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)
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08/25/2002 - 08/31/2002
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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.

Friday, April 25, 2003

Posted 2:38 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200200124:

A helpful reader sent the link to the March issue of Michigan's "Around the Halls" newsletter. Written by the Associate Dean, it covers a lot of pertinent developments about the Business School, including design proposals for the new community center, info on the branding initiative, and the faculty hiring news (e.g. Michigan's getting four new finance professors). Here's the link to the January issue (I haven't found a main directory for this publication).

Posted 10:41 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200198047:

Can someone explain to me why Boston College's MBA program (Carroll), ranked #41 by US News & World Report, has a 14.8% acceptance rate? That's lower than #7 Duke (18.1%), #9 Chicago (15.0%), and #11 Darden (17.9%). What's the secret? Is this a gem in the rough?

Posted 8:07 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200197973:

Why Not Law School?
Just kidding. Sort of.

A friend of mine was going through my copy of the US News & World Report graduate school guide, and remarked on some of the stats that the top law schools boast. I was shocked by some of the numbers.

First, the graduate employment rates (note: the 2003 US News only has graduation rates for the '01 law school classes, so I compared those numbers to the b-schools' '01 classes): law schools blow away b-schools. For the class of '01, the top ranked school--Stanford--had 91.9% of its class employed at graduation. The top 14 law schools had a higher rate of employment than that, with #1 Yale boasting 98.5% employment, #3 Harvard at 98.9% employment, and even #10 Cornell Law at 100% employment!

I mulled this discrepency for a while--doesn't everyone complain that America has too many lawyers? The obvious answer is that there are large sets of jobs which absolutely require law degrees, and relatively few industries that require MBAs. Furthermore, those industries that do require MBAs were already starting to sour come summer 2001. Still, it's pretty damn impressive to see a school boasting of a 100% employment rate (and how would you like to be one of the dozen people at Yale law who doesn't have a job?)

The other interesting aspect of Law Schools (to me) is the admissions process. 2002 acceptance rates were all over the board. #1 Yale only admitted 7.1% of applicants, wheras #4 Columbia admitted 14.5% and #5 NYU admitted 18.4%. Interestingly enough, whereas with b-schools the admissions rate pretty much climbs steadily as you go down the rankings, the same didn't hold true at JD programs: #40 George Mason University accepted only 13.2%, while #17 Vanderbilt admitted 22.3%.

The Law School application process seems much simpler than b-school, from my perspective. First, there is a very heavy emphasis on GPA and the LSAT score (75% of students at Yale Law had an undergraduate GPA of 3.7 or greater!), as reflected in what the top schools are looking for: "Admission is based on our estimate of the applicant's potential for academic excellence." The application itself is pretty simple: Harvard Law (for example) only asks for two recommendations (as do most schools) and a two page, double-spaced personal statement. That's frickin' it!

Anyway, I thought it was interesting to look at the other side of the hill, at a place where admissions is but a test score and a single essay away, and where high-paying jobs are a guarantee. Sigh. Too bad I have no interest in becoming a lawyer...

Thursday, April 24, 2003
Posted 4:59 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200195569:

"MBS" or "UMBS"?
The official answer: neither.

According to the University of Michigan Business School's official press kit, the school should be referred to as "University of Michigan Business School" or "Michigan" or "the Business School". "U-M", "U of M", and "UMBS" are not to be used.

Of course, students can call it whatever they want. I started out calling it UMBS, then read somewhere the school was re-branding itself as MBS (that rumor probably started with the new logo, shown below). I guess I'll call it Michigan till someone says otherwise.
(Logo not found)


Wednesday, April 23, 2003
Posted 2:27 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200189096:

Blogging is going to be quiet for the rest of the week. Nothing much happening on the MBA front, and the job is picking up again.

Posted 7:37 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200186760:

Tuck Online Chat
In my Inbox this morning: BusinessWeek is hosting an online chat for Tuck applicants/admits.

"Since you've attended our online events in the past, we'd like to invite you to our live chat WEDNESDAY, April 23, with Kristine Laca, Tuck School's director of admissions. In addition to Laca, two second-year Tuckies will be on hand to answer questions from a student's perspective. Curious about life in Hanover, N.H.? Want to know how students are faring in the job hunt? What do they say makes Tuck different from its peers? For answers to these questions and more, join us online from 3:30 - 4:30 p.m. ET.

For more information on this chat, please visit:"

Tuesday, April 22, 2003
Posted 4:50 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200182928:

I have always aimed to keep politics out of this site; it's too divisive and unrelated to MBA admissions. That said, the Dean for President campaign is doing some interesting things with the internet, partially explaining his surprising fundraising haul (ABCNews). It mentions his campaign's use of (which is now being taken up by other campaigns). The Dean campaign has also pioneered the use of an official weblog (candidate (?) Gary Hart has followed suit). The great thing about weblogs is that they're fresh, they're linked, and they're archived. It's good to see some public servants get on the bandwagon.

Note: This post does not reflect my political leanings for/against either of the candidates mentioned. ;-)

Posted 11:02 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200181024: is a new and funny weblog about "naming and branding in popular culture". One of their first posts pointed out how, in light of the SARS outbreak, Hong Kong's really got to change its advertising slogan.

(Found via Yahoo's directory of business weblogs a couple days ago).

Posted 7:01 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200180998:

Thibault throws down the gauntlet to all us MBA bloggers by expanding his weblog into the media empire. Can a clothing line and Saturday morning cartoon be far behind?

Posted 6:22 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200178253:

I found an interesting (and brief) summary of the legal issues surrounding anonymity on the internet (PDF). At least in the US, there seem to be constitutional safeguards to protect author's anonymity. This website has been my first taste of anonymity (pseudonymity?), which has been an interesting experience. I'll write more about this in the future.

The document was produced by the Cato Institution, a libertarian-leaning think-tank.

Monday, April 21, 2003
Posted 5:45 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200178641:

Work Starting to Catch Up With Me
I've actually got a couple of work deadlines coming up. The project is kind of interesting...but I still feel in limbo emotionally (i.e. because I'm not sure if I'll be off to b-school). Obviously, if I defer a year I'm going to have to completely re-engage at work, in order to 1) keep my job, 2) earn a bonus next year, and 3) have some updates for my app. If I do head off to MBS, then I could switch into wrap-up mode and start wrapping up all the loose ends here. Either way, I just want to know.

Posted 4:00 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200177488:

Admissions Wrap-Up Survey Results
That was quick. I've gotten enough responses to my "Admissions Wrap-Up Survey" to see the results. Quick summary: the applicants reading this site are a diverse and practical bunch. The details:

Question 1: Which school will you be attending next year?
Wharton led the pack with [only] 17% of the respondents. That was followed by Kellogg (13%), HBS (8%), and a bunch of schools with 5% (Chicago, Duke, Columbia, Sloan, and Michigan).

Question 2: What is your intended field of study?
Again, very diverse. The top field was general management (19%), followed by strategy (16%), capital markets (15%) and marketing (11%). The only fields with zero respondents were operations and HR.

Question 3: What extracurricular activities do you intend to participate in?
Showing your pragmatic side, 88% said they planned to get involved in a career-related club. About half are interested in social clubs and charity/volunteer organizations, about 40% in athletics and heavy drinking (strange how those numbers correlate ;-), and 36% will get involved in admissions.

Question 4: What were the most important factors in deciding on your school?
This was a scaled question, with each criteria being ranked 1 to 4 (critically important to never considered). The highest ranked criteria were business school reputation (1.40), overall school name brand (1.64), quality of students met (1.73), student community (1.75), and strength of alumni network (1.78). All quite reasonable. The least important criteria were "case method versus lecture" (2.64), friend's recommendation (3.18), and scholarship (3.23).

Question 5: To how many schools did you apply?
80% of you applied to 5 or fewer schools, with five being the most common answer (25%), followed by three (21%) and four (18%).

Question 6: To how many schools were you admitted?
70% of you were admitted to one or two schools.There were a handful admitted to three or four, as well.

Question 7: What was the weakest aspect of your application?
GPA (22%), extracurriculars (16%), GMAT (15%), and lack of management experience (14%) were the most common answers. Very few respondents thought that their recommendations or interviews were weak.

Question 8: How difficult was the application process compared to expectations?
30% of respondents prepared for the worst and thus found this year's process "mildly difficult", 29% knew it would be brutal and found it so, and 21% found it much, much harder than expected (I'd put myself in that group). Only 12% found it a piece of cake.

Question 9: What priority are the following activities to your MBA experience?
Ranging from 1 (top priority) to 5 (don't care), the answers went recruiting (1.56), education/learning skills (1.88), social life (2.27), intellectual exploration (2.42), extracurricular activities (2.43), and academics/grades (2.76). I.e. everything is a high priority to respondents, but recruiting is the top priority.

Question 10: Post-MBA job plans?
Again, a very diverse array of answers. Strategy consulting led the pack, but with only 22% of respondents. Other popular careers were general management (15%), investment management (12%), marketing (11%), entrepreneurship (7%), and IBanking (7%).

In conclusion: good luck in all your various careers!

Posted 1:18 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200175272:

Letter from the Dean
Dean Robert Dolan wrote a thorough review of the challenges and opportunities facing the Michigan Business School in the latest issue of the Monroe Street Journal (free registration required). After explaining the long-term goal of MBS, he addresses a series of concerns. Here are some highlights:

"...Key Concern #1: Placement

Our MBA placement rate at April 2002 graduation of 59% reported in the recent U.S. News is unacceptably low. We ranked 38th of the 50 schools rated by USN on this statistic. We do graduate earlier than most and substantially earlier than some, but still 38th just does not square with our reputation with recruiters. This reputation was measured three times in the last year and recruiters rated us as follows:

#2 in the Wall Street Journal (overall rank in poll #2)
#6 in Business Week (overall rank #8)
#8 in U.S. News (overall rank #13)

So, this does not compute: recruiters rating us #2, 6 and 8 vs. #38 placement rate. What are we doing about this?...

Key Concern #4: We are falling in the rankings because of GMAT and GPA

As you know if you looked at USN, our 681 GMAT for the class of 2002 was the lowest of the top 15 schools. It is dumb to reverse engineer the School and its admissions policies around ranking criteria. But we do have an Admissions Criteria Task Force in place this year to examine explicitly what our criteria ought to be to bring the right set of folks into the School. We are deepening the intellectual demands of the core at the same time we use action-based learning to build other skills for which a diverse student body is critical.

We expect this year's entering class to have an average GMAT well above 690. And, as we increase the intensity of the marketing of the School, our goal is to expand significantly the applicant pool. This will have the natural effect of increasing the GMAT of the entering class.

Key Concern #5: The School needs to be better known

Our Communications Office has been expanded during the past year and implemented a media relations program. In 2001, the School had 400 print media mentions for the year and virtually no radio or television coverage. In contrast, this year, we improved this to 95 faculty being quoted in 800 separate articles, including 36 in the New York Times, 29 in the Wall Street Journal, and 22 in Business Week. Television news outlets use our faculty as experts about twice-a-month and we average three radio features per month on NPR..."

All future MBS students should give the whole article a read-through. Note that he mentions the "UMBS" vs "MBS" question; the answer seems to be that the official name will remain the "University of Michigan Business School" but the logo would change to "something with the "block M" and then the shorter "Michigan Business School." I would assume, therefore, that the shorthand for the school would naturally change to MBS, which is a minor point but probably for the better.

Update: I realized, after posting this, that my excerpts make it seem like the Dean is only pointing out problems. That's only because I didn't want to reproduce the entire article here (read it for yourself). He does address each and every of the items mentioned above. For example, addressing the placement issue, he writes, "For next year, we are planning a more coordinated "take UMBS on the road" strategy. Our idea is to pick major cities and bring together the full activities of the School - Dean, Admissions, Placement, Alumni Relations, Development and Communications - in a coordinated set of interactions with prospective students, recruiters, alumni and local press. This will help get the School's message out in an impactful way and we will ask alumni to act as ambassadors for the School in their companies and help with placement efforts."

Posted 7:48 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200175512:

Ann Arbor Housing
I found another resource for those of you searching for housing in Ann Arbor: MBS' housing ambassadors. On page 8-5 of the admit binder, there's a list of students (and their e-mail addresses) representing several of the most popular housing complexes. Very useful.


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