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2011 Dartmouth Tuck MBA Admissions Q&A with Dawna Clarke, Pat Harrison and Amy Mitson

Audio for Q&A (Click to listen now, or right click and choose “Save As” to download and listen later.)

Linda Abraham: Hello. My name is Linda Abraham. I am the founder of Accepted.com and the moderator of today’s chat. First I want to welcome all applicants to the Q&A today, and I want to congratulate you for taking the time to learn more about Dartmouth Tuck School of Business. It is critical to your decision making process and your admission chances that you know as much as you can about the schools you are applying to. Being here today allows you to ask experts about this top business school. I also want to give a special welcome to Dawna Clarke, Director of MBA Admissions as well as Pat Harrison and Amy Mitson, Associate Directors at Dartmouth Tuck. Thanks to everyone for joining. I’m going to take advantage of my position as moderator and ask the first question. Dawna, what’s new at Tuck?

Dawna Clarke: Before we get started, I wanted to say thank you to Linda and Accepted.com for allowing us to have this great opportunity, and thank you to all the participants, and to Pat and Amy for doing this with me. There are a lot of new things at Tuck, but we thought we would distill it down to the things that were most interesting to applicants. One of the things we thought would be interesting to applicants is that our Career Development Office last year reported having the highest percentage of offers for full-time jobs three months after graduation of any top business school. 97% of our graduating class last year had offers three months after graduation, and that was the record among our peer groups, so we are really pleased about that. And Pat and I did some investigating to see where we are this year, and 77% of our class this year already has job offers.

Linda Abraham: That is phenomenal!

Dawna Clarke: Yes, we are really pleased. It is 16% better than last year, and about 52% have accepted their offers. So I think this is encouraging news for people who are seeking an MBA because the job market, at least for us, appears to be turning around, and our graduates are doing extremely well in the job search. Pat had some news on the global reach of Tuck recently.

Pat Harrison: I wanted to share one way that we are expanding Tuck’s name and developing these job opportunities. The Dean just got back from a trip to China and Korea where he was working with our research centers and our Executive Ed Program to really work on global outreach and spread the Tuck name. And he was doing things like meeting on behalf of our Career Development Office with international corporate recruiters; people from BCG, Bain, Deloitte, McKinsey, Citigroup, Samsung, LG -- some really interesting employers out there -- to encourage them to hire Tuck students and provide additional opportunities for our students there. He was out representing admissions, meeting with prospective and accepted international students, doing alumni outreach, doing press opportunities, and he gave a talk at the American Chamber of Commerce, so some really interesting opportunities to increase Tuck’s visibility abroad.

Linda Abraham: What does that visibility abroad translate into for students in Hanover?

Dawna Clarke: I think that is a great question and I think it manifests itself in a lot of different ways. A big priority at Tuck is to make sure that the students who attend Tuck expand their global perspective. And so the effort that the Dean puts into these trips is very multifaceted. He has a committee of people who work with him to ensure that when all of us our traveling abroad, we are doing things to enhance the Tuck experience for students from a career development perspective, from an admissions perspective, from a curricular perspective, from a marketing perspective, connecting with alumni, etc. So I think he is very committed. He has assigned various leaders within the school to be regional experts on different regions of the world. So Tuck really is putting a stake in the ground in terms of our presence in everything from Executive Education, to alumni, to faculty, to the curriculum, to the diversity of the class.

Amy Mitson: Another new thing is that one of our research centers, the Allwin Initiative, which is the center for corporate social responsibility and non-profit initiatives at Tuck, is celebrating its tenth year. And with that they are doing a Ten for Ten program. So ten individual students who want to use their Spring break period as a time for doing social outreach projects somewhere outside of their regular region here in the Upper Valley, apply to the Allwin Initiative and can get funding to do a project over Spring break. Things like that tend to always be new at Tuck, but there is a particular focus with the Allwin Initiative because of their ten year anniversary this year.

Linda Abraham: Great. Let’s turn to a couple of the questions from the applicants. Anoop asks, “How much does the academics matter in the selection process, or how much importance is given to academics?” I assume by “academics” Anoop is referring to GMAT scores, GRE scores, and GPA. How much do they matter in the admissions criteria?

Dawna Clarke: We are known for saying that our application process is a holistic process. We look at a number of factors, academics of course being a very important one, as well as leadership and accomplishments in other settings, interpersonal skills, the diversity that a candidate brings or the global perspective, the letters of recommendation, and essays. So the academics are part of a broader profile of an applicant that is taken into consideration. But that means that it is a very competitive process at a competitive school. And when we are looking at an application, we do want to ensure that applicant is going to be successful in the program and has the skill set necessary to do well in the curriculum. So one of the things we’ll look at is their undergraduate curriculum; their overall GPA, whether there was an upward trend, whether there were extenuating circumstances, and to what extent the applicant had quantitative courses. We will look at the GMAT or the GRE and we are going to be very interested in how quantitatively prepared we think a candidate is based on that GMAT or GRE score as well. So I would say it is an important part of the application process, but we don’t have minimum cut-offs where we wouldn’t review an application only because of a low GMAT or GPA. It is part of a broader holistic review of each applicant.

Linda Abraham: Jonathan asks, “What impact has Dartmouth’s new president, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, had on Tuck students interested in careers in health care?”

Amy Mitson: I feel anecdotally when talking to applicants on the road that there is a lot of excitement about the offerings of health care at Tuck. They are in the process of starting a new program that is coordinated between the Dartmouth Medical Center, SABER School of Engineering, Tuck, and the Center for Health that is going to be a program in the master’s of health care delivery science. And I think because of that, there are going to be a lot more resources focused on health care; more speakers, more opportunities. There is a lot of growing interest from our students and from applicants in health care, as well as from employers who are interested in hiring Tuck students interested in going into the health care field. So I think it is an exciting time at Tuck if you are interested in health care.

Linda Abraham: Nitin asks, “What is the minimum amount of work experience required for admission? And secondly, what are the scholarships available for international students?”

Dawna Clarke: The average years of work experience for Tuck students historically has been about 4-5 years of full-time work experience. There are students who have been admitted who had really strong work experience within two years, but it would be relatively rare for us to admit somebody with less than two years of work experience. I give our Dean a lot credit for putting the stake in the ground on that. He feels very strongly that recruiters really gravitate to students who have some previous work experience prior to their MBA. And he has done a fair amount of research on this actually, talking to our board of overseers and our MBA advisory board to find out what exactly is on the mind of recruiters and why they favor candidates in the job search who have some work experience. Tuck’s position is also that a student is going to benefit a little bit more from the experience if they have work experience to draw from and to contribute to their classmates. So I would say that while we don’t have an official policy on this, in the spirit of honesty and full-disclosure, it would be very rare for somebody to be admitted without two years of work experience. Our evaluation process is much more focused on the quality of the experience than the quantity of work experience. To answer the second question about scholarships, there are several different sources of scholarship aid for international students. We do have merit-based scholarships that are awarded, and applicants have to apply for them. So all of our admission materials, our website, and our view book have dates where if you are applying by a certain deadline, there is a Tuck scholarship application that is due on/before that deadline. You have to fill out a very brief, easy-to-complete scholarship application in order to be considered for those. So that is one source of funding for students. Those are merit-based, and there is a process in place where admissions works with financial aid to identify students who we feel are the most meritorious in the admissions process. And there is also need-based aid. Like many schools, Tuck is going through some transitions right now with our funding source for international loans. For those who have specific questions about that, we are going to have more detail within 2-4 weeks. We are in negotiations right now with two funding sources for this year’s international loan program. But I’m not really in a position to give you too many details because all of those details are in the process of being solidified. But I’m happy to be a resource for people who have follow-up questions. Maybe just hold off 2-4 weeks and we’d happy to give you more details as soon as we know what those are. But we anticipate having an international loan program for students next year.

Linda Abraham: I assume the hope is that the terms would be somewhat more favorable.

Dawna Clarke: That is what they are negotiating right now. I think there will be an expectation that students will need to contribute something to their education. It’s not impossible that somebody would be able to take a loan out for the full cost of their education. That may be done, but the expectation will be that students would be contributing some of their own assets to the cost of their education. But I know that they are negotiating very vehemently on terms that are favorable for the applicant; that is a very high priority for the people who are in negotiations right now. Pat works really closely with me on scholarships and financial aid issues. And we have a separate director of financial aid, Diane Bonin, who would be a great resource for people too. Pat, did you have anything that you wanted to add?

Pat Harrison: The one term that we would be working on would be that that type of loan would not require a US co-signer.

Linda Abraham: Great. Steven asks, “Any insight into how many applicants have been admitted this far for Fall 2011?” And have you any insight into application volume after two rounds, relative to previous years? Is it up, down, or sideways?

Amy Mitson: We are seeing the responses of students who have been admitted roll in from our Early Action deadline and the November round deadline, for which we only sent out the offers of admission last Friday. So we are seeing those numbers change daily, and we’ll see right up until students have their deadline as to how many students have accepted the offer of admission. The application volume has gone up. We are very lucky that we received a lot of really qualified applicants, definitely quality and quantity, as we’ve seen the number of applications rise this year.

Dawna Clarke: In terms of offers of admission, I would say it’s on par with previous years. We do a really good job of looking at how many offers we make per round and trying to even it out so that there is consistency among all four rounds. We are in the midst of evaluating our January round right now. We are about halfway through the evaluation of the January round which is our biggest round so we haven’t even solidified how many offers we are making because we are still evaluating them and seeing how many candidates are strong and are in the zone of admissibility. So it’s a little premature to say, but I would say that it is comparable to previous years. I can’t think of any major trends that would be of interest to candidates. And Amy is correct; our applications are up a little this year, which speaks to the demand for the Tuck MBA, and we are pleased about that. But we still have half of the January round and the April round to review, so we have a way to go.

Linda Abraham: Lalit and Anushree are asking, “I’m interested in knowing, does Tuck encourage international students to apply in round three or to wait until next year’s round one? And are round three applicants able to get scholarships?”

Pat Harrison: Round three, the April round, is traditionally very competitive and it’s also very dependent on what has happened in the previous three rounds, so it’s hard to predict what it’s going to be like each year.

Linda Abraham: But you don’t have a third round just to tease applicants?!

Pat Harrison: No, we do not! Not at all! We also admit people that round, but it is one of our smallest rounds and the volume of applications in that round is very small. If we’ve had a high yield in the first three rounds, the number of people that we are able to take in the April round is reduced. And if the people in the first three rounds say “no” more often, then chances are better in April. International applicants are eligible to apply in any of the rounds. When it gets to the April round, it depends on the country you are coming from if it is more difficult. In countries where it is hard to get a visa, April may be more difficult, but we are still looking at international applicants in the April round.

Linda Abraham: Ben asks, “What type of work experience are recruiters looking for?” Obviously, whatever it is, you people seem to have it just by the numbers that Dawna gave at the beginning.

Dawna Clarke: I think it varies according to what industry people are going into. So I’ll just give you a couple of examples. If somebody wants to pursue a career in private equity, one of the things that we hear quite often is that private equity firms prefer someone who has had prior private equity experience. So there are some nuances for certain industries like private equity. We’ve heard that a lot of the companies and corporations that hire in general management positions love people who have a military background. People who have an investment banking background may have a slight edge going into investment banking. I think there are some nuances depending on whether you are going into operations, consulting, etc., but we try to work very carefully with the Career Development Office to find out what profiles of students are most successful in the job search.

Linda Abraham: So “hire-ability” is a factor in admissions decisions at Tuck.

Dawna Clarke: I would couch it under the quality of experience in a more general way; the quality of experience as it relates to what impact that person is going to have in the classroom, and the reasonableness of their career goals. We want people who are going to be successful throughout their careers, not just in the two years that they are going to be here. We want people who are going to be successful in their study groups, in the curriculum, in the hiring process, as alumni, people with long-term leadership potential. So I would say that the quality of their work experience is evaluated in a broader way than just “hire-ability”. But I think the Career Development Office does a very good job of educating us on what different types of industries look for in candidates, and it can even vary within an industry. It’s not that every single recruiter and consulter looks for the same thing. But it’s a hard question to answer because I find that it really is dependent on what specific career interest a candidate has. One thing we feel is a really big advantage for Tuck and it gives us a competitive advantage in the Career Development Office is that almost all of the people who work in the Career Development Office, who are working with current students, have experience in that industry. So the person who works in marketing has previous experience in marketing; the person who works with students interested in finance has previous experience in finance. The person who works with candidates who are seeking a background in private equity has links to the private equity center, and even if he doesn’t have exact experience in private equity, he works really hard to stay in tune with what is going on within private equity and our private equity board and so on. So it gives us a huge advantage to have people who are counseling current MBA students who actually have been out working in that industry and then have come back to higher education to help students in the job search process.

Pat Harrison: I would add that there is another way that we help students, particularly students who are looking for career switches. Our Career Office has a somewhat unique program: on-campus recruiters must reserve 50% of their interview slots for students to bid on. So the recruiters are looking and selecting who they want to interview, but students, particularly students who maybe don’t have the background, (for example, they want to go into consulting but don’t have the consulting background,) and may not have been selected by the recruiter they want to meet with, they have a chance to bid on those open slots. Students get a certain number of points for the beginning of the recruiting season, and it gives you an opportunity to get your foot in the door even if you don’t have the background that maybe is exactly what the employer is looking for. You get a chance to go in and make the case on why your skill set is right for them. And we have a lot of students who get jobs through the bidding process.

Linda Abraham: It also tells the recruiter that that applicant is really interested because they must have bid high enough to get the slot, so it says something about their interest level. Parul asks, “What does “strong work experience” mean? Is it necessary to display strong leadership skills during that work experience?”

Amy Mitson: We all have different interpretations for “strong work experience”. But when I look at someone’s candidacy and I think about their professional experience, I’m not necessarily thinking about the name over the door – where are they working; it’s what kind of experience they have gathered along the way. Have they had the opportunity to lead teams and initiatives? Have they taken the opportunity to go a little bit outside of their comfort zone and take on new projects? You have plenty of room in the application to demonstrate this. While in the resume you just get the bullet points of this, when students are able to talk about their professional experience in their application and in their essays, they can really get to the meat of the detail about what types of experiences they’ve gained. It’s not necessarily a direct correlation between how many direct reports you have. It’s what you have done working on this small project team, or how someone has increased a certain initiative that they’ve been working on, or maybe it’s a long-standing commitment to another initiative that is outside their focus area at work. It’s a very general way to say that candidates can be very deliberate about the path that they create for themselves in a professional setting. When they do that and talk to us about that, it does show leadership. It doesn’t matter whether they have 0 direct reports or a whole host of them; it’s what they’ve tried to accomplish in the tenure that they’ve had at their employer.

Pat Harrison: I think in addition to what Amy said, we want to see a career path that makes sense; jobs building on each other, increase in responsibility, promotions are nice to see. If you are changing employers, does it make sense? What I don’t like to see is a lot of job-hopping where there is no clear path, just switching from one job to another. For your first job out of college, you may not know what you are getting into and it’s not unusual to change jobs or to change industries. But I think it’s important to provide us with an explanation as to why you’ve made some of the changes that you have, if on their face they don’t make sense. Be sure to explain that to us so that we don’t think you are just trying everything out and business school is another thing that you are just trying out. So I want to see a clear path on why you’ve made those changes and how that career path gets you to the MBA and to your future goal, so the story ties together and makes sense.

Dawna Clarke: I would add a couple of things to what they’ve already said. Firstly, great sources of information for evaluating the strength of a person’s work experience are their letters of recommendations. So in the evaluation of how strong their work experience is, to some extent, it’s dependent on what the recommenders have to say about their progressions and “promote-ability”, and what impact they have had on other people. So that is an important factor in my mind. And another one I would say is the ability to articulate and communicate their experience, because one of the reasons we are evaluating it is to see what extent they are able to share their experiences with their classmates and their study group and in classroom situations. And there are some people who, on paper, seem to have very good experience, but may not articulate that experience very well either in their interview or in their essays. And there are others who can take something very mundane and make it sound so interesting because they are so passionate about what they do. I definitely want to underscore what Pat said on the flipside of what constitutes strong work experience. One thing that we are wary of is candidates who have jumped around too much without a reasonable explanation. Sometimes you see multiple jobs, but there is a clear rationale. Maybe somebody left one firm because their boss left and took them with them, and obviously they can make a good argument for why they made that transition. But people who have job-hopped don’t tend to do very well in the admissions process, nor do they do well typically in the recruiting process.

Linda Abraham: For sure. I’d like to ask a question of our applicant audience. The question is how many of you are researching schools to apply to, or are working on your applications now? How many of you have submitted your applications? How many of you have submitted and are awaiting results? How many of you are wait-listed or at some other unknown stage? 41% of the people here today are researching schools to apply to, or are working on their applications. 36% have already submitted their applications. 26% say that they haven’t heard back yet in terms of interview status. 23% have had interviews and are waiting for results. 5% are wait-listed, and 14% are in some other category. So most people here are either researching the program, I assume with the intention to apply either later this year or next year, or they are actually working on the application. But more than 50% are beyond that stage and have already submitted, have been interviewed, or are wait-listed. We did get a question, “Do you have any specific advice for re-applicants?”

Amy Mitson: Obviously this is very focused on Tuck, so you want to keep in mind different processes for different schools. But we are happy to give feedback to our re-applicants, and I would suggest that to anyone who has applied once. Do not reapply without seeking some kind of feedback, whether it’s feedback directly from the committee, a recommender, or an alum --someone who knows the program well. Get some feedback. If you give us another application with the same information, you might not be as successful as you want to be. We are probably looking for something different if you weren’t successful the first time around, so try to dig in, call, and find out what that could be and try to get some feedback. From there, follow the advice. We have the regular essays, plus a specific re-applicant essay. I also like to see that a candidate has taken the time to review the essays from their prior application, and maybe they’ve been able to edit it around the margins and add new experience to the other essay questions, not just the re-applicant essay question because we are looking at the previous application side by side with the new one. And we look out for the growth, for the stronger reasons why you are looking for the MBA. We want to see how you have strengthened your application over the last year or however long it’s been. So feedback is probably the most important thing that a re-applicant can do. Try to get in touch with somebody who can give you some more information so that you can go into the process a little more strongly or with a new awareness about what you could do to be more successful in the next effort.

Linda Abraham: Back to our attendees questions. Reece asks, “With the over-acceptance rate from students for the class of 2012, how has this affected the class of 2013?”

Dawna Clarke: In terms of admissions?

Linda Abraham: Yes. I understand that you had to defer some of the accepted students from the class of 2012 to the class of 2013, which is the one that people are currently applying for. So does that mean that there are fewer spots available to current applicants?

Dawna Clarke: In the last two years, we virtually made the same number of offers of admission, but last year our yield increased significantly and we ended up over-enrolled. Some students deferred to the following year fortunately, which is what brought the class size down a little bit. This year, I would say we are being slightly more conservative with making offers of admission right now. I imagine that the volume of offers of admission that we’ll make this year will remain unknown until our deposit deadline which is April 22nd. At that point, we’ll know how many people have committed and have not committed, and that will help us with the volume of offers we make in April. It is to some extent dependent on what our yield is for the first three rounds. So if our yield is high, it will make April more competitive; if our yield is low, it will make it less competitive, and it will also influence how many students we take off the wait-list. So we are being just a little bit more conservative with offers of admission, but we still have offers to make in the January round, the April round, and the wait-list. We’ll know more after April 22nd.

Linda Abraham: Jonathan asks, “What advice would you provide to an April applicant?” Is there anything different that an April round applicant should be doing?

Amy Mitson: My response to that would be that whenever you are applying, you should always explain your candidacy. But a question is always raised in my mind when I read essays or see information from an April round applicant who says that Tuck is their top choice and they definitely want to go here. You are putting your all into it, but then I wonder why you waited till the last round. So just with that, don’t leave any question unanswered. If Tuck is your favorite place, why did you wait till the last round? There is probably a reason; maybe there was a job change, maybe you were out of the country and now you are back in the US so you had time to interview on campus, whereas in an earlier round you didn’t because your work took you out of the country. Is there a reason why? Don’t forget to add that in so that we can see the entire context. Answer all of the “why” questions.

Linda Abraham: So if somebody applies in your April round, something goes through your mind wondering why the applicant didn’t apply earlier. In some ways it calls into question commitment; it’s not just that they decided to apply a little later.

Amy Mitson: If an applicant is very enthusiastic about the fact that this is their top choice and they have been thinking about it for so long…

Linda Abraham: If they said they wanted to do this since they were in kindergarten, I would certainly agree with you.

Amy Mitson: The later rounds are fine, but give me the follow-up; provide the detail as to why. I would have loved to see your strong application in the earlier round and offer you admission then, and then you wouldn’t have had to wait any longer.

Dawna Clarke: To build on Amy’s point, I think we are pretty transparent. We do have an April round, but I think we are also very transparent in saying that it is a very competitive round, and our advice to applicants is to try to apply in one of the earlier rounds. There are circumstances sometimes why somebody would apply in the last round; a change in a job situation may necessitate it -- you didn’t think you could go this year, but now something has changed and you could go this year. And I think Amy’s point is that to some extent it’s better to let us know those reasons rather than leave some of those questions blank. Certainly come up for an interview; show your interest in other ways.

Linda Abraham: Steven asks, “What role does undergraduate institution play in the admissions process?” In my context, if somebody graduated from Cal State Northridge as opposed to UCLA, does that reflect? And I’m sure there are state schools as opposed to state universities any number of places in the country. How would that reflect?

Amy Mitson: I think it’s the content of what the individual applicant has done with their undergraduate experience. There is obviously different prestige associated with different schools, but the success of the student won’t be overlooked because the perception of the undergrad that they went to wasn’t as prestigious as another. We see details; the quality of the experience, the success they had academically, what they participated in. Everything that they’ve done to bring meaning and show academic success with their undergraduate experience is what is going to bring it over the line for them. It’s not just a name of a school or a specific degree; it’s the quality of the experience and what they did with their years in undergrad.

Linda Abraham: Anoop asks, “How do Tuck alumni help in career recruitment?” And Tuck’s alumni are unparalleled in their devotion to the school.

Pat Harrison: In so many different ways. They are the ones that raise their hand first when their companies are recruiting on campus. They love to come back to Hanover, so they’ll try to come up and they are often the recruiters that are on campus doing the interviews. They come up and share their experiences. At the beginning of the first year, we have what is called Sector Smart. So we have panels of alums who come and talk about marketing, private equity, etc., to educate the students on what these careers are like, and so they are sharing their experiences that way. I think the most important way that alums are helpful in the job search is just being there as a network, and being a very responsive network. When you are a student here you have access to the alumni database, so you have contact information for every alum that has ever graduated, and you can do a search based on city, industry, class graduated, where they went to undergrad, or whatever it is. You can reach out to alumni. If you put out a request to 100 alums, you will probably hear back from 99 of them, usually within 24 hours. They are so responsive. They take time to talk to the students about whatever their questions are. They will spend hours with students to help them understand what they do, to help them understand their company, and help them make connections with people at other companies. So they are wonderful as far as networking and helping students understand what is going on. I hear examples of students who were recruiting with a particular company and the alum will say, “Okay, now I’m not talking to you as a representative of company X; I’m talking to you as a Tuck alum. These are the various people at the company that you need to meet, and this is what their hot button issues are, so make sure you empathize that.” And they really help guide the students through the recruiting process and they help them make the important connections, so I just can’t overemphasize how valuable they are.

Dawna Clarke: And just to backtrack a second. For people who may not be that familiar with it, one of the things we are very proud of at Tuck is that our alumni giving rate is the highest in our peer groups by a significant amount, and has been so for over a decade. About 67% of Tuck alumni contribute to the annual fund, and I believe the industry average is about twenty percentage points lower than that. So we are really proud, and not even necessarily from a monetary point of view, but because of the symbolism of the impact that Tuck has had on its students and alumni, who feel so compelled to continue to give to the school year after year, and who have held that record for so long. I think it’s just such a strong statement of what the experience has meant to people.

Linda Abraham: I think it is real testimony in a concrete way. The alumni giving rate was certainly one of the things that stuck with me from my visits to Tuck and the sessions I attended. Lalit asks, “What about a low GMAT?” What is the impact of a low GMAT in the admissions process, especially if it’s combined with good grades?” Before you answer, I’m going to post a poll that asks how many people in our audience are concerned about a low GMAT. 76% have voted. 53% are concerned about their GMAT score. What is the impact of a low GMAT score?

Pat Harrison: Again, it is a very holistic process and the GMAT is one factor that we are looking at. It is what it is and don’t stress about it too much. We look at it in context. So the question talks about if you have a high GPA and you’ve done well academically. In that situation, we are probably a little less concerned about the GMAT. It is one predictor of academic success during the first year. We look at the GMAT, and we look at the undergraduate record. If someone has a great undergraduate record, they had a very quantitative major, and they’ve been working in a very quantitative work environment now, I’m less concerned with a low quantitative score. Everything is taken in context.

Linda Abraham: It also would depend how low the score is.

Pat Harrison: Exactly. And then the most important part is if you are worried about your GMAT score and you don’t think it is representative of what you can do, think about retaking it. A lot of our applicants have taken it more than once. It is not a stigma to see you’ve taken it two-three times on your application. It shows that you are working to improve you score. So look at how you have been doing in your practice exams, and if you’ve been scoring significantly higher in practice exams than how you actually did when you took the test, think about retaking it and trying to get your score up. But again, it is one part of the application and we look at it all in context.

Linda Abraham: Kenneth asks, “If I understand correctly, decisions for round two will not be finalized until the November round admittees have made their final decision to attend or not to attend. Or does the half that has been evaluated already for the January round have decisions made on them regardless of the November round acceptances?” What is the impact of first round yield on second round acceptances?

Dawna Clarke: Our very first round is Early Action. Then we have November, January, and April. The only people who have to pay a deposit early are the folks who applied in Early Action. They’ve submitted their enrollment deposit by January 12th. The November round applicants don’t have to respond to us until April 22nd, and the January round applicants don’t have to respond to us until April 22nd. So if I interpreted his question correctly, I think he may be under the impression that we don’t release January round decisions until the November round pays. That is not the case. We will release decisions for both the January and November rounds without knowing who committed from November. The only people who have committed so far are Early Action admittees.

Linda Abraham: Steven asks, “What type of information on candidates do you receive from the second-year students who conduct on-campus interviews?” Are the students going to comment on interpersonal interaction, their impressions, or is it just going to be about how the applicant answered the question?

Amy Mitson: We have a team of second-year students who do interviews for us which is great. And they conduct an interview just as a member of the admissions staff would conduct an interview. It is very much focused on fit. The questions follow along a little bit with the application. In the application, the student is asked -- what are your goals and why do you want an MBA? The interviewer is going to ask something similar because the interviewer, whether it’s a second-year student or a member of the admissions committee, has not seen the candidate’s file. We only have the resume before we interview a candidate. But the second-year interviewers are evaluating fit, contribution to the program, why this person wants their MBA, and why they are so focused on Tuck. It’s very much a conversational style interview where the real focus is on fit. Why does the person want to come to Tuck? Why is it the right school for them, and how do they know that? Those are some of the things that are probably going on in the interview room.

Linda Abraham: Mason asks, “Is there any student exchange program?” I assume by that he means international, abroad-type opportunities.

Pat Harrison: We have relationships with more than twenty schools all over the world. Students have the opportunity to go on exchange in their second year. We probably have 30-40 students per term in their second year who decide to go on exchange. We have room for more to do it, but that seems to be the average over the last several years. Some of the exchange opportunities are ones that students have brought to the attention of the Dean’s office because of a particular interest in certain geography. So the variety of programs has definitely evolved over time because of student interest.

Linda Abraham: Parul asks, “Tuck’s isolated location and relatively insular character is a positive trait for fostering intimacy, friendship, and the loyalty that we discussed a couple of minutes ago. But location does play an important role in materializing opportunities, for instance, endless networking opportunities. How does Tuck overcome the challenge of its rural location?”

Amy Mitson: I think what we said about the strength of our alumni filters into this question. We are not isolated when it comes to visiting executives or heads of companies or recruiters, because some of them are alums. But people are drawn to this location. Often they’ve been a part of this experience, and as a graduate who is now someone leading a company or a recruiter for a company, they come back to campus because they love to come back. But also the prestige of the institution as well as the reputation of our graduates out and about in the world is something that is quite a draw for recruiters and executives alike. And they are not deterred from coming to visit Tuck. There are more speakers and opportunities for access when it comes to visiting executives that our students can take advantage of than they have hours in the day, and that is on a constant basis. The outside world really wants to come inside and access our students and be a part of this community and know what future leaders are looking for, where they want to work, etc. So I haven’t seen a limitation over my time at Tuck in terms of students’ access to executives or recruiters because of our location.

Pat Harrison: I would add that once they get up here, they are a captive audience. We don’t have the distraction of a NYC. So if a visiting executive comes, they come and they spend the whole day. They have lunch and dinner with students and they meet students in small groups, so you get that incredible access to meet with these executives one on one. If that same executive went to a school in a big city, they may do their forty-five minute speech and then head out to another meeting or go catch a flight or go do something else in that city. Whereas here, they are probably not going to get out for a little while because it takes a little more effort to get up here. But it’s worthwhile. So it requires them to spend more time up here, and I think that really benefits the students because the students get to interact with them on a much more personal basis than just sitting in an auditorium and hearing them speak.

Dawna Clarke: First of all, I think it’s great that some of the questions we are getting are from people who have done so much research. And it’s great that he knows this much about the location and the advantages, and maybe perceived disadvantages. But I have two responses to the question; one is more from a sort of factual evidence basis and one is more anecdotal. We talked about the placement rate in the beginning, and we talked about the fact that last year’s class had the highest percentage of offers three months after graduation, at 97%. So at least from a recruiter point of view, we are getting recruiters here.

Linda Abraham: The isolation doesn’t seem to be hurting your graduates.

Dawna Clarke: Exactly. So that is a little more of a statistical answer that hopefully provided some evidence that it is not a disadvantage. The other thing I would say is that I was having lunch with some recruiters a couple of years ago and these were people who recruit at 4-7 schools on average at this lunch. And one of the things they talked about is the fact that they go to major metropolitan areas all the time on recruiting trips, and how refreshing it is to come to this small, charming, quintessential New England town, and they love when their trips can sync up with a ski trip or a fall foliage and things. So I think for people who are in a recruiting world, maybe recruiting at multiple schools, it’s kind of a refreshing change to come to a location like this outside of a big city. People were talking about trying to tie it into a long weekend. So that is just something that stood out in my mind because overwhelmingly they seemed so delighted to be able to come to Hanover.

Pat Harrison: And we do get our students out there too. We sponsor treks. In the fall, we do a Wall Street Trek where we send our students to Wall Street to network with the investment banks there. We do a consulting trek; we send students to Boston, Silicon Valley, or internationally. So we are also getting our students out there. The companies don’t all have to come to Hanover. We do get our students out there to integrate and meet with companies.

Linda Abraham: I just want to reiterate the fact that Dawna said at the beginning that 77% of the current class already has full-time job offers. So whether Tuck is the right school for you or not I certainly can’t say, but that is really evidence of a lack of isolation. Do you have any advice for wait-listed applicants?

Amy Mitson: When students are informed that they have been offered a position on the wait-list, we direct them to a specific email account. That is the way we recommend that they communicate with us, and that is definitely the starting point. So the advice is to follow the directions. Opt in if you’d like to maintain a position on the wait-list. Advice comes to you after that point. We receive all responses and look at all responses individually. We will then consider that individual’s candidacy still active on the wait-list. We’ve given our candidates who are currently wait-listed a specific time in the future as to when we will get back to them with feedback. So just follow the process. We will give everyone feedback. When we are able to make offers to candidates on the wait-list, it happens much further down the round after all the other decision rounds are completed. That is something we make very clear to every candidate on the wait-list. We try to communicate consistently and even update our communications. The advice is that it’s hard to wait, but we are listening on the other side so don’t feel like if you are sending something in, it is not being received. We are paying attention and thinking about our wait-listed candidates right along with our offered applicants.

Linda Abraham: Thank you again all for participating today. Special thanks to Dawna, Amy, and Pat for joining us today. If you have additional questions for Dawna, Pat, or Amy, please email them to tuck.admissions@dartmouth.edu. We look forward to seeing you at future Q&A and Events. As you can see, we have several upcoming Q&As, including:

Visit our event schedule page for our full list of upcoming events and details, or to register. You can also subscribe to our events list by clicking reminders on our event schedule page.

Good luck with your applications!

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