We posed questions to admissions officials at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College regarding the application process, what they look for in applicants, and what sets their school apart. These are their responses:
1. What can applicants do to set themselves apart from their peers?
Successful applicants "shine" for a multitude of reasons. Some people stand out because of their extensive international experiences, for example. Others may stand out in terms of an exceptional leadership story while others have done a great job of progressing within their industry or company.
Applicants should look at our admissions criteria and think of specific examples of accomplishments, skills or experiences that illustrate a facet of their background that they're particularly proud of.
2. What do you look for in the application essays? What do the essays tell you about a candidate?
While our essays may change from year to year, the essays are really the "heart" of the application in terms of our ability to get to know more about the applicant's life and work experiences. Typically they tell us why a prospective student is interested in Tuck, what his/her career aspirations are and they highlight whatever experiences the applicant sees as a differentiator for them. They can be extremely inspirational to read.
3. How important is the applicant's GMAT score? How do you weigh it against undergraduate GPA and work experience? Which of these carry the most weight? The least?
The average GMAT score for last year's entering class was a 712 and the average GPA was 3.5. However, applicants should look at the website to see the range of admitted scores and grades. Our admissions evaluation process is not formulaic. However, factors such as the GMAT can tell us things like how quantitatively prepared a candidate might be for their M.B.A. program. The GMAT may be more important in cases in which the applicant had very little quantitative courses at the undergraduate level. The GMAT may be less important in situations in which the applicant had a great deal of exposure to quantitative work.
4. How much does prior work/internship experience weigh into your decision making? What's the typical or expected amount of work experience from an applicant?
In the past several years, 100 percent of our entering class had full-time work experience so it's a very important factor. The typical amount of experience is 4.5 years but the range is typically two years to 15 years of experience.
5. What sets you apart from other schools? What can students attain at your school that they might not be able to find anywhere else?
One of Tuck's most important differentiators is the singular focus on the two-year M.B.A. program. The culture of personalization here is phenomenal and unique.
6. What do you look for in recommendation letters?
Letters of recommendation are one of our most objective sources of information on qualities such as leadership, teamwork, communication skills, interpersonal skills, attitude, drive and motivation, initiative, work-ethic, motivational level, resilience, self-confidence and intelligence.
7. Can you give a brief description of the life cycle of an application? What's the timeline applicants should expect?
We have four admissions deadlines, including an Early Action deadline for applicants who have identified Tuck as their top choice. Most applications go through the following cycle: they are reviewed thoroughly by a first reader, followed by a second reader, followed by a final decision by the director. Roughly 10 percent of our applicant pool is also discussed in admissions committee.
8. What are some of the most common mistakes that applicants make that hurt their chances?
One of the most common mistakes is not taking advantage of Tuck's open interview policy. At Tuck, an applicant does not have to be invited for an interview. Applicants have the opportunity to interview prior to each deadline on a first-come, first-serve basis. This enables all applicants to tell their story in person in addition to on paper. Another common mistake is inserting the name of another school in an applicant's essays.
9. Can you describe the archetypal student for your school?
Tuck is a general management program and we value diversity in a number of dimensions, so it would be difficult to describe the archetype student. While our students offer so much diversity in terms of their life and professional experiences, common traits that we look for in all applicants is strong team, interpersonal and communication skills.