May 20, 2014

Application Advice: Becoming a T’16

Jacob Crandall, a future T'16, grew up in Buffalo, NY and attended Case Western Reserve University, graduating with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.  Upon graduation he worked at Newry Corp., a small consulting firm in Cleveland focusing on helping industrial and CPG clients develop growth strategies for new and existing products.  He currently leads a strategic planning and analytics group in the Global Procurement organization at Deutsche Bank in New York City.  At Tuck, he plans to participate in the Tuck Student Consulting Services, Tuck Wine Society, and of course, Tripod Hockey amongst many other things.

As I reflect on the past year and my journey to becoming a T’16 (Class of 2016, in Tuckie vernacular), there are a few pieces of advice I would give to prospective students who are in the same place that I was at about this time last year.

Start Early.  I know this may seem pretty obvious, but it is a point that shouldn’t be taken lightly.  Whether it be studying for the GMAT (if you haven’t taken it already), starting to identify potential recommenders, or researching programs where you think you might apply, the earlier you start, the less stressed you will be when you are submitting your applications.  One of the activities I found most helpful was to visit each program that I was considering applying to – before I actually submitted an application – which I would not have been able to do without quite a bit of time before applying…which brings me to my next piece of advice…

Do Your Research.  Through the application process, it may seem like each school is reviewing your entire life, but remember that it is just as important that you “interview” each program as well.  This is going to be 2 years (or 1 year in some cases) of your life that you are putting into an MBA, and it will also greatly impact the path you take for many years to come.  Although I spent a good amount of time talking with alumni and students at each program I applied to, I wish I had done more.  That being said, one of the key differentiators for Tuck in my mind was that I was able to experience the Tuck network when I was just a prospective student.  I always had responses from Tuckies I emailed within 24-48 hours who were more than happy to spend an hour telling me about their time at Tuck, and show interest in my background as well.  These conversations are also helpful to help determine if you would “fit” with the people that will become your network, which brings me to my final point…

Pick The Program Where You Feel Comfortable.  When I originally started talking to people in my network who had gone to business school about selecting a program, they would always say “pick the program that is a good fit.”  I always thought this sounded a bit cliché, but as I learned more about each program, and spoke with students and alumni I realized that it’s actually a very good piece of advice.  Each program has its own unique culture that is made up of a wide variety of factors such as its location, size, teaching methods, etc.  I found that for myself (and my fiancé who is coming to Tuck as a TP’16 or Tuck Partner), we came to love Tuck very quickly, and found its close-knit, collaborative culture (which includes partners of Tuck students in many cases) to be the one where we felt the most comfortable.  I would compare the feeling to one where when meeting someone for the first time (or maybe a few times), and you just feel like you’re going to be great friends – that’s the way I felt about Tuck.

I hope some of these suggestions are helpful as you approach your path to attending a Top MBA program like Tuck.  I am very much looking forward to this summer as I will continue to get to know many of my future classmates through informal get-togethers in NYC and the pre-term trips like Outward Bound and trips to Nicaragua and Peru.  I know that Tuck was the right choice for me, and I hope that as you take your journey toward selecting an MBA program, you find the right fit for you as well.