Who is "Tad Holbie"?
Tad Holbie is a pseudonym I created
to protect my privacy and identity as I apply to business school (don't believe me?
Google it for yourself).
I am a young, American, first-time applicant to some of the elite business schools in the fall of 2002. My e-mail is
If I am accepted to one of the business schools I've applied to, I will be more revealing about my identity and personal details.
When did I start all this?
I started this Weblog a couple months after I got serious about applying to business school. The
first post was on August 28th, 2002. When do I have time to write this site? In between my
full-time job and writing essays, time is limited. But I am a fast typist and am quick to jot down
my thoughts during spare moments.
Why MBA Admissions Wire?
I started this website to record and share my experiences applying to business school (a long
and stressful process). As time has gone by and greater numbers of readers e-mailed me to
ask for advice, encourage me, and share their experiences, I have turned this site into a
resource for all MBA applicants, in effect creating an online community.
How do I do MBA Admissions Wire?
It's very easy, and (best of all) free. Just go to Blogger.com
and after a free registration you can have your own Weblog too! Even better, they offer free hosting on their
Disclaimer:I am not an admissions officer, nor am I affiliated with any of the schools, organizations, or sites listed on this page (i.e. I haven't even been accepted to any B-School--this is my first time applying!).
The events described on this web page are real events, though certain names, genders, locations, and dates (i.e. interview dates, submission dates, etc.) may be changed to protect my identity.
If you are applying to any of the schools listed on this page, please refer to their official web sites for the definitive deadline dates, application procedures, etc.
(i.e. It's not a smart move to rely on this page while applying). The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author.
I am also neither a lawyer nor an accountant. All information and events describing or related to financial aid, tuition, scholarships, loans, and other monetary matters is strictly meant to only describe "Tad Holbie's" situation, and should not be
considered instructions, financial advice, or in any way pertaining to the [reader's] financial situation. Consult your own accountant/lawyer when making important financial decisions.
Any questions, e-mail him at email@example.com (and no, that isn't my real name).
I may or may not disclose if/when/with whom I have been invited to interviews. At present, I'm leaning towards discussing my interview
experiences a few days/weeks after they happen. Mark me "undecided".
If you choose to e-mail me, I promise not to publish your name, e-mail address, or contact information on my website without first getting your permission.
I may excerpt part or all of your e-mail on my site, but will take care to edit out any information that might identify the source.
If you don't want any or your e-mail posted on my site, just put "Please keep private" at the bottom of your e-mail.
Any questions, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
Saturday, May 24, 2003
Posted 10:34 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200336216:
Some of you may think I'm a freak for weblogging my entire application experience. But that's nothing compared to blogging the delivery of your son (start here and scroll up)! I don't know, call me an arch-conservative or whatever, but I believe there are some things that should remain private.
On the other hand, this clearly throws the gauntlet down to Michael and Adam: the world expects, nay, demands, a live, play-by-play blog of the (impending) deliveries (why do I get the feeling that Jenny wouldn't (and shouldn't) stand for that?)...
Posted 4:12 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200334097:
This Can't Be A Good Sign According to Quizilla.com, the Matrix character I most resemble is Trinity:
"You are Trinity, from "The Matrix."
Strong, beautiful- you epitomize the ultimate heroine."
Update: Okay, now I'm getting really depressed:
"You are Storm, from the X-Men!
You are very strong and very protective of those you love. You are in tune with nature and are very concerned with justice and humanity. Unfortunately, certain apprehensions and fears are very hard for you to overcome, and can often inhibit you when most need to be strong.
Posted 12:52 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200333066:
Kellogg Feedback BTW, for those of you dinged by Kellogg, you'll want to hurry to sign up for your feedback session. The way to do this, according to their AdComm, is to send a letter or fax requesting the session. They'll then e-mail back to you, and finally you'll call them to choose the date and time. At least that's how it worked for me.
I've lined up three feedback sessions (Wharton, Kellogg, and another school), which I'll finish up by the end of June. As I get feedback, I'll defintely be reflecting on what I've learned for it and sharing some of it here. I don't expect anything earth-shattering, but as always, I'd like to learn from my mistakes (and help others in the process).
Posted 8:01 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200331651:
Your Job Search Starts Now The Financial Times has been publishing a journal by one Wharton student, who recently graduated. Someone posted his final entry on the Business Week forum. The most interesting part, to me, is about recruiting success (keep in mind that the class of '03 had it worst: they applied to b-school during the good times (2000-2001), saw the internship market shrivel post-9/11 last summer, and have done full-time recruiting during a shaky economy):
"...Most students, it seems, compete vociferously to get their foot in the door of leading management consultancies and investment banks.
International students trying to switch careers in the US have pretty much drawn a blank. The steady stream of rejection letters has given rise to a macabre sense of humour and a steely resolve on campus. However, faced with huge student loan obligations coupled with their own high expectations, many classmates are increasingly depressed.
Even those with jobs have taken positions in professions they were hoping to leave behind or in roles lower in the food chain than they had expected. As a result, many of my classmates leave with their confidence bruised.
The students who have been the most successful at leveraging their MBA have been those that have been most focused in their job search.
A friend of mine said that he wanted to come to Wharton as a stepping-stone from his engineering background into a career in financial trading. He has found a good job..." (emphasis added).
I wanted re-emphasize the most important point of the excerpt:
"The students who have been the most successful at leveraging their MBA have been those that have been most focused in their job search."
If you haven't started learning about your future career function, researching various firms, working with your school's career office, and networking in the industry, you are behind the curve. Maybe that sounds a bit harsh, but I'd rather go 100% overboard to assure a good internship than miss it because I didn't put in that extra last drop of effort.
Posted 8:51 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200330147:
This and That 1) A guide to the UMBS core curriculum was waiting in the mail for me when I got home. Maybe it's just me, but reading over the various courses gets me excited about going back to school. Forget all that ROI and job search crap--it's just going to be cool to study business two years in an academic environment.
2) To exempt a core course or not? That is the question. Since I took only a few business classes as an undergrad, my choices are limited. In the end, I'll probably take the full load of core courses, because 1) I want to learn about all disciplines, 2) I want to stay as part of my section (i.e. cohort), 3) many of the core courses will be pre-reqs for the electives I'm interested in anyway, and 4) there is minimal benefit to me taking one or two advanced classes early on.
3) The envelope also contained the Michigan football ticket postcard, with the proper group name and password.
4) Dropped by Best Buy on the way home, picked up a 64 MB USB Drive (looks similar to this) and a Kensington retractible-wire mouse. The only complaint on the mouse is that the wire is a bit short, especially since the T40's PS/2 and USB ports are on the left side of the keyboad. The wire retractor is a nice feature though, making the mouse a bit more portable (I decided against going wireless because I didn't want to be changing mouse batteries a lot).
5) While walking through Best Buy, I realized how far behind the curve I was in technology. I got used to the computer technology you work on at home and at the office, and its eye-opening to see the stuff they have out there. I'll defiitely be looking to throw together a 802.11b hub in my apartment when I move out to AA.
Posted 1:28 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200328195:
MBA vs Financial Engineering The May 12th issue of Forbes magazine has an interesting MBA-related comment (page 62).
"Jobs are so scarce on Wall Street these days--U.S. securities firms have shed 80,000 in the last three years--that even folks with fancy M.B.A.s are pounding the sidewalk. Which makes it all the more delicious for math whizzes like Karim Beguir. Scorning an M.B.A., Beguir, 26, got a master's degree in the obscure art of financial mathematics. J.P. Morgan Chase grabbed him less than a month after graduation in December and is now paying him nearly $100,000 to create complex mathematical models to hedge the risk of its derivatives portfolio...
Growth in the derivatives markets and proprietary trading at investment banks has put a premium on technically skilled people like Beguir, especially over M.B.A.s still stuck on management and marketing. "In this environment, if you don't thave the quantitative skills, there's not much to sell yourself on," says James Finnegan, editor of the Financial engineering News.
Since 2000, 58 of the 60 graduates of the 18-month program in mathematical finance at New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences--Beguir's alma mater--were employed a few months after graduation. Only 82% of last year's 749-student class at Stanford's business school (a two-year program) found jobs."
The final comparison between NYU's and Stanford's stats is misleading, because Stanford MBAs are going into a wide variety of industries other than Wall Street. Still, it is interesting to read about the other options that are available to those going into finance.
A financial engineering degree perhaps could serve me well in the short term, given my short-term career interests, but still I believe that an MBA will provide me a much more rounded experience. The truth of the matter is that I am not a really quant-ish guy, so a degree in math doesn't sound like fun. Plus the lessons you'll learn studying mathematical finance aren't going to get you very far in senior management positions, I think.
Still, for those of you who are interested in the minutae of the complex finance markets, this is an option to consider.
Posted 11:49 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200327566:
The IBM T40 The T40 arrived this morning. I haven't had much time to play around with it, but my initial impression is that it has a great screen (14" is big enough to use as a desktop replacement, thankfully) and is at a reasonable weight. I do notice that it is heavier than the ultra-lightweights (that tip the scale at 3lbs) but it is not oppressively so. It's like a college textbook, one of the thinner ones.
Posted 4:42 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200323911:
"Tad Holbie or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Ding"? I must confess that I am intrigued by these BWeek message board contributors who wrote a book on applications. I (obviously) enjoy writing, and know that I would get a sense of accomplishment out of writing a book. I would love to write about the duality of my experiences as both an applicant and the author of this website, the things I learned from both, and the weird, crazy adventures I had (that's overstating it a bit, but heck, why not?). The fly in the ointment, however, is that writing a book seems like a lot of work, and (from what I understand of the publishing industry) most authors make only a pittance.
If anyone has experience getting a book published, and has some info or insights to share about how to do it, how much work it is, and what the payoff is, e-mail me.
Posted 9:15 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200321484:
Derivatives R Us I stumbled across this very useful site introducing and discussing the derivatives market. Apparently it was a weekly newsletter in 1995, written by Assistant Professor of Finance Stephen Sapp of the Ivey School of Business in Canada. Unfortunately the index page is gone, so the only way to navigate all the newsletters is one-by-one. Here are some highlights:
Volume 1, #2 - Introduction, swaps
Volume 1, #3 - Structures notes
Volume 1, #4 - Asset-backed securities
Volume 1, #16 - Interest rate swaps
There are 26 total newsletters in the series, and they represent an accessible, albeit slightly dated, introduction to futures, options, pricing issues, and other derivatives issues.
Posted 1:42 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200315981:
Wall Street Jersey-Bound? A couple of interesting articles on New York City's losing (?) bid to keep the big banks in the city. This TechCentralStation piece goes into the financial reasons that high-income individuals might start leaving the city:
"New York's top earners will be paying a combined state and local income tax of over 12%, plus sales taxes of over 9%. Meanwhile, the city's innovative "tax benefit recapture" will retroactively apply top-bracket rates to the first dollar of income, making the tax truly an economist's nightmare. Compare that with rates just across the river in New Jersey, where income taxes top out at 6.35%, and the sales tax is only 6%: a high income New Yorker could save himself nearly 10% of his annual income just by putting a short bridge between his house and the New York City Council."
Businessweek details the Wall Street situation from an economic level--how many firms are finding it hard to justify the expensive Manhattan office over the less expensive New Jersey office.
I would think that as time goes by, communication technology continues to improve, and the expense of New York steadily increases, this trend will only strengthen. However, as long as much of corporate America is headquartered in the city, the banks will have to have offices for their client-facing personnel there as well. And in a status industry like IB, having a city address will probably always remain an important perk.
Posted 8:09 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200315941:
Laura, the new Wharton graduate (congrats!), posted the text of a Financial Times article on grade disclosure on her site. The point of the article is that, for some of the "top recruiters" like "top-tier investment banks" really want to know job applicants' grades.
"Ms Resnick [director of Columbia's MBA career services] says one recruiter has warned that it may switch to other schools if Columbia stops disclosing grades. Such a threat strikes a particular chord at Columbia because the New York school has established strong ties with the financial services community, building on its proximity to Wall Street...
"David Beim, a professor who was formerly head of investment banking at Bankers Trust, disagrees: "I think grades are hugely important because they provide useful feedback and they help students decide whether a subject is something they should pursue in their future career..."
"However, companies often send employees who are alumni back to their former campus to recruit. "Many alumni want to be able to ask grades as another measure of determining if candidates, most importantly career switchers, have demonstrated certain competencies," says Ms Resnick."
Friendly warning: I did see another article which suggested trying to connect two PCs via USB wires could damage the machines, so be careful with all this tech stuff.
Now that I've posted all that, there seems to be a much easier way. Since both machines will have an Ethernet card, I should be able to just connect the two through that and use the "map network drive" to connect the two. I'll try this option first, and move the the crossover cable if it doesn't work.
Posted 6:34 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200310182:
One last item on computers: part of the trickiness in choosing a new computer is the disassociation between processing power and the chip speed. Before you could be sure that Pentium III computers were faster than Pentium IIs, that 466 MHz computers were faster than 366 MHz. Bizarrely enough, that's no longer the case, apparently.
The laptop I purchased has an Intel Pentium M ("M" for "mobile"). Just looking at the specs, one would think that a Pentium M at 1.5 GHz would be worse than a Pentium IV at 2.4 GHz. But according to Computer Shopper magazine, that's not the case: "A longtime advocate of CPU speed at any price, Intel is slowing things down with its new centrino mobile platform--and that's a good thing. Rather than simply raising the clock speed, Intel has figuratively turned back the clockin its initial batch of Pentium M processors, which debuted at speeds of 1.3 GHz, 1.4 GHz, 1.5 GHz, and 1.6 GHz. Despite the clock-speed reverse, notebooks based on the new chips are portable powerhouses, capable of a 7-hour battery life and performance that is, on average, 20 percent better than "faster" Pentium 4-M notebooks" (June 2003 Computer Shopper, page 83).
Posted 3:54 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #200308213:
After several weeks of reader comments, talking to coworkers, talking to people in our company's IT department, and reading magazine reviews, I finally made my laptop choice. I decided to go with the IBM T40. I went with the University of Michigan discount, and got a 1.5 GHz mobile Pentium machine with 512 MB RAM, a 40 GB hard drive, a CD-RW/DVD drive, 802.11b wireless and a 3 year on-site service contract all for a little more than $2,000.00.
Why did I choose the T-40? Several reasons.
First among them is the brand. Everyone I talked to said IBM builds the most reliable, durable laptops. I was interested in Dell and HP machines earlier on, but did hear (and see first-hand) a few bad stories about them, and since this computer is going to serve as both my home PC and my mobile workstation, reliability was a big factor for me. The only other brand for which I didn't hear any horror stories was Toshiba, which cost about $400 or so less.
The next factor, then, was the size/weight issue. Basically, it seemed like most manufacturers had a super-lightweight model around 3 pounds (and starting at $2,000) or a "desktop replacement" at 7 pounds. I ruled out the 3 pound machines becaues of the size of the display (12" was just too small for what would be my main PC), but 7 pounds seemed a bit heavy. Nearly every MBA student I've talked to recommended I go with a lighter laptop ("how tired I am of carrying around a brick" is a popular refrain), and I trust their experience (I mean, let's face it, 7 pounds does not seem heavy when you are looking at PCs in CompUSA, but I'm sure day after day it starts to grow on you).
The T40 seemed a happy medium between the 3 pounders and the 7 pounders, weighing in at 5 pounds. It had the 14" screen that the smaller machines didn't. It didn't offer 2.0 GHz+ processor speeds--but I don't think that's a big deal. All-in-all, it just seemed the right fit for my needs--portable, powerful, and reliable. The only other machine that came close to matching these specs was the Toshiba Portege 4010--but it actually costed more than the IBM.
Other Notes: * I didn't go with any of the super-discount models that IBM offered Michigan students (or employees of my company). None of them really fit what I was looking for, which was frustrating (but not surprising).
* All along, Dell kept luring me back. The whole online shopping experience for laptops was time-consuming and frustrating, and the flexibility that Dell offered was very inviting. I kept finding myself putting together a machine on IBM.com or Toshiba.com and having to choose between two options I didn't want, or having to pay extra for something, where at Dell I felt that I could build the machine from scratch. In the end, though, the stories I heard kept me from going with Dell.
* I'm glad this is done with. I hope that this IBM laptop lasts as long as the desktop I currently have.
* Since when did online retailers start adding on sales tax?!? BTW, IBM.com does something weird with the sales tax--when I was checking out the site said the tax would be $130-ish, but the final receipt put it at $96. I don't know what happened there.
* Yes, I do feel a bit guilty spending so much on myself (that's not a habit I'm used too). I could have gone with a heavier but faster Toshiba for about $700 less. I'll put that on my tab. ;-)