A generation of BSers ago, EssaySnark had done an informal ranking of “the best” schools — “best” being a term that’s sooooo subjective as to be practically useless, but in this case we were trying to recognize schools that were particularly applicant-friendly.
It may sound odd, but traditionally, like for years and years all the way up through the 2000-somethings, business schools were really not that interested in marketing themselves to their applicants or trying to help candidates figure out how to apply.
Many admissions departments were closed-box experiences. They didn’t want to tip their hands to show applicants what they were evaluating you on, out of some belief that doing so would give the applicants an unfair advantage. Or something.
And so it was refreshing indeed when The Tuck School put forth all sorts of efforts to be, like, friendly. Their admission team way back ages ago put in place these really cool policies, like offering feedback to rejected or waitlisted candidates. And, Tuck was a school that had an open-interview policy. If you could make it up to their campus in New Hampshire, they were happy to meet you, and you’d get to go through the formal interview process with a student. You didn’t have to wait to be invited. You didn’t have to pass through any sort of gauntlet or test. Just come visit them, and while you were there, they’d set you up with their standard in-person interview experience, and that interview would go into the evaluation of your application as a whole.
You didn’t even have to have your app done yet. You could make the campus visit a part of your school research project, and even incorporate some of what you learned from the experience into your pitch to tell them how much you wanted to go there for your MBA. This policy was friendly, and inviting, and very applicant-forward.
It was because of this and other policies Tuck made EssaySnark’s 2014 list of 5 favorite business schools. We really like Tuck! Not just because of the interview-everyone policy, but surely, that’s been a big part of it.
Tuck isn’t the only school that interviews everyone; Kellogg also wants to interview candidates as a standard part of their application process, and Duke has an interview-anyone policy at the beginning of their season as well — in fact, right about now is when you should be scheduling an interview for Duke’s Open Interview Period, September 10 – October 17, 2020 . These are conducted virtually, and you can be planning for an application in any round, even Round 2 next January. You’ll want to take advantage of that for sure. Kellogg is also doing virtual interviews, and based on demand they cannot guarantee they’ll be able to accommodate all candidates, but it’s baked into their process and they try their best to match you with an alumni in your area who will conduct the interview this year virtually.
OK whatever, so why are we miffed at Tuck?
It’s because they used to be INCREDIBLY applicant-friendly, and this year? Well kind of not.
Instead of adopting their interview-anyone policy for the coronavirus age, and instituting Zoom interviews with second-year students open to any applicant who wanted to do them, Tuck made their open-interview policy available only to applicants who have a COMPLETED application — including letters of recommendation — fully submitted by September 1st.
SEPTEMBER 1ST?!?? Like, TOMORROW?!??
Nobody is in app-submit mode yet.
Well that’s not entirely true: There certainly have been candidates submitting apps to Columbia since June when that application opened. And that’s because Columbia’s process invites early submission of applications. They have rolling admissions and there are advantages to submitting early.
So, yes, some candidates have submitted full applications already, and many already got answers back, including some happy BSers we worked with who landed an admit already. Whoohoo their MBA journey is over! (The Early Decision process at Columbia is binding, so if you submitted through that track, and you’re in, then you’re agreeing in advance to going there, and you would withdraw any other active applications. The Columbia J-Term app is also open now and if you’re admitted to J-Term, it’s not binding, and you could still be applying elsewhere for other schools with no ethical violation, if you weren’t set on the J-Term opportunity — though a deposit is due to hold your spot at Columbia so decisions tend to need to be made quickly.
The unofficial kick-off to the MBA admissions season has long been marked by Harvard Business School and their just-after-Labor-Day deadline that they instituted like ten years ago.
Fun fact: Did you know that most schools used to have Round 1 deadlines in October? Can you imagine? Wouldn’t it be nice to be sitting here on September 1st thinking you had a full MONTH ahead of you to procrastinate further?
Anyway, Columbia has been busily accepting (and unfortunately rejecting) applicants since June, and yes Darden has an Early Decision deadline in a few days, on September 2nd, so it’s not like there are no apps being completed by anyone before now… But most MBA candidates just don’t have their “OMG!” hat on quite yet. Many of you are only just now lifting your sleepy heads off the pillow and blinking your eyes in the strong daylight and realizing that oh yes, ma cherie, deadlines are coming.
Most people just aren’t in hyperdrive mode right now. They’re not getting apps done. They’re barely getting their first drafts started.
So for Tuck to have changed the rules so completely where not only do you have just this one slim window of opportunity to do the applicant-initiated interview, but you have to have your whole darn app done already. And yet the actual Round 1 deadline isn’t until SEPTEMBER 28.
Sure, they have a little asterisk on their Important Dates page , but dang.
Tuck has been blasting promotional emails out to its marketing lists all summer long.
Did one ever come through with a subject line like “Hey if you want to apply here we want you to know about our very limited time opportunity to interview!”
Maybe one did, but we sure didn’t see it.
We’re betting they will be collecting a very scant few applications by the time this September 1st deadline comes by.
And we will shout this request into the void at them: Yo Luke Pena and Tuck Admissions people, why not extend this Open Interview thingie through your actual Round 1 deadline at the end of the month?
Yes yes we know: If an applicant does not submit by this September 1st deadline, then they don’t get an automatic applicant-intiated interview, but they still very well could be invited to interview by the admissions team. We realize that interviews are still a possibility for quality candidates to Tuck. Everyone admitted will have gone through the interview. It’s not like this is your only possible chance.
We also understand that Tuck can’t keep it Open Interviews all season — that volume would likely bury their team of second-year interviewers and be completely unmanageable.
But it just seems like this policy is a tad limiting and overly restrictive, and it suddenly is making you guys look applicant-unfriendly instead of the opposite.
It essentially created multiple deadlines for Round 1. Like, Round 1 is September 28! Or no, if you’re really motivated, then actually it’s September 1st!
Can you say CONFUSING?
It just kind of sucks.
And you didn’t really blast this news out to the market, or put it like as a banner across the admissions pages of your website, or whatever.
All right, that’s enough. We’re done with the Tuck-bashing. But yeah, this is lame.
(We had some choice words for Duke a few months back based on their original decision to maintain the same Open Interview policy but only for on-campus interviews — where they were essentially REQUIRING students to come to Durham to interview — yes, during a global pandemic. Thankfully someone rethought that decision and they rescinded that plan, and instituted virtual interviews for Open Interview Period.)
We still like Tuck a lot, and there are reasons that we have been encouraging certain Brave Supplicants we work with to consider the Dartmouth MBA this season. But we’re also seeing other schools bend over backwards to communicate with their applicant base and help EASE the burden of applying where possible. It’s coronavirus, man. Things are rough in the world. Let’s try to make it easier on folks, not implementing more hurdles for them to navigate as part of the overall very stressful process of applying.