Category Archives: Dartmouth Tuck Advice

SBC Scoop: A Nonprofit Success Story

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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B-Schools Affected by Budget Deficits, Too

Though the labor protests in Wisconsin have focused our nation’s attention on state budget woes, many other organizations have been adversely affected by budget shortcomings, including top business schools.

Though the labor protests in Wisconsin have focused our nation’s attention on state budget woes, many other organizations have been adversely affected by budget shortcomings, including top business schools.

In the article “Business Schools Get Lean,” BusinessWeek‘s Francesca Di Meglio reported that many b-schools have been forced to reduce spending, due to decreased endowments and state cuts to higher education in the wake of the recent recession. Avoiding layoffs has been a priority for most schools, but could not always be avoided. Here are a few of the cutting-back strategies employed by the b-schools featured in the article:

Tuck School of Business – Reorganized existing tasks, such as centralizing the school’s recycling system, which saved labor hours. Also reduced travel in favor of technologies such as videoconferencing.

Chicago Booth School of Business – While Booth didn’t lay off existing faculty, the school held off on filling openings and has reduced its temporary and contract workers. Like Tuck, Booth has also cut its travel budget and implemented a policy requiring approval from the dean’s office for travel.

Wharton School of Business – One round of layoffs in executive education department. Renegotiated contracts with vendors and cut down on travel and entertainment expenses.

Harvard Business School – Turned off heating and cooling systems during non-business hours. According to Meghan Duggan, assistant director of sustainability and energy management at HBS, this simple action resulted in six-figure savings.

Program cuts aren’t the only concern for potential b-school students. As businesses also struggle with their budgets, many of them are cutting back on tuition assistance programs, another BusinessWeek article reports. In “Tuition Benefits Drying Up,” Erin Zlomek writes, “In 2010, 56 percent of employers offered graduate school assistance, down from 69 percent in 2003, according to annual benefits data collected by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).”

Posted in Chicago Booth Advice, Dartmouth Tuck Advice, General, Harvard Advice, UPenn Wharton Advice | Tagged , , , ,

The Word on Campus Visits, Interviews, Etc. From The Tuck School Of Business

Are you applying to the full-time MBA program at Tuck School of Business and in need of a little guidance so you can stop sweating the small details? (Who doesn’t, right?) Then check out some …

Are you applying to the full-time MBA program at Tuck School of Business and in need of a little guidance so you can stop sweating the small details? (Who doesn’t, right?) Then check out some of these Q&As recently provided by Tuck Business School admissions coordinator Cameron Steese.

An array of questions comes her way during the busy recruiting season, and below you’ll find a sampling of the most common queries about interviews, visiting campus, etc.

“How long is the Q&A?”
The Q&A session usually takes about 45 minutes but that depends on the number of questions asked during the session. However, you can leave the optional sessions at anytime (i.e. Q&A, Tour, and Lunch). The class visit is also optional but once you are in class you are required to stay for the duration.

“Who will be conducting my interview?”
A majority of our interviews are conducted by our Second Year Tuck Business School Admissions Associates. These student interviewers go through a rigorous hiring and training process and afford us the opportunity to offer our prospective students the self-initiated interview option. All interviews are weighted equally.

“What does the interviewer have access to prior to the interview?”
Your interviewer will only have access to the resume you send in ahead of time. They will not have access to your application or test scores.

“When does the self-initiated interview have to be completed by?”
The self-initiated interview must be completed on or before the application due date. If you are applying during the Early Action Round (10/13/10) then your interview must be completed by that date.

“What events can my partner attend during the visit?”
When accompanying you to campus, your partner may attend everything except the class visit and the interview. I recommend that you contact the Tuck Business School Partner’s Club about arranging a meeting for your partner.

“What should I wear for my interview and class visit?”
We recommend wearing a suit when interviewing on campus. If you find wearing a suit all day to be cumbersome you may certainly bring a business casual outfit alternative.

Want more guidance? Read this application advice from Patricia Harrison, associate director of admissions. And if you’re getting started on your application and are ready to tackle those essays, take a look at our Tuck Business School essay tips.

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Tuesday Tips – Tuck School Of Business Essay Tips

Tuck School of Business is focused on demonstrated achievement and interpersonal skills. How can you make sure your essays sell your unique experiences and attributes to Tuck? This edition of Tuesday Tips focuses on the 2010-2011 Tuck Essays.

The Tuck School of Business focuses on rigorous coursework and teamwork. As expressed on the website, “The dynamics within study groups are electric. You will perform at your highest level because your team is counting on you.” The Tuck Business School experience is one that prepares you for the next level both professionally and personally.

In evaluating candidates, the Tuck Business School looks at several criteria: demonstrated academic excellence, demonstrated leadership, demonstrated accomplishments, interpersonal skills, diversity of background and experience, and a global mindset. Note that many of these criteria specify that Tuck is looking for “demonstrated experience.” Aside from the raw data in your application, your essays are the best place to demonstrate what you will bring to the school.

If you are targeting the Round One deadline on October 13th, you may be thinking about how to approach this set of Tuck School of Business essay questions.
Setting strategy is your best first step. Clearly assess which of the 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 examples provide the best evidence of your leadership qualities, teamwork skills and management potential.

While Tuck Business School does not require a certain 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 Business School 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.

Essay 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. What is the greatest challenge or hurdle you have overcome, either personally or professionally, and how did you manage to do so?

This question is somewhat similar to the classic mistake essay, and it’s your opportunity to show how you handle challenging situations. Everyone faces challenges at work or in personal life, and it is how you decide to react that creates learning and growth. Revealing your emotions and thought process 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 Business School 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 the Tuck School of Business?

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.

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MBA Advice From Harvard Business School, Wharton Business School and Tuck School of Business

Whether you’re diving into the application process full-throttle, or just starting to test the waters, good advice is always welcome. Today’s tips come courtesy of the Career Insider blog at Bucknell University, which posted a …

Whether you’re diving into the application process full-throttle, or just starting to test the waters, good advice is always welcome. Today’s tips come courtesy of the Career Insider blog at Bucknell University, which posted a comprehensive entry yesterday with pointers on the MBA application process supplied by panelists representing Harvard Business School, Wharton Business School and Tuck School of Business.

Here are some edited excerpts of the advice culled by Bucknell’s Jamie Leacock ’11; click on the link above for the original entry, which also covers selecting recommenders, taking the GMAT, the admissions process and what a typical schedule looks like during an MBA program.

What are MBA graduate programs looking for?

One myth surrounding the MBA admissions process is that applicants are accepted based on their credentials (e.g., what undergraduate school they attended, an internship they completed). However, schools are not looking for what you have done; they are looking for why you have done it and how well you did it!

The panelists urge prospective students to be able to explain the choices they made and why they excelled. Talking about the quality of your experience and why it was right for you is a surefire way to exude individuality. The best job is not what you think schools are looking for; it is what you are passionate about.

What qualities do admissions officers look for in an applicant?

When reviewing applications, the panel asserts that admissions officers are thinking about the long-term ”“ what kind of alumni are you going to be?

One panelist who has worked at Bucknell, Tuck Business School, and Wharton says he seeks the following when making decisions: applicant’s integrity, their risk-taking ability, their leadership as expressed in the context of their own life, and (his highest weighted criteria) their initiative.

One way to demonstrate these characteristics during an interview is by using the mirror technique. When asked to tell about a leadership experience, after answering, re-frame the question and ask the interviewer about opportunities for leadership at that school. Utilizing these tips can certainly be beneficial to your application process.

Should I re-apply if I don’t get in the first time?

One panelist said 10% of Wharton Business School applicants were re-applying. He advises re-applicants to be very careful not to look like the main goal is to get into that particular school. At schools where the application can be re-activated, he was very impressed when applicants started over, treating the re-application process as a blank state instead of reusing old essays. It can be a good idea to paint a new self-portrait of yourself based on the new experiences you gained during the past year.

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Tuck Business School Admissions Tips for Interviews, Applications and More

Are you looking for more guidance before getting started on your B-school application this summer? Admissions director Dawna Clarke of Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business shares some great application advice via video that anyone who …

Are you looking for more guidance before getting started on your B-school application this summer? Admissions director Dawna Clarke of Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business shares some great application advice via video that anyone who has Tuck on their short list must check out.

Here are some of the topics Clarke covers:

  • Holistic admissions process
  • Tips for admission
  • Open interview policy
  • Class diversity
  • Leadership and team skills
  • Global mindset

In these videos, Clarke gives details on what her team looks for in a candidate, the importance of the on-campus interview, and ways to strengthen an application. She also has some advice for reapplicants. You can follow the link above to see each area discussed in greater detail.
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