How to Ensure Your Tuck MBA Essays Are Stellar
If you thrive in tightknit communities and value experiential learning, particularly in an international locale, Dartmouth Tuck might be the perfect fit for your MBA journey. Speaking of ‘fit’, this concept should be central to your Tuck MBA essays to ensure their content resonates with the Tuck admissions committee.
So, what exactly entails ‘fit’ with Tuck? Fortunately, they tell us! In fact, Tuck devotes an entire page on its website to ‘admissions criteria’ – the four characteristics it seeks in successful applicants: smart, accomplished, aware and encouraging. ‘Smart’ and ‘accomplished’ are basically givens for any highly regarded MBA program. However, ‘aware’ and ‘encouraging’ are a bit more nuanced. After you have solid drafts of your Tuck MBA essays, be sure to revisit these criteria and ask yourself (or a trusted friend) whether they come to the forefront. Make sure your letters of recommendation showcase these characteristics as well.
Before we dive into our advice for the Tuck MBA essays, here are the questions for easy reference:
- Why are you pursuing an MBA and why now? How will the distinct Tuck MBA contribute to achieving your career goals and aspirations? (300 words)
- Tell us who you are. How have your values and experiences shaped your identity and character? How will your background contribute to the diverse Tuck culture and community? (300 words)
- Describe a time you meaningfully contributed to someone else’s sense of inclusion in your professional or personal community. (300 words)
- Please provide any additional insight or information that you have not addressed elsewhere (e.g., atypical choice of references, 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. (300 words)
Note: There is a fourth required essay for reapplicants – How have you strengthened your candidacy since you last applied? Please reflect on how you have grown personally and professionally. (300 words)
Advice for Approaching the Tuck MBA Essays
Thorough Research About Tuck Should Be the Backbone of Each Essay, Especially Essay One
Even more than other schools, Tuck really cares that you’ve taken the time to understand what makes its program unique and why its specific resources fit your goals. This is one school we highly, highly encourage our clients to visit for exactly this reason. If a visit isn’t feasible, attend enough in-person or virtual events and do enough networking to replicate the knowledge you would have gleaned from the full-scale campus experience (class visit, lunch with students, campus tour, etc.)
Also, take the time to thoroughly reflect on why what you’ve learned matters for your specific circumstances – the way you learn, the skills you are looking to build in school, the connections you need to form. Then, thoughtfully communicate these insights in your essays. Essay one is the obvious place for this, but essay two is another good place to highlight the parts of your personality that will make you a great ‘Tuckie’.
One thing to note for essay one is that it doesn’t ask about your career goals specifically. This is likely because imbedded in the Tuck application are two short-answer questions (each with a 50-word limit) that ask you to share your short-term and long-term career goals. Since the word count is limited in essay one, we don’t recommend restating your career goals here. Instead, pick up where your short answers left off by providing more insight into the “why” behind your goals. That “why” can then shape your specific motivations for pursuing an MBA and be the foundation for your fit with Tuck.
One other watch out for essay one is that new this year, Tuck has added the words ‘why now’ to the prompt. Make sure to address why leaving your job to attend business school at this point in time is optimal.
Highlight a Few Distinct Characteristics in Essay Two
Essay two leaves a lot to cover in 300 words! As such, selectivity is key. What are the two or three things (personality traits, elements of your background, values, etc.) that really define who you are? Filter these through Tuck’s four criteria and select the two (or even one, if robust enough) that you don’t highlight elsewhere in the application and align with your personal brand.
Beyond defining these elements of your background, it’s critical to discuss how they’ve shaped who you are and how you respond to situations. Supporting examples to ‘prove’ out any statements you make about your character or approach in life can be a nice touch, if you have the space.
Afterwards, spend a short paragraph extrapolating how these traits will play out at Tuck and why they will allow you to better the experience of your classmates. Making specific, well thought out points are key to doing this successfully.
Your Actions are Key to Essay Three
Essay three is aimed squarely at identifying whether an applicant fits with Tuck’s key ‘aware’ and ‘encouraging’ criteria. It’s hard to see how someone who fits these criteria would lack a great story to tell here.
Take your time to brainstorm potential options and keep in mind that even ‘small’ situations can make for impactful essays. Your actions may not have fundamentally changed the trajectory of someone’s life and that’s ok. The keys here are that you are perceptive enough to identify when another person may not feel included and take the initiative to remedy the situation. Those qualities make for a true leader – perhaps on a small scale today but it’s easy to see how this could extend to fostering an inclusive culture across a large organization in the future.
As you write, be sure to spend the bulk of the content describing your actions in detail. Frame up the context as briefly and simply as you can so that you can maximize the space devoted to the nuances of your approach – beyond the actions you took, drill into your thoughts, words, etc. The word count is limiting, so it will take some trial and error to get this right.
Structure Ideas for the Tuck MBA Essays
For Essay one, we recommend a structure somewhat like this:
- P1: Summarize your goals at a high level (leave the specifics for the short answers), the skill gaps you must fill in order to attain them (i.e., why MBA), and why now is the ideal time to embark this journey
- P2-3: Drill down to more detail about 2-3 distinct ways a Tuck MBA aligns with your goals, covering a range of areas from academic and professional to social / interpersonal
For Essay Two, we recommend a structure somewhat like this:
- P1: Introduce an aspect of your background and how it has shaped you, supported by a concrete example if possible
- P2: Share another aspect of your background and how it has shaped you, supported by a concrete example if possible
- P3: Tie the above back to how you’ll contribute to the Tuck community in specific, insightful, and meaningful ways
For Essay Three, we recommend a structure somewhat like this:
- P1: Introduce the situation / context of the story you’ve chosen to tell
- P2-3: Describe the actions you took and the thoughts and logic behind them
- P4: Conclude with an inspiring, positive outcome
If you would like personalized advice on your Tuck MBA essays, click here to request an initial consultation.