That is now what comes to mind whenever I think of Dartmouth’s Tuck school of Business. And after not one, but two incredibly underwhelming B-school engagements that led to one then another edit of my target list, I’m ecstatic to feel this way about another MBA program. I haven’t felt this buzzed since I visited the Stanford GSB last spring.
Please allow me to regale you with a quick rundown of the events that led to my uncovering an amazing jewel in Tuck while attending a coffee chat that several of their students hosted in Los Angeles today.
Yeah, annoyed. That was actually the very first thing that I felt when I did a map of the meeting location on my iPhone. It was planned to take place at some obscure coffee house in the Los Feliz/Silver Lake area. Los Feliz and Silver Lake are two adjacent, artsy, trendy, very beatnik-friendly upper-middle-class-to- wealthy neighborhoods just northeast of Hollywood.
While it is (barely) within the borders of my self-defined and gerrymandered Hollywood Hills/Downtown/110 Freeway/LAX Airport district of acceptable proximity, I kinda don’t like going to that part of town; not as much as I don’t like going to Orange County, but about 35% not as much. My reason for avoiding this neighborhood is that it is a mixture of being A) too crowded and B) too trendy.
It’s crowded because it is an older, densely populated area where the only parking is on the street–which is never available unless you are going to someone’s mansion or mini-mansion. Other than that, it’s just endless rows of classic California apartment buildings from the 50s and 60s and small,quaint homes smashed together like some random block in Brooklyn.
It’s trendy because its the kind of place where EVERY place is pretty much some obscure spot that you’ve never heard of, which makes it a nightmare when you’re trying to find a meet place (especially at night) on some tight, two-lane street with no parking. Everybody in this area either works in the entertainment business (or some other creative profession) and/or a non profit of some sort (I’m not kidding–everyone) and they all drive Toyota Priuses (that many of them park at mansions in the Los Feliz or Hollywood Hills, no less); which is also why the few parking spots that are available at any given time are way too small. Additionally, the trendiness of this neighborhood just adds to the crowds and subtracts more parking spaces.
A NEW YORK MOMENT
So after taking a 25-minute drive on a street route (the freeways were a parking lot today and would have doubled the time of my journey) I came to the coffee place where the chat would be held. Naturally, there was no parking so I circled for 15 minutes before finally finding a parking space five blocks away that I had to do a 27-point turn to get into because it was (naturally) only big enough for a vehicle not much larger than a Prius.
As I walked to the obscure coffee shop in a huff, I thought “Now see, this is EXACTLY why I won’t be applying to any schools in New York. I feel completely irritated and smothered in this sardine can of a neighborhood”.
LOS FELIZ’S ONLY CHAIN
When I approached the site of the chat, the Tuck group was easy to spot. All of Tuck’s ambassadors were casually dressed in green and the applicants all wore button-down shirts with either dress pants or khakis for the most part (about 85% of who showed up were guys). The locals were in dockers shorts, flip flops and shades making us look very, very out of place; however, it’s LA so no one really cared and half of the passersby were probably high on something anyway (I mean, since they’re in entertainment and all).
As one might expect on a Saturday in July, the quaint little coffee place was jam packed; so the Tuck students made an executive decision for us to walk a few blocks past where I had parked to a Coffee Bean–probably the only actual chain food establishment for miles.
WHY I NOW LOVE TUCK
By the time we sat down I had calmed the snarky attitude that I had developed while finding a parking slit space. I had gotten over the location given that the Tuck students were not familiar with LA (anyone who’s been a Los Angeleno for more than 10 minutes knows that you don’t invite large groups to this part of town; it’s really made for singles, couples and small groups due to limited space). I also appreciated that they had the good sense to move us to a larger, better accommodating space.
So here is a quick bullet-point rundown on what has me so excited about the possibility of attending Tuck:
- Of course, it comfortably meets my pre-req of documented entrepreneur production
- During my pre-coffee chat research I uncovered an actual part of the website that walks you through the curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular resources recommended for entrepreneurs to take advantage of EACH quarter during their entire matricularion–IMPRESSIVE!
- I was completely taken with my Tuck student ambassador’s anecdotes and examples of the level of responsiveness of its alumni–including his own story of getting funded after taking on an entrepreneurial First Year Project (a program that is unique to Tuck)–and he didn’t even go to school intending to start a company.
- I love the hands-on nature of Tuck’s program. I’m not one of those applicants who is looking to fiddle and play around in some business plan competition because its hip and trendy and then go work for a global bank. I plan to build something while I’m there.
- There were about four to five data points (from the Entrepreneur-in- Residence program to a start up summer internship opportunity) that clearly illustrated that Tuck is a supportive ecosystem for entrepreneurs that provides actual resources (including faculty mentors) to hit the ground running WHILE in school as opposed to just a bunch of theoretical babble about business plans in some entrepreneurship class.
- Tuck’s “24/7″, somewhat obsessive culture really resonates with my personality and work style. The fact that the entire faculty and student body is committed to maintaining an environment of deep immersion makes it a great possible fit for me.
- Since there is a 100% chance that I will end up in cold weather should I get into any of my target schools (New England, Chicago or the San Francisco Bay Area–which is freezing much of the year), why not consider doing it in an idyllic setting where I can ski and snowboard ’til I drop?
I even gained a better appreciation for Los Feliz/SilverLake out of this whole experience. As I walked back to my car beaming from my Tuck experience, my hungry stomach led me into an obscure (naturally, right?) little place to eat called Community where I had the OMG Lamb Sandwich, which 100% lived up to its name (OMG). I will definitely be back to rip into a few additional items on their menu in the future.
Oh, and in typical Los Feliz/Silverlake fashion, my wonderful server was ACTUALLY a college professor with multiple degrees who works at Community in her spare time because baking gourmet pastries is her favorite creative outlet (maybe SHE should apply to Tuck, eh?). In the immortal words of The Young Turks……OF COOOOOOOOOOURSE!
Which leaves me to my ONE remaining concern about Tuck…where/what the heck is a foodie like me going to EAT in Hanover, NH?
MBAOver30 offers the perspective of a 30-something, California-based entrepreneur who is applying to Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, MIT, Northwestern, Berkeley, UCLA and the University of Southern California. He hopes to gain acceptance to the Class of 2015 and blogs at MBAOver30.
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