Most Transparent MBA Admissons: Tuck, HBS, Ross & Fuqua

The Tuck Admissions Team: Front (left to right): Mary Brown, Dawna Clarke, Pat Harrison. Back (left to right):          Belinda Kwiatkowski, Heather Schwamb, Kristin Roth, Sarah McGinley-Smith, Allegra Lubrano, Angela DeMartin, Stephanie Butler   Missing:  Amy Mitson, Nancy Granada, Kristine Laca, Sudershan Tirumala, Ashley Arsenal & Diana Krass Photo by Rob Strong

The Tuck Admissions Team: Front (left to right): Mary Brown, Dawna Clarke, Pat Harrison.
Back (left to right): Belinda Kwiatkowski, Heather Schwamb, Kristin Roth, Sarah McGinley-Smith, Allegra Lubrano, Angela DeMartin, Stephanie Butler
Missing: Amy Mitson, Nancy Granada, Kristine Laca, Sudershan Tirumala, Ashley Arsenal & Diana Krass
Photo by Rob Strong

Who does MBA admissions better than any other business school?

Certainly, it’s an admissions team that not only invests the time to know its applicants really well but also boasts an approach to admissions that allows for a high level of engagement. And secondly, it’s a school that is as transparent as possible about the highly subjective and often mysterious process of selection. After all, the best schools reject eight or more candidates out of every ten. It’s a special school that can turn someone away without feeling angry about the process.

No business school in the world gets higher points for both than Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business in a new Poets&Quants’ survey of leading MBA admission consultants. They single out Tuck as the school with the most transparent admissions policies, beating out No. 2 Harvard Business School by a two-to-one margin. The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business came in third, while Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and INSEAD captured fourth and fifth place.

And when it came to knowing the MBA applicant pool best–and therefore being in an ideal position to evaluate and judge prospective students–the Tuck admissions team toppled every other school again. Duke was second, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management was third, and INSEAD was fourth.

DINGED ON ADMISSIONS: STANFORD, COLUMBIA & WHARTON

Which schools clearly got the thumbs down from consultants? Stanford, Columbia, Wharton, and UC-Berkeley were singled out for having the least transparent admissions policies. Stanford, moreover, got nearly twice the number of negative votes than Columbia Business School. Wharton and Columbia again came up in a negative light as the schools that failed to get to know their applicants well before rendering admit-or-deny decisions on them.

The results are based on a Poets&Quants’ survey sent in May to 50 leading MBA admission consultants at the world’s top firms and boutiques. Consultants are in the best position to judge a business school’s admissions office because they can easily compare practices across schools over many years. Some 35 of the 50 consulting firms completed our surveys, for a response rate of 70% (see the participating firms). All together, the survey respondents–many of them former business school admissions officials themselves–have accumulated well over 400 years of admissions consulting experience and helped more than 65,000 applicants get into the world’s best MBA programs.

That Tuck’s admissions team, led by Dawna Clarke, took first honors was little surprise to many of the consultants whose clients have applied to the school over the years. From an open-interview policy, feedback to all waitlisted and some denied applicants, and frequent and helpful communications via social media as well as video and text blogs, Tuck has clearly established the best MBA admissions practices in the world.

EXTENDING & REINFORCING TUCK’S SUPPORTIVE CULTURE TO APPLICANTS

In every contact that applicants make with Tuck’s admissions team, Director Clarke wants the school’s close-knit and highly supportive culture reinforced. “The way we talk about it internally is the importance of us embodying Tuck’s culture through every interaction,” she says. “It should be what they can expect from the school if they come here.”

The school will interview anyone who comes to campus and requests an interview. “Tuck really values strong interpersonal and communication skills because they are so important in the classroom and to a person’s long-term career,” says Clarke. “There is nothing that replaces an evaluation of that than the interview and what recommenders say.”

In a typical year, Tuck will interview between 1,700 and 2,000 of its 2,400 applicants. “We invest a lot of resources in order to pull that open interview policy off with a combination of staff and second-year students who go through a pretty extensive training process,” says Clarke. “It is a differentiator for us, and it is such a good way to get to know the applicants.”