Category Archives: Dartmouth Tuck Advice
March 13, 2013
Like our previous posts from UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School and the Chicago Booth School of Business, Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business wants to reassure skittish applicants that while applying in the final round is indeed …
Like our previous posts from UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School and the Chicago Booth School of Business, Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business wants to reassure skittish applicants that while applying in the final round is indeed competitive, it isn’t impossible.
Stephanie B. in Tuck MBA admissions acknowledges that the majority of seats have been filled by the final round, and in many cases, much of the scholarship money has been allocated. But that doesn’t mean it’s a lost cause. In the latest post on the Tuck blog, two current students who applied successfully in the final round share their thoughts on what it takes to be accepted in round three. The themes that resonate for Tuck ’14 students Laura and Sara are timing, standing out, and having a plan B.
In Sara’s case, her dissatisfaction with her professional life prompted her to accelerate her MBA plans. In order to present the best possible application, she decided to take her time and apply in the third round. As most schools will tell you, the best time to hit submit is when you can put forth the strongest, most comprehensive application. However, Stephanie points out the value of also providing a brief explanation in your application, perhaps in the optional essay, as to why you’re applying late in the season, which she says helps the admissions committee understand your motivations better.
Standing out from the pack is imperative, and never more so than when applying later in the game. As I mentioned in a recent US News blog post, if you want to do well in the admissions process, you have to communicate who you are, not just what you do. In Laura’s case, she differentiated herself by highlighting a unique background with Teach for America and microfinance. But don’t get hung up on whether you have a similar “wow” factor in your background.
Business schools really do want to know who you are””the whole you””not just you as a professional. You want to present a balanced, well-rounded human being who has many dimensions to contribute to an MBA class. When you talk about your love of basketball or your concern for global warming, explain why those subjects are meaningful to you.
Tuck student Sara spoke in her application of being an avid marathon runner and being proud of where she comes from. These seemingly small details are a great way to highlight some uniquely defining characteristics and experiences that make you the person you are today.
Given that the final round is so competitive, late applicants should be realistic in their expectations. If your first attempt in unsuccessful, Laura and Sara urge applicants to take the time to reassess their goals and application, and take advantage of any feedback the admissions office may be willing to provide for those planning to reapply. No matter the outcome, the journey is a lesson unto itself.
Tuck’s final application round is Tuesday, April 2, 2013. See our section devoted to Dartmouth Tuck advice for additional insight and guidance as you wrap up your application.
November 30, 2011
While Derrick Bolton, MBA admissions director of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, may advise applicants not to try to stand out, most b-school hopefuls would like to distinguish themselves from the thousands of fellow …
While Derrick Bolton, MBA admissions director of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, may advise applicants not to try to stand out, most b-school hopefuls would like to distinguish themselves from the thousands of fellow candidates vying for a seat at one of the top programs.
In the video below, Dawna Clarke, admissions director at the Tuck School of Business, answers questions from prospective students wondering how they can stand out in the applicant pool. As you’ll learn, there’s no easy formula for success…but she does provide several examples of areas to look for greatness within your own professional and educational background.
September 13, 2011
Further cutting the essay portion of the application down, UVA Darden asks only one question this year. While you only have to write 500 words, you have to make those words count. Leadership is crucial …
Further cutting the essay portion of the application down, UVA Darden asks only one question this year. While you only have to write 500 words, you have to make those words count. Leadership is crucial to future Darden MBAs. Personal qualities are also key with a small, tight-knit community. Learn more about the school by visiting the Darden website, attending events and speaking with current students and alumni.
Don’t forget to check your deadlines before starting your MBA application plan.
MBA Application Essay Question:
Share your perspective on leadership in the workplace and describe how it has been shaped by the increasing influence of globalization. (500 words maximum)
Continuing a trend towards brief, open-ended questions, Darden is asking for your broad perspective on leadership and globalization. While this could be answered in an academic and detached way, the best essays will use personal examples to illustrate how you arrived at your perspective.
Before you start answering the question asked it may help to brainstorm all of the leadership experiences you have had at work, either being managed or managing others. Ideally you can think of topics that you were directly involved in, rather than observing.
Once you have a list of all of the experiences that could have shaped your perspective choose the examples that will also demonstrate some of your personal qualities to the admissions committee. You have your career history submitted in your resume and your GPA, transcript and GMAT to demonstrate academic ability. This essay is one of your few opportunities to show how you think, what your leadership approach is, and how you handle teamwork and conflict. Think about the situations that showcased your best performance at work, or that were a turning point in your approach to teamwork and leadership.
The incorporation of globalization into a question about leadership challenges you to have an international perspective. If you haven’t worked abroad, think about co-workers or customers that may be from a different culture and how that has influenced leadership at your workplace. This angle certainly adds more challenge to the question, but is also your opportunity to think broadly about the world beyond your home country.
Because you have only one essay question to present yourself, make sure you have a trusted reader to tell you if you are effectively communicating why you are going to be a strong global leader who deserves a spot in the UVA Darden MBA class.
Additional short questions:
With limited space in the one essay question, you may be able to add additional information to aid your case for admission in the short answer questions.
At Darden, a core part of your academic experience is your participation in and contributions to your learning team. What will you contribute to your team? (150 words maximum)
This is an opportunity to highlight key skills and work experience from your resume. If you don’t want to showcase hard skills you can also talk about your leadership experience and ability to bring a team to consensus. Think about your successful teamwork experiences at work and demonstrate what you will bring to your Darden team.
If you were on an elevator with your dream company CEO or angel investor, what would you tell him/her about your professional ambitions and goals? (150 words maximum)
This question requires a very brief answer. We often advise clients to formulate a career vision statement, and this question would be a place to use that statement. A career vision statement boils down your career goals into one succinct statement that tells the reader what your unique goals are. For example, a career vision statement could be: I want to lead the company that develops a clean-energy solution that will drive global industry without destroying our planet.
At its essence, the career vision statement is specific, clear and very brief. With such limited space you do not have room for extended explanations.
As you consider what your career vision is, keep in mind that this economy has led MBA programs to be more pragmatic about recruiting. A career vision that is clearly relevant to past experience, yet aspires to take your career to the next level, may be the most effective.
July 26, 2011
The Dartmouth Tuck School of Business has a small student body and a rural location, combined with a world class faculty and academic focus. As expressed on the website, “Tuck is well known for fostering …
The Dartmouth Tuck School of Business has a small student body and a rural location, combined with a world class faculty and academic focus. As expressed on the website, “Tuck is well known for fostering a close-knit community. This is not merely a feel-good exercise but a conscious strategy to build and refine the values of collaboration, support, respect, and stewardship.” As you approach your Dartmouth Tuck MBA application it will be important to consistently show how you will fit into these values of teamwork and collaboration and bring your own unique perspective to the unique community.
Setting strategy is your best first step. Clearly assess which of Tuck’s desired traits are ones that you can demonstrate through your own experience. What are the areas you want to communicate to the Tuck Business School admissions committee? Which essays work best for a work example or a community service example? Be sure to provide specific examples for each essay. Real life experiences are your best evidence of leadership qualities, teamwork skills and management potential.
While Tuck Business School does not specify a word limit, the 500-word guidance should be adhered to. Generally 10% plus or minus the word limit suggestion is reasonable when there is no formal limit.
1. Why is an MBA a critical next step toward your short- and long-term career goals? Why is Tuck the best MBA program for you? (If you are applying for a joint or dual degree, please explain how the additional degree will contribute to those goals.)
This standard career goals question requires you to clearly outline your short- and long-term career goals. Your short term goals are the aspirations you have for your job immediately after graduation, while your long-term goals may be 10 or 20 years after you complete your MBA. In this relatively short essay you will need to explain what you have been pursuing in your career thus far, and why you need an MBA at this point in your life, along with your career goals.
“Why Tuck Business School” is an important aspect to this essay, and your opportunity to demonstrate fit. Make sure you have researched the school’s programs and determined your education will suit your plans. By reaching out to current students and alumni you will gain crucial insights that will provide a personal perspective on the culture of the school.
2. Discuss your most meaningful leadership experience. What did you learn about your own individual strengths and weaknesses through this experience?
This essay is similar to Kellogg’s leadership essay. As in the Kellogg essay, you will want to define your strengths and weaknesses as a leader. What are you good at, and what do you hope to develop at Tuck Business School? Unlike the Kellogg essay, this version requires that you describe one specific example that illustrates your leadership challenges and strengths. When you contemplate your most meaningful leadership experience, it may not be the most impressive example. Think about the leadership opportunities that led to a deeper understanding of yourself and others, and may have resulted in definition of your strengths or an improvement in your weaknesses.
The example you choose can be from work or community involvement, as “great leadership can be accomplished in the pursuit or business and societal goals.” You will need to adhere to the Tuck School of Business definition of leadership and include a team-based aspect to your example. As you describe your leadership experience, make sure you explain how you were able to inspire and enable others to accomplish.
3. Describe a circumstance in your life in which you faced adversity, failure, or setback. What actions did you take as a result and what did you learn from this experience?
This question is your opportunity to show how you handle challenging situations. Everyone faces adversity, failure or setbacks at work or in personal life, and it is how you decide to react that demonstrates your character. Revealing your emotions and thought process along with your actions in this essay will provide a window into how you process difficult experiences and emerge from them with a new direction. Think back to Tuck Business School’s criteria, and consider using this essay to either demonstrate your interpersonal skills (if your challenge was of the interpersonal variety) or to show something from your background or experience that is unique.
When brainstorming for this essay think first about what you learned from the situation, and then work backwards to describe the circumstances and the initial challenge or hurdle, that will help you see the whole situation from a more optimistic viewpoint. Is there a learning from the experience that impacted your life or carried a thread through your character, goals or accomplishments?
4. Tuck seeks candidates of various backgrounds who can bring new perspectives to our community. How will your unique personal history, values, and/or life experiences contribute to the culture at Tuck?
This question provides you with an opportunity to describe why you are different from other applicants. Do you have a unique background? Unusual work experience? Or have you demonstrated a consistent history of community involvement? The part of your application strategy that is most unique and surprising should be described here.
Once you have determined what is special about your candidacy, you need to tie your personal history, values and/or life experiences to how you will interact with your fellow students at Tuck Business School. The most obvious approach is to outline the clubs and organizations you will contribute to. Beyond formal groups, you may contribute your unique perspective to the classroom, provide networking opportunities in your industry to your classmates, or mentor your fellow students.
5. (Optional) Please provide any additional insight or information that you have not addressed elsewhere that may be helpful in reviewing your application (e.g., unusual choice of evaluators, weaknesses in academic performance, unexplained job gaps or changes, etc.). Complete this question only if you feel your candidacy is not fully represented by this application.
This is your opportunity to discuss any perceived weaknesses in your application such as low GPA or gaps in your work experience. When approaching a question of this nature, focus on explanations rather than excuses and explain what you have done since the event you are explaining to demonstrate your academic ability, or management potential. If you do not have a weakness to explain, this may be an opportunity to address any additional facet of your application strategy you have not been able to illuminate in previous questions. There is no requirement to complete this question, and it would be wise to use the space for something truly new and important to your application that has not been addressed elsewhere.
June 29, 2011
If you’ve applied to Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business in the past but were not successful in obtaining admission, a recent blog posting by Patricia Harrison, an associate director of admissions at Tuck, has terrific …
If you’ve applied to Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business in the past but were not successful in obtaining admission, a recent blog posting by Patricia Harrison, an associate director of admissions at Tuck, has terrific advice and words of consolation that can guide you no matter where you are reapplying.
While some schools, such as INSEAD, are not especially keen on reapplicants, Harrison says Tuck welcomes b-school hopefuls who try to gain admission again”¦with the caveat that they have got to show they’ve made a sincere effort to improve upon their previous application and strengthened their candidacy.
Improved how? Perhaps by brushing up on your quantitative skills by taking additional classes in financial accounting, statistics and microeconomics; a stronger GMAT score; more leadership experience; and clearly stated career goals that explain how Tuck fits into your grand plan. The goal, says Harrison, is to show how much you’ve accomplished since your application last crossed the admissions desk.
“In terms of work experience, again there is no magic number as to how many years you must have, but if you are only a year or two out of school, you might want to think about waiting a little longer to reapply until you get some more experience under your belt,” she advises. Whether your employment history is brief or lengthy, it is crucial to show the quality of the experience.
Unclear goals and/or reasons for wanting to come to Tuck is something we see from a lot of applicants, says Harrison. That’s why how you explain your short and long-term goals is so important–and short-term means want you want to do post-MBA, not simply getting into b-school, she clarifies, adding that, “While we don’t need to see your life plan down to the most specific detail, having a good sense of where you are heading is important.”
Like all programs, it’s important to connect the dots as to how an MBA is going to help you further your career goals, and why, in this case, Tuck is the place to do so. “Talk about unique programs we offer that are related to your area of interest or how the community will support your plans,” Harrison advises.
For more tips from the admissions committee at Tuck School of Business, including procedural information for those reapplying, follow this link. I’ve also recently written about reapplying to business school on my US News–Strictly Business blog; you can read the article here.
June 16, 2011
Top MBA programs are filled with students who have a traditional business background in fields like management consulting and finance, or with experience in large corporate environments. Applicants who pursued nonprofit or social enterprise work …
Top MBA programs are filled with students who have a traditional business background in fields like management consulting and finance, or with experience in large corporate environments. Applicants who pursued nonprofit or social enterprise work after undergrad are often less likely to return to school for a high priced professional degree like an MBA, though top MBA programs are always interested in the diversity of experience offered by nonprofit applicants. If you are approaching an MBA application with a nonprofit background, Peter’s story might help you think about how to approach your own application strategy.
Peter signed up with Stacy Blackman Consulting seeking advice about how to frame his nonprofit arts management background for HBS, Tuck, Kellogg and NYU applications. His degree was in Art History from a small liberal arts college on the west coast, and most of his classmates had pursued PhDs for a career in academia. Peter had always been interested in combining his creative approach with a team based environment, and didn’t see a future researching and teaching at the University level. Through a family friend he was able to land an entry level position at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in the arts education group. Though he enjoyed spending time with art lovers and learning the museum business, he used his free time to explore his desire to lead teams to a common goal. Peter started a small collective with some of his artist friends, who were not established in the art world. The purpose of the collective was to promote the artists’ work as well as outreach programs to NYC public school kids as the city’s budget cuts impacted arts education.
Peter’s background and initiative was impressive. His career was on a strong trajectory within MoMA and his volunteer activities were going well, but Peter wanted to pursue entrepreneurial activity within the arts world more aggressively and decided to pursue an MBA.
Our challenge with Peter’s application, like many non-traditional applicants, was that we needed to highlight how well Peter would fit in with his peers, despite a very different career thus far. While many traditional MBA applicants need to differentiate, Peter needed to demonstrate how well suited he was for a competitive MBA program.
The first hurdle was to overcome Peter’s less quantitative academic background. He had achieved a 3.8 GPA and a 690 GMAT score (after three tries), which we decided was a good academic profile for his demographic and background. We did want to make sure there were no questions about his ability to perform in a quantitative program. Rather than advising another try at the GMAT we suggested he take calculus and statistics. He did so and was able to earn As in both and submit those scores with his application to create a solid academic profile.
The softer aspect of fitting in was personal qualities and goals. Sitting down with Peter and discussing his leadership track record and aspirations, it was clear that Peter was a highly motivated, organized and ambitious person who was a clear fit for a top MBA program. Now we just needed to work on showcasing these traits and his fit with each specific school.
For his career goals essay we outlined Peter’s vision for his volunteer organization: to work with corporate arts programs and grow his collective into a social enterprise that created value for artists (allowing them to live on their work) while also providing arts education for urban children.
A natural network of people who have MBAs or are in MBA programs happens less frequently for applicants from a nonprofit background. We encouraged Peter to use his contacts in traditional business roles, who he had met in his volunteer activities and at MoMA, and to find alumni from each of his target schools to meet with. Peter spent several months working his network, and was able to meet with alumni from his target schools to discuss his goals and fit with the programs. This research was incorporated into his career goals and “why MBA” essays and made a huge difference in his results.
Peter was able to demonstrate leadership effectively by discussing how he formed and led his collective to achieve an impact in NYC schools and for its members, and he used his experience within a large museum to discuss his view of organization dynamics in nonprofits and how he wanted to use an MBA to design his own future organization.
Because of Peter’s drive, ambition, networking and strong story he ultimately gained admission to Tuck.
To read more SBC Case Studies, click HERE.
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