Crafting well-written essays is both challenging and rewarding. You can find advice and essay guidance from many outside influencers and websites; however, my colleagues and I want you to hear directly from those of us who are reading and evaluating your essays. Below I offer insight to help you craft your responses to our 2023-2024 essays.
Essay Question #1: "Why are you pursuing an MBA and why now? How will the distinct Tuck MBA contribute to achieving your career goals and aspirations?"
This essay maps to our “aware” criterion, so before you start reflecting and writing, review what being aware, ambitious, and purposeful means at Tuck. Then, recognize the three important considerations here. First, your aspirations matter. You’ve shared elsewhere in the application your short- and long-term goals, audacious in scope and grounded in reality. Second, the Tuck MBA is distinct. Spend time and effort identifying why an MBA, and especially the Tuck MBA, aligns with your goals. Third, why you’re deciding to pursue an MBA now matters.
Consider devoting roughly half the essay to why an MBA is right for you, and the other half to why Tuck is right for you. For the first part: explain why, given the various paths for growth and development, you’ve chosen to pursue the MBA degree and why you seek it at this stage of your professional development. Whether you come from a professional or personal background where pursuing an MBA is a typical step towards your goals or whether it’s less common, demonstrate that you’ve given real thought to the value of an MBA for you. Show that you understand why this is the right time for you to step away from working and towards an MBA. Take this opportunity to “connect the dots.” An MBA can add value for a diverse population across a variety of professional pursuits. We hope to see that you can express thoughtfully how an MBA adds value to yours. Occasionally, we have applicants who hold a graduate degree that is similar to an MBA. If you do, be sure to address why you need a Tuck MBA in addition to what you already have.
For the second part: explain why you are applying to Tuck. There is a distinction here between loving Tuck and knowing Tuck. Show clarity and awareness about how Tuck uniquely advances you towards your goals. That requires aligning what Tuck offers with what you want. The strongest essays are ones where the reader cannot simply replace the word "Tuck" with any other school name without the essay losing its meaning. Sometimes we see candidates include a list of names of all the Tuckies they have connected with. Please continue to seek out members of our community to learn about the Tuck experience, but rather than focusing on who you have spoken with in your essay, reflect directly on what you have learned from those conversations and how it relates to your goals.
Since you’ve stated your short- and long-term goals elsewhere, you don’t need to restate them here. We read each application in its entirety, so the person reading your application has already seen your goals before reading your essay. Some of you may choose to use this essay to elaborate on goals, while others might make your case for an MBA and Tuck without explicitly referencing your goals. Either way, consider this essay a supplement to your goals rather than a recitation.
In summary: a strong response goes beyond generic responses, applicable for any MBA program or any Tuck applicant, and instead provides a clear, highly personalized articulation of the match between you and Tuck.
Essay Question #2: “Tell us who you are. How have your values and experiences shaped your identity and character? How will your background contribute to the diverse Tuck culture and community?”
Like the first essay, this second essay also maps to our “aware” criterion. As you approach it, think about the interplay between individuality and community. Some of you have asked us whether your response should show that you “fit in” with Tuck or whether it should highlight that you are different and distinct. They’re not mutually exclusive. We want you to confidently bring your whole unique personal self, including your strengths and growth areas, to Tuck. We hope you appreciate how this extraordinary community is a tapestry of the collective individuals therein and how adding to it means choosing to consistently engage.
This prompt is an invitation to articulate your individuality. In alignment with Tuck’s core values of being personal, connected, and transformative, we strive to get to know our candidates well, and this is another deliberate step to learn more about you. Perhaps my favorite aspect of this question is that there’s no one right answer, or even a right category of answers. We’re expecting responses that are as diverse and wide-ranging as our students. Maybe you define who you are most strongly through your professional experiences and aspirations. Or perhaps your sense of self is rooted in your life story that may not have anything to do with your professional work. Maybe a community of importance, a culture, specific relationships, challenges overcome or personal values shaped who you are. The heart of this question is about your individual identity, and the strongest responses will reveal the clarity and depth of your reflection. Applicants will sometimes ask me how they can differentiate themselves when they come from an industry that is heavily represented in the pool. This is a great place to do that! You are so much more than a job title. Use this space to tell us about the real you, things that we couldn’t otherwise know just by looking at your resume.
Finally, we are interested in hearing about the person who will show up at Tuck rather than the things you will do here. We expect some of you may choose to explicitly name aspects of Tuck where you will add. That’s okay, but the true heart of this essay is your individuality rather than a list of classes and clubs of interest. In fact, a strong essay does not necessarily have to mention Tuck at all; you may be able to convey who you are in ways that implicitly and powerfully illuminate what you bring.
In summary: we hope your response is honest, revealing, and deeply personal—one you and only you could have written!
Essay Question #3: “Describe a time you meaningfully contributed to someone else’s sense of inclusion in your professional or personal community.”
This essay maps directly to our “encouraging” criterion, so we suggest that you review what it means at Tuck to be encouraging, collaborative, and empathetic. We are excited to learn about how you empathize with and support others.
At Tuck we honor diversity in all its forms, welcome each person as they are, and provide the spaces and opportunities to engage in respectful, meaningful, and growth-oriented discussion and debate. Not every student’s journey to Tuck follows the same path, but the community embraces everyone. With this essay, we are looking for how you have actively welcomed others to a new experience or place, how you encouraged them to join in, or helped them belong.
Here we’re asking you to tell one specific, discrete story rather than offer general reflections or a collection of stories. The 300-word count is brief, so use good judgment about the level of detail to provide. Give enough context to set the stakes while leaving yourself enough space to focus on what you did and what outcome you achieved. Tell a story that focuses on your engagement with one other person, or perhaps a very small group, conveying the richness and depth of interpersonal interactions. Here too, we expect a breadth of responses as diverse as the fabric of Tuck. Your story can be personal or professional. What matters most is the depth of experience and its meaning to you and to those affected by your actions.
Go beyond a simple tactical description of teamwork or an example of inviting another to join a group or community. We are interested in the interpersonal relationships you built, the personal investment you made, and the impact you had. We hope to see that your interactions and empathy are not routine, common, or expected. A defining quality of our "encouraging” criterion is that these characteristics occur “even when not convenient or easy.” Your example should go beyond doing something that would be expected of anyone in your situation or role.
In summary: a strong response will focus on a meaningful engagement with another person or small group, and go beyond what’s expected, routine, or common.
As always, my Admissions colleagues and I are happy to help if you have further questions about your essays or any other part of your Tuck application. Happy writing—we look forward to getting to know more about you through your essays!