I'll be putting my tailor-made suit to good use very shortly...
Before I left for Hong Kong, I did a quick check on the price of roundtrip tickets (from my home) to Detroit, in anticipation of visiting UMBS in March. For whatever reason, the results I got back were discouraging--literally three or four times more expensive than flying to Chicago. I just did a quick Expedia search on tickets for the Go Blue Rendevous weekend and they are much more reasonable, but still over a hundred dollars more than nearby cities.
I generally have no problem driving long distances. Here's a quick reference list of airports in the area that could be cheaper alternatives to Detroit:
Chicago's O'Hare/Midway airports (codes: ORD and MDW, respectively) - about 240 miles from Ann Arbor
Columbus, Ohio (code: CMH) - about 192 miles from Ann Arbor
Cleveland, Ohio (code: CLE) - about 168 miles from Ann Arbor
Short list of things on my mind as I wake up at 3:30am due to jetlag:
1) Must send a follow-up e-mail to my alumni interviewer sharing the good news.
2) I guess, as I said before, thank you cards do matter.
3) I'd love to go to the "Go Blue Rendevous" weekend, but am not sure if I can make it. I already have plans to be in Chicago (personal trip) two weeks earlier, and (since airfare to the Midwest is not cheap) would like to roll a UMBS visit into that trip. We'll see how things come together.
4) I've got to fix up this place, contact a real-estate lawyer and broker, and get ready to sell. This is the only part that I'm dreading...Praying that the real estate market stays strong for another few months.
5) Assuming I need to leave my job in mid-August, that gives me five months (twenty-odd weeks) to smoothly transition out of my job. I want to, as always, leave on a high note: handing off my responsibilities, passing on knowledge, etc., etc. At the same time, I do want to draw a paycheck all the way until August, meaning its safe to keep the news secret for a while longer. A delicate balancing act to consider.
6) An aside, on my last day in Hong Kong I heard the news that our company had temporarily suspended all intercontinental business trips (between Asia, Europe, and the Americas) as a cost-cutting measure. I got my two weeks in just under the wire, I guess.
7) Geez, what about apartment hunting in Ann Arbor? How does one find an apartment with no money?
8) I checked the VW Beetle: It is not big enough to live in (for any significant period of time).
9) I can't wait to get my admit package to get my login ID to get into the UMBS admit page.
On the job front, I feel so much relief about finally having certainty. I felt torn between working hard towards expanding my responsibilities (in case I didn't get admitted anywhere) and working towards a good handoff. Now that the latter is set, I can kick into high gear again. At the office, my goal is clear: leave nobody in the lurch, leave everyone with a good impression, and make a lot of contacts for the future.