Tuck Essay Questions 2015

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Tuck School of Business

The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College made some slight tweaks to its pair of required essay questions for MBA applicants for the forthcoming 2015-2016 admission cycle. The school, which eliminated one essay last year, also decided not to make any further cuts in its application requirements.

The new questions, for which applicants are being encouraged to limit each response to 500 words, are largely a re-wording of last year’s prompts that could lead to somewhat different replies from candidates. The questions will be made public shortly.

The first question: “What are your short and long-term goals?   Why do you need an MBA to achieve those goals?   Why are you interested in Tuck specifically?”


That question replaces last year’s first prompt: “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 second new question: Tell us about your most meaningful leadership experience and what role you played. How will that experience contribute to the learning environment at Tuck?

That query is a changeup from last year’s second question: “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?”

The school retained its optional question as well as its additional question for re-applicants to Tuck:

  • (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.
  • (To be completed by reapplicants) How have you strengthened your candidacy since you last applied?   Please reflect on how you have grown personally and professionally.  


Dawna Clarke, director of admissions at Tuck

Dawna Clarke, director of admissions at Tuck, said that when her team discussed the new questions last week a lively conversation occurred about whether to drop to one question, as Harvard Business School has done, or to adopt a standard recommendation form. The consensus was to stay with the two questions for new applicants, the three for re-applicants, and an optional question as well, because admission staffers felt they needed to have that information to make a more fully informed decision on candidates.

The team also decided to keep its recommendation form which asks recommenders to rate applicants on 21 attributes from “self-confidence” to “overall drive, motivation and energy level (see following page).” Recommenders are ask to grade applicants on six levels that range from the top 5% to the bottom 20% in each of the 21 categories. Then, they are asked to “categorize” their level of support for the candidate on the basis of whether they “champion” the applicant, “strongly support” or “support” the person, “moderately support” or “oppose” the candidate’s application. Tuck requires each candidate to have two recommenders.

The school set an “early action” round deadline of Oct. 7th, a day earlier than last year, with decisions released by Dec. 17.  Early action offers are nonbinding, giving admitted students the chance to explore other options until a Jan. 15th response deadline. At that point, applicants are required to submit the $4,500 non-refundable deposit to secure a spot in the next class.

Unlike many of its rivals, Tuck has four deadline rounds. It’s Nov. 4 deadline allows for a decision no later than Feb. 12, a January application round sports a Jan. 6th deadline with a decision by March 11, and a final round deadline of April 4th, with a decision no later than May 13th.

Tuck School of Business Deadlines For 2015-2016 Application Cycle


RoundApp DeadlineApplicant-Initiated  Interview DeadlineNotification (No Later Than)Enrollment Deposit Due
Early Action10/7/1510/30/1512/17/151/15/16 — $4,500
November11/4/1511/13/152/12/164/29/16 — $2,500
January1/6/161/29/163/11/164/29/16 — $2,500
April4/4/164/4/165/13/166/3/16 — $2,500
R1 Consortium10/15/1510/30/1512/17/154/29/16 — $2,500
R2 Consortium1/5/161/29/163/11/164/29/16 — $2,500

Source: Tuck School of Business


Dartmouth / Tuck Essay Topic Analysis 2016-2017

Update: Tuck recently made changes to their first required essay. Those changes are now reflected below.

Now that Tuck has announced the Tuck MBA essay topics for the 2016-2017 admissions season, we wanted to offer our advice to applicants who are targeting that program’s Class of 2019.

The format of Tuck’s essays remains the same as last year’s: applicants will respond to two required essays in a maximum of 500 words. While the school maintains a prompt about career goals, the longstanding essay about a meaningful leadership experience has been replaced with more of a focus on diversity.  The school has also added a preamble: “Tuck has long provided its graduates with the knowledge and inspiration to do well and do good – to become the difference in the world of business and beyond. As the global economy continues to become more dynamic and diverse, the call for broad, values-driven leadership will continue to grow louder. With this in mind, we’ve made some changes to this year’s essay questions, so please read carefully. Remember, the essays are your opportunity to share with us who you are beyond the numbers and the resume, so reflect, take your time, and be genuine. Think carefully about your content as well as delivery. Communicate clearly and in your voice, not who you think we want you to be; and most importantly, answer the question you are asked.”

Let’s take a closer look at each of Tuck’s 2016-2017 essays:

Essay 1: Tuck educates wise leaders who better the world of business. What are your short- and long-term goals? How will a Tuck MBA enable you to become a wise leader with global impact? (500-700 words words)
This is a rather straightforward career goals essay with the added elements of wisdom and global impact. The adcom has even allowed for an extra 200 words, suggesting that these elements should garner added attention in the response.  Given these new nuances, we suggest opening with a brief statement of one’s overall vision for bettering the world of business. Then, candidates should ground this vision by directly addressing each of this prompt’s questions in full, in the order in which they’re posed. We recommend that candidates follow with a discussion of their post-MBA goals, naming both the position that they hope to hold after an MBA (and perhaps a few organizations they plan to target) as well as the job they hope to hold 5-10 years down the line. In addition to explaining how their target short-term position will prepare them for this longer-range role, applicants should also explain the reason they’ve chosen this path, with a particular emphasis on how these roles will enable the impact they hope to make on an organization, sector, or region.  With Tuck’s addition of “global impact,” it will be important to communicate the broader changes one hopes to affect.

Applicants should then discuss the gaps between their current skill sets and the preparation they’ll need to be effective in their short- and long-term positions, and the reasons that an MBA is a logical next step to bridge the two. This “gap” can best be established with a brief career summary to show the skills one possesses prior to establishing the skills one needs from an MBA.  Given Tuck’s new focus on global impact, it would make sense to also highlight one’s experiences that have informed their understanding of cultural intelligence, as evident through cross cultural or global experiences.  Candidates should then devote at least 50% of the essay to their reasons for choosing Tuck, naming specific courses, student organizations, and programmatic offerings that will prepare them for professional success.

Applicants should also aim to demonstrate that they are a truly excellent fit with Tuck’s close-knit and supportive community. Dartmouth’s Hanover location should likely factor into these comments; the school’s campus is located in an idyllic (read: decidedly non-urban) New Hampshire town, which is something that is truly unique about the Tuck experience as compared to that of other leading MBA programs. Applicants would therefore do well to demonstrate an understanding of — and eagerness to relocate to — this relatively peaceful place with ample outdoor opportunities.

In addition to discussing the ways the Tuck MBA would prepare you to accomplish your professional goals, it will also be important to comment on the ways that you would contribute to the learning experience of your fellow students. Navigating this issue will require a fair amount of research, as it will be important to identify features of the MBA program that are a good fit with one’s goals, background and/or interests. Discussing some focused ways that your skills and experiences would positively affect this close-knit community (in a modest manner, of course) is key to your response here, since the adcom is sincerely looking for applicants who will change the program for the better. Taking the time to learn about the school’s special programs and extracurricular activities -– whether through a visit to campus, conversation with alumni or reading the Clear Admit School Guide to Tuck –- will naturally pay dividends here.

Essay 2: As a diverse and global community, our students arrive at the same place from many different paths.  Tell us about an experience in which you have had to live, learn and/or work with other people very different from yourself.  What challenges and/or opportunities did you experience, how did you respond, and what did you learn about yourself as a result? (500 words)
Tuck has swapped out their usual prompt about a “meaningful leadership experience” for one focused on diversity and one’s sense of teamwork among that diversity.  The adcom has developed more specific situational and reflective guidelines for its second essay, suggesting that the prior prompt was too broad for the kind of information they are seeking.  While there are many elements to cover, the topic does acknowledge the potential impact of diversity within nations, communities, and workplaces; the key is to quickly establish context of setting and the relevant differences in order to get to the challenge and subsequent actions.

As a relatively small and geographically isolated program, Tuck seeks to ensure that every member will fit—through personality, communication skills, leadership and global mindset.  Given the school’s size and emphasis on the diversity of the student body, it would obviously be very unwise to adopt an anti-diversity stance in response to this question. That said, it’s absolutely fine to discuss a time when differences led to discomfort, conflict or confusion – as long as you then detail how you worked through this and what lessons you learned. As the prompt is open to opportunities and not just challenges, you may want to detail a conflict-free story about the way that a team’s diversity helped to facilitate a positive outcome and/or personal growth. No matter what the situation being covered, effective responses will reflect a high degree of respect for other cultures and value systems, as well as adaptability and empathy in the course of cross-cultural encounters.

Another element of the response should cover self-reflection; as Tuck no longer specifically asks for strengths and weaknesses, this material could be on the positive end of the spectrum.  It is important, however, that the resulting conclusions be drawn from the evidence in the presented anecdote.  In highlighting one’s strength or strengths, it would make sense to wrap the essay up with how this would enable you to contribute to the Tuck community.

Optional Essay: 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. (500 words)
The admissions committee provides some clear guidance about “allowable” topics for this response, indicating that it will be best used to address liabilities in one’s application. It’s possible that there are other elements of one’s background that would be appropriate and not covered elsewhere in one’s application, for example an anticipated promotion or an element of one’s identity not covered in the program’s data forms, though the wording of this prompt suggests that it should be used sparingly, with applicants making an effort to fully represent their candidacies within the required elements of the application.

Reapplicant Essay: How have you strengthened your candidacy since you last applied? Please reflect on how you have grown personally and professionally. (500 words)
This response asks repeat applicants to comment on outward steps they have taken to enhance their applications — for example, retaking the GMAT, asking for more responsibility at work, or stepping up their involvement in a community organization — while also providing some more introspective commentary on how they’ve grown since they first applied to Tuck. Reapplicants will therefore want to offer a balance of commentary in this essay, remarking on how they’ve proactively taken measures to become a stronger applicant, as well as on how their skills, career goals, and if applicable, appreciation of the Tuck MBA, have evolved in recent months.

Clear Admit Resources
Thanks for reading our analysis of this year’s Tuck MBA essay topics. As you work on your Tuck MBA essays and application, we encourage you to consider all of Clear Admit’s Dartmouth offerings:

Posted in: Essay Topic Analysis, Essays

Schools: Dartmouth / Tuck



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