Dartmouth (Tuck) Essay Analysis

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.)

I could “crib” most of my comments from Darden or Columbia and indeed I have done so below. Because these questions most often cover very similar ground, I have created a document on personal statements that should help regardless of application. Please feel free to contact – – for a copy.

As or Tuck itself, this is another case in which there is no explicit request for information about your past. As such, you need to provide some context for your future goals – your goals cannot just exist in a vacuum. Therefore, you should offer some existing experience which shows that your short and long term goals make sense for you. Again, this is not a career history and does not need to be 250 words. A brief 50 word introduction of your context should be sufficient before leading into your goals.

As always your goals should be specific enough that you are showing clear intent and ambition, but not so specific that you are limiting yourself or are being narrow-minded. The bulk of your essay should focus on why the Tuck MBA in particular will allow you to achieve your goals. Again, this is not an opportunity to sing the school’s praises; you want to connect the schools resources with your professional goals and learning objectives. You want to explain how Tuck has the resources to bridge your dreams/goals and reality.

2. Tuck defines leadership as “inspiring others to strive and enabling them to accomplish great things.” Describe a time when you exercised such leadership. Discuss the challenges you faced and the results you achieved. What characteristics helped you to be effective, and what areas do you feel you need to develop in order to be a better leader?

The Tuck applicant need not be thrown off by the statement “inspiring others to strive and enabling them to accomplish great things” In the past, some candidates have expressed concern that they are not vocal leaders and that they were unaware if they had inspired others, because they could not be sure of the responses to their actions. Your leadership need not be exemplified by vocally rousing others to action. Quiet leadership – leading by example, through dedication, creativity or innovation – is perfectly acceptable and might even be refreshing for committee accustomed to essays about vocal leadership. However, regardless of your example of leadership, you have the ability to differentiate along the lines of your honest personal thoughts and reflections/critiques of your leadership abilities. The more genuine, open and honest you are, the more powerful your essay will become.

3. Discuss the most difficult constructive criticism or feedback you have received. How did you address it? What have you learned from it?

As you consider the criticism that you have received, you should be cautious and ensure that you are not inadvertently displaying behavior that is inconsistent with Tuck’s values. An embellished example of what not to do follows: “My boss criticized my laziness….” By displaying laziness, you are undermining your candidacy, because Tuck tries to recruit highly-motivated students. Another misguided approach would be to offer a false critique — a negative that is actually a positive: “My boss told me that I work too hard and need to relax and take a vacation; it was hard to hear that…” These answers are transparent and only annoy the Admissions Committees.

When dealing with a critique of your abilities or character, it is important to approach the matter at hand in a straightforward way. The emphasis should be on acceptance and remedying the problem. Clearly, with the word “constructive” in the question, you are asked to identify a time when someone took care and sought to help you improve; you need to show that you responded with the effort and thought necessary to “correct” the problem.

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?

Essay four is quite broad; within “personal history, values, and/or life experiences,” there is a great deal of range. So, it is permissible for you to develop one or two significant themes drawing from your life experiences (a bias toward your non-professional side) and then relate them back to the Tuck experience. This is an opportunity for you not only to display your unique attributes but to thoughtfully and subtly imply just how well you know the school. By describing your unique experiences and showing true awareness of their connection with Tuck, you will complete the essay portion of your application on a very compelling note.

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