The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College has made a few tweaks to its admissions essays this season. The admissions committee has put a small “spin” on the conventional essay where students are to outline their career goals and explaining their need for a Tuck MBA specifically. Now, you will be asked to explain how you envision yourself as a “wise leader,” which we will discuss in our analysis. For its second required essay, the school has long been asking applicants to discuss leadership, but this year, it has pivoted away from that topic to focus on diversity instead. Thereafter, you have the opportunity to craft an optional essay to mitigate any weaknesses in your candidacy, if any such issues exist. We believe that with these options, applicants should be able to present a well-rounded picture of themselves to the admissions committee. Now we will delve more deeply into each of the individual prompts…
Essay 1: Tuck educates wise leaders who better the world of business. What are your short- and long-term goals? How will a Tuck MBA enable you to become a wise leader with global impact? (500-700 words) (Note: This is the revised version of Essay 1 posted on July 11, 2016.)
As noted, this is a classic personal statement with a slight spin – wherein you will need to explain how you will be a “wise leader with global impact.” In writing this essay, you should give context for your goals, thoroughly explain them and then discuss how Tuck will facilitate said goals. It is in this “facilitation” piece that you will have an opportunity to reveal not only that you have a plan to use specific Tuck resources, but that you also have expectations for these resources and their impact on you. So, it will not be enough to explain that you intend to engage with a club or a class, but you need to have a clear understanding of what you will get out of an experience and how it will contribute to your growth (wisdom) and your ability to have your broad impact. We expect that the impact piece will stifle many an applicant, but you don’t need to explicitly state that you will change the world as we know it. Instead, you need to own your future experiences and show that your goals — while not necessarily earth shattering — are meaningful to you and consequential for others.
And because personal statements are similar from one application to the next, we have produced the mbaMission Personal Statement Guide, which helps applicants write this style of essay for any school. We offer this guide to candidates free of charge. Please feel free to download your copy today.
For a thorough exploration of Dartmouth Tuck’s academic program, merits, defining characteristics, crucial statistics, social life, academic environment, and other key features, please check out the mbaMission Insider’s Guide to the Tuck School of Business.
Essay 2: As a diverse and global community, our students arrive at the same place from many different paths. Tell us about an experience in which you have had to live, learn and/or work with other people very different from yourself. What challenges and/or opportunities did you experience, how did you respond, and what did you learn about yourself as a result? (500 words)
The school says on its Web site that “truly understand[ing] how others live, work, and do business” is “a requirement for today’s leaders”—and Tuck is interested in creating and promoting effective leaders. Likewise, community and collaboration are important themes that appear often in Tuck’s descriptions of its MBA program. So naturally, the school wants to know that you are both open to and equipped for this kind of environment and will be able to not only constructively contribute to it but also extract the most from it personally. This will require demonstrating that you possess self-awareness in conjunction with a willingness to hear, consider, and even adopt the views and ideas of others.
One thing to recognize first is that “other people very different from yourself” is a descriptor that extends beyond the most obvious types of differences, such as race, gender, and citizenship. If the experience you ultimately choose to write about did indeed involve such clear-cut differentiators among the participants, that may make writing this essay a little easier for you. But perhaps your experiences to date have not exactly resembled a melting pot or the ones that have were not very influential or affecting. Consider, then, that you can be different from others based on religion (or lack thereof), political mind-set, age, educational background, professional experience, economic strata, familial situation (think only child versus someone with multiple siblings), working or leadership styles, morals, and almost countless other ways. The emphasis here is not on the kind of difference involved but on your interpretation of and response to it.
As you work to identify a story from your life—professional, personal, or community related—that involved some kind of meaningful interaction with others who were unlike you in some notable way, keep in mind that Tuck is not asking simply for a narrative that shows you have merely encountered or interacted with different kinds of people. The admissions committee wants to know that the incident you have chosen to showcase held some personal value for you. Ideally, your story will convey that you have the kind of emotional intelligence that Tuck would like to see.
Given that you have just 500 words with which to set the scene and discuss the three components the school requests—the challenges/opportunities you experienced, your response to these, and what you ultimately discovered about yourself—we suggest that you forego any kind of general introduction and launch directly into your story, immediately placing your reader in the middle of the action. From there, let the narrative unfold naturally, making sure that the nature of the difference between you and the other individual(s) involved is clearly presented, as is either the difficulty that arose from the dissimilarity or the opportunity it created. You must then explicitly address the feelings and thoughts you had as a result and any subsequent actions you took.
The other crucial element of this essay is demonstrating that you learned from the experience—do not gloss over this part or offer a trite or clichéd statement as a kind of afterthought. And specifically, you must share that you learned something about yourself. So, claiming that you gained a new skill, for example, would not constitute an appropriate response. You will need to delve more deeply into how your understanding of yourself differed after the situation and clearly explain what the experience brought out in you that you had not known about yourself before.
Optional Essay: 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.
Applicants may be tempted to take advantage of this optional essay, but we strongly encourage you to resist any such temptation and submit an optional essay only if your candidacy truly needs it. This is most certainly not the place to paste in a strong essay you wrote for another school or share an anecdote you were unable to incorporate into either of the primary essays. Again, only if your profile has a noticeable gap of some kind or would provoke any lingering questions on the part of an admissions officer—such as a poor grade or overall GPA, a low GMAT score, a gap in your work experience, etc.—should you take this opportunity to provide additional information. In our mbaMission Optional Essays Guide, available through our online store, we offer detailed advice on when and how to take advantage of the optional essay (as well as multiple sample essays) to help you mitigate any problem areas in your profile.
Reapplicant Essay: (To be completed by all reapplicants) How have you strengthened your candidacy since you last applied? Please reflect on how you have grown personally and professionally.
Whether you have improved your academic record, received a promotion, begun a new and exciting project, increased your community involvement, or taken on some sort of personal challenge, the key to success with this essay is conveying a very deliberate path of achievement. Tuck wants to know that you have been actively striving to improve yourself and your profile, and that you have seized opportunities during the previous year to do so, because a Tuck MBA is vital to you. The responses to this essay question will vary greatly from one candidate to the next, because each person’s needs and experiences differ. We are more than happy to provide one-on-one assistance with this highly personal essay to ensure that your efforts over the past year are presented in the best light possible.