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
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
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)
Search Archives:

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08/25/2002 - 08/31/2002
09/01/2002 - 09/07/2002
09/08/2002 - 09/14/2002
09/15/2002 - 09/21/2002
09/22/2002 - 09/28/2002
09/29/2002 - 10/05/2002
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12/22/2002 - 12/28/2002
12/29/2002 - 01/04/2003
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01/12/2002 - 01/18/2003
01/19/2002 - 01/25/2003
01/26/2002 - 02/01/2003
02/02/2002 - 02/08/2003
02/09/2002 - 02/15/2003
02/16/2002 - 02/22/2003
02/23/2002 - 03/01/2003
03/02/2002 - 03/08/2003
03/09/2002 - 03/15/2003
03/16/2002 - 03/22/2003
03/23/2002 - 03/29/2003
03/30/2002 - 04/05/2003
04/06/2002 - 04/12/2003
04/13/2002 - 04/19/2003
04/20/2002 - 04/26/2003
04/27/2002 - 05/03/2003
05/04/2002 - 05/10/2003
05/11/2002 - 05/17/2003
05/18/2002 - 05/24/2003
05/25/2002 - 05/31/2003
06/01/2002 - 06/07/2003
06/08/2002 - 06/14/2003
06/15/2002 - 06/21/2003
06/22/2002 - 06/28/2003
06/29/2002 - 07/05/2003
Taken: Once, in 2002
Score: 760+
Advice: Get it over with quickly, aim for 670+
* Thoughts on the GMAT: 1, 2, 3
Advice: Ask them at least 2 months in advance
* Initial thoughts
* On delays: 1, 2
Advice: Develop an overall message. Write outlines. Revise many times. Have a friend proofread. Be honest. Answer what is asked.
* My initial thoughts
* Don't write what you think they want to hear
* My process
Advice: Know yourself. Review your application, answers to common questions.
* AdComm or Alum?
* My list of prep questions
Application Process
Advice: Start early. Give yourself at least two months to finish your first application.
* The "bible" of MBA application's, Montauk's How to Get Into the Top MBA Programs
* Tips on where to start
* Living the double life
* Dealing with disappointment
Financial Aid
Advice: Start early, even before getting accepted anywhere. Americans should fill-out and submit their FAFSA forms as soon as they have 2002 financial/tax info.
* Department of Education FAFSA Website
* Request a PIN for the FAFSA
* List of documents needed to complete the FAFSA form
* FAFSA School Code Lookup
* Legal Disclaimer
Site Info
Started: August 28, 2002
Creator: "Tad Holbie"
Daily Traffic:

Emails Received: 909 (as of 6/26/03)
Rate this site:
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Who is "Tad Holbie"?
Tad Holbie is a pseudonym I created to protect my privacy and identity as I apply to business school (don't believe me? Google it for yourself). I am a young, American, first-time applicant to some of the elite business schools in the fall of 2002. My e-mail is
If I am accepted to one of the business schools I've applied to, I will be more revealing about my identity and personal details.
When did I start all this?
I started this Weblog a couple months after I got serious about applying to business school. The first post was on August 28th, 2002. When do I have time to write this site? In between my full-time job and writing essays, time is limited. But I am a fast typist and am quick to jot down my thoughts during spare moments.
Why MBA Admissions Wire?
I started this website to record and share my experiences applying to business school (a long and stressful process). As time has gone by and greater numbers of readers e-mailed me to ask for advice, encourage me, and share their experiences, I have turned this site into a resource for all MBA applicants, in effect creating an online community.
How do I do MBA Admissions Wire?
It's very easy, and (best of all) free. Just go to and after a free registration you can have your own Weblog too! Even better, they offer free hosting on their server!
Disclaimer:I am not an admissions officer, nor am I affiliated with any of the schools, organizations, or sites listed on this page (i.e. I haven't even been accepted to any B-School--this is my first time applying!). The events described on this web page are real events, though certain names, genders, locations, and dates (i.e. interview dates, submission dates, etc.) may be changed to protect my identity. If you are applying to any of the schools listed on this page, please refer to their official web sites for the definitive deadline dates, application procedures, etc. (i.e. It's not a smart move to rely on this page while applying). The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author.
I am also neither a lawyer nor an accountant. All information and events describing or related to financial aid, tuition, scholarships, loans, and other monetary matters is strictly meant to only describe "Tad Holbie's" situation, and should not be considered instructions, financial advice, or in any way pertaining to the [reader's] financial situation. Consult your own accountant/lawyer when making important financial decisions.
Any questions, e-mail him at (and no, that isn't my real name).
About Interviews: I may or may not disclose if/when/with whom I have been invited to interviews. At present, I'm leaning towards discussing my interview experiences a few days/weeks after they happen. Mark me "undecided".
Privacy Policy: If you choose to e-mail me, I promise not to publish your name, e-mail address, or contact information on my website without first getting your permission. I may excerpt part or all of your e-mail on my site, but will take care to edit out any information that might identify the source. If you don't want any or your e-mail posted on my site, just put "Please keep private" at the bottom of your e-mail. Any questions, e-mail me at
Posting Policy: Basically, anything you post can be reviewed by me. If I find a post to the message board or comment system that is sufficiently rude, offensive, moronic, I'll feel free to a) delete it, and/or b) ban you from posting ever again. In conclusion: You don't have free speech on my site, so don't be a jerk.

Welcome! First time visitors are encouraged to start here.

Friday, April 18, 2003

Posted 1:24 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200167021:

2002-03 Wrap-up Survey
For all of you admitted to business school this year, I've thrown together an Admissions Wrap-Up Survey. It'll be interesting to see what everyone thought of the admissions process this year. As always, thanks to for their free online survey tools.

Naturally, I'll post results when I get enough responses...

Posted 11:01 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200166379:

Idle Thought of the Day
When I see all these visitors from or or, I sometimes wonder, "Will I be working for you someday?" I then think, "Do you want a copy of my resume"?

Posted 8:14 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200165775:

I've been checking out, which is a very thorough website with an unclear (to me, at least) mission. I guess the idea is to create a network among current and former MBA students. I'm not sure what the benefit of this is--to me, the relationship created with a single classmate over two years of b-school classes together is more valuable than a hundred relationships formed over an anonymous public message board. But their site does have some useful resources--articles, message boards, and whatnot. Check it out, if you're curious.

Thursday, April 17, 2003
Posted 5:13 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200163543:

I blanched when I saw on Amazon that 4 of the 5 top selling books at the University of Michigan are from the Harry Potter series. Then I discovered the same is true for U. Penn (all 5 of the top 5 are Harry Potter-related) and MIT and even the United Nations (3 of 5).

In all fairness, Amazon does offer a "what's uniquely popular" function for each organization. It seems Michigan students are reading about race relations and the legal matters (surprise!), U. Penn students like a variety of stuff (but Man or Mango at #2?!?), MIT students like math and science (shocking, shocking), and the U.N. is dwelling on Iraq and globalization.

That concludes our dispatch from Planet Useless Info.

Posted 10:27 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200161227:

Time...Slowing Down
Was it only six months ago that I was writing about the Sloan info session and tweaking the Wharton essays? I feel like I've been applying to b-school for the past two or three years...

Posted 6:51 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200160391:

What If
So, if I end up reapplying next year after all, what schools would I target? The definites would be Wharton, Sloan, Columbia, and Michigan. I would probably apply to NYU, because of its undeniable strength in finance (many people recommended I apply there, and for a variety of reasons--read: stubborness--I didn't). I might throw in HBS and Kellogg (more likely the second), depending on how the mood strikes me. Probably wouldn't reapply to Chicago or Stanford, the latter of which I just never got a feel for.

Honestly, the actual work involved in doing applications again doesn't bother me that much (heck, I like a good challenge). It's the waiting that would be aweful--another twelve months in a job which just isn't that interesting. It would be especially tough to have to mentally "shift gears" from "leaving in three months" to "having to strive for a good bonus".

I'll probably know in the next two weeks whether Michigan is going to be feasible. My fingers are crossed.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003
Posted 3:17 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200156711:

The University of Michigan Business Students Association (UMBSA) has an excellent guide to settling into life in Ann Arbor. It cover housing, transportation, recreation, and a lot more. A must from MBS-bound students.

Posted 12:20 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200156568:

GBR Photos
Tara Backhaus has begun posting photos from the Go Blue Rendezvous at Check out the iMpact message board (message 2533,241--I don't think this direct link works) for the login and password needed to view them.

I think that photos are still being posted. During the slide show at the end of GBR there was one particular picture with me in it, from the team building exercise; I don't see it among the 121 posted photos. However, in image #25, I think that I'm partially visible in the crowd (it's either me, or someone with an identical hairstyle, wearing identical clothes). It would have been really funny if they caught me with Screwdriver in hand...

Posted 9:52 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200155536:

Getting Application Feedback
From my notes, only a few schools provide feedback to rejected applicants. Of the programs I applied to, the only two that officially provide this service are Wharton and Kellogg. For Wharton, you can request a feedback session in May by calling their office. Kellogg asks that you request a session by sending a letter towards the end of May.

I've heard stories of people getting "unofficial" feedback sessions from schools that don't officially offer them. From what I've been told, if you visit or call up some schools during the summer time, you could get some feedback. It seems to take a combination of 1) charm, 2) a lull in the admissions office schedule, and 3) the admissions officer being in a good mood.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003
Posted 11:10 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200149931:

One nice side effect of having to fill out the FAFSA form back in February was getting taxes done so early. For this year, at least, I won't be one of those Americans you see hanging around the post office at midnight, April 15th.

Posted 8:48 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200149570:

Finance Acronyms
Ever finding yourself dumbly nodding your head when a finance pro mentions ROIC and RONA? Investopedia has a dictionary of finance acronyms that can help out with those situations.

Posted 7:02 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200143716:

Deposit Extensions
Several of you have written to me about getting extensions at schools. I have very little advice to offer on this subject, besides what I've read (on B-Week and in your e-mails). The topic seems very school and applicant specific, but overall it seems like most schools will grant a certain extension period to most applicants, as long as they are honest/have a good reason (for example: trying to decide between schools, need to go to an admit weekend, etc., etc.) I have heard of a couple of exceptions, in the sense of a school admissions officer berating an admit for not committing to their program. But that seems pretty rare, from what I've read. Anyway, the worst thing a school can say is "no".

Monday, April 14, 2003
Posted 4:08 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200143662:

Future of this Site
Back when I started this site, the hope was that somebody out there would get something from reading about my application experiences. Heck, I wish that I had this site around as a resource back when I started the application process to get a sense of what to expect. The amount of traffic exceeded my wildest expectations, so hopefully some of you have round my story useful.

That said, the application process has more or less wrapped up for me now, at least for this year. The odds are that I'm off to Michigan come August. I don't want to turn this site into a "Michigan MBA" blog (that's what my real weblog is for). Instead, over the next couple months I'd like to "round out" the site, to make it as useful a resource as possible for future applicants.

Basically, my hope is that if there's someone else out there in the same situation as I was last year--applying to b-school for the first time, with high stats, a successful career, and name undergraduate school on their resume--this site would give them a lowdown on what the application process is like. I do plan to get application feedback from as many schools as offer it, and with that feedback, and my own reflection on things, I'd like to produce a list of tips for next year's applicants. This process will involve sharing more of my background, because, otherwise, I can't really explain why I approached things a certain way.

So reflect, analyze, summarize, and organize--these will be the overriding activities of this site going forward. And then it will end.

Posted 9:20 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200144108:

Michael has the goods on the Wharton Welcome Weekend, writing at a level of detail that puts Laura to shame.

Update: Part 2 of his WWW story is up.

Posted 7:26 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200143687:

Kellogg Timing Confusion
I finally figured out what was bugging me about the timing of the Kellogg decision (to deny admissions from the waitlist).

I was waitlisted on March 10th, and received the official letter on Friday the 14th. The following Monday I talked to and admissions counselor to convey my enthusiasm for the school and that I'd be visiting the first week of April; I followed that up with a short letter basically saying "Kellogg is #1" and that I'd be visiting the first week in April, after which I'd write a longer update letter. I then did visit the first week in April, and then did write a longer, fuller update letter based on those experiences, which I mailed last Thursday. I then get dinged the next day, before the letter arrived.

The timing is just weird to me; I am left wondering what I could have done to be admitted off the WL. I mean, Kellogg knew I was visiting and would send a long letter after that. By dinging me even before getting that letter (but after I'd made the 500 mile drive to/from Evanston) I feel like they were saying, "No matter what your letter said, you were not admittable." If that's the case, why was I waitlisted in the first place?

Obviously the decision was based on other factors that were outside of my control, it's just a puzzling and frustrating way to end up the process with such a great school.

Sunday, April 13, 2003
Posted 2:19 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200141066:

Blogger News
* Congrats to Thibault (of the FrenchMBA blog), who's apparently bound for Kellogg.
* What are the odds that two MBA application bloggers, from opposite ends of the country, would end up on the same team during the Go Blue Rendezvous transformation excercise? Ask Modz...


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