Darmouth’s Tuck School of Business recently published its application deadlines and admissions essay topics for the Class of 2015. Yet another top school has slimmed down its essay count this year. In this case, Tuck actually merged two questions into one, reducing the total number of essays you will need to write for your Tuck application.
Here are the school’s new essays, followed by our comments in italics:
Dartmouth (Tuck) Application Essays
- 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, and what will you uniquely contribute to the community? (If you are applying for a joint or dual degree, please explain how the additional degree will contribute to those goals.) (500 words)
This question has evolved slightly this year, with the addition of the “uniquely contribute” part this year, which used to be addressed in a separate question. Overall, you may consider this the fairly standard “Why an MBA? Why this school?” question that most schools ask. Tuck takes the concept of “fit” very seriously when evaluating candidates — maybe more so than any other top school, given its small class size and remote location — so it’s no surprise to see the “uniquely contribute” question here. Clearly the school doesn’t want you to only focus on your plans beyond Tuck, but also wants to see that you have thought about your two years in Hanover and can make a convincing argument as to why you will be a positive addition to the program.
- Discuss your most meaningful leadership experience. What did you learn about your own individual strengths and weaknesses through this experience? (500 words)
This question remains the same since last year. Follow this question to the letter: You should focus on one single experience. In 500 words you will need to describe what the situation was, what action you took, and what the results were (“Situation-Action-Result,” or “SAR” as we call it). Note the second part of the question, about what you learned about yourself. What exactly happened is very important, but so is evidence of self-reflection. Ideally you can show that you learned something about yourself, such as a shortcoming or lack of experience, that you were able to act on and improve. That’s the richest type of response one can give here.
- 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?
This question also carries over unchanged from last year. This question very clearly illustrates a trait that Tuck looks for in all of its applicants: The ability to objectively take a challenge and setback and turn it into something positive, coming out better in the end. No matter what you might think or may have read, you shouldn’t be afraid to write about a failure or shortcoming. In fact, writing a response about overcoming a failure or weakness will usually more powerful than answering with “My biggest challenge was completing a marathon.” While that’s impressive, it’s far less revealing than a story about a time when you had to make a more fundamental change to who you are as a person and as a leader.
- (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.
As we always tell our clients when it comes to optional essays, only answer this essay prompt if you need to explain a low undergraduate GPA or other potential blemish in your background. No need to harp on a minor weakness and sound like you’re making excuses when you don’t need any. If you don’t have anything else you need to tell the admissions office, it is entirely okay to skip this essay. Less is more!