Dartmouth Tuck 2014 MBA Essay Tips and Deadlines
The Dartmouth Tuck adcom is interested in learning about what you as an individual, a businessperson, and a leader can contribute to Tuck’s small, close-knit program. Use your essays as a platform for expressing your fervent desire to enter the world of management and to make a difference.
Unlike most MBA programs, Tuck has tweaked its essay questions from last year, but it has not dramatically changed them or cut length. Consequently, its essays give you more opportunity to tell your story.
I strongly recommend Tuck applicants read "The MBA Gatekeeper To Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business," Poets and Quants interview with Dawna Clarke, Director of Admissions at Tuck.
Please respond fully but concisely to the following essay questions. There are no right or wrong answers. We encourage applicants to limit the length of their responses to 500 words for each essay. 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 fit for you and your goals and why are you the best fit for Tuck?
The MBA is a means to an end; it is a “step” towards a goal. That means you have to briefly discuss the most influential stops on your journey to date and then your reasons for wanting 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?
New this year: "why are you the best fit for Tuck?" To respond to that part of the question, review Tuck's six criteria for admission. You won't have much room to include this element. Perhaps in your conclusion succinctly make the case for your fit with Tuck's criteria. Point to elements of your application that show you meet the criteria without repeating them. You want the reader to see a match made in heaven.
2. Tell us about your most meaningful collaborative leadership experience and what role you played. 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. Reflective of Tuck's collaborative culture is the new element this year: "collaborative leadership." This isn't a question just about teamwork or just about leadership. It's about one experience that integrates both.
Have you co-chaired a fundraiser that raised a record amount of money? Have you been a board member for a not-for-profit organization? Have you captained a sports team that led your company league while having an excellent relationship with the coach or manager of the team? Have you been a team lead on a project that came in early and under budget while cooperating closely with other team leads or members of your team? Are you the head of a sales team but empowered other members of your team in a way that greatly contributed to the success of that initiative? These could all be examples of collaborative leadership. How did you motivate your teammates? What did you learn?
While co-leadership roles should provide possible material for your response, another possible approach is provided by this quote. (Unfortunately, I couldn't find the source or the exact wording of this quote): "Leaders create followers. Great leaders create leaders."
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 to write something fluffy and meaningless. 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.
4. Optional question: 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.
At the same time, don't waste the reader's time by writing a meaningless, superficial "grand finale" or summary. Don't repeat what can be found elsewhere.
5. Reapplicant question: 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?
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This article originally appeared on the Accepted Admissions Consulting Blog, the official blog of Accepted.com.