Dartmouth MBA Program Reserved For “Nice” Business Students

After undergoing a major evaluation and restructure of its admissions process for MBA students, Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business has declared that applicants without “nice” attributes need not apply.

Tuck’s admissions office sought input from stakeholders in order to determine what kind of personality traits would best fit within Dartmouth’s community. The result was new evaluation criteria for MBA applicants which comprised of four attributes reflective of successful Tuck students: smart, nice, accomplished, and aware.

“The pathways students take to Tuck are numerous,” Tuck Executive Director of Admissions and Financial Aid Luke Anthony Peña said.

“They bring a wide range of experiences and perspectives to our community and incredible professional diversity. Yet we’ve found that no matter their path to Tuck, there are four attributes that our students consistently demonstrate.

“We’re now intentionally highlighting those four qualities for prospective students and inviting them to imagine themselves here.”

Mr Peña said specifying “nice” as a key attribute for MBA applicants actually meant that Tuck was on the look out for students with emotional intelligence, empathy, and respect for others.

“Tuck is a distinctly collaborative community so being able to challenge others tactfully and thoughtfully is important,” he said.

Tuck School of Business’ “Nice” criteria

This is quintessential Tuck, where you cultivate a habit of kindness. You actively encourage, celebrate, and support others. But being nice does not mean you’re a pushover who always agrees and defers. Nice Tuck candidates exhibit emotional intelligence. You layer compassion onto courage, and challenge others tactfully and thoughtfully. You display both strength and vulnerability. You ask for help, and you help others. You’re positive and principled. You act with respect and integrity, even when it’s not convenient or easy. You show empathy for the diverse experiences of others, while also sharing your own. You recognise that your success and others’ success are interdependent, and generously invest in both. Being nice at Tuck means building trust through deep, genuine connections which endure for life.

Each attribute in the new criteria, which became official in June 2018, was expected to tie not only to the mission of ‘wise leadership’, but also to dimensions of the Tuck application. Smart is a nod to academic achievement and strong test scores. Accomplishments will be revealed in resumes, and niceness and awareness will emerge in essays. Interviews and reference letters will be designed to surface each of the four criteria.

The new criteria was in fact part of a larger move by Tuck to overhaul its admissions process, in a move to make Dartmouth stand out as having the most enjoyable and least stressful MBA application processes among top business schools.

Mr Peña said he and the admissions team wanted to eliminate mental barriers to applying, ease anxiety, and make it clear that at Tuck, the admissions evaluation process is all about the candidate.

Other admissions process improvements recently announced include clearer application round names, faster decision times, and uniform enrollment deposits. New essay and reference letter questions will be revealed later in June, and the application for the Tuck Class of 2021 will open in early July.

Ben Ready
Ben Ready founded MBA News in 2014 and is the Managing Editor. He is a former business and finance journalist with Australian Associated Press (AAP) and Dow Jones Newswires in London. Ben completed his MBA in 2012 and was awarded the QUT GMAA Entrepreneurship Prize. He is also the founder and Managing Director of RGC Media & Mktng (rgcmm.com.au).