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Tuck MBA Essay Breakdown – Essay 4

August 06, 2009 :: Admissionado Team

Tuck seeks candidates of various backgrounds who can bring new perspectives to our community. How will your unique personal history, values, and/or life experiences contribute to the culture at Tuck? (500 words)

Lots to say on this one, there will likely be additional thoughts on future posts.

Before you do anything, consider this. You are different from anyone else. Why? Because there are things that have happened to you, that have molded and shaped and influenced who you are and how you think (perspective). Family influences, trauma/tragedy, travel, exposure to people, places, things, the list is endless. We want to get a sense for who you are, and how you think…. BEFORE we plunk you onto any campus and hear about how you’ll affect things once there.

Think about this question (this TYPE of question) in terms of a chemical reaction. You are a volatile substance. And we are going to introduce you to some type of environment. Your chemistry… the nature of what you’re made of… will agitate the environment in a very particular way. Will it result in an explosion? Will it result in the creation of a solid? Will it have zero impact?

So this essay has 2 essential components.

1) What is your “chemistry” — what are you made of?

2) When introduced to environment X… what happens???

If you’re successful at painting a picture of your history, values, and life experiences (your “chemistry”) and you are authentic, clear, and compelling… then the task of showing us how those things will contribute to the culture at Tuck (the chemical reaction) will be easy. In fact, we (like any good chemist) will be able to PREDICT what that reaction will be if we know enough about the chemical we’re dropping into the beaker.

Most applicants get soooo excited to talk about what clubs they’re going to participate in and what activities they enjoy and how they will share their experiences at such and such place with their colleagues….. hmm…… okay here’s a better way to skin it. First, talk about where you come from (not just geographically, but in a way that steers us toward learning about your values, etc). Give us a sense of who were your influences growing up—two loving and adoring parents? the exact opposite of that? a gigantic extended family? no family? were you nomadic? did you grow up in a penthouse in the fanciest part of town? or in a village that lacked electricity? are there any character-defining moments that remain with you to this day? What are you all about?

Now, for the second part of this essay, you need to suggest why we should care about any of that. This is much harder, in theory, but as I mentioned earlier… if you paint a clear enough picture of you, the unique individual… you will be home in no time. Now you need to talk a little about Tuck, and whatever you know about their “culture.” Demonstrate that you have a sense of their vibe, their M.O., and formulate an intelligent (but always authentic) pitch for how you as an individual will not just fit in, but… enrich that environment. What types of relationships are you hoping to make? Whom are you hoping to learn from? How does it all work? Everyone contributes in different ways. Some people start clubs. Some people don’t start clubs or join any existing organization, but contribute in other ways, like inspiring a group of hallmates to start a business, or do important community service. It can come in a number of different shapes and sizes. Think outside the box and inspire us with things/ideas we’ve never heard before.

The more personal your “individuality” … the easier it’ll be for us to see how you’ll affect others.