Bus ride to Hanover. BTW: Did you know that New Hampshire state-motto is "Live free or die"? When I saw the first number plate on a car next to me, I thought that must be something that person had specifically made for himself. 10 number plates later there was no mistaking it.
Arrival at the Hanover Inn at Dartmouth College. We are picked up by two friendly first-year students that take us the 3 blocks to the Tuck compound. :) When signing up for Tuck ASW people were asked whether they wanted to stay with students on- or off-campus and I chose to find out how life on-campus was. I met my host who resides in Whittemore which is the newer one of the dorms at Tuck. It's actually quite nice, albeit the rooms arent that big.
Tuck ASW started off with a reception at Whittemore (after we got our name tags and some goodies plus information folder). After a few drinks and meeting the first few people we were welcomed by the student chair. The welcome speech wasnt too enticing and came off somewhat arrogant. I was reminded of what some people on gmatclub said about Tuck: The only thing you can do there is play hockey. We then went off to have drinks at the three main bars (I honestly dont know if there are any more) in Hanover and that's how the night ended. I almost got 8h of sleep after getting about three the night before.
The next day began with breakfast and was followed by an introduction by Dean Paul Danos and people from the MBA program office. Sitting in the auditorium, I realized that there was no dean speaking to us at Haas. That might have been due to the fact that Haas is looking for a new dean right now. Nevertheless, Haas should have made the effort to have someone higher up in the food chain speak to the attendants. Dean Danos gave an outline of where Tuck is headed in the future.
The program continued with a presentation about the curriculum. I either missed something similar at Haas or they didnt have anything like that. One aspect I particularly welcomed was the fact that Tuck will put more emphasis on globalization issues and (what made me even more happy) that technology will play a bigger role in the curriculum. That's an area where I think Tuck is missing something, so it was good to hear that it has been identified and an effort is being made.
After a short break we were all split up into smaller groups to sit in on a mock-class. My professor was holding a relatively interactive lecture about game theory that was quite fascinating. Tuck believes in different teaching methods and lets the professor for each class decide which way to go. So you will see everything at Tuck from case-method, lecture, project work, experiential etc. This became apparent in this mock class. Whereas all other schools I attended for admit weekends (IESE and Haas) where using a case-method as a mock class, my Tuck one was lecture-style.
The mock class was followed by an international food festival (=lunch break). Sprawled out throughout most of the inner campus and halls you could taste everything from South Korean food to Indian curry. The sheer magnitude of that event was surprising! And what a great way to demonstrate the diversity at Tuck. This was a highlight of the day.
If I remember correctly, after being completely stuffed and hanging out in the sun for a while we went on to the career development presentation. That one was helpful to understand that pretty much every interesting big company comes to Tuck (incl. for example Google, Apple, etc) - it's just that not all of them take home Tuckies. I was always wondering if they really make their way up to Hanover, NH, but obviously the reputation of the school attracts them.
The program continued with a student life panel. Again, we were split up in four groups. The student life panel was helpful in finding out if you go crazy throughout winter or not. For me personally, the ASW was mainly about finding out whether I could see myself living at Tuck so the panel helped in exploring that issue.
Next up was an alumni panel. The alums in our group were okay, friendly and doing quite well in their careers but to be honest, the panel didn't advance my decision making. After a short wrap up the official part of the day was over.
We had an hour of free time that I was using to speak to other admits and for half an hour of sleep, before we headed off in small groups to 2nd year students homes off-campus. That way, I got to see Vermont as well. Our hosts had a wonderful, pretty big wooden house where we had a BBQ. I got to talk to one of the advisory board members. A great, very approachable chap who gave us the insight scoop on where Tuck is headed. Impressive acquaintance.
Of course there was a party. South beach dance party in Buchanan (the older dorm). It got late. Again. Awesome cocktails and great company made it even harder to leave early. I think I got to bed at around 330am. Guess who was late to breakfast the next morning?
Actually, I think there was no breakfast left to speak of. I grabbed a banana and a coffee on the way and just made it in time to the Advisory Board panel. (having missed the international student breakfast and the kick-off)
Something had happened to me, though. I cannot pinpoint when and where it happened. It might have been due to lack of sleep and the alcohol, but the feeling didnt fade away: When I woke up in the morning, lying on that floor mattress in Whittemore, somehow I knew that this was where I would want to get my MBA. I had been waiting for that feeling for a while. The whole reason for the trip was to finally have that feeling of "I belong here." Everything that happened beyond this point reinforced that sentiment.
The Advisory Panel. Again, all attendants were split up in four groups, so I got see only four of the advisory panel members - but what an accomplished bunch of people. They practically all were more or less C-level, but still funny, down-to-earth people. What I heard from other panels was along the same lines. They always say that Tuck alums are very responsive and that the Tuck network is the strongest of all business schools. I was already beyond doubt on that one. But Tuck claims that their graduates are smart, but not pretentious. This panel proved that.
After a short break we were in for a treat. Bill Achtmeyer, chairman of the Parthenon Group (and Tuck '81 alum) gave a speech on the "Tuck Experience". I think he is also on the advisory board. And yes, that was one big "Selling-Tuck" presentation. But that guy is just awesome. I think at one point I actually had tears in my eyes. From laughing, of course, what did you think? ;)
Achtmeyer spoke about a wide array of things, especially about the school's network, life at Tuck, other schools. You might have guessed that the latter offered various opportunities for funny side blows... such as that Green is a great color and matches pretty much everything whereas Red is horrible and looks awful when worn. (think about which other schools have red in their logo)
Having wiped off the tears of laughter we left the auditorium and headed for the buses that were to take us to Dartmouth Skiway. No, we didnt go skiing. BTW: It was still something like 24 degrees Celsius outside, and I wished I had brought shorts instead of gloves. The "buses" where actually the all-American yellow school buses. It was just great! Imagine 200 future MBAs in their late twenties, early thirties riding on 4 school buses. At the Dartmouth Skiway we had lunch sitting in the sun, followed by a club fair that I barely took advantage of. I did sign up for a couple email lists, though.
Coming back we had a few hours of free time. Two Latin American guys and I used that to check out the Dartmouth campus and especially the legendary Alumni gym (supposedly it was sponsored by a bunch of alums). The gym is located on the top floor of an old house on campus that hosts several basketball courts etc, swimming pools and workout rooms. I have seen my share of gyms and I can tell you: that's the best I have ever seen in my life. And only a part of that impression stems from the undergrad eye candy that was running on the treadmills. The gym is spacious, super-modern, light-flooded and has everything you need. That place will see a lot of me. I hope.
Before dinners at a range of restaurants in Hanover and the surrounding towns (you could pick where you wanted to go) I got an hour of sleep. I went to an Asian place in Hanover which had horrible service but the food was great. It was good to know there is some decent dining in Hanover. After dinner we left for a party at an art center around the corner. Tuck had rented out a hall. Two bars for 300+ guests left something to wish for, but the Tuck band gave quite a performance and all in all it was a good night. I guess I should have called it a day but was instead sucked into attending the after-party at Buchanan. Not a good call. This one was actually too much. I felt like being at an undergrad party after a while (what's it with Americans and their drinking games? ;) ). I was actually talking to a few of the current students then, asking whether it would be like that every weekend. I was reassured that such a piss-up is very unusual and that your Tuck experience depends on what you make of it. For a while I was wondering if I still felt that Tuck was the right place and was still contemplating it when I got back home on Monday morning.
Waking up late I found just a handful of admits in the breakfast area. I loaded up on granola bars for the trip, then went running for a while and then it was time to catch the bus.
Does that sound like there was no real final wrap-up? Yep. To me, too. Dont get me wrong: Tuck ASW was organized perfectly, but I felt there was no real final wrap-up and a farewell when it was all done. You know something like: Thanks for being here, we cant wait to see you in the fall.
Nevertheless I had a great bus ride to Boston Logan airport: a great, fellow admit was on the same bus. I left Dartmouth tired but with a smile on my face.
The invitation to the Tuck ASW read "Meet your future." I knew then, that I had indeed.