MBA Admissions Wire by "Tad Holbie"

"Tad Holbie's" weblog of his 2002-03 business school application experience.
Home | Tad's Applications | Archives | Site Info | Disclaimers | Epilogue
Useful Links
Applicant Weblogs
* League of MBA Bloggers - best resource for listing all MBA blogs.
* Modz (Anderson-bound)
* Thibault (Kellogg-bound)
* Michael (Wharton-bound)
Currently Reading:
Liar's Poker
Liar's Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street

Bond Market
How the Bond Market Works

MBA Prep Books I Used:
How To Get Into the Top MBA Programs

Kaplan GMAT 2003

Kaplan 800
Kaplan GMAT 800
Message Boards & Chat Rooms
* Business Week Forum
* Wharton S2S Message Board
* Wharton S2S Chat Room
* scheduled chats
* Business Week 2003 Rankings (free registration required)
* Financial Times 2003 Rankings (PDF)
* US News & World Report 2003 Rankings
* Wall Street Journal 2003 Rankings
* Forbes Magazine 2001 Rankings
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* SiteMeter - Traffic monitoring
* SurveyMonkey - Web surveys
* HaloScan - Commenting system
* Tag-Board - Message board
* ZonkBoard - Message board (old)
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* FreeFind - Free website search engine
* WhoIS - IP/Domain Lookup
My Applications
Status: Admitted in R2!
* Homepage
* Ambasador Program
* M-Track Message Board
* Monroe Street Journal newspaper
* University of Michigan Merchandise
* UMBSA FAQ about life in Ann Arbor
* Ann Arbor Weather
My posts:
* List of essay topics
* Outlining the essays
* My alumni interview
* UMBS/Ann Arbor photos:
Image not available
(Click to enter my UMBS photo album)
Chicago GSB
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied Admissions after interview
* Homepage
* ChiBus newspaper
My posts:
* My alumni interview
* Approach/status of essays: 1, 2, 3, 4
* Posts on essay B: 1, 2
* Dinged!
* Chicago photos:
(Click to enter my Chicago photo album)
Status: Denied Admissions after Interview
* Homepage
* Online Status Check
* Finance Dept. homepage
* The Bottom Line Newspaper
* Columbia Merchandise
* Adrian Hind, student weblog
* New York weather
My posts:
* Info session summary
* My second campus visit
* List of essay topics
* Outlining the essays
* Posts on essay #1: 1
* Posts on essay #2: 1, 2
* Posts on essay #3: 1
* My alumni interview
* Columbia photos:
(Click to enter my Columbia photo album)
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied Admissions
* Homepage
* HarBus newspaper
* Adam Medros, student weblog
My posts:
* Info session summary
* Recommendation e-mail
* Approach/status of essays: 1, 2, 3, 4
* Essay word counts
* Posts on essay #3 and #4: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
* Posts on essay #6: 1, 2, 3
* Photos from campus
* Class visit experience
* Dinged!
* HBS photos:
(Click to enter my HBS photo album)
Status: Denied admissions after waitlist
* Homepage
* Online Status Check
* 2002-03 Calendar
* Kellogg Merger newspaper
* Professor McGee's Musings
* Northwestern University Merchandise
* Evanston weather
My posts:
* 2002 Waitlist Wrapup
* List of essay topics
* Starting the Kellogg app
* Outlining the essays
* Posts on essay #1: 1, 2
* Posts on essay #2: 1
* Posts on essay #3: 1, 2
* Posts on essay #4: 1
* Reviewing my essays
* My alumni interview
* Notes on my second campus visit
* Northwestern/Kellogg photos:
(Click to enter my August Kellogg photo album)
(Click to enter my April Kellogg photo album)
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied admissions after interview.
* Homepage
* Sloan Management Review
* 2002 Employment Report (PDF)
My posts:
* Info session summary
* Links to Sloan's tracks
* Note the mail-in items
* Approach/status of essays: 1, 2
* Cover letter: 1, 2
* Post on essay #1
* Post on essay #3
* My interview experience
* MIT/Sloan photos:
(Click to enter my Sloan photo album)
Stanford GSB
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied Admissions
* Homepage
* Stanford Reporter newspaper
My posts:
* Online recommender setup
* Posts on essay A: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
* Posts on essay B: 1
* Dinged!
Status: Submitted for R1; Denied Admissions after interview
* Homepage
* Student2Student message board
* Wharton Journal newspaper
* Laura Bennett, student diary
* Student Diaries
My posts:
* Info session summary
* Approach/status of essays: 1, 2, 3, 4
* Posts on essay #1: 1, 2
* Posts on essay #4: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
* Photos from campus
* The interview experience
* Dinged!
* Wharton photos:
(Click to enter my Wharton photo album)
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08/25/2002 - 08/31/2002
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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)
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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.

Saturday, March 29, 2003

Posted 7:22 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200004148:

The Second Columbia Visit
Before I head off to Chicago and Michigan, I wanted to share my experiences during my second visit to Columbia. I made it during a trip (business) to New York during the past six weeks.

The purpose of my visit was simple: Since I was going to be seeing Kellogg and UMBS first-hand, I wanted to give CBS a second chance. As I've mentioned before, I visited the campus last Spring for an evening info session and came away with a less than stellar impression, mainly because the students who attended made presentations did not come across as...serious and I would want in classmates.

The impression from this visit could not have been any more different. I got the chance to speak with several students in the Uris dining hall as well as after a class, and found them all professional and approachable. In particular, I was able to have a great conversation with a career-switcher (from an even more "unconventional" profession than my own) into Wall Street finance/trading, who was perhaps the most impressive b-school student I've met at any campus. In talking to her and other students, I got the impression that--even for career switchers--finding Wall Street internships and full-time positions was not terribly hard, if you were motivated. Columbia's Sales and Trading club is particularly active.

I made time to sit in on one class, and it was fine. The professor was very good--energetic and encouraging--although there was less student participation than I (and he) expected.

Visiting the campus during the daytime is quite different than visiting at night. There is a much greater contrast during the day between the noise and clamor of the city and the [relative] quiet of the campus, which is pretty enclosed. You don't notice that when going by for nighttime info sessions.

All in all, I came away much, much more enthusiastic about CBS than before. It really goes to show that the best way to know a school is to talk to as many students as possible, so that one or two bad apples don't unduly influence your view.

I will shortly post photos of the campus to my MSN group photo album.

Friday, March 28, 2003
Posted 5:21 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200062656:

I hope everyone enjoyed the UMBS online chat, which will probably be the last for a while (after seeing a co-worker fired mid-meeting, I have to be much more careful about my internet use at work). I look forward to meeting all you UMBS admits next week!

Posted 4:44 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200062678:

It seems like the old Michigan M-Trak site has been replaced by this iMpact Tools site. But it's not clear to me where the new WebBoard is (I get errors going to the old URL)...

Posted 9:39 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200060188:

Friday Deadline Countdown
* No more deadlines/countdowns for me! Woo-hoo!

My status:
* UMBS - Admitted
* Kellogg - Waitlisted (Round 2)
* Columbia - Interviewed, expecting a decision shortly (knock on wood)...

Posted 7:40 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200059680:

I'll be switching the site to chat room mode around 12:00. I have a lunch appointment, so probably won't join in the fray until 1:15 or 1:30.

Thursday, March 27, 2003
Posted 5:24 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200057193:

As expected, the Columbia thread is starting to perk up (2 accepts today). I'm keeping my fingers crossed...

Posted 1:50 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200056020:

Michigan Chat Tomorrow
I'll be switching this site to the "chat room mode" (i.e. expanding the message board so its possible to chat) tomorrow from 12:00 pm EST to 3:00 pm EST. If you want to chat about UMBS or anything else feel free to drop on by.

Posted 11:42 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200015423:

Chicago Readers: Help Wanted
So I'll be in Chicago next Wednesday and Thursday. A few questions:

1) I'll be near the University of Chicago visiting some acquaintances, and was thinking of dropping by the GSB admissions office. Question: How friendly is the GSB staff? Do you think I have any chance of getting any small amount of feedback from them? I'm thinking that with R2 decisions done, they might have some spare time...
2) I'd like to go to a "typical" Kellogg student resteraunt on Wednesday night. I've seen the name Buffalo Joe's pop up a lot on B-Week. A good choice for dinner?
3) Roughly how long a drive (miles, minutes) is it from the University of Chicago campus up to Kellogg? If memory serves correctly, it's at least 45 minutes...

Please leave answers/comments in the comment link below (or you can e-mail me). Thanks!

Posted 11:07 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200049137:

Business Week is hosting an online chat with four of its MBA Journal writers from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm (EST) today. The schools represented will be USC, CMU, Chicago GSB, and UNC.

Posted 7:27 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200053929:

I must say, I'm very impressed with the Michigan students I've talked to over the past week. This includes my interviewer, who called and e-mailed when he found out the news, another student who called and e-mailed to answer any questions, and a friend of a friend who returned my call within hours. Each of them has been very down-to-Earth and very sincere and forthcoming in their descriptions of Michigan (i.e. they tell me about its good points and bad points). The two overarching impressions I am getting are:
1) It really is a very broad school, and I would be gaining a great education in operations, strategy, management, and other disciplines in addition to finance. This is very appealing to me (and is why I applied to several schools that are not known as "Finance" schools, and didn't apply to some schools that are known for being narrowly focused on finance).
2) Because the number of students interested in Wall Street is smaller at Michigan, the opportunity to get on banking recruiters' short list might be higher.

Posted 6:42 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200053804:

The "2004 MBA Students: You wish you knew..." thread on the Business Week forum is turning up some very good tips. The common points seem to be:
1) Move to the new town as early as possible, at least several weeks before the term starts. Also, sign up for as many pre-term activities as possible. This will both return you to the student lifestyle and introduce you to your classmates before the bulk of the work starts.
2) Start reading the Wall Street Journal.
3) If you don't know Microsoft Excel, learn.
4) Light laptops are good.

I would add to the list that the sooner you start your internship search, the better. My goal is to build up a good network of Investment Banking connections by the time I head for school in August.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003
Posted 4:49 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200051011:

Things are just plain weird at work right now. On one hand, I think I've successfully (and subtly) removed myself from a long-term project leadership role. It's a role that I normally would be all over, but with my [still secret] MBA plans I would have felt guilty signing up for a 12-18 month project and then bailing after four months. Instead, my boss has accepted my disinterest and moved me to some shorter term projects, which will fit my MBA timeline much more nicely. Over the next few weeks I'll be in a sort of "transition" phase between my current project (which is in hibernation) and that new stuff, which (hopefully) will keep me somewhat occupied over my remaining months here.

The only dark cloud on my horizon is the fact that the colleague who made my two weeks in Hong Kong so miserable will be coming to my office for two weeks in April. Look, I'm a pretty nice guy--I would say that I've worked closely, without any problems, with 30 or 40 individuals over the past few years. This guy, however, is beyond me, and seems to quite easily generate a loathing in whoever he meets. He's a rather ugly mixture of paranoia (if you question him, you're immediately branded as part of a conspiracy), stubborness, insensitivity (asking if colleagues are thieves behind their backs), and a massive chip on the shoulder (if you ask the most inocuous question he'll go into a twenty minute, lip-shaking tirade). The best part of the Hong Kong trip--my departure--came because I thought I'd never meet him again; when I found out he'd be visiting our office (on a two week trip) I almost wept with despair.

The only bright spot in his upcoming visit is that, knowing that I'll be off to business school in a few months, my threshold for putting up with his crap is much lower. Thus, when he launches into a riff about how evil my boss is, or starts cracking jokes about the astronauts killed in the space shuttle accident, or goes into praise of Osama Bin Laden, I'll be able to cut him off at the ****ing knees and tell him to shove it. In fact, like most loudmouths, I suspect he's a lot more bark than bite, and a few slaps in the face should shut him up.

I don't want to turn this site into a bitch session about my job--as I said, I respect and work well with 99% of the people I work with. And even despite my problems with this individual in Hong Kong, I was able to successfully "work" with him to achieve the business goals (considering the stress those two weeks engendered, I consider this a huge triumph). I just think that his impending visit has been putting some stress on me now, and thought I'd let it out.

Plus it's a really, really slow day, as far as MBA news goes...

Posted 10:22 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200048680:

Perhaps due to my nature, perhaps because I haven't visited Michigan before, the Go Blue Rendezvous events that most interest me are the more informational ones: the student panel, meeting the clubs, the financial aid presentation, and dinner with the student guides. Well, I'd add the "Welcome to Michigan Party" to that list, too ;-).

Posted 7:15 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200047761:

Yesterday there was a [final?] spurt of Kellogg R2 admits, more than I expected to see (in the first round, it seemed like the final few days were mostly waitlists and dings). Congratulations to all who got in.

Posted 4:27 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200047448:

I woke up damn early this morning, in part because of nightmares, in part because of anxiety, and in part because of anticipation.

For whatever reason, I'm a lot more anxious about the Columbia decision today than I was a couple weeks ago. Perhaps as I begin to face the costs of going to business school, the access that a business school provides to that first Wall Street job increases in value in my mind, which would necessarily put Columbia at the top of my list. Perhaps the ambiguous timing of the CBS decision also is coming in to play.

In addition, the timing of things is getting muddier instead of more clear. It's possible that, if I'm accepted to CBS, I might end up sending deposits to both Michigan and Columbia, because I won't have all the information needed to decide between them. I can't go into the details...I just have the foreboding that a messy situation looms.

On a more positive note, all the Michigan students I've had contact with have been really supportive. My interviewer (who both e-mailed and called to congratulate me) answers my e-mail questions within minutes of getting them. I am really looking forward to finally seeing Ann Arbor. Heck, I'm looking forward to having three days off from work, too.

Thankfully,, which was showing rain/snow next week for Evanston and Ann Arbor yesterday, has a much nicer forecast posted today.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003
Posted 6:31 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200045618:

The more people in the know that I talk to, the higher Columbia moves in my estimation. For now, that's all I can say.

Posted 2:15 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200044244:

Gifts for friends and family
Below are links to my remaining schools' online merchandise stores:

Of the three, Michigan's is (as would be expected) the most extensive--hey, anyone interested in Michigan shoelaces?

Posted 1:54 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200044121:

The University of Michigan has posted a letter to the community discussing the effects of the Governor's proposed budget cuts on the school. A short excerpt:
"This proposed 10% total cut represents a significant reduction in our state appropriation, and we will have to make some difficult choices regarding next year's budget."

I'm sure this topic will come up during the Go Blue Rendezvous. Although this might seem to be a problem restricted to public schools, I've read of private business schools facing similar budget cutting as alumni donations dry up.


Posted 9:51 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200042528:

I'll be visiting the Kellogg campus next Thursday, and am looking for suggestions on things to do. The official visitor page offers up class visits and an information session (I think there won't be any tours because its the first week of the term). Anyone have other suggestions? Is there a lunch spot that's great for meeting Kellogg students?

Monday, March 24, 2003
Posted 4:59 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200038830:

Things seem to be picking up on the Columbia thread. That makes sense, as we now approach the twelve-week mark after January 3rd (the start of the app review process, and probably the middle of a large clot of submitted applications). I'd expect to see a couple of decisions a day for the next three weeks.

Posted 3:36 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200038705:

Business Week Writers Sought!
Awesome! Business Week is looking for its next crop of MBA journal writers. If you're interested, you'll need to send them two essays to prove your readability by June 18. See the complete instructions and requirements.

Posted 12:44 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200037720:

Michigan Reminder
The deadline for registering for next week's Go Blue Rendezvous is today!

Posted 10:20 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200036844:

The next eight weeks are going to be the toughest weeks at work, because I'm in that zone where I know I'm off to school in August but haven't told anyone else yet. In this economy, I really believe in the cautious approach. If I told my manager(s) now, the chance that I'd be fired before August is pretty slim--probably less than five percent. But why take that 5% chance?

The thing making my situation tricky is 1) I really do like and respect most of my colleagues and managers; 2) this company has treated me very well, and I would like to treat it in kind (after all, who knows where I'll end up in two years?); 3) I would rather be busy working on things than be bored. The thing is that my managers know I like a challenge and leadership roles, and are dangling them out in front of me, right at the moment when I've become reluctant to take them. Specifically, my direct manager has all but gift-wrapped a project leadership role for me, but I've [intentionally] shown no interest. It was a one-year project, and, as disappointed as he may be now, he'd be even more upset if I took it and then two months later told him I'd be leaving. He's now begun exploring a series of much smaller, less important, short term projects for me to work on, and I am subtly encouraging him in that direction.

So I see eight more weeks of being cautious and manipulative at work, always an unpleasant prospect. I'm sure many of you are in the same spot: eager to be busy on something interesting, but reluctant to get too involved.

I can't wait until June, when I'll be ready to let management know I'm leaving. Work will go into more of a knowledge transfer mode, my days will grow shorter, and the twelve months of living a secret life will be over. It can't come soon enough.

Posted 7:46 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200036191:

Getting Close?
Columbia has repeatedly stated that applicants can expect a decision in 6 to 12 weeks if they submitted after January 3rd. By my count, that means I should be hearing from them within the next two weeks (hopefully before I'm off to the midwest), so that I could aim to attend the April 10 - 12 open house. Their next open house for admitted students isn't until May 12th (a Monday?!?)

Posted 7:31 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #390699399:

My summer 2004 internship search starts this week. I'll be attending a presentation and cocktail reception that offers some networking opportunities with finance professionals in my future career. My goal is to, by the time I leave for school (whether it be in Ann Arbor, Evanston, or New York) in August, have made dozens of Wall Street connections to keep active over the year. Especially if the economy continues to muddle along, the summer internship competition will be fierce, and the hunt starts now.


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