Dartmouth University (Tuck) Essay Analysis, 2009-2010

After connecting with the Tuck admissions office, we can confirm that their essays will not change this year. Our essay analysis follows…

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.)

Because Personal Statements are similar from one application to the next, we have produced the “MBA Mission Personal Statement Guide.” We offer this guide to candidates free of charge, via our online store.  Please feel free to download your copy today.

For additional information on the Tuck experience, please consult the MBA Mission Insider’s Guide series.

2. Tuck defines leadership as “inspiring others to strive and enabling them to accomplish great things.” We believe great things and great leadership can be accomplished in pursuit of business and societal goals. 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?

Tuck puts its own spin on leadership in that it asks for a time when you not only led, but “inspired.” Further, Tuck adds to this question, which in essence appeared last year, by asking you to identify an example where you had broader “business and societal goals” in mind.  So, you may be concerned that you need to discuss a very specific experience, but you should keep in mind that virtually any successful leadership experience satisfies these demands.

Inspiration need not be found only in rousing speeches. It is entirely possible to inspire others through action, creative thought, persistence, etc. So, as long as you were leading others and they were motivated to follow, you have inspired. What is most important is that you capture how you inspired others and show evidence that they were indeed inspired.

With respect to “business and societal goals,” most accomplishments have broad implications. If you helped a firm sustain itself or grow, then it serves both the firm and society. Candidates need not be concerned that they must address a social issue directly; your actions can have indirect benefits – benefits that will require creativity to express.

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 accepting 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, and then relate them back to the Tuck experience. This is an opportunity for you not only to display your unique attributes but also to thoughtfully and subtly imply just how well you know the school. By showing true awareness of your connection with Tuck, you will complete the essay portion of your application on a very compelling note.

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