Scott Edinburgh
July 24, 2017

What’s New For Tuck Class of 2020 Hopefuls

Tuck has changed things up a bit for 2017-2018 MBA applicants. Once again, there are 2 required essays. Below are this year’s questions and Personal MBA Coach’s thoughts on how to tackle them.

From Tuck:

We encourage applicants to limit the length of their responses to a word count of 500.

  1. (Required) What are your short and long-term goals? Why is an MBA a critical next step toward achieving those goals? Why are you interested in Tuck?

  2. (Required) Tuck’s mission is to educate wise leaders to better the world of business. Wisdom encompasses the essential aptitudes of confident humility, about what one does and does not know; empathy, towards the diverse ideas and experiences of others; and judgment, about when and how to take risks for the better. With Tuck’s mission in mind, and with a focus on confident humility, tell us about a time you:

    • received tough feedback,

    • experienced failure, or

    • disappointed yourself or others.

How did you respond, and what did you learn about yourself as a result?

Personal MBA Coach’s Take:

Essay 1 begins as a straightforward career goals essays. Check out my blog on refining and articulating your career goals for some more specific thoughts on this crucial step.

After clearly stating their goals, candidates should explicitly discuss why they want an MBA. While this question does not ask about your past, a mention of your career to-date is appropriate for context and to establish the skills you have already amassed. From there, discuss what skills you plan to acquire through the MBA program and why you need these skills to accomplish your goals. As always, I urge candidates to avoid vague or general terms in favor of specifics.

Equally as important as the above is the final section on why you are interested in Tuck. As I have advised in the past, do your research on the classes, activities, professors, cultural aspects etc. that attract you to Tuck. Specifically discuss the items that you are most interested in and what value you will provide and get from these activities, relationships or classes. This is a lot to cover in only 500 words so choose wisely; don’t waste words with vague language or flattery. Tuck has a unique culture that goes beyond simply being close knit. Take time to understand that culture before you apply.

For essay 2, I advise you to start by reading Tuck’s stated mission carefully and considering your own personal qualities that align with this mission. Your response to the situation is naturally much more important than the situation itself, so make sure to tell a story that demonstrates these qualities. Equally as crucial as your response is what you learned about yourself in the process. Don’t short change this piece by glancing over it in a few words; instead, really think through how your leadership style changed as a result of this experience. The goal here is not to tout your strengths, but to focus on the type of leader you are, how you demonstrate humility and how you respond to tough situations. Pick a story that is fairly straight-forward to tell so that you do not have to devote too much of the essay to setting up the situation. If you are writing about feedback, try to think about the type of feedback that may be included in your letter of recommendation. It is ok to show adcom that you did something poorly, as long as you learned from it and as long as it isn’t something they would assume that you should have been good at from day 1.

Finally, Tuck has the following optional question: Please provide any additional insight or information that you have not addressed elsewhere that may be helpful in reviewing your application (e.g., unusual choice of evaluators, weaknesses in academic performance, unexplained job gaps or changes, etc.). Complete this question only if you feel your candidacy is not fully represented by this application.

As with many optional questions, don’t feel compelled to answer this one. Do so only if your situation warrants it.

Personal MBA Coach is here to help with all aspects of the application process! If you would like individual and personal support, please find information about Personal MBA Coach’s comprehensive packages or contact me to learn how I can help! As an MIT Sloan BS graduate and Wharton MBA grad, I have been helping candidates get into the schools of their dreams with a 96% success rate for over 10 years. Email me today at: