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Journey to my MBA

Friday, October 08, 2004

Tuck Info Session

I went to the Tuck info session tonight. It was very different from the other two sessions I had been to. It was a great session. It was held at the Garden Hotel in Palo Alto. The room held 52 seats. There was coffee, sodas and snacks for us. A big plus! There were about 20 applicants. There were 3 women.

My first impressions were based on three things that were distinctly different from the other info sessions.
1) 7-8 Alumni hung out at the front entrance and greeted every attendee casually. They then initiated conversations with us. This went over so well that we started the session 25 minutes late because everyone was talking with the alumni. I saw some people sitting alone and I saw alumni going to them and talking to them.
2) The screen in the front flashed through series of pictures that showed the campus, various school buildings, students walking hallways and studying, seasonal pics of the campus in all 4 seasons, classes in session. It was a really good tangible way to imagine oneself at the school.
3) A sheet at the sign table was provided that contained the name, company, work title and e-mail of all the alumni that were there as well as 6 others. This should make it easy to know how to contact the alumni after the info session with additional questions.

The host was Patricia Harrison. I got a chance to talk to her for about 5 minutes before the session started. This is her second year at Tuck as associate director of admissions. This is her first year doing the tour thing. She was great.

The school presentation was performed without a PowerPoint presentation. But it was very helpful even in verbal only format. Pat talked for 25 minutes and then spent the rest of the time asking the alumni panel particular questions and then allowed us to ask questions to Pat or the panel.

So what is the core of Tuck’s MBA?

1) The focus is on general management. There is only the 1 MBA major and not the 18 majors like at Wharton. The goal here is to train versatile executives.
2) Extensive Professor and student relationships. Tuck does not have a part time or executive MBA. So the school focuses 100% on the experience of each student without the profs having divided attention among full, part time and exec students.
3) Strong class community. The years of graduation of the alumni present were: 73’, 89’ and the rest were 04’. The closeness of the class was endearingly discussed no matter what year the alumnus graduated. The presence of the older alumni gave me a strong feeling that students as a whole just love the school. I know many schools talk about this aspect, but I think Tuck has an edge in this area. But I also think it’s because the class size is limited to 240. The alumnus who graduated in 89’ said that his class size was 165. So not much changed in the class size in 15 years. Moreover, the notion of the closeness is shown by the fact that 65% of the annual Tuck budget is provided by private donation from Alumni. The highest of any MBA school in the U.S.

The Education
1) Classes are taught either in lecture format or case method. A majority of classes are case method.
2) Students are assigned 5-6 people study groups. The students are pre-chosen for each group by admissions staff and do their best to put people with very different backgrounds together.
3) A new initiative that is about 3 weeks old is called the Cohen Leadership Development Program. This is a leadership analysis performed by self-assessment, by peers and with a leadership coach.
4) There are foreign project initiatives that student can get involved with.
5) All 1st years take the same classes. The 2nd year is full of various electives. Student can choose to study abroad, have self directed study or try some International field study projects.
6) 100% of the students this past year participated in summer internships.
7) Bob Jones, an alumnus, described how the classes are coordinated quite well. For example, he found it interesting how one would go to a business overview class and discuss a particular case, then go to marketing and discuss the same case from a marketing perspective. This would continue when going to accounting and the organization behavior class and the different perspectives on the same case was quite a learning experience for him.

1) As Dartmouth is in Hanover, New Hampshire the environment is quaint. The alumni described how many of the students learn how to play ice hockey. Many go skiing. Stories of going to lakes that were frozen over and lighting fires on the ice to keep warm seemed to bring back some special memories for many of the Alumni.
2) There are certain student traditions that new students quickly catch onto. Wed-Sat, there is something going on in the evening every week. For example Wednesday’s might be the regular pub night
3) Tuck is rather family oriented. In fact, Pat described how you’ll end up knowing every students name, their spouses name, kids names and even the names of their dogs.
4) I found it interesting that 40% of all students are married. The spouses are highly included in many of the activites that student participate in.
5) One alumnus, Anu described her first class experience. The prof knew her name and background on her resume. This very much surprised her. She went on to say that during class, the prof would sometimes ask them particualr questions because of that particular students resume background.

Some interesting points
1) When students are going through interviews with onsite visiting companies, there is a 1000pt voting system that they use. Basically, you make a list of preference companies and assign points to your desirability to increase or decrease your chances of getting the opportunity to interview. So you could assign all 1000 to one company and be practically guaranteed the interview. You could also break out the points however you wanted among various schools and take what you get from there. This is not the only interview venue. Many students are asked or invited to interview.
2) Bob Jones, (Class of 89') one of the alumni is an executive at a Biomedical company here in Silicon Valley. His contribution to the panel was immense. His company goes to Tuck every year to recruit MBA students. He described how Tuck sends his company a 1st year and 2nd year resume book of ALL the resumes of the students. One point that Bob also helped me to understand was that he and his leadership team felt that Tuck matched the internal culture at his company. So at many companies, its probably not enough to learn that particular leaders at companies went to particular MBA programs, but that perhaps that employer has a slant for a particular school. So if one has any aspirations to go work for a particular company later on, then it’s a good idea to find out what schools the majority of MBA’s at that company went to.


Blogger Romit said...

Thanks Dave for such a detailed information. I feel I have myself attended the Tuck Info session.


7:18 AM  
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