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Posted by Chioma Isiadinso
Following a trend that Poets & Quants has dubbed “The Incredible Shrinking App”, Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business has dropped one essay question from last year’s application and cut the overall word requirement by a third. This year, applicants must answer two questions in 500 words each.
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?
A few keywords in this question tell you exactly what Tuck is looking for. They don’t just want to know why you want an MBA; they want to know why it is critical. They don’t just want to know why you are interested in Tuck; they want to know why it is the very best fit. General answers will not do you any favors here- you need to be very specific and demonstrate considered, practical knowledge of your own goals and of Tuck’s resources.
Your introduction should summarize all parts of the question with a clear statement of your short and long-term goals, and an indication of 2-3 reasons why Tuck is the best fit for those goals. Then, use the next 2-3 paragraphs to elaborate on the two main parts of the question- why an MBA is necessary for your goals and why Tuck is your best option.
When explaining why you are pursuing an MBA, do not rely on simply platitudes. Every single applicant wants to improve his or her leadership skills. That is not going to set you apart. Why do you want to improve your leadership skills? What skills do you need to achieve your goals? Specificity is the best way to differentiate yourself, both when explaining your goals and when describing your fit with Tuck.
In the second half of your MBA essay, you need to prove that you understand Tuck’s culture. Tuck is a smaller program, and it places a lot of emphasis on teamwork and creating a close-knit community. You must demonstrate that you share the school’s focus on community and teamwork and that you need that environment to truly thrive and reach your goals. Explain how the tight community and the high student faculty ratio fit with your personal brand, how you work, and what you are looking for.
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?
Again, remember Tuck’s focus on teamwork and collaboration. Choose an experience and a story that reflects your ability to help others do their best work. Don’t be afraid if this story includes a failure or a weakness on your part. Just make sure you show how you learned from and grew from the experience.
Leave enough space to answer the last part of the question thoroughly- don’t just talk about your strengths and weaknesses in one or two sentences. Be specific and honest. Everyone has weaknesses, and schools will be more impressed if you display enough self-awareness to admit and evaluate those flaws.
I hope that this gives you a good start on the Tuck essays, and please contact us for further MBA essay tips or help.