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
10/06/2002 - 10/12/2002
10/13/2002 - 10/19/2002
10/20/2002 - 10/26/2002
10/27/2002 - 11/02/2002
11/03/2002 - 11/09/2002
11/10/2002 - 11/16/2002
11/17/2002 - 11/23/2002
11/24/2002 - 11/30/2002
12/01/2002 - 12/07/2002
12/08/2002 - 12/14/2002
12/15/2002 - 12/21/2002
12/22/2002 - 12/28/2002
12/29/2002 - 01/04/2003
01/05/2003 - 01/11/2003
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, June 27, 2003

Posted 6:02 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #105675173638661593:

Third Feedback Session
Pretty much in line with the other two (discussed here and here). Nothing really new or earth-shattering, but I did start to see a very, very slight difference in the take that each school had, which was good to see. It reflected the (slight, in my opinion) differences in flavor for different MBA programs. I'll discuss this more at a later point.

I did go out of my way to ask the AdComm member how important recommendations were in deciding applications. As I expected, the answer was "not very". The main reason for this is that AdComm members don't want to penalize individuals for the poor writing/disinterest of their recommenders (although you could argue that it shows poor judgement to choose such a recommender, but I won't push that point). The unspoken reason is that a lot of applicants write their own recs.

Basically, recommendations cannot do much to help an app, but can do much to hurt it. No matter how great your recs are, if your essays don't sell yourself, you won't get admitted. If you have great essays and your recs back up or deepen the message of them, then the recs help a little. If you have good essays but your recommendations tell a different story, you can be in big trouble.

Posted 5:55 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #105675121713430221:

Summer Recruiting
Those of you that want a leg up in recruiting for next year's summer internship, a good resource to turn to is your schools career center. That may seem like common sense advice, but the thing to know is that some companies with close relationships with your school may already have scheduled their on-campus sessions.

I was rummaging through UMBS' career center website, and decided to check the job database. Lo and behold, there are already a bunch of IBanks with summer associate interview slots already confirmed and scheduled. I see Deutsche, Lehman, Merrill, and Bank of America, in there, with some old postings for JP and Morgan Stanley (I assume from last year, but considering that UMBS is tight with JP, they're pretty certain to be a lock for this year).

The point is that I can already start doing research on these firms, maybe calling them up to do informational interviews, before I set foot on campus. Then when they come for the campus info sessions/tailgating parties [in Sept/Oct.] I'll hit the ground running.

Message: check your school's job database early and often.

Posted 12:23 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #105673105376459036:

I've been in a conference all day for the past two days (it's funny, I'm leaving the team in a month but was the one asked to present our project during the expo). I've gotten my last feedback batch and will have a wrap up of all that early next week, then hopefully wrap up the site by the 4th of July.

Posted 11:34 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #105673169258949314:

Alex Brown has written a white paper on the use of online tools (message boards and chat rooms) to achieve higher yields, something that Wharton obviously excels at. Worth reading, especially because there's a screen shot of this website in it ("you like me, you really, really, like me!").

Posted 8:31 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #105671720249187302:

Urgent Reminder
Today's the last day for incoming UMBS students to purchase season tickets to football.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003
Posted 1:02 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #105656108942281520:

Adam posted his tips for b-school applications (beating me to the punch--mine will be done next week). As with most good advice, it's fairly generic.

The only point I disagree with completely is his fifth, that recommendations are hugely important. I agree completely with his analysis--the list of reasons why they should be important. But based on what I've read and my own feedback, I don't think schools put that much stock in them (probably because many applicants write their own).

In my own case, I know that my recommendations were very good. First, because I didn't write them myself, meaning they offered a new perspective on my candidacy. Second, because I read a few of them (well after submitting). And third, because in both of my feedback sessions the adcomm went out of their way to praise the recs, saying how they conveyed the recommender's affection and esteem of me, gave a personal perspective on me as a candidate, and were very strong.

Ultimately, despite these personal testaments to what it's like working with me in a team or as a manager, the school(s) didn't feel satisfied about my teamwork/interpersonal skills. If recommendations were hugely important, I would think that they could have covered up for this (minor) lacking in my essays. They didn't.

As you can tell, I'm bitter, damn, damn bitter. ;-)

Update: I'd also like to second his points #3, #4, and #6 (especially the latter). I would guess that #6 is the one that trips up a bunch of strong candidates.

Posted 8:41 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #105654500719157619:

Thoughts on Laptops
Ayr sums up his experiences using a Mac, Adam weighs the pros and cons of IBM's X-series versus T-series.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003
Posted 6:50 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #105649525980488615:

As I work on spiffing up my current resume, I'm going back through some of my older resumes (trolling for good bullet points). To my chagrin, my habit of misspelling "led" as "lead" ("In 1995, I lead the team through thick and thin") has been around awhile.

I said it in October and I'll say it again: the past tense of "to lead" is "led".

Posted 5:15 PM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #105648988849835922:

Post-Notice Life
It's sweet, man. No, I'm not sitting on my laurels and coasting through the workday (at least no more than usual ;-). But it's just cool that every conversation with someone now ends up with them congratulating me about the MBA (it's all about me, after all). The fact that I kept the news secret makes it all the more exciting to coworkers and acquaintences, as if all of a sudden, their highly paid colleague with a promising future jumped the tracks and trammelled off into parts unknown. They look at me with a mix of "wow, what guts" and "wow, what a nutcase", which, upon further reflection, is pretty much how they normally look at me (the latter part, at least).

I'm furiously prepping my resume for passing out before I leave; I'm spreading it far and wide, leaving no stone unturned, etc., etc. The Michigan alumni network is already helping out in this regard, as is my commute (huh?), etc.

Getting my last batch of feedback shortly, hope I won't get a curveball ("...candidate great in all aspects, except for hygeine, which is distressingly bad..."), probably will wrap up this weblog in the next week to ten days, looking forward to it calling moving companies oh and yeah health insurance gotta run...

Posted 6:45 AM EST by Tad Holbie, Post #105645165236339818:

According to the Census Bureau, "Tad" is the 935th most popular boy's name in America. I take full credit if it moves up after the next census...


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