Oct 30, 2019

Tuck Admissions Insights: Common Applicant Questions, Fall 2019

Luke Anthony Peña

By Luke Anthony Peña
Executive Director of Admissions and Financial Aid

Happy October, all!  Fall has arrived in Hanover, and with it comes application season. It’s such a joy for me and my colleagues to see submissions from those of you we’ve met over these last months (and years!), and it’s delightful to “meet” many more of you for the first time in your applications. Our reading team started application review immediately after the October 7 Round 1 deadline, and our student interviewers are hard at work interviewing many of you both on-campus and virtually. It’s exciting to learn more about you.

I recently returned from seven invigorating weeks on the road recruiting for Tuck in Asia, Latin America, and Europe, where I met hundreds of you and fielded thousands of your good questions at information sessions and small group chats. I’ve been reflecting on emergent themes from our conversations, and I want to answer several of the most commonly asked questions. We care about reducing stress and anxiety and encouraging you to apply with confidence—that means responding to the collective concerns on your mind.

How is Tuck helping international students succeed in a U.S. job search?

All of us at Tuck care deeply about the talents and global perspective our international students bring. This includes our Dean Matt Slaughter, who recently joined with other prominent business school deans to author an open letter urging our government to revise policy supporting global mobility. It is not coincidental that I spent much of my summer canvassing the world; my colleagues and I want those of you outside the U.S. to know that we value your contributions and welcome your applications here.

All of our Career Services advisers work individually with students in their job search, and several of our Career Services colleagues—including our Executive Director, Stephen Pidgeon T’07—are Tuck alumni who came here from outside the U.S. Before admitted international students arrive to campus, we provide training videos and resources to you about how U.S. recruiting and cultural dynamics work. Our Career Services advisers regularly communicate with employers and recruiters, and keep a pulse on firms’ international hiring trends, which they pass along so you can make informed recruitment decisions. Last year, the majority of our international students who applied for an H1B visa were successful, and the few who were not are working closely with their employers on a contingency plan for relocation.

We know that many of you who pursue a U.S. MBA hope to stay here, and we at Tuck are prepared to help you maximize your chances of success

How is Tuck helping reduce the financial burden of funding a Tuck MBA?

If you want to be at Tuck, and we want you to be at Tuck, it’s important to us that finances not stand in the way. Several years ago, we were falling short of this goal; we admitted strong candidates who really wanted to be at Tuck but enrolled elsewhere because Tuck was out of reach financially. Our ongoing $250-million capital campaign is changing this.

In fiscal year 2017, Tuck received $20 million in support of scholarships. Since then, we have doubled the number of scholarships awarded to admitted students—the Class of 2021 received 94.6 percent more offers than the class two years prior. And as the number of scholarship awards increases, so does their size—the average scholarship award has increased during the same interval. We’re awarding larger scholarships, and we’re awarding more of them!

All applicants, domestic and international, are automatically considered for scholarship awards, and our team uses discretion to award scholarships to those of you who, absent funding, might not enroll at Tuck. I also work alongside first-rate Financial Aid colleagues who encourage and advise applicants and students to plan ahead financially including for costs not covered by scholarship.

What is new at Tuck? What is changing?

I already mentioned the Campaign for Tomorrow’s Wise Leaders above, and I’ll add that we’re also bolstering our resources for our programs and our places. To the former, a generous $25 million gift from Michaela and Zdenek Bakala T’89—the largest in Tuck’s history—will endow our TuckGO program. To the latter, we’ve broken ground on the Irving Energy Institute, which will open in Fall 2021.

Tuck has significantly enhanced its first-year core curriculum. The enhancements include refined leadership framework, a restructured winter term that better balances academics and recruiting, a new portfolio of data analytics courses, and increased optionality for elective coursework. We’ve also expanded orientation to ensure you begin your Tuck experience with the confidence to jump head first into rigorous study. Tuck Launch, our new two-week long orientation, includes case method preparation, primers on career skills and how students can articulate their personal narrative during recruiting, small group dinners, CEO panels, and more.

In Admissions, we’re excited to create more pathways for you to connect with our students and alumni. We’ve already upgraded our student ambassadors page to enable you to filter and find a student perspective of interest to you. We’re also laying the groundwork to have ambassadors proactively reach out to more of you, even before you apply, and to create more small group chats with students and alumni in markets around the world. We want you to engage with our extraordinary community.

What do you look for when selecting applicants?

We’re looking for smart, accomplished, aware, and nice applicants—read all about it!

How do you evaluate my application?

We’ve articulated this in detail as well—check it out!

Some economists are saying a U.S. recession may be imminent. If this happens, will a U.S. MBA still be a worthwhile investment?

My colleagues and I can’t predict the future, but we certainly don’t hope for a recession. I’ve heard some speculate that a recession will increase MBA application volume and reverse a market correction that is affecting all U.S. MBA programs, including Tuck. Perhaps this will be true, but hoping for this feels like schadenfreude. We want our students and alums to benefit from economic conditions that will enable them to do well and do good. A strong economy is good for Tuck, the U.S., and our society.

History shows us that economic trends are cyclical, and a recession at some point is inevitable. When a recession occurs, many industries and companies will tighten their hiring volume and be selective in hiring decisions. When this happens, I ask if you can afford to lack the skills, the network, and the credentials that would differentiate you in the employment market. Unlike in expanding economies, in which career opportunities are readily available to those with a range of skills and abilities, you will need to be especially qualified to advance your career in a recession. An MBA like Tuck’s offers those qualifications.

There is never an inopportune time to invest in yourself. The Tuck MBA is one such investment in yourself, and I believe it offers an opportunity to develop the wise, decisive leadership to better weather economic ambiguity and volatility.

On behalf of my colleagues, I appreciate the opportunity to offer reflections on your questions you collectively asked most often. We love hearing what’s on your mind, and we take great pride in offering an open, honest, transparent look into our community and our application. If you want to dive deeper on these questions or have others not answered here, please do reach out to me and the team. We’re excited to hear from you, and I look forward to seeing you back in this space in November!