This Dartmouth Tuck 2012 MBA Application tip post is one in a series providing MBA application and essay advice for applicants to top MBA programs around the world. Review the entire 2012 MBA Application Tips series for more valuable MBA essay advice.
Please respond fully but concisely to the following essay questions. Compose each of your answers offline in separate document files and upload them individually in the appropriate spaces below. Although there is no restriction on the length of your response, most applicants use, on average, 500 words for each essay. There are no right or wrong answers. Please double-space your responses.
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.)
The MBA is a means to an end; it is a "step" towards a goal. That means you have to briefly discuss your journey to date and then your reasons for wanting an MBA -- and specifically a Tuck MBA-- to continue on that journey.
You have to know a lot about Tuck as well as your goals to respond effectively to this question. Why do you want a small, tight-knit program in rural New Hampshire? Why do you want a program that stresses the integration of business functions? Which of Tuck's strengths appeal to you? How will they help you achieve your goals?
2. Discuss your most meaningful leadership experience. What did you learn about your own individual strengths and weaknesses through this experience?
This question reflects the importance Tuck, like many MBA programs, places on leadership.
Have you chaired a fund raiser that raised a record amount of money? Have you inspired a troubled teen to apply himself academically? Have you captained a sports team that led your company league? Have you been a team lead on a project that came in early and under budget? Are you head of a sales team? These could all be examples of leadership. How did you motivate your teammates? What did you learn?
The question asks you to reveal strengths and weaknesses. The first is fun and should be relatively easy. However we all cringe at the idea of revealing weaknesses, especially in a situation where you want to impress -- like now. Nonetheless, resist that nasty impulse. Don't even think about a phony weakness. The adcom will see right through it. Reveal a weakness that hopefully you can show yourself addressing in this leadership experience or through another later experience. Don't dwell on the weakness, but do include it.
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?
Think resilience. Picking yourself up and moving on, better and stronger than you were before. That's what you want to portray and convey in this essay. What happened, how did you react, and what did you learn as a result. ( You may also be interested in a video on this subject for a related HBS question, Setbacks and Resilience.
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?
Tuck may be small and rural, but it is no backwater. And it is fiercely proud of its diversity -- in all senses of the word. It also wants people who will contribute to the school. When I visited Tuck for the International Educational Consultants Conference, I was struck by the variety of events within Tuck and the larger Dartmouth community. Clearly, to answer this question well you must reflect on your background, but you also need to study the activities, clubs, and programs available at Tuck. What are the distinctive elements of your background? How will they enable you to contribute at Tuck?
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.
It is almost impossible for four 500-word essays plus a bunch of boxes, a transcript, and a GMAT score to represent fully the uniqueness and talents of a truly impressive candidate. That comment has nothing to do with writing style and everything to do with the complexity of accomplished human beings. In my opinion this "optional essay" is optional in name only.
6. (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.
Straightforward MBA reapplication question. What has changed that would compel Tuck to admit you this year when it rejected you last year?
If you would like professional guidance with your Dartmouth Tuck application, please consider Accepted's MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our Dartmouth Tuck School Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the Johnson MBA application.
By Linda Abraham, President and Founder of Accepted.com.