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)
Books
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:
Montauk
How To Get Into the Top MBA Programs

Kaplan
Kaplan GMAT 2003

Kaplan 800
Kaplan GMAT 800
Message Boards & Chat Rooms
* Business Week Forum
* Wharton S2S Message Board
* Wharton S2S Chat Room
* Accepted.com scheduled chats
Rankings
* 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
Internet Tools
The MBA Admissions Wire would not be possible without all the cool stuff available for free on the internet:
* Blogger - Publishing tools
* Hotmail - E-mail
* MSN - Groups
* SiteMeter - Traffic monitoring
* SurveyMonkey - Web surveys
* HaloScan - Commenting system
* Tag-Board - Message board
* ZonkBoard - Message board (old)
* BlogHop - Weblog rating system
* FreeFind - Free website search engine
* WhoIS - IP/Domain Lookup
My Applications
Michigan
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)
Columbia
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)
HBS
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)
Kellogg
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)
Sloan
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!
Wharton
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)
Archives
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06/08/2002 - 06/14/2003
06/15/2002 - 06/21/2003
06/22/2002 - 06/28/2003
06/29/2002 - 07/05/2003
Advice/Thoughts
GMAT
Taken: Once, in 2002
Score: 760+
Advice: Get it over with quickly, aim for 670+
* Thoughts on the GMAT: 1, 2, 3
Recommendations
Advice: Ask them at least 2 months in advance
* Initial thoughts
* On delays: 1, 2
Essays
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
Interviews
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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Disclaimers
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 tholbie@hotmail.com.
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 Blogspot.com 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 tholbie@hotmail.com (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 tholbie@hotmail.com.
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.
Commentary

Welcome! First time visitors are encouraged to start here.

Saturday, April 05, 2003

Posted 5:16 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200102503:

Quick Notes 2
Thanks everyone for the e-mails and notes about the CBS ding. Obviously I'm not too broken up about it, though it left a bad aftertaste during my five hour drive from Evanston to A2 (bizarre note: I actually first read my CBS decision from the public computer in the Kellogg admissions office).
~

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Posted 1:55 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200101981:

Quick Notes
Go Blue Rendezvous is going really great, and I'm feeling much better than I was yesterday. The weather is now snowy, but what can you do? The best thing about GBR is just having the chance to shoot the breeze with other prospective students. I have noticed that there are quite a few other admits who have either been admitted or are on the WL at Kellogg, so I think that the two schools are looking for some of the same characteristics.

More later...
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Friday, April 04, 2003
Posted 12:11 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200097631:

Kellogg Waitlist
There will be a "first batch" of people accepted off the waitlist next week. They are currently reviewing the waitlist right now. The next batch will be in early May.
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Posted 12:10 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200097625:

Ann Arbor Update
This has been a weird, weird, weird three days, and not in a good way. It's been pretty much summed up by the weather in Chicago: the local radio's weather forecast for Wednesday and Thursday, that I heard Wednesday morning as I drove into the city, was 75 and sunny. They were off by just a bit--it turned out to be 45, rainy, and windy most of both days. If you throw in some hail, the sounds of gunfire and a gaggle of prostitutes hanging around outside of my hotel in Kalamazoo (and I don't mean "Pretty Women" prostititutes, I mean "I am stuck on the set of Cops" prostitutes), and the fact that my rental car seems to be breaking down, you start to get an inkling of what it's like.

The Bright Side
I can say the Kellogg visit turned out really good. I sat in on a finance class and marketing class, and the marketing class was by far the most interesting b-school class I've yet seen (the professor was great). The information session, which consisted of three other waitlistees and three R3 applicants, had some useful information, which I'll share later. The Kellogg students, true to their reputation, were friendly, talkative, and down-to-earth. Kellogg is absolutely cemented as my top choice right now, and I got a bushel of ideas for what to write in my next letter there.

Ann Arbor
I'm in A2 now, and it is really cold and rainy. I literally don't have warm enough clothes with me to survive this weather, so maybe I'll have to shop some. I'm trying valiantly to keep my spirits up.
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Posted 12:00 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200097557:

Columbia Decision
"Application Status: Final Decision Rendered

Status Description
Although the Admissions Committee has given careful consideration to your application for admission to Columbia Business School, we are unable to take favorable action. The number of students who apply for admission to the School is many times greater than those we can accept. It is unavoidable that we must disappoint many fine candidates.
It was extremely difficult to make this decision, and we sincerely hope that our inability to accept you will not discourage you from seeking other ways to achieve your goals. If you wish to reapply to a future term, please visit our website at www.gsb.columbia.edu/mba/admissions/reapply.html for a reapplication checklist.

Sincerely,

Linda B. Meehan
Assistant Dean and Executive Director
of Admissions and Financial Aid"
~

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Posted 7:00 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200077731:

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

My status:
* UMBS - Admitted
* Kellogg - Waitlisted (Round 2)
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Thursday, April 03, 2003
Posted 2:46 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200092903:

"Tad Holbie was here!"
--blogged from the Kellogg admissions office computer...
~

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Tuesday, April 01, 2003
Posted 4:21 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200025436:

I'm Off
Bags are packed and ready to go. Tonight I'll be flying to Detroit airport, picking up my rental car, and tomorrow I drive for five hours to Chicago. I'll be in Evanston pretty much all of Thursday, doing the complete visitor package. Then it's back in the car for the four hour drive to Ann Arbor, and Go Blue Rendezvous through Sunday evening. I might be able to post once or twice during this time, if I find an internet connection.

But be sure to check back next week, because there will be tons to talk about: Michigan, Kellogg, waitlists, fellow admits, a possible Columbia decision, life, driving, the new US News & World Report b-school rankings (released Friday!), and photos, photos, photos!

In the meantime, why not check out some other MBA weblogs, like Modz's or Thibault's (you can use BabelFish to translate from the French).

Suite au prochain ├ępisode!
~

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Posted 12:23 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200024666:

Michigan, Columbia, and Kellogg: Current Thoughts, Part 3 (continued)
To wrap this all up, here are my goals for my impending Midwest trip (in order of importance):

Go Blue Rendezvous
1) Meet potential classmates
2) Learn more about the program
3) Talk to clubs about recruiting, Wall Street jobs
4) Find out what Ann Arbor is like
5) Have fun (drink screwdrivers)

500 Mile Trek to Kellogg
1) Personalize my Kellogg knowledge
2) Confirm fit with students
3) See classes in action--how does the "teamwork" focus play out in the classroom?
4) Demonstrate commitment to AdComms
5) Learn any more info on the waitlist process

At the very least, I should come back from this trip with clearer answers to two questions:
1) If it comes down to CBS and UMBS, which would I pick?
2) How far am I going to stick with the Kellogg waitlist, and how should I approach it?

Of course, there remains the mysterious x-factor, which could also affect final decision. Plus the issue of scholarships. Phew. As you can see, things are still very fluid, so who knows how things will turn out.
~

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Posted 12:11 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200079652:

Interesting: When I go to login to the CBS online admissions site (http://www1.gsb.columbia.edu/admissions/onlineMBA/Status/index.cfm), I get the message:
"Columbia Business School Online Admissions students site is temporarily offline."
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Posted 7:02 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200024527:

Michigan, Columbia, and Kellogg: Current Thoughts, Part 2 (continued from yesterday)
Should it come down to them, I'd have a ton of trouble deciding between CBS and UMBS: finance and brand versus broad strength and lifestyle. How does Kellogg fit into the equation?

To me, Kellogg has the brand name, finance strength, and alumni network to rival CBS, as well as the quality of life (up in Evanston), school wide strength, and "newness" to rival UMBS. While Kellogg might not match the other two schools in every aspect--I think CBS does have a stronger finance reputation, and Evanston is much less of a "college town" than Ann Arbor--overall it has more of the "complete picture" than the other two. Looking at brand alone, to me Kellogg is one of the top three business school names (along with HBS and Wharton); this may seem like sacriledge to Stanford fans, but in all honesty, before I started applying to school, the Stanford GSB name had not registered with me (an East Coast bias, perhaps?). The "team-focused" aspect intrigues also me--pretty much all my work experience has been as part of one team or another--and I would like to experience it in action during a class.

In a way, these three schools' relationships are symbolized by their locations. Ann Arbor has the college town lifestyle, but is a bit isolated, not near any big city. CBS has the excitement of the big city, but with all its stress. Evanston has it all: the cuteness (for lack of a better word) of a college town, but close enough to Chicago to have a dash of urban excitement.

Or to use a more tasty analogy, UMBS is like a great steak and Columbia a fresh Maine lobster. That would make Kellogg "Surf and Turf", where you get to have a nice portion of each.

Thus, Kellogg remains my first priority, while Michigan and Columbia are very close behind. Very close.

That said, this upcoming trip will play the deciding factor in my preferences. It will represent the first time I've set foot in Michigan, and will mark the most "exposure" I've had to Kellogg students yet. Who knows how it might turn out? I could come away feeling like "Kellogg is my only choice!", or I could be muttering, "There's no way I'd fit in there". I could fall in love with Ann Arbor during Go Blue Rendezvous, or have an allergic reaction to it. I could realize, "These places don't compare to the energy of New York!", or think, "Perfect, some tranquility to study in!" In other words, everything's still up in the air.

To be continued...
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Monday, March 31, 2003
Posted 9:53 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200076383:

File this under "articles you don't want to read 48 hours before flying": "FBI: Airports to take anti-missile measures".
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Posted 9:51 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200076379:

The transcript of Friday's UMBS chat is now in my MSN Group, and can be accessed by this link.
~

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Posted 3:36 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200024375:

Michigan, Columbia, and Kellogg: Current Thoughts, Part 1
On Wednesday I'll embark on my big midwestern swing, flying to Detroit then doing the 500 mile (roundtrip) drive to Evanston. Before I leave I wanted, for the first time, to share my thoughts on each of my three "remaining schools". Since I haven't sat in on classes at either Kellogg or Michigan these are very incomplete impressions, but they represent how I am thinking about each school at the moment.

If you would have asked me two months ago how I ranked the schools, I would have quickly replied, "1 - Kellogg, 2 - Michigan, 3 - Columbia". However, after my second CBS visit, if anything the schools have moved closer and closer together. Since each program is very different, depending on my mood and what's on my mind, I'll favor one over the other (for example, if I'm dwelling on the Wall Street internship search, Columbia will move up in my estimation).

In addition to the second CBS visit, I've begun talking to more and more people with knowledge of Wall Street jobs. When asked, they keep mentioning the same few schools: "Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Columbia, Chicago, Sloan, and NYU". By no means do they say you can't break into Wall Street from other schools, but those are the names that they bring up, unprompted. The more I hear that, the more CBS moves up in my eyes.

To me, Michigan and Columbia are neck-and-neck, despite the fact that they are very different schools. Columbia has long been my "logical" choice: I intend to move into Wall Street finance, CBS has the "access", location, brand, curriculum (what with their "practitioner courses"), and faculty that is tops. The big downside for me is living in New York as a student. CBS would mean two years in a smaller and much more expensive apartment (I've heard $1800 for a 1BR; in Ann Arbor you can get a luxury 1BR for $975); in a noisier and more stressful city; and in a much smaller geographic area (in that I wouldn't have a car in NY where I would in A2 or Evanston). To top it off, since I plan to work in Wall Street after graduation, going to CBS would mean I'm losing a two year window to live somewhere new and different.

UMBS, at the moment, is my "emotional" choice: I feel it offers a broader education, being strong in strategy, operations, finance, accounting, etc. Even though my aim is Wall Street, I am interested in learning about as many aspects of business as possible. More important, the quality of life at Michigan is a big plus for me. I'd get to have that "big school" experience that I didn't get as an undergrad--football games, life in a small college town, etc. I've never lived in the midwest, so it (believe it or not) it seems a bit adventurous and exciting, in the sense of trying something new.

To be continued...
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Posted 12:54 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200073878:

I tell you what, Michigan is doing a bang-up job on the admission follow-up. In addition to the admit phone call, I've been e-mailed and called by my alumni interviewer, by a second student contact, and by my "host" for GBR. In addition, I e-mailed a friend-of-a-friend who's a second year student at UMBS, and he quickly replied and gave me a call. I obviously don't have another admit experience (yet!) to compare this to, but they've done a great job making me feel welcome.
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Posted 11:13 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200073345:

Note: The UMBS message board does seem to be back up and running now (there were some technical problems over the weekend).
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Posted 10:17 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200072978:

I have a transcript of the UMBS online chat that I hosted last Friday, and will upload it to my MSN Group later today. Peronally, I found it very useful, since it offered (another) opportunity to "meet" other UMBS admits. I look forward to doing more chats as time permits, starting with a Kellogg Waitlist Chat next Tuesday (April 8th).
~

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Posted 7:21 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200064795:

I've posted some photos from my most recent visit to CBS in my MSN photo album.

(Oops, photo server down)
Low Memorial Library, Columbia University


Here's the Columbia University campus map, for reference.
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Sunday, March 30, 2003
Posted 4:34 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200069607:

Over on the Business Week forum, someone has posted what they claim is the new US News MBA rankings (which were supposed to appear online on Friday, April 4th). I can't vouch for their validity, but here are the top 15 (with last year's rankings in parentheses):

1) HBS (2)
2) (Tied) Stanford (1), Wharton (3)
4) (Tied) MIT (4), Kellogg (5)
6) Columbia (8)
7) (Tied) Duke (6), Berkeley (10)
9) Chicago (6)
10) Tuck (9)
11) Darden (10)
12) NYU (13)
13) Michigan (10)
14) (Tied) UCLA (15), Yale (13)

This pretty much makes sense; the top 15 are the same from last year to this year, and in roughly the same order. The biggest movers were Berkeley (from tied at 10 to tied at 7) and Michigan (from tied at 10 to 13), which aren't really huge changes. I'll try to get my hands on a copy tomorrow, and see what the raw numbers are. Since US News keeps their ranking criteria the same from year to year, it probably will be easy to spot why certain schools "moved" in the direction they did.

It's funny, now that I'm on the other side of the equation (i.e. already accepted), it's hard to put any meaning to these numbers. Once you start meeting students and potential future classmates, you realize what a very rough tool they are.
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Posted 4:17 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200068479:

Weather for the trip
Looking to pack my bags for the trip, I've checked out the Evanston and Ann Arbor forecasts. It looks a bit rainy, but with highs generally in the 50s and 60s, which is tolerable.
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Posted 9:12 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200068315:

Suggestions for 2004 Applicants
Over the next few months, especially after my MBA plans are finalized, I'd like to focus on making this website as useful as possible for future applicants. To that end, I'll be reflecting on my own application experiences, turning a critical eye on my essays and whatnot, and putting together a list of tips, insights, and suggestions for next year's applicants. They'll mainly be things that I wish I had known last August, when I started my apps.

If anyone else has some suggestions for the 2004 applicants, either e-mail them to me or leave it in the "Suggestions" comment link (at the top of the page, or right here). Thanks!
Suggestions for '04 Applicants?
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Posted 8:10 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200068183:

Kellogg Waitlist Chat, April 8th
Since Friday's UMBS online chat went so well, I thought "Why not do a Kellogg waitlist chat?" So if you're on the Kellogg waitlist and want to swap experiences/advice/insights, stop by here on Tuesday, April 8th, from 1pm to 3pm EST (Note: these dates/times are subject to change--i.e. depending on how busy I am at work) for an online chat. As an added bonus, I will have just visited Kellogg (4/3/03) and might be able to share some "intelligence" from the AdComm's information session.
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