Meet Dartmouth Tuck’s MBA Class of 2017

Tuck School of Business

Tuck School of Business


Don’t assume Tuckies hit Hanover just for self-discovery, however. At the end of the journey, they seek both enlightenment and employment. The Class of 2014, for example, managed an impressive 93.8% placement rate within three months of graduation, higher than Stanford, Sloan, and Columbia. The class also boasted an average starting salary of $142,489, fifth-best among Top 20 programs and better than Haas, Booth, and Kellogg. According to a 2014 joint study between PayScale and Poets&Quants, Tuck grads earn $2,703,000 within twenty years of graduation, higher than east coast MBA stalwarts like Cornell, NYU, and Yale. This month, Bloomberg Businessweek calculated that Tuck grads were pulling down $220,000 a year on average. One reason: Despite its rural setting, the school was ranked #1 by The Economist for the diversity of recruiters who visited campus. In other words, this isn’t some touchy-feely northern exposure for sentimentalists gone adrift who are looking to re-live high school or college. The program has serious chops.

Like Harvard and Darden, Tuck is renowned for its case teaching, which pushes students to examine all angles and exposes them to both different methods of problem-solving and the uncertainty inherent to decision-making. However, Tuck tempers cases with a growing experiential bent. For example, all students must complete TuckGo, an immersive experiencethat requires students to travel overseas to complete a consulting project. Tuck also offers several optional hands-on experiences, including its increasingly popular Technology Boot Camp, which takes first-years to Silicon Valley haunts like Google and Facebook before classes start. Even more, the business school maintains relationships with several schools on campus, including medicine, engineering and public health, freeing students to gain both breadth and depth in particular industries and functions.


However, such results and opportunities are icing on the cake for many incoming class members, who praise the school’s small class sizes and friendly people. For Nicole Burns, a former vice present at JP Morgan Chase who hopes to channel her business savvy to social issues, such a milieu was exactly what she was seeking. “Students who attend Tuck are interested in gaining a relationship-driven experience and this environment resonated with me. I learned that no matter what background you come from, you are a Tuckie and the community is there to support you. The bonds that you form by attending school in Hanover are truly magical. I knew that attending Tuck would push me out of my comfort zone and allow me to grow personally in new ways because of the small environment and outdoor recreational activities.”

Upper Valley near Hanover, New Hampshire

Upper Valley near Hanover, New Hampshire

Such close quarters also breeds access. The admissions team, for example, is lauded by applicants for its transparency, often giving advice to those who don’t get accepted.  What’s more, faculty and students forge uncommonly close bonds at Tuck, where students can chat up branding guru Kevin Lane Keller or Top 5 Business Thinker Vijay Govindarajan. And such access is a hallmark of the Tuck experience. “At any top business school, I knew I would be surrounded by influential professors, students, and alumni,” writes Courtney Miller, a West Point grad who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. “What makes Tuck unique is the level of access we gain to these thought leaders. In the five weeks I’ve been here two experiences have really stood out – I’ve had dinner with the CEO of one of the world’s largest investment management companies and drinks with a senior managing director at one of Wall Street’s most storied firms.”

And this sense of community doesn’t just stop with students, faculty, administration, and alums. It also applies to student families, with 25% of the class bringing a significant other and another 5% having children. “My wife and I were immediately welcomed into this community,” observed Brian Cook, who most recently oversaw national recruiting for Teach for America. “Not only were alumni eager to chat on the phone with me, they wanted to connect their partners with my wife to learn about the partner experience. By the time I visited Tuck, I observed how genuine passion for this environment and for what can be achieved by people who choose this environment.” Ben Stevens, a BYU alum from Portland, was even more effusive in his enthusiasm for Tuck. “After my wife and daughter were exposed to the Dartmouth community, there wasn’t any way I was going to be able to drag them away from Hanover.


Alumni engagement is another perk of being a Tuckie. Although the school only ranks 8th in Bloomberg Businessweek’s most recent alumni satisfaction survey, Tuck alums tend to demonstrate their loyalty through their pocketbooks. For the past 4 years, over 70% of alumni have contributed to the school’s annual giving campaign – with recent graduates reaching over 80% according to former dean Paul Danos. More impressively, the participation rate has exceeded 60% for over a quarter century. In fact, Tuck’s participation rate is up to three times higher than many business schools, whose average often only goes as high as 25%. In other words, if you place a call to a Tuck alum, it’s almost certain that they will return your call.

Such devotion would come as no surprise to Claire Laudone, most recently a private equity associate at AEA Investors. “I was hard pressed to find a single alumni who had anything but wonderful things to say about their experience here.” And Tuck alumni do more than just write checks, adds Miller. “I’ve been amazed to see how eager Tuck alumni have been to come back and provide guidance to current students.”

Location further differentiates Tuck, which is a two hour drive from Boston. And many Tuckies have taken to the areas forests, rivers and valleys as if they aspired to be a modern day Grizzly Adams. “The isolation of the school away from a major city center scares a lot of people,” admits John Gwillim, formerly  a program manager at Impact Carbon, a social enterprise working to increase access to clean energy solutions globally. “I see [the location] as an advantage. I will get to know my classmates better than at any other school. In my first month I’ve taken classmates rock climbing, done multiple hikes in the Green and White Mountains, and went canoeing on the Connecticut river—all things that have allowed me to start building lasting relationships with my classmates that just wouldn’t be feasible in a big city.”

Downtown Hanover

Downtown Hanover

Living in a small town also brings a calming effect, adds Lane McVey, who worked for Major League Baseball after leaving Good Morning America. “I love that we can go hiking and biking on the weekends and walk into the quaint town of Hanover for a coffee with friends. Being here gives us a sense of relaxation and calm and provides a really important mental balance in an otherwise stressful time.”

The early returns for the Class of 2017 are promising. Alaska native Katelyn G. Baldwin, who has already worked in Haiti, West Africa, Asia and Israel, describes her classmates as “smart, kind, incredible, and supportive,” adding “my experience at Tuck has exceeded my expectations.” And Laudone chimes in that she has been impressed by how students “care about helping each other succeed and work really well together.”

As time passes, glee will turn to seriousness, as the Class of 2017 hones in on the big picture. For Miller, that means sharpening his decision-making skills. “My time in public service taught me a lot about sacrifice and commitment. However, I recognize that difficult decisions are not just made on the battlefield, they are also made in boardrooms. The CEO of a Fortune 100 company recently came to Tuck and spoke about making tough decisions, especially when you have the weight of your employees, investors, and customers on your shoulders. I hope to learn from the example of many business leaders to gain the strategic intelligence necessary for leading in uncertainty.”

For others like McVey, the next two years will be a time to take risks, knowing the results will be bruising not catastrophic. “Tuck provides a really safe place to fail.  One of my personal goals before I graduate from Tuck is to be ok with failure (except in Tripod Hockey, I won’t settle for 2nd place there).  I’m really competitive, so I don’t like to do things that I won’t excel at.  At Tuck, I don’t want my fear of failure to stop me from trying something new.”

Many, like Laudone, are here to learn, grow, and ultimately emerge re-charged for the next phase of their career. “I came to business school to be challenged in new ways, learn frameworks, and develop practical skills for everyday on-the-job use, meet amazing people, and explore what I’m passionate about. My ultimate goal is to leave business school with a job offer in hand that makes me excited to go back to the workforce!”

Katelyn G. Baldwin / Wasilla, AK

Nicole Burns / Newburgh, NY

Brian Cook / Washington, DC

John Gwillim / Traverse City, MI

Khushboo Jhala / Birmingham, AL

Dale Kim / New York, NY

Claire Laudone / Glastonbury, CT

Lane McVey / Bronxville, NY

Courtney Miller / Cicero, NY

Ben Stevens / Portland, OR

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