We’ve invited mbaMission to share their Business School Essays Analyses as they’re released for the 2013-2014 application season. Here is their analysis for Dartmouth College (Tuck).
As MBA programs move toward PowerPoint presentations, creative essays and essays without word limits, the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College sticks to its tried and true approach: three 500-word essays, one of which is a classic career statement, while the others ask candidates to reflect on individual experiences. Given the more straightforward nature of these prompts, Tuck applicants will likely take comfort in knowing for certain that they have provided what the school wants—they have not missed the point of the questions or veered too far afield. Tuck in some ways allows candidates to more easily showcase their stories in a direct manner, and this means the school will be better able to compare candidates one-to-one—though applicants are hardly “apples to apples” in nature.
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?
Because personal statements are similar from one application to the next, we have produced the mbaMission Personal Statement Guide, which helps applicants write this style of essay for any school. We offer this guide to candidates free of charge. Please feel free to download your copy today.
For a thorough exploration of Dartmouth Tuck’s academic program, merits, defining characteristics, crucial statistics, social life, academic environment and more, please check out thembaMission Insider’s Guide to the Tuck School of Business.
2. Tell us about your most meaningful collaborative leadership experience and what role you played. What did you learn about your own individual strengths and weaknesses through this experience?
By specifying “collaborative” leadership, Tuck takes an interesting spin on a classic leadership question. The school does not want to hear about a time when you aggressively took control of a situation, nor about a time when you were just a cog in a wheel. The admissions committee wants to learn about a situation in which you shared power with someone else (or various people) and achieved an objective. Keep in mind that leadership is not a matter of title—you can be the associate to someone else’s vice president or vice versa and still be a collaborative leader if you are helping to drive something forward. In other words, think about your actions, not about the org chart.
As you write this essay, incorporate the dynamics of the experience into your narrative. Do not spend a lot of time explaining the leadership arrangement, and instead simply let the story of the situation unfold, then show your actions and the subsequent reactions (complementary or otherwise) from your co-leader(s).
To effectively reveal your “strengths and weaknesses,” you will need to demonstrate that you encountered challenges along the way and show how you overcame them. You cannot tell the story of your experience and then just tack on a mention of some unrelated—and thus “unproven”—lesson at the end. This is a common mistake, so be extra careful to avoid it. You must also reflect on the experience, because the question asks you to, but make sure the reflection you share is derived directly from the experience you describe in your essay. If you write 350–400 words of narrative and 100–150 words of related reflection, you should be on the right track.