So I took the Dartmouth Coach up to Hanover on 3/24. I arrived at the Yale Club by Grand Central Station at 1pm to catch the bus up there. The bus was a luxury coach with about 20 seats total. It had flat screen tv's, reclining chairs, refreshments in the back, a coffee machine, and of course a bathroom. 4.5 hours later we pulled up in front of the Hanover Inn, which is directly across the street from the Dartmouth campus. I went inside the hotel to wait for the shuttle to the Courtyard Marriot that I was staying at. About 10 minutes later, I hopped into the shuttle and was whisked off to my hotel 3 miles away.
After checking in and unpacking, I went downstairs to the lobby/bar to order dinner and study by the fire and watched bball. I had a nice tasty bacon cheeseburger and went through my PowerScore SC Bible.
Upon finishing I went back upstairs, ironed my clothes, and got ready for the next day.
So I wake up in the morning, go downstairs to the hotel lobby and eat breakfast at the buffet. I request the shuttle to take me to Tuck around 11:15. I had set up three meetings with Tuckies. The official visitors tour would be held on Friday, so Thursday was just the day that I had given to myself to check out the campus. This ended up being the BEST part of my trip!
Arriving on Campus - As I sit on the hotel shuttle, on my way to Tuck, we drive through a little section of the Dartmouth campus. The main landmark that we pass by is the Baker library. This is the image that I've seen 1,000,000 times on the website and other Dartmouth promotional material. About a minute after passing the library we make arrive on the Thayer School of Engineering and Tuck campuses, which border each other. I get out of the shuttle and walk around a bit to take some pictures before entering any buildings.
I go inside of Stell hall and sit and wait to meet the first Tuckie. Stell hall is a gorgeous study hall. It has incredibly high ceilings, big overstuffed couches and chairs, and large tables. I had seen pictures of it online but thought it would be a little bit bigger than it was. Don't get me wrong it's a great size though. Stell hall isn't at the end of a hallway, but it's in the middle of two buildings students walk through. I say this to say that even if a student doesn't have the intentions of studying at that juncture, they may be passing through to get to their next destination. This makes Stell hall a great meeting place. This was a perfect example of the Tuck community. I saw many occasions where students would be walking by, and see someone else studying and go over to them to say hi...and then when they would be walking out they'd see someone else they knew and would talk to them briefly. Everyone definitely knows everyone and everyone was all smiles!
First meeting - So the main reason Tuck is my first choice is because of the Center for Digital Strategies. I've had reservations about removing myself from the digital industry/world for 2 years, because of it's dynamic nature. When I found out about the Center for Digital Strategies at Tuck I happily put the school at the top of my shortlist. I reached out an CDS MBA Fellow a couple weeks before my trip to see if I could pick his brain for a couple minutes about the Center and all that it has to offer. The response I got was inviting me to listen to a quest speaker. I naturally jumped at the opportunity.
I meet the MBA Fellow and he tells me that there's an MBA Fellows luncheon that we would be attending. Initially, I thought that meant that we'd be sitting in the Pepsico dining hall at a table with the rest of the Fellows. In actuality, it meant that we'd be sitting in a nice room with a catered lunch. There were about 7 other 2nd year MBA students in the room and someone directly from the CDS. The discussion topic for that meeting revolved around coming up with a theme for the CDS for the '10/'11 school year. The plans need to be finalized for two reasons. 1. the 1st year MBA students wishing to apply to become 2nd year MBA fellows need to know what to write about in their applications. 2. potential speakers need to be reached out to.
It was absolutely amazing for me to participate in this lunch. The reason I say participate is because I did just that. I gave my input and could tell it was from a different perspective than some others. I did not feel intimidated at all because the discussion was very open and everyone was very friendly. I'll leave the exact discussion to the imagination. Wouldn't want any 1st years to have an unfair advantage!
All in all - I could definitely see myself sitting in that room in a couple years going through the same process again!
Second Meeting - I reached out to a member of TAABA who is also a Consortium Fellow, to see if I could pick her brain for a little bit. After going back and for through email, trying to finalize a time to meet, I had a meeting set up with another member since the first student was unavailable to meet. What ended up happening was so typical of the Tuck community. About an hour before my meeting with the student, I got an email from another member/consortium fellow who was curious to know if anyone had reached out to me. I told him that I was all set but I also asked him if I would be joining us and he said sure.
I met the two 1st year students outside of the dining hall and we walked into town for some coffee. The walk into town was about 10/15 minutes, just because we were taking our time. I ended up getting tea and one of the students opted to pay for me which I thought was a nice gesture.
From this discussion I got a great sense of what it's like to be a 1st year student at Tuck. We talked about everything... literally... EVERYTHING. We even got into a discussion about the veribification of companies like Google and Xerox! It was refreshing...
I asked about the first year living situation and they told me that I wouldn't get to see what a room looks like on the tour the next day. One of them offered to show me his room, even though it was dirty, but it was great that he offered. Of course I took him up on his offer and we walked back to campus. We walked into one of the first year residence dorms. I was so gorgeous I felt like I was in a hotel! I'll explain more about the building later... He took me upstairs to show me his room. It was a good size with a HUGE desk that spanned the length of the room. I didn't get a look at the bathroom, but just seeing the room was good enough. Another piece of information that you wouldn't find on any website is that the beds in the rooms are actually SLEEP NUMBER beds! I thought that was pretty cool. The closets were big too... so much so that even I think I could fit all of my clothes in them.
Waiting for Third Meeting - In between the 2nd and 3rd meeting with students, I had about 3 hours to kill. I didn't want to go back to the hotel because I wanted to walk around Hanover. I walked in a couple of the Dartmouth apparel/bookstores...just checking things out. I also went into GAP because I saw it as familiar territory..haha. I didn't buy anything though. I decided to spend my time in the Bookstore studying for the GMAT. Ultimately, if I want to go to Tuck, I need to score high on the GMAT. I was in the bookstore studying for two hours then decided to go back to Tuck to meet my third Tuckie.
Third Meeting - The third meeting that I had set up was with a member of the Gay/Straight Alliance or GSA. I was to meet him outside of the Pepsico dining hall, so I grabbed a magazine and just sat and waited for him. Now let me explain this area outside of the dining hall. You can enter this common space 1 of 5 ways. You can be coming from Stell Hall, coming from the entrance of the dining hall, coming from the exit of the dining hall, from upstairs, and from downstairs. Needless to say this area has a lot of traffic. With this traffic comes a lot of student interaction. Imagine a scene where there are people coming from every which way, running into each other, saying hi... chatting for a bit... then going their separate ways. This scene was played out over and over again...it was quite comical actually lol. Like I've said before... everyone knows everyone.
So anyway, I met the student from GSA, and we go into the dining hall and grab a drink. He proceeds to tell me that he had invited another GSA member to sit and talk with us too. After the earlier events in the day, this did not surprise me and it was more than welcomed. The main reason I wanted to meet with GSA members was to find out what it's like to be out at Dartmouth. Again, it didn't seem to be an issue. Essentially, if you wanted to "queen out" you could. If you wanted to remain low key... you could. Being gay would never be an issue. He also said that with that being the case, dating becomes tough/non-existent... there are less than 15 out students between 1st and 2nd years combined. From three that I had interaction with (two at the lunch and one prior) 2 of the 3 had partners. I guess this tells me that I need to get a partner prior to attending Tuck, if I get in and go haha.
I sat and talked to these two students for about an hour...and one had to leave to attend a meeting. It was about 7pm and the 2nd student (that had been invited by the other one) said that he had to go meet his friends for dinner, but that they were going to the movies later and I was more than welcome to join. I was slightly taken back by this invitation but told him that I would take him up on his offer.
I then called for my hotel shuttle, and went back to the hotel to change into some comfortable clothes. I called for the shuttle shortly thereafter and took it back into Hanover. We saw The Hurt Locker. The movie was good, but it was a little long in my opinion. After the movie, the student asked me how I was getting home, and I said I was going to call a cab since it was 11pm and my hotel shuttle wasn't running that late. He said there was no need for me to call a cab and that he could drive me back. Again, the hospitality of Tuck students is amazing. I think any other student would have offered to drive me as well.
I got back to my hotel... watched some TV... and ironed my clothes for the next day. The next day would be my official Tuck visit, but I was so thankful that I had gone up there a day early.
I woke up in the morning...got dressed... didn't eat breakfast because I knew that at 12 I would be eating lunch. I called for the hotel shuttle to Dartmouth, and headed to campus. The day was jam packed with events, so I'll describe them here:
Waiting for Class Visit - So upon arrival, I went in to the admissions office waiting room where there was another prospective student sitting down reading. She was from Washington state and came out east to visit Tuck, Cornell, and UPenn. We talked for a while and then another prospective showed up. He was dressed in a suit because he was applying for R4, so he had his interview. He was from Boston. I told him that I had never been to Boston but would be up there on April 12th at Harvard for the LGBT Open House. He was like "OH ME TOO! I'LL SEE YOU THERE".... after about 10 minutes, two 1st year students come in and inform us that we'll be going with them to class.
Class Visit - We sat in on Managerial Economic Accounting (I think that was the name of the class) or Managerial Accounting. Something of that nature. In order to get to the classroom, we go through Stell Hall, through the common area outside of the dining hall, walk downstairs, go through some hallways and go into the classroom.
Our student guide said that she was going to introduce us to the professor first before class. Richard Sansing was the professor. He asked for our name and what we currently do. I introduced myself and said that I do Search Engine Marketing for Bloomingdales.com. He looked to the side, and I could tell he was thinking about something. Then he said "______ Glassmeyer...she works in Marketing for Bloomingdale's. Do you know her?" I said that I thought the name sounded familiar but maybe she works in the marketing department for the store side, instead of .com. He said "She used to sit right there... and her father is one of the people whom the Center for Digital Strategies is named after." It's official name is the Glassmeyer/McNamee Center for Digital Strategies! I immediately wrote down her name so I could research it later and reach out to her. It goes to show how close knit the community is. Not only could the professor recall the students name, but also WHERE SHE SAT. And she had graduated in 2005 so it wasn't even like it was last year.
After this interaction we went to the top row in the classroom and listened to the class discussion. There were about 60 students in the classroom. The professor introduced all of the visiting students and everyone in the class cheered and clapped as a welcoming. It was very very tiered, and EVERYONE had their laptops out with the spreadsheet that they were analyzing. Everyone was involved in the class discussion and it wasn't that the professor stood up there teaching. It was very very interactive. At one point in the day I made eye contact with the CDS MBA Fellow that I had met the day before. He waved and I felt like I had a friend haha, as cheesy as that sounds.
Lunch w/ Student - After our class visit we rushed to the dining hall to grab a table. I think the 12pm hour is the busiest for the dining hall. It was very crowded. I got a cheeseburger and made myself a salad. Unlike my Yale SOM visit, we did have free lunch vouchers, so we didn't have to pay for anything. While I was waiting in line I was talking with a student and she said her name. I realized that she was the initial consortium member that I had emailed, but hadn't met because she was unavailable. I told her my name and she was all smiles and asked me how my visit was going. She told me that if I had any questions for her, not to hesitate to email her. I thought that was a great gesture but yet again... not surprising.
After that encounter I sat down at the table with our student guide and the other people visiting. I'll be honest, I was just listening at this point because I basically had all of my other questions answered the previous day by the other students. I basically just let the other visiting students, ask their questions. I just listened and ate my nice cheeseburger and salad haha.
Campus Tour - after lunch we went back into the admissions office waiting area to wait for our tour to begin. Again we walk through Stell Hall...walk by the dining hall...go downstairs again past a couple classrooms... walk by a set of lockers which are for students living off campus... we ended up going inside one of the newer classrooms. It was a very nice classroom...nicer than the one I had been in earlier. From there we proceeded to go into the residence hall. One thing to note is that all of the buildings are connected by tunnels so there is no need for a student to go outside. The tour was about 25 minutes long since Tuck isn't that big of a school.
Admissions q&a - After the campus tour we went back to the admissions office waiting room and waited for the admission q&a to start. There were 6 prospective students including myself. One of the admissions committee members came in and closed the door. She sat down on the couch and answered every single question that we had for her. We asked her questions for about an hour. She was not in a rush to get out of there, and I think she would have stayed there for another hour if we hadn't run out of questions. I had two specific questions for her.
- One question pertained to the Consortium application and whether or not students had a hard time trying to convey "Why Tuck?" since we only have the option of doing 1 school specific essay. The answer she gave me made my whole trip worth it. (If you want to know the answer let me know... I just don't want to post it here).
- The second major question I had for her was regarding my low GPA. I told her that I was taking some marketing classes but was concerned that it wouldn't prove my quant competancy. I didn't want to vocalize my GPA because the rest of the students were in the room, but she told me that I could speak to her 1 on 1, when we were done. So after we were done, I told her my GPA and basically got her thoughts on me taking some additional quant classes. She told me the exact classes that I should focus on taking and doing well in to prove that I can handle the workload. I had heard before from other people that building an additional transcript isn't necessary, and that one should just look to do the best they can on the GMAT. Well doing the best you can is a given, but in my case I feel that I need to take those additional classes so I'll be doing just that. I also feel that her advice trumps all other advice since she is on the admissions committee!
After the admissions q&a I traded b-cards with the other students on the tour with me. I went outside, and ran into my student guide. I lit a cigarette and she asked if I could have one we talked more about school itself and she insisted that I keep in touch with her.
Rest of Trip -.... packed... ate... hopped back on the shuttle back on Saturday
All in all my visit went better than expected. I feel that I have a couple people on my side now - should I score high enough on the GMAT. I am in love with the school... the campus... and most importantly the students! Their love for the school is contagious. Some did say that had they gotten into HBS they would have attended there, but I think people would say that about most schools. I'm sure I'm forgetting some other things but that's the gist of my visit!