Dartmouth Tuck 2015 MBA Essay Tips and Deadlines

Want to learn more about Tuck? Check out our Dartmouth Tuck MBA Zone!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 earnest desire to enter the world of management and to make a difference. 

Following the shrinking app trend, this year Tuck reduced its required questions from three to two and tweaked slightly the second required essay prompt. 

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.

Essays:

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? 

To respond to the fit  part of the question, review Tuck’s six evaluation criteria for admission. You won’t have much room to address fit. 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 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. Last year, Tuck asked about “collaborative leadership.” This year it dropped “collaborative” from the question. Perhaps some applicants confused collaborative leadership with teamwork, and Tuck really wants to see you as a leader. Perhaps, and more likely given Tuck’s collaborative culture, Tuck wants to know what leadership example you will use and whether your definition of leadership is a fit for Tuck. Your example should reflect a collaborative and enlightened approach to leadership. 

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 who empowered other members of your team in a way that greatly contributed to the success of that initiative? These could all be examples of leadership. How did you motivate your teammates? What did you learn about yourself through the experience? In answering the last question, don’t be generic and don’t wonder “What do they want to hear?” What did you actually learn from this most meaningful experience?

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. 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 two or three 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.

4Reapplicant 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?

If you would like professional guidance with your Dartmouth Tuck MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our  MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the Dartmouth Tuck application. 

Dartmouth Tuck 2015 Application Deadlines:

Round Due Date Decisions Released
Early Action October 8, 2014 December 18, 2014
November Round November 5, 2014 February 13, 2015
January Round January 6, 2015 March 13, 2015
April Round April 1, 2015 May 15, 2015

Linda Abraham By , president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

  • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

    If any readers would like a profile evaluation for Dartmouth Tuck, please provide the following info:

    1) Brief description of your full-time work experience.
    2) Your GMAT or GRE. Percentiles preferred.
    3) College info: The name of the college, your GPA or grade average, your major, year of graduation. For any graduate degrees, please provide the same info. If you grades are low, please indicate if there were extenuating circumstances.
    4) Significant college and post-college extra-curricular activities or community service, especially leadership experience.
    5) Important certifications like CFA, CPA, FSA, or CA.
    6) Your post-MBA goal.

    Or if you just have a question about MBA admissions, I’ll do my best to answer it.

    • NH

      Hi Linda,

      I would appreciate your thoughts. I am applying first round to Tuck, Stanford, Kellogg and HBS:

      1) I will have 5.5 years of experience working as an business analyst for two finance companies (one large, one small). I’ve been promoted once and recently started indirectly managing two junior analysts.

      2) 730 (96%). Q 76%/V 96%. AWA 5.0 60%. Integrated Reasoning 8 92%.

      3) College of William & Mary, 3.53/4, BA in Economics and Government, graduated May 2009.

      4) Was an opinion and online editor for a school paper in college as well as a chartering chairman in my fraternity. Have done overseas trips to India twice (once for work, once for study abroad) as well as service/learning trips to Israel and the Dominican Republic.

      5) None

      6) My goal is to work in a top consulting firm to gain experience before founding my own consulting company, focusing in providing analytics to small businesses and startups.

      • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

        NH,

        Unless you have a lot of achievements at work, I would say these are stretch schools for you. Check out Ross, Darden, Cornell, and Yale.

        Best,
        Linda

    • Bethany

      Hello Linda,

      Thanks in advance for your thoughts! I am planning to apply next year and am considering the following schools for first round: Kellogg, Stanford, Tuck, Haas, Anderson (still trying to narrow the range).

      1) I will have 4 years of work experience in consulting – 2 years in technology consulting and 2 years in human capital consulting with a top 5 consulting firm
      2) 710 GMAT (92%)
      3) UC San Diego, 3.5, Management Science, 2012
      4) (a) Co-led by company’s national volunteer day in my local office, with ~700 volunteers and ~60 project leads that we trained; (b) pro-bono consulting project in Central America; (c) MBA fellows program sponsored by UCLA
      5) N/A
      6) Considering returning to consulting

      Thanks!

      • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

        Bethany,

        You have a competitive profile for your target schools, with Stanford being a stretch. Also consider Ross and Darden.

        And by the time be apply, be a more certain about what you want to do with your MBA.

        Linda

        • bethany

          thanks!

    • Julie

      Hello Linda,

      Thank you for all your efforts. I am answering all your questions one by one precisely.
      1) Brief description of your full-time work experience.
      I have a work experience of 4 years in technology field. I started as a Software Developer in a mid-sized company in London and am presently working as a consultant for a start up in India. In this start-up, I have been promoted twice and also contributed tremendously by increasing efficiency in software development, and also mentored and recruited graduate developers. Along with that I have been an independent IT Consultant for 4 other start-ups.
      2) GMAT Overall Score: 710.
      3) Engineering from India: GPA 4 in the last 3 semesters (out of 8). Though, in the first 5 semesters, my GPA was 3.5.
      Masters in Software Engineering from University of Southampton (UK): Secured highest marks in the course. Also produced a dissertation that was “prize-worthy” due to original contribution.
      4) Many activities from being a course representative, President of Annual Fest Organisation, inter-school swimming champion, exhibited painting in the capital city, etc. Extensive Voluntary work experience of 6 years.
      5) None.
      6) Your post-MBA goal. Short Term: IT Consulting. Long Term: Entrepreneurship combining my Consulting experience and voluntary experience.

      I am thinking of Universities like Stanford, Harvard, Wharton, Booth, Tuck, Kellogg. I would be glad to know your suggestions on which Universities I should apply to. I am confining myself to Top US Universities.

      • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

        Julie,

        You’re most welcome. Your experience is competitive, albeit fairly common (at least the way described above). Your grades are competitive. Your GMAT is a little below average for these programs, especially for those programs where the average is above 725, like Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton. They are stretch programs. You have a competitive profile for the other programs on your list.

        I also suggest you consider UCLA Anderson, Cornell Johnson or Cornell Tech, and CMU Tepper.

        Best,
        Linda

        • Julie

          Linda,
          Thank you very much for your reply.
          I have had a 5 month work break due to some very extenuating circumstances at home for which I had to come back to India. Then, I started working in a smaller start up. I have been very instrumental in streamlining their processes and also have brought many tangible benefits. However, there was no scope for high value (monetary) impact.

          However, I have a very strong voluntary experience with real social impact.

          What are my chances in Booth? Is it also a stretch?
          I was also thinking of applying to Ross and Tuck. Please suggest.
          Thanks in advance. :)

          • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

            Julie,

            Booth is probably more of a stretch. You have a competitive profile for Tuck and Ross.

            Happy New Year!

            Linda

          • Abe

            Hi Linda,

            I found your post very insightful. I am applying to the following schools in R2: Dartmouth Tuck, Cornell Johnson, Emory Goizueta, Toronto Rotman, and UNC Kenan Flagler. Tuck is my top choice, with Cornell coming in second. I would be highly appreciative if you give an overview of my chances at my target schools. Also, if there are any schools you could suggest based on my profile that are not on the list, that we be welcome.

            I’d like to give you a brief overview of my background, as I believe that is what sets me apart. I am an Indian citizen, but I have lived in over 7 countries, including Sudan, Venezuela, Brazil, Spain, Singapore, and a few more. My father was a diplomat, so we traveled a lot. I finished my high school at the American school in Venezuela and then went to a top liberal arts school in the New England area (think Bates, Colby, Grinnell).

            1) I have roughly 5 years of work experience, starting at a boutique management consulting firm in Boston, moving onto a sustainability-focused equity research role in India, then a hedge fund internship with the 3rd largest fund in Asia, and most recently I have started my own investment advisory business focused on family offices and high net worth individuals.

            2) The GMAT is an interesting part of my application because even though I was a double major in Physics and Economics at a top liberal arts school (and have written papers on Einstein’s field equations) I am not too hot at timed math. So I took the GRE instead and scored the following: 161 V (87%), 158 Q (71%), and 5.5 AWA (98%).

            3) I went to one of the rank 20 “little ivy” liberal arts schools in New England (think Bates, Colby, Grinnel) and double-majored in Economics and Physics, with a GPA of 3.13. I had a bad first year because of having to come up with money for tuition. Being from India, education tends to be expensive in the US.

            4) Most of the leadership work I have done has taken place outside a formal setting. I have started my own initiatives in India, such as providing free tutoring to underprivileged children, teaching western cooking to local house maids to increase their employability, working with local slums to reduce open defecation, and also fighting for animal rights in Mumbai. In college, I was part of the debate team and also coached novice debaters and was the treasurer of the cinematography club.

            5) I do not have any additional certifications.

            6) The post-MBA goal, in the short-term, is to grow business to incorporate more institutional investors as clients. The long-term goal is more imaginative, if we can use that word. In the long-term, I would like to either sell my business and directly serve as a Chief Investment Officer (CIO) at or have my business consult for organizations that are involved in areas that I deeply care about, specifically scientific education and wildlife preservation. In this regard, opportunities are ubiquitous in scientific education via working at or consulting for university endowments. However, I believe a significant need exists for social-minded investment professionals in wildlife preservation. For example, the efforts of individuals such as Kevin Richardson, a South African lion conservationist (aka “the lion whisperer”), and Big Cat Rescue, a Florida based wildlife sanctuary, are constantly hampered by an inability to secure long-term funding. I think if they were supported by social-oriented investment advisors or officers, these organizations would have an opportunity to become self-reliant – allow their current cash to generate future funding.

            Thank you very much and a happy new year to you!

          • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

            Abe,

            You have a competitive profile for Rotman. I think the other programs are stretch programs for you because academic stats are significantly below their averages.

            You may also want to consider Rochester Simon.

            Best,
            Linda

  • KTW

    Hi Linda, would love to hear your thoughts on my chances as well. I am applying first round to Tuck, Darden, Tepper, and Yale. I been given offers to interview at all four (Tuck interview initiated by me).

    1.) I will have four years of work experience as an analyst at a large R.I.A. (wealth management firm). I have made significant leadership contributions throughout my tenure but am looking to make a career change.
    2.) GMAT – 730 (96%) Integrated Reasoning (92%)
    3.) Trinity College, 3.56/4. BA in Economics, graduated in May 2011
    4.) Varsity golf team All-Academic All American. Fraternity treasurer and fundraising leader. The First Tee. Other extracurricular activities as well.
    5.) Series 65
    6.) Join a restructuring group at a boutique investment bank

    First choice is Tuck but am excited about all opportunities.

    Thanks!

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      KTW,

      You have a competitive profile for your target programs including Tuck.

      Best,
      Linda

  • Peter

    Linda, I am applying regular decision to Columbia, 2nd round at Haas, and 2nd round at a third program yet to be determined.

    1) I am currently an underwriter for a real estate financing company assessing several million dollars in loan applications per month. I was promoted to this position internally after just several months of employment. I also have prior experience as a telemarketer, a life insurance salesman, and an actuarial intern.
    2) GMAT results (1 attempt):

    Quantitative: 49 (79%)
    Verbal: 40 (91%)
    Total: 730 (96%)
    IR: 6 (67%)
    AWA: 6.0 (92%)

    3) Double major in mathematics and statistics from the University of Florida. I have a 3.18 GPA, but was diagnosed with a learning disorder after my freshman year and worked during my junior year of college. In my final year, I obtained a 3.8 GPA and made Dean’s List in my final semester.

    4) I am a member of the United States Chess Federation with a rating of about 1600 ELO. I also lift heavy weights in my spare time and tutor my co-workers in mathematics.

    5) I have a life & health insurance sales license.

    6) My post-MBA goal is to work at a financial firm or a mortgage banker.

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Hi Peter,

      You don’t say how long you have been working. I’m going to assume that it is somewhere between 3-6 years.
      I am concerned about that GPA at your target programs. Have you passed any actuarial exams? They might help if you have, even if you haven’t gotten your ASA.
      Given your GMAT and circumstances in college, you still have a chance at your target programs, but you’re going to have to make a very strong case for fit to overcome the GPA.
      Also consider UNC, Georgetown, UT, Yale, and Cornell Johnson.

      Best,
      Linda

  • Rohit

    Hi Linda,

    Could you provide me with a profile evaluation for Tuck ?

    1.) 3.5 years experience in Continuous Improvement and Industrial Engineering roles ( Lead a variety of projects at both) in VA ( 2 yrs at mid sized manufacturing firm and 1 yr at a Fortune 150 corp.) , 1 year experience as Business Development Manager in India
    2.)740,97% (92%,89%V)
    3.) 3.3 ( 3.0 for last 60 credits) ,Purdue University,Industrial Engineering ( Worked 12+ hours a week throughout,graduated in 3.5 yrs)
    4.) Board member for 2 Student Organizations and actively involved in other student organizations at Purdue (IIE,Alpha Pi Mu-IE Honors Society)
    5.) Certified Supply Chain Professional (APICS)
    Six Sigma Green Belt
    6.) Post-MBA Goal, Work as a Corporate Sustainability Manager ( Manage sustainability initiatives for a large corporation , only relevant sustainability knowledge and experience comes from leading Sustainability projects at Job 1 with positive results and my interest in the topic

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      Rohit,

      Your GPA is a little low, but you were working and the rest of your profile is competitive at Tuck.

      If you’d like help with your application, please let me know.

      Best,
      Linda

      • Rohit

        Thank you Linda !! If possible, could you advise on my chances for Kenan-Flagler as well ? I like KF in terms of size and for its great offerings in sustainability as well as access to top consulting firms.

        Would you say KF would be a strech/on par/safety school for me ?

        • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

          You would be much more competitive at K-F. Maybe even a safety and more likely to get financial aid.

          Best,
          Linda

  • NI17

    Hi Linda,

    Thank you in advance for your thoughts! I am applying to Judge, Oxford, Kellogg, and Tuck in January but am nervous my application is not strong enough since I am not the typical B-school applicant and my test scores are low. I am considering delaying my application a year but would love to hear what you think:

    1) I have 3.5 years of experience in the nonprofit sector and made relatively significant contributions at each of my places of employment (also promoted once). I am also the co-owner of a small family business and recently founded a nonprofit aimed at coordinating humanitarian aid abroad – both these projects are relatively new and in the development stage.
    2) GRE – Q157 68%, V156 71%
    3) The George Washington University, GPA = 3.89/4, BA in International Relations, graduated in May 2011
    4) In college, I was a contributing writer for the school newspaper and the Director of Recruitment for my professional sorority. I was also on the board of two other student clubs and a volunteer ESL teacher. I am currently a member of a modern dance ensemble and on the board of a small public interest organization.
    5) N/A
    6) I plan to work at an impactful global nonprofit and help grow both my family’s business and my own nonprofit.

    I’m not sure if this makes much of a difference but I am also female and of a minority.

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      NI17,

      Which minority are you a member of?

      Linda

      • Nadia Jibran

        Hi Linda, I’m half Hispanic half Middle Eastern. I just retook the GRE and scored slightly better- 161 verbal and 158 quant. I might try one last time next month. Thanks again for your help!

        • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

          You’re welcome. Good luck!

          • Nadia Jibran

            Thank you, Linda! Just to be clear, Oxford is my top choice. Do you think I should wait another year given my scores or do you think I have shot during this year’s January round?

          • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

            Nadia,

            I think Oxford (or Tuck) is a stretch, but give it a try. There’s no downside if you are ready and willing to pay the application fee. If not accepted, you can reapply in September.

            Linda

  • S Chan

    Hi Linda,

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts and insight! I am applying in January round to Tuck, Kellogg (MMM program) and Haas (Evening MBA).

    1) I am a Technical Manager (13 direct/indirect reports) and have 7 years of experience in High Tech. Been promoted thrice thus far.
    2) 650
    3) M.S in Electrical Engineering from USC ’07 (GPA: 3.3)
    4) Volunteer farmer at a non-profit, Pilot in training, Editor of college magazine, Volunteered at several free schools and orphanages, National committee member of a Cultural organization promoting art.
    5) None
    6) Continue in Tech sector (I have a sponsorship from my company). Then transition to the intersection of Technology, consulting and sustainability. (Target: Boutique consulting firms in Non-Profit space).

    Thanks!

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      I think you are aiming too high. Your academic stats both the GMAT and the GPA are low for these programs. Your work experience and extra-curricular are good, but I don’t think they will overcome the low (for these programs) GPA and GMAT.

      Best,
      Linda

      • S Chan

        Thanks Linda!

        Do you think improving the GMAT score to 700+ and taking relevant courses (quant heavy) will make a difference?

        • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

          S.,

          You’re welcome! I wish i had a more positive and encouraging response…

          It definitely will help. Sure.

          Best,
          Linda

  • Rajesh

    Hi Linda,
    Indian male,27
    1. Work as manager,IT in a big steel manufacturing company for past 3 years. Worked for a year in a pure it consultancy company.

    2. 750 98%ile qa 49 va 42

    3. Asansol engineering college. 7.2 /10 engineering in IT

    4. Current state level basketball player, school college and present empoyer’s captain in basketball and volleyball. Sports co ordinator of my department, school college quizzer, member of quizzing club, certified in acupressure and body work. Assist a doctor in treating patients with postural disorders. Organised and sponsored annual basketball tournament at district level for exposure to players before state tournament

    5. None

    6. Would like to work in a general management// leadership role. Can work as technology consultant because I m good at it(I think so ;) ). But my heart really lies in entrepreneurship. I have some ideas. Anything previous to this will be to gain some real world global experience.

    Will love to hear ur suggestions. Applying to MIT, tuck,Ross. Any advice on 3-4 more schools

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      You have a competitive profile for MIT and Tuck. However your goal sounds vague — gen management in IT, but also maybe consulting. It’s OK to have a Plan A and a Plan B, but make clear which is which.

      Other programs to consider: Haas, CMU Tepper, Wharton, Cornell Tech, UCLA Anderson, Ross, Darden, Duke, UT.

      Best,
      Linda

  • Julie

    Hello Linda,

    Thank you for all your efforts. I am answering all your questions one by one precisely.
    1) Brief description of your full-time work experience.
    I have a work experience of 4 years in technology field. I started as a Software Developer in a mid-sized company in London and am presently working as a consultant for a start up in India. In this start-up, I have been promoted twice and also contributed tremendously by increasing efficiency in software development, and also mentored and recruited graduate developers. Along with that I have been an independent IT Consultant for 4 other start-ups.
    2) GMAT Overall Score: 710.
    3) Engineering from India: GPA 4 in the last 3 semesters (out of 8). Though, in the first 5 semesters, my GPA was 3.5.
    Masters in Software Engineering from University of Southampton (UK): Secured highest marks in the course. Also produced a dissertation that was “prize-worthy” due to original contribution.
    4) Many activities from being a course representative, President of Annual Fest Organisation, inter-school swimming champion, exhibited painting in the capital city, etc. Extensive Voluntary work experience of 6 years.
    5) None.
    6) Your post-MBA goal. Short Term: IT Consulting. Long Term: Entrepreneurship combining my Consulting experience and voluntary experience.

    I am thinking of Universities like Stanford, Harvard, Wharton, Booth, Tuck, Kellogg. I would be glad to know your suggestions on which Universities I should apply to. I am confining myself to Top US Universities.

  • DJ

    Thank you Linda
    for your time. I understand it’s hard to assess my candidacy without GMAT. I plan to apply to Booth, Columbia, Tuck, Ross, and Johnson (Cornell).

    1) After undergrad, I started as an actuarial consultant in a well-known boutique human resource consulting for 2 years and then moved to New York City to work at a mega insurance firm to do quantitative risk management work for a year. Since then I have been working on a credit rating agency as a credit risk consultant.

    2) I have not taken the GMAT yet

    3) I went to UC Berkeley, 3.1 GPA, majored in statistics, graduated in 2010. I intended to transfer to Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, the most competitive major on campus, but struggled academically and stubbornly stuck with the major for 2 years. With few majors available for me to declare by junior year, I chose statistics and salvaged my overall GPA up to 3.1 by graduation.

    4) In college, I was the vice president of Cal East Asian student association, organizing variety of activities, including the 400+ people annual luncheon. In addition, I was a marketing officer of the actuarial club and promoted the awareness of the actuarial profession.

    5) I have passed 5 society of actuaries exams and am studying for CFA exam level 3

    6) Post-MBA I wish to work in equity research or buy-side investment research to support my long-term goal of becoming a portfolio manager

    • http://www.accepted.com Linda Abraham

      What GMAT or GRE do you think you will get?

      The actuarial exams and CFA will help a lot, but the GMAT will still count.

      Best,
      Linda

      • DJ

        Thank you Linda. I am too sure, but I aim to be above 700 for sure.