My visit to the Tuck School of Business – Modern day Gurukul

I had the opportunity to visit the Tuck school of Business last Friday. Being close to Boston I have visited MIT & Harvard umpteen times (as a tourist and as a volunteer attending the meetings and activities of the NGO that I work for). However, this was the first time that I visited a business school as a prospective student and obviously I was very excited. A couple of my friends have been egging me over the last couple of days for details of the trip, but preparation for Onam feast on Sunday and a hectic schedule at work kept me from writing for the last few days.

The Tuck school is about 3 hours drive from where I live but I chose not to drive early morning on Friday. Instead I stayed with a good friend of mine at his place in Keene (a little over an hour from Tuck). For majority of the journey from Keene, it was a lonely drive through the woods of New Hampshire. I am someone who prefers such narrow and winding roads over monotonous highways and enjoyed the first half of the drive before taking the highway. The first sight of Hanover, when I exited the highway, was that of a serene lake with walking trails around its perimeter. Within no time I was near the heart of the town where most of the school buildings were located. The first few minutes at Hanover were enough to convince me that Tuck is the closest to a modern day business school equivalent of Gurukul (an old Indian school system with strong emphasis on amity and bonding). I parked my car in the Medical School parking area and took a shuttle to the Whittier Hall. I was well ahead of the schedule and enjoyed the calmness around the hall while waiting for the event to kick off.

Soon other prospective students started showing up and at 10 our host kicked off the event by handing each of us our ‘package’. This contained the agenda for the day and some informational brochures. The first thing on the agenda was a tour of the school premises. A 1978 Tuck alum showed us around the school and he had a lot of interesting facts to offer. Here are some of the key points that I noted from the campus tour:
¨      The Stell Hall is amazing!! With a view of the woods and the river in the background you wouldn’t find a more tranquil setting. We were told this hall was the fulcrum of a lot of school activities and is buzzing with students all the time. 
¨      The Tuck infrastructure really fosters a collaborative & close knit environment.
¨      The close proximity to the schools of Engineering and Medicine helps a lot of entrepreneurial projects, with ideas originating in the Engineering & Medial schools that are then implemented by MBA students.
¨      The alumni contribution really shows up in the infrastructure as well, some of the dorms are equipped with Tempurpedic beds (all courtesy Tuck alumni).
¨      Most of the students with partners and families stay in the Sachem Village, a couple of miles from the campus. But we were told that the Sachem Village did an ever better job of nurturing close bonding and there were a lot of activities that partners and families could look forward to.

Next up was a mock class with Professor Golder, who presented some of the findings from his ongoing research in the field of Marketing and Product Innovation. Prof. Golder laid out some interesting facts and demystified a lot of common (mostly false) beliefs regarding the origins of some of the most common household items. This was followed by a lunch with Students and representatives from MBA Program Office. All of us (prospective students) were seated at designated lunch tables and each table had either a current Tuck student or a representative from the MBA Program Office. Our table had a representative from the MBA Program office and it was a good opportunity for us to ask our questions in such a small group. Later a student panel (comprising of 4 T’12 students) presented their view about the school and shared their experiences. Their views were of tremendous value and they had so many of them I cannot put all of it in this blog, but one thing I must share is that the common underlying of all their experiences was the camaraderie and togetherness that the Tuck environment facilitates.  
After the lunch session we moved back to a classroom where members of the Career Development Office (CDO) were already waiting for us. The agenda was to help us understand how the CDO prepares us for our career goals. The interaction with CDO starts very early during the MBA program (as early as the second week) so it is important to understand what the CDO can offer so that students can make the best out of them. Here are some of the noteworthy items from the presentation by the CDO.
¨      Tuck recruitment team is emotionally vested in their student’s goals and they have a one-on-one relation with each student (Based on everything that I heard from the students, this has to be absolutely true).
¨      Tuck has a ‘half-close’ list for offers from companies, which means recruiters only get to pick half of the students of their choice (for interview) and the other half is open for students to bid for.
¨      The CDO tries it’s best to help International students get offers here in the USA.
¨      The CDO has a lot of resources to place students but the onus is on the students to ‘actively manage their career and own it’.
The last item on the agenda was a presentation by the Admissions panel followed by a discussion. Let me quickly summarize the key points from the presentation.
Admission Committee’s guidelines for applicants:
¨      Application is reviewed in a holistic manner; there are no minimums (for GMAT or GPA).
¨      Tuck has a ‘blind interview’ policy – interviewers do not have access to essays.
¨      Use STAR method for interviews, use anecdotes where possible and avoid long-windedness.

After the scheduled events for the day had ended I drove to Sachem Village, after all this is the place where I might end up staying with my family (obviously if I get in). The theme of this place is along the same lines as that of the Tuck school with the addition of more open spaces and playgrounds. I am pretty sure that Tuck must be unique in this aspect, by providing such a wonderful setting for students with partners and families Tuck makes sure that the 2 years during the MBA are equally enjoyable for partners and families as well.

Tuck has been in my scheme of things for quite some time, but this visit only reinforced my belief and now I am ‘all in’ trying to present the best possible case for my Tuck application. 

August - A very hectic month so far

I have barely made any progress on my essays over the last few weeks. August has been a very busy month for me till now and the last week only promises more activity. Earlier this month I was in New York for a couple of days to attend the Destination B-School event organized by Kaplan. Last week I attended the Tuck event at Hanover.

In between all my B-school research I had to make sure that my social life does not go underground. We had to plan and celebrate Onam at our place, there was a lot of planning and preparation involved. My wife took a lot of the responsibility to ensure that I had as much time as possible for my school research. Thankfully the Onam celebrations went well. We had a grand feast at our place, everyone (especially the kids) enjoyed it.

Now things at work have really caught up and next week promises more work. I will be heading to Omaha for four days. I hope I will be able to carve our some time to write my essays and do more research on some of the other schools that I am considering.   
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