Jun 13, 2019

Tuck Admissions Insights: 2019-2020 Application Changes

By Luke Anthony Peña

Luke Anthony Peña

By Luke Anthony Peña
Executive Director of Admissions and Financial Aid

Happy June, friends! I’m excited to share that we recently announced the 2019-2020 application round datesessay prompts, and letter of reference questions. I’m writing here in this space to offer additional context as you look ahead to your application. (We’ll resume our series on how to demonstrate our criteria next month.)

Speaking of the criteria, we continue to seek smart, accomplished, aware, and nice candidates. We simplified and streamlined our criteria last year, and we are retaining them for the upcoming year. We’ve been delighted this past year to see the many ways applicants have demonstrated the criteria, and we continue to be excited to get to know aspiring wise leaders for whom all four criteria resonate.

All four criteria matter—no one criterion is more important than the others—so we are maintaining our commitment to transparently map each component of the application directly to the criteria. Your application form provides background information. Your academic transcripts and test scores demonstrate that you are smart. Your resume demonstrates that you are accomplished. Your essays demonstrate that you are aware and nice. The interviews and reference letters provide evidence across all four criteria.

My colleagues and I care a great deal about your application experience, so we hear and listen to your feedback. And we heard that last year’s short-answer questions didn’t give applicants enough space to share how an MBA—specifically a Tuck MBA—advances their goals. So we’ve made some changes. We’ve eliminated the short answer section and relocated questions about your short-term and long-term goals to a different part of the application form—away from the essays—where you can give a straightforward summary. We’re interested in what you hope to do, but we’re not interested in having you agonize over crafting a goals narrative next to the essays!

Speaking of essays, we’ve refined our approach there as well. There are now three 300-word essays, the first of which gives you more space than last year to share your reasons for choosing Tuck. The essay asks the following: “Tuck students can articulate how the distinctive Tuck MBA will advance their aspirations. Why are you pursuing an MBA and why Tuck?” We hope you’ll devote roughly half the essay to why an MBA is right for you, and the other half to why Tuck is right for you. You might use this essay to connect the MBA and Tuck back to your goals, or you might make a strong case for an MBA and Tuck without explicitly referencing your goals. Either way, we’ll be assessing that you’ve carefully considered and cultivated an awareness about why the Tuck MBA is right for you.

The other two essays are shorter, lightly modified versions of last year’s essays. The second 300-word essay asks the following: “Tuck students recognize how their individuality adds to the fabric of Tuck. Tell us who you are.” Keen observers will note we dropped the phrase “and what you will contribute” from the end of the prompt; we want to hear less about the things you will do here and more about the person who will show up here. And the third 300-word essay asks the following: “Tuck students invest generously in one another’s success even when it is not convenient or easy. Share an example of how you helped someone else succeed.” The careful observer will note the addition of the clause “even when it is not convenient or easy.” Anyone can be nice when it is convenient, so tell us about a time when the stakes were meaningful, the circumstances were challenging, and success was far from guaranteed.

A few other essay notes: the words “aware” and “nice” no longer explicitly appear in the essay prompts, but I assure you the first two essays map directly to aware and the third maps to nice. And you do have three essays to prepare this year (versus two last year) but fewer words overall to write. Last year’s short-answer questions were a bit too short and the essays were a bit too long, so we believe we right-sized your application.

In our listening tour, we also heard that last year’s reference letter questions—distinct and different from those asked by the Common Letter of Recommendation (LOR)—were onerous for references and thus a considerable barrier in our application. In response to applicant feedback, we’ve now adopted the questions posed by the Common LOR in their entirety. We do believe your references should have the knowledge, desire, and time to thoughtfully advocate for you. We don’t believe we must require them to reword their advocacy in multiple formats. We’re confident the Common LOR questions will surface meaningful examples of your smart, accomplished, aware and nice behaviors and competencies.

Finally, we’ve finalized our application dates. We’re retaining three rounds, and the latter two rounds are virtually unchanged. We’ve moved our Round 1 application date back two weeks from late September to early October. My colleagues and I don’t want you waiting for your decision any longer than necessary, so we’ve further streamlined Round 1 review. This will give you more time to visit campusself-initiate an interview, and get to know Tuck better before submitting your Round 1 application.

We’ve worked hard to improve our application with you in mind, and we hope you’re as excited as we are to get to know one another throughout the application process. You can expect our application to be fully live by July 4. In the meantime, come see us at Summer Visit Day on June 21, or message me on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn, or Twitter!