Scott Edinburgh
August 8, 2016

Dartmouth Tuck Interview with Associate Director of Admissions, Kristin Roth

Writing Notes

Kristin Roth: Associate Director of Admissions, Dartmouth Tuck

Scott Edinburgh: Founder, Personal MBA Coach

Kristin Roth from Dartmouth Tuck was generous enough to answer a number of questions that I know many applicants have about Tuck and the admissions process. See below for a detailed transcript.

Personal MBA Coach: How did you first get involved in admissions?

Kristin Roth: I started with Tuck Admissions in 2007 after a career spent in corporate Human Resources and university student services, including career counseling. I started working with Dartmouth undergrads and engineering students (undergrads and graduate students) in 1997 and loved the interconnection between student services and the larger world of business and industry. Moving to admissions at a top-tier business school, and within a larger university I already loved working for, was a natural fit and an easy jump to make.

Personal MBA Coach: What excites you most about your work?

Kristin Roth: I love that I’ve learned a different aspect of working with students, on the way into a program where they can discover and hone their interests and skills, which catches them at a different part of the process. I really enjoy the individual connection with applicants, educating and advocating. In particular, I focus on recruiting military applicants and Asia recruiting, so I’ve had an opportunity to build deeper relationships with and understanding of applicants with those backgrounds.

Personal MBA Coach: How has the volume of applications changed over the last couple years?

Kristin Roth: Application volume always fluctuates from year-to-year, and overall Tuck has had very robust application volume. We’re very pleased with the quality of applicants to Tuck, particularly the thoughtfulness and understanding most applicants show of uniqueness of the Tuck program.

Personal MBA Coach: Why do you think more applicants are applying to Tuck?

Kristin Roth: I think the applicant pool is getting more sophisticated overall in understanding that there are significant differences between top-tier business programs. Let’s face it, MBA students will receive a great education at any of the top-tier schools. Their experience at each will be very different, however. We’ve been reaching out to help applicants understand the Tuck experience, how the unique location contributes to the immersive community, builds trust-based teams, and encourages students to take intellectual risks and step outside of their comfort zones.

Personal MBA Coach: What are some trends you saw in applicants this past year?

Kristin Roth: I haven’t looked at the data in detail to identify actual trends. Anecdotally and in particular because of my recruiting areas, I’ve seen strong and growing interest from military applicants, who often see the strong Tuck community as a natural offshoot of the close-knit military network, and some exciting applicants from all areas of Asia. In addition, under our new dean, Matt Slaughter, we’ve focused strongly on Tuck’s mission of educating wise leaders to better the world of business. That in turn has inspired applicants with experiences and aspirations to graduate from their MBA with the opportunity to have a positive impact in their work and communities, to do well and do good.

Personal MBA Coach: How have you seen the close student / faculty collaboration be most effective on campus?

Kristin Roth: Students have an opportunity to engage with faculty in any number of ways, both formally and informally, from designing new courses in technology areas, as one T’16 did with Dean Slaughter and Associate Dean Praveen Kopalle, to organizing a biking fundraiser for a nonprofit founded by a T’18, which is a collaboration between the T’18 and Associate Professor Leslie Robinson, who teaches accounting and is an expert in financial reporting and taxation. There are opportunities for research with faculty or independent study. The power to collaborate with faculty is in the hands of students. While each student will have different opportunities, all have a chance to engage.

Personal MBA Coach: What is your thought process behind the self-initiated interview?

Kristin Roth: We want to get to know applicants and, more importantly, we want applicants to get to know Tuck. Our trust-based, immersive community works when people dive in, contributing to and strengthening the community. Letting applicants have the opportunity to visit if they choose to, rather than only if they are invited, is a natural extension of that philosophy. You can come and tell your story, as well as test out whether Tuck is the right place for you to spend two years.

Personal MBA Coach: Learning by doing is very important at Tuck. What is it about experiential learning that is so effective and how much of the curriculum is moving in this direction?

Kristin Roth: Experiential learning gives students the chance to put their classroom learning into action, testing out the skills they are developing in real world settings. Wise leadership requires empathy, judgment, and confident humility. Students develop these mindsets by putting themselves in situations that require trying different skills, sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing, but always with an opportunity to reflect back and learn from the experience. Stepping outside the Tuck base camp, in particular, and stretching yourself in a different culture outside your comfort zone really calls on students to use so many of the qualities necessary for that wise leadership. There are multiple opportunities on campus as well, from planning large on-campus events, taking on leadership roles in clubs and research centers, and informally leading in your study group to helping to run Tuck Capital Partners, an investment fund managed by second-year students.

Personal MBA Coach: What is your favorite part of TuckGO?

Kristin Roth: After students return from their travels, we hear the stories of their experiences, which are so fascinating. The way they immerse in culture, business, and relationships as guests, students, and colleagues is inspiring. Applicants can read about our students’ experiences (and see some great pictures!) in our Tuck360 blog.

Personal MBA Coach: What changes are you looking forward to at Tuck?

Kristin Roth: The new Dean’s Fellows program is an exciting opportunity for students to contribute to advancing Tuck strategy. The three projects fellows worked on this year allowed them to engage closely with school leadership. In addition, Punam Anand Keller, our new associate dean for innovation and strategy, is driving innovation and exploring new ways for Tuck to thrive.

Personal MBA Coach: What is a common misconception about Tuck?

Kristin Roth: Some think that our location is a detriment. Honestly, it’s our greatest strength. Our students live on or near campus, engage in near-constant interaction with each other, and really dive into the community as a whole. The location drives immersion and working across differences. It breeds a different kind of student as a whole – students who are responsible to each other, responsible to the school, and ultimately responsible to their organizations and communities post-Tuck.

Personal MBA Coach: Is the 48 hour alumni rule really true?

(I have heard that alumni respond to all inquiries within 48 hours whenever possible, so this is just a way to quickly mention this or a version of it)

Kristin Roth: It’s not a “rule” per se, but our alumni are incredibly responsive! They frequently return inquiries within a few hours and they usually reply to requests within a few days. On occasion a student “tests” the network by reaching out to more alumni than their “ask” really requires and suddenly finds themselves with more messages and conversation trails than they can handle, because everyone got back to them. Yes, there are exceptions to the rapid response of our alumni, but it’s very rare.

Personal MBA Coach: How do you think the admissions process will evolve over time?

Kristin Roth: I think the big story in admissions this past year has been the growing percentage of women in MBA programs, especially in the top tier. I don’t know how that might change the admissions process but I think it will create interesting dynamics in admissions, MBA programs, and ultimately the world of business, so I think it’s worth mentioning.

At Tuck our process has remained focused on getting to know applicants well, which helps bring in a class well-matched for Tuck and ready to take on the charge of wise leadership. We have continued to emphasize applicants visiting campus if possible and have expanded our outreach to those not near Hanover through large- and small-scale events. In the future I’d expect more use of technology to make connections, both informational and evaluative, as well as finding ways to ease the application process without diluting the ability to critically assess applicants.

Personal MBA Coach: What do you wish applicants would do differently when applying?

Kristin Roth: Most applicants do a fantastic job throughout the process, however almost everyone has something they can improve. I’d love to see all applicants give themselves enough time in the process to reflect on why they want to earn their MBA, to tell their stories in essays and interviews clearly and compellingly, and to do research into the schools and programs beyond reading websites and talking to admissions officers. Develop strong self-awareness, hone your story so it makes sense to a stranger as well as to your best friend, and talk to MBA students and graduates now. Their insight can help you ask the questions of yourself and schools that you may not have thought of before.

One small but incredibly important thing I would like every applicant to do is PROOFREAD! Spell check can catch a lot, but not everything. Read through your entire application, have someone else read it, and then check it again. Please note that English is a sometimes annoyingly tricky language: “it’s” is different than “its” and you can “complement” something without it being a “compliment.” One mistake isn’t likely to sink you, but a pattern of errors tells us something about the type of student you might be.

Personal MBA Coach: Do you have any advice for applicants excited about Dartmouth Tuck that isn’t easily found on your website?

Kristin Roth: Our website is incredibly comprehensive and in particular I would highly recommend applicants read some of our Pathways stories and our Tuck360 blog. What you can’t get from the website is the personal feel for our campus and community. The best way to experience that is by visiting or attending one of our events. Better yet, do both!


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