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.”

  • FStratford

    Schools like Columbia and Wharton do not get to know their candidates and have an opaque admissions process because they are GMAT hos. They don’t care about anything else about you. (Well maybe some demographic info because if you are Asian 760 aint enough) They only pretend to look at the whole application, when in fact what matters most to them can be summed up in 3 words: GMAT, gender, and do-you-have-money-because-we-don’t-have-scholarships. Since their admissions process and criteria are pretty much something to be ashamed of, they would benefit from non-transparency.

  • Haveyou

    Oh how typical to refer to anyone as my “homeboy.” Tuck’s US minority population is 14%. I guarantee you that the underrepresented minority population is only about 5% of that. The facts are facts……Tuck is a very white school!!

  • DiggaLittleDeeper

    Nice breakdown! I might also add that Tuck’s 36% international student body doesn’t include US permanent residents. So the other 64% of the student body is a mix of US citizens and permanent resident ALIENS (as the US government would put it). Talk about more diversity! Haha.

  • hbsguru

    Department of Amplification:
    -Sudershan Tirumala, not shown in Tuck pic, but listed as Adcom member, is male and non-white.

  • avivalasvegas

    Oh hell no – I didn’t go because I didn’t want to live in the middle of nowhere and my school has consistently ranked way higher. I didn’t visit campus and so didn’t get to the weighing diversity stage.

  • avivalasvegas

    You’re stating on a public forum that people belonging to one demographic i.e. a single race and sex are capable of equally diverse decision making as a mixed race, mixed gender pool and you’re calling me naive?

  • Jtaza

    I never said you were blind – I said you are naive to assume that because the Tuck ADCOM is all white women, that their student body will be lacking in diversity. That’s the issue you need to deal with. When I get a few minutes I am going to see what the “diversity” looks like at the other ADCOM offices. I would also love to hear an example of ADCOM that you experiance with and why their diversity level is so much better. Also, can you please explain with any actual data or tangible evidence, that TUCK is suffering becuase they don’t have your optimal racial / gender / sexual orientation / diet preferences mix in their ADCOM? This article basically says they are doing a killer job.

  • Jtaza

    Once again – you are using your own faulty perception as an indicator of reality. Here is what the data shows. I ripped this from the websites of each of the schools. You can look it up for your self. The data is crude, not intended to be comprehensive, and definitely has noise in it. But its better than your “my friend says so” data. Note that I haven’t removed any of the outliers. But at the end of the day, Tuck has ~4-5% less US minority enrollment than the overall / tier 1 average, and is right in line with international student averages and 1% – 2% below women enrollment averages. So much for your “only minority in class” theory.

    Now to the all important “Rich US Pasty White” enrollment which is simply the total enrollment minus US minorities and international enrollment (nobody but whities are left right?). Well yes sadly it is true that Tuck has …wait for it…5% more pasty, evil, white students enrolled than average!! Pretty bad right? Except Tuck only enrolls 275, which means they have about a dozen too many whities walking around those guilded halls than they should have, in order to have the same / optimal level of diversity as the other schools. The actual number is 13, just to be precise. They also need 6 more chics to balance that category out. Either way we can clearly see how biased all those white women in the admission office at TUCK must be.

    Now – where Tuck struggles greatly relative to its peers, is its financial aid capabilities. Its endowment is small and its P&L tiny. Its small enrollment limits their top line revenue, and they always have issues being able to compete on scholarship money to get more students up the middle of wilderness. Considering than many US minorities do not have significant resources, it makes sense that they would opt for school that can offer greater financial aid / scholarships etc etc. Free money matters greatly in choosing a school.

    It is also very much the truth that Dartmouth is a pretty white school, and “walking around” campus is not indicative of the racial mix of the MBA program / campus.

    So whatever your homeboy apparently sees in class, and whatever made you think you would be the only minority if you had chosen to go, neither were based on data. And please spare everyone the “I decided not to even apply / accept my offer from TUCK becuase of its lack of diversity” BS.

  • Haveyou

    Actually Ive met some students that currently attend Tuck and they said the same thing. The Tuck student body looks just like the pic. It is full of white people and walking around the campus as well as the class visits was enough for me to know that it was not the school for me. I don’t want to be the only minority in the class.

  • bwanamia

    So did I. 🙁

    But you know, like all the other groups Americans of European heritage, WASPs particularly, need safe spaces away from prying eyes of third world types and minorities to bond with each other and practice their unique cultural rituals.

  • avivalasvegas

    I thought that was HBS?

  • Bwanamia

    Too cold for the hot-blooded demographic in snowy Hanover, NH. What is it with you? Why can’t Tuck be a school for people who want to escape the disgusting tsunami of diversity that’s overcome US higher education?

  • avivalasvegas

    I made no reference to the student body – I ask again, are you saying I am blind or is the photo of Tuck’s admissions staff filled with entirely white (and only) females? It can only be one of the two choices.

  • avivalasvegas

    Completely agree. Kellogg prides itself with having the largest consulting graduate pool of students, all clones wanting the same kind of the job and with little to appetite for any risk. A better school would consider this a matter of shame!

  • avivalasvegas

    Blatant sexism aside, where are the Asian, Black, Latina “chicks”?

  • bwanamia

    Diversity is the undoing of social cohesion. This is a very good reason to consider Tuck.

  • Capt Obvious

    Yea I agree re: the essay. I felt best able to tell my story with Booth’s essay prompt, even more-so than HBS’s similarly open-ended one. Maybe it was just the way that the question was posed, or the fact that the format was left open for the applicant.

    I think that feeling you were able to completely explain yourself to an admissions committee is so huge in terms of overall experience, regardless of outcome. If you are able to get yourself across effectively and it doesn’t work out, I think that is much easier to take than a situation where you just felt stifled by the process.

  • bwanamia

    The process isn’t transparent unless a given applicant can know to a high degree of certainty whether he’ll be admitted or rejected. Anything else is a meaningless notion of transparency. A transparent process would result in fewer rejections as uncompetitive applicants realized the futility of applying. But that won’t happen anytime soon because rejections are the coin of the realm for establishing and sustaining a strong brand.

  • Bwanamia

    Admissions is a chick job, not unlike HR, selling real estate and teaching kindergarten.

  • DiggaLittleDeeper

    Well! It’s not too difficult admit folks with high GMAT scores. Kellogg obviously seems to be focused on improving its GMAT average as it weighs heavily in the rankings. However, this means that other components of the application become less and less important. The entire student body could resemble each other.

  • Kelloggstudent

    Kellogg crushed it in admissions this year. It’s average gmat went up 10 points to 727 (may drop a point or two if people who paid deposits choose to go elsewhere) and its conversion rate went up a lot too. Your chance of getting off the waitlist is very low.

  • Jtaza

    Oh I get it – you think because you saw too many white people on your visit to Tuck, that means there’s not enough diversity at the school. Sounds like statistically efficient way to measure diversity to me pal. You are basically proving my point that diversity is in the eye of the beholder. Your perception of a photo and your own observation of a 5 hour campus trip is what you use to determine diversity. And because the picture of the admissions team is clearly not diverse enough for you, that means the Tuck student body is clearly not diverse enough for you right?

    I wonder what data shows? Let’s look it up together see whose perception is closer to reality.

  • avivalasvegas

    Didn’t Kellogg come up with the whole video thing before Booth?

  • avivalasvegas

    If you agree with my general premise then what exactly are you doing? Insinuating that I’m color blind or agreeing with the fact that Tuck’s admissions committee is infact filled with only white women?

  • Haveyou

    Actually TUCK is not very diverse as it relates to the student body. Have you been to the campus? It is probably the whitest school out of all of the schools that I visited. When I set in on a class it was lilly white so don’t say anything about Tuck being a diverse. It is not diverse at all.

  • NN

    Ok, I am not an admissions consultant, but can I add my few cents? I LOVED Chicago Booth application process the most! Here are my reasons:
    1) The application required just one general open essay topic. I could tell/show the committee anything about me in the PDF format. This is a great idea because it gives every applicant a chance. Got a great personal growth story? a leadership story? would like to elaborate your career goals, or tell the committee about your hopes and dreams? Go ahead!!!! Contrast this with some other schools that asked applicants to describe a very specific type of experience (“how did you affect an organization?”, tell us a leadership story, etc). If you don’t happen to have a powerful experience that fits this very specific topic, you are at a disadvantage! The topic is clearly suited to M&A bankers, consultants and general managers. If you happened to make an amazing solo contribution, or were self employed, good luck trying to spin your accomplishments in a way that answers this very specific question!
    2) Booth has a low anxiety wait list process. You know what to do: the school gives applicants concrete instructions to submit a 90 second video (again, open topic! Yay!!!). And you can also send in additional essay(s) and recommendation letters to supplement the info in your original application.

  • NoSurprise

    Don’t try and argue this one with logic (which I totally agree with by the way). Remember, this site and many of its readers are VERY pro Tuck. This piece could have shown a picture of any of the schools mentioned, but as usual Tuck wins the day…
    Great school but there are several schools ranked above and it below it that are equally good IMHO…
    Oh well

  • Jtaza

    Well in the case of admissions, apparently diversity doesn’t matter, because TUCK blew everyone else’s score out of the water. I mean it wasn’t even close. I don’t disagree with the general premise of your comment, but diversity for diversity sake does not always guarantee the best outcomes. Tuck is as just as diverse in its student body as any of the top schools, in-spite of the “lack of diversity” of its admission staff.

    Maybe the bigger point, the one I was alluding too in my original comment, is that we shouldn’t be so quick to call out “lack of diversity” wherever we each think we see it.

  • hbsguru

    🙂 Bravo fans can follow this committee at #RHOTAC

  • tuckfan

    Nice one Sandy!

  • avivalasvegas

    Think you’d be able to explain why? To me, a diverse staff including male and females from different backgrounds both professional, geographic and ethnic will likely translate to a greater pool of experiences which the committee can use to relate to applications.

  • Jtaza

    The fact that you are looking for “diversity” in staff pictures is more concerning.

  • avivalasvegas

    Given that Kellogg is ranked at the bottom of the top 5 by almost every rankings metric, and you probably got into No 3 and 4, any reason for the complaint?

  • hbsguru

    come on, read the caption, the photographer was a guy.

  • Don

    I would argue that Kellogg is not super transparent – as someone who has been on the wailtist but got into two other top 5 schools, they will not tell me anything regarding my status.

  • tuckfan

    Haha you’d think they would have at least a token white dude.

  • avivalasvegas

    Not the most diverse looking admissions team there Tuck…in any sense of the word! Wow!