Night time, chairs around a fire
Mar 18, 2021

Dear Tuck Admissions: “Should I Apply in Round 3 or Wait Until Next Fall?”

Valerie Wiens

By Valeria Wiens
Associate Director of Evaluation, Admissions

Tuck Admissions’ Valeria Wiens is back on Tuck360 to answer your burning application-related questions. In our second “Dear Tuck Admissions” column, Valeria unpacks whether to apply in Round 3, why we share our interviewers' contact information, and how to frame your long-term goals. Have a question for our admissions team? You can submit your queries anonymously to Dear Tuck Admissions and Valeria will respond in future columns.  

(Pictured above, the Dartmouth green was transformed into an ice-skating rink this winter, complete with fire pits and Adirondack chairs. Photo by Laura DeCapua)

Dear Tuck Admissions,

Please help—I can’t decide when to apply and am hearing differing opinions. I think my application will be ready to submit in Round 3, however I’m not sure if I should apply now, or wait until next year. Some say now’s the time, others say applying in Round 3 severely limits my chances of getting admitted. Which one is it? Will your class be full in the spring? Will I be up against hundreds upon hundreds of incredibly qualified candidates in the fall? I want to shoot my shot but feel stuck dribbling here. Any advice?

Not indecisive, just unsure

Dear Not indecisive, just unsure,

This is the million-dollar question we get every year, and one we can never answer directly. Why? Because the answer is it depends. A lot depends on how many admitted candidates from Rounds 1 and 2 say “Yes!” to Tuck. This is probably why you hear different information—some years it’s great to be in Round 3 because there are still many open seats in the class. Other years our yield is higher than expected and the number of seats we have to offer in the spring is limited. But—and here’s the key part—we have never had a Round 3 in which we didn’t admit candidates.

If your application is as strong as it can be this spring, and you think it meets our four admissions criteria, then go for it, and shoot your shot! One thing I can tell you with certainty: We have never admitted someone who hasn’t applied. If, however, you think you can score a tad higher on your tests, or there is an exciting and challenging project coming up at work that will bolster your accomplishments, perhaps you should wait until the fall and submit a stronger application then.

So, take a moment to carefully consider if there are ways in which you could strengthen your candidacy over the next few months. If you don’t think so, then you have your answer. If yes, then perhaps waiting a few more months will be of greater benefit. Some members of the Class of 2022 were admitted in May, June, and even July last year. Some were admitted off of the waitlist while others were reapplicants—there are many paths to admission to Tuck, you just need to find yours.

Tuck Admissions

Dear Tuck Admissions,

I recently received my interview invitation (yay!), followed by an email with additional logistics, and my interviewer’s name and email address. While I already looked them up on LinkedIn (preparation is key!), now that I have their contact information I’m wondering if I should reach out to introduce myself before the interview? Do other candidates do that? Is that “expected?” A test to see who is most excited? Or the opposite, and they will think I’m too eager? So many options and I’m just not sure what to do here…

Eager beaver

Dear Eager beaver,

I appreciate your enthusiasm and agree: Preparation is key. But in this case, you might be overthinking it. The purpose behind us sharing your interviewer’s contact information is not to trick you into an “evaluation trap.” We are transparent about what we look for in candidates and sending an introduction email to your interviewer does not fall into any of our four admissions criteria. More than that—our team works hard to make this process as seamless and transparent as possible. We want you to engage with us without the fear of those touch points being evaluative.

The reason behind us sharing your interviewer’s contact information is quite simple: All our interviews are conducted virtually this year, and networks are … well … not always reliable. Should you run into technical difficulties, and you are unable to connect to Zoom, or your computer decides to take a last-minute vacation day, we want you to be able to contact your interviewer. That’s all. No hidden traps here—just a desire to save you the nerves and hassle should something unpredictable happen last-minute. I hope this helps, and saves you (and our interviewers) an email!

Tuck Admissions

Dear Tuck Admissions,

I am working on my application now and can’t decide what to write about my goals. I know what I want to do in the short-term, and have a pie-in-the-sky dream of what I want to do in the long-term. However, I am worried that you will find it unrealistic. Can shooting for the stars in the long-term harm my chances of getting admitted? Should I tell you about my more realistic plan B instead? 

With warm wishes,
Shooting for the moon


Dear Shooting for the moon,

As stated in our mission, Tuck develops wise, decisive leaders who better the world through business. We want you to have ambitious long-term goals, to tell us about your dream job, and share your highest aspirations! After all, you are unlikely to better the world through low ambitions.

But as we discussed elsewhere on Tuck360, good judgement is an essential aptitude of wise leadership. We will be looking at your long-term goals within the context of the post-MBA role and the impact you want to have immediately after you graduate from Tuck. What are the necessary steps on the path to that pie-in-the-sky idea of yours? Can you identify them? Can you speak to why you need an MBA from Tuck to reach them?

Strong candidates strike a balance between being ambitious and realistic, tilting more towards the former for the long-term goals, and the latter for the short-term ones. So be bold and share your compelling vision for the future! Just don’t forget to tell us what you will do to get there, and we will be cheering you on all along the way.

With warm wishes,
Tuck Admissions