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Dartmouth / Tuck School of Business MBA Essay Topic Analysis

Dartmouth / Tuck MBA essay topic analysis

The following essay topic analysis examines Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business (Tuck) MBA admissions essays for the 2019-2020 admissions season. You can also review essay topic analyses for all of the other leading MBA programs as well as general Essay Tips to further aid you in developing your admissions essays.

Dartmouth / Tuck MBA Essay Topic Analysis 2019-2020

Essay 1

Tuck students can articulate how the distinctive Tuck MBA will advance their aspirations. Why are you pursuing an MBA and why Tuck? (300 words)
This is a fairly straightforward career goals essay, asking applicants to explain 1) their professional aspirations, 2) why they’re interested in pursuing an MBA, and 3) why they’d like to do so at Tuck in particular.

Given the tight word limit, applicants will need to address each of these three elements directly and concisely.  For your career goals, be as grounded and direct as possible—identify a position and target industry, and explain what draws you to this role and how it connects with your previous experience. If you have space after drafting your response, you may also want to highlight the impact you hope to have through your work.

Then, consider first what skills you need from an MBA; this can inform what you need from Tuck and how this program will help you accomplish the growth you’re seeking.  With respect to how the MBA would help you achieve your goals, it would make sense to briefly comment on your work experience to date in order to establish the skills you already possess; this helps to establish the gap in your skill set that a Tuck MBA would fill.  This phase of your discussion should establish the skills and knowledge you hope to gain from a Tuck MBA while integrating details about the program. Forging specific connections between the skills you hope to gain (whether in the classroom or through involvement in student clubs or other outlets) and your future plans will show the adcom that you’ve researched the program and have a sound understanding of how a Tuck MBA will prepare you for success. 

Essay 2

Tuck students are aware of how their individuality adds to the fabric of Tuck. Tell us who you are. (300 words)
This is a trimmed down version—both in terms of content and word count—of an essay that appeared in the Tuck application last admissions season. This year, the word count is down to 300 (from 500) and the adcom cut its previous request that applicants comment on what they would contribute to the program based on their unique attributes.  Still, it would make sense to remark on what you would “add” to Tuck by connecting who you are to how that would enhance your fellow students’ experiences during the program.  But first, prioritize painting a clear picture of who you are, considering the following.

Last summer, Tuck released new evaluation criteria for their admissions decisions.  It would behoove applicants to review Tuck’s most sought after student attributes (“smart, nice, accomplished and aware”) to see what resonates and to reflect on how to demonstrate these qualities through this response.  Reading through the evaluation criteria should give you a greater understanding of the program’s culture, help you determine your fit with Tuck, and kick start your brainstorming for this essay.

After reviewing these criteria, applicants may want to identify which elements of the student culture are already evident in their activities and accomplishments to date. It would be ideal to touch on one to two examples that illustrate one’s skills and potential to make a positive impact. Consider this in light of the idea that past behavior supports future success.

You might also try the following exercise to help you focus:

  1. Write down the 10 to 15 most important events, accomplishments, interests, or experiences in your life. Include the good, the bad, the astounding, the ugly, etc.
  2. Look at the list you have generated and try to determine the themes that unify the important events, interests, and ideas in your life. How have you dedicated your time? What values have you fought for? Considering your actions will help you connect to values outlined in Tuck’s evaluation criteria.
  3. Select one or two items from the list that best support given strengths or values and use them to define your approach and kick off the drafting process for the essay.

Once you have established content exemplifying who you are, you should then consider forging (likely brief) connections to how your individuality would add to the Tuck community.  It will be important to develop a good sense of the opportunities available at Tuck; visiting the campus, attending information sessions, or speaking with students and alumni would pay dividends here.

Essay 3

Tuck students invest generously in one another’s success even when it is not convenient or easy. Share an example of how you helped someone else succeed. (500 words)
This essay mirrors one that appeared in last year’s application, with the added nuance of supporting another’s success potentially being inconvenient or difficult.  With this in mind, this prompt invites applicants to share challenging situations that align with Tuck’s evaluation criteria—in this case, being “nice.”

Given that Tuck is seeking students who “actively encourage, celebrate, and support others,” it would make sense to choose an example in which you directly engaged and supported someone (rather than, for example, helping an employer succeed by improving their bottom line).  With this in mind, applicants may want to reflect on managerial or mentoring relationships that yielded positive results.  You may even have a peer teamwork experience to discuss.  No matter the nature of the relationship at the heart of the story, it will be important to discuss one’s actions, interactions, and results.  What challenges did you face?  How did you address them?  How were you generous?  What did success look like?  What did you learn in the process?  Perhaps you took time out of your day to mentor a new intern, who then moved on to a full-time position at your firm; perhaps a team member had a problem with time management, and you stayed late to help meet a deadline. Other examples may include investing in your local community in some way, like by joining the local Boys and Girls Club and working with youths.  Once you dig into these details, conclude with a connection to how this experience could translate to your time at Tuck. This c, perhaps by reflecting on lessons you learned and how you would apply them on campus.

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., atypical choice of evaluators, factors affecting academic performance, unexplained job gaps or changes). Complete this question only if you feel your candidacy is not fully represented by this application. (500 word limit encouraged)
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 (i.e. that applicants should make an effort to fully represent their candidacies within the required elements of the application).

Reapplicant Essay

(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. (500 word limit encouraged)
This response asks repeat applicants to comment on the concrete steps they have taken to enhance their applications–for example, retaking the GMAT, taking on 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 Tuck offerings:

Posted in: Essay Tips & Advice, Essay Topic Analysis, Essays, MBA Feature

Schools: Dartmouth / Tuck

About the Author

Lauren Wakal

Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.

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