The Dynamics Inside Tuck’s AdCom

Admissions, January 10, 2017 | 0 comments
Tags: applying, admissions

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be an Admissions Officer? How it feels? In his new post on MBA Crystal Ball, Suds gives you a peek into the dynamics of Tuck’s Admissions Committee.

By Sudershan Tirumala T’10
Associate Director of Admissions, Regional Director of India and South East Asia

Across every interaction, whether in person at a Tuck Reception or Coffee Chat or business school fair or over Skype or email or phone calls or through some other medium, I have had the privilege of getting to know so many candidates so well. It’s almost as if I have become their spokesperson within the Admissions Committee.

I can’t speak to how Admissions Committees of other business schools do, but at Tuck, it’s a very emotionally charged discussion. I’ve probably said this before, but the arguments in the committee are not so much about why someone shouldn’t be admitted at Tuck, but rather why someone should be. That’s a very different way of thinking about an applicant. The applicant stops being a file any more, and it’s as if the person is present right in the room, in front of the committee members, making an argument in her/his favor.

That level of pro-candidate approach in a committee is something I’ve never ever experienced. All said and done, when decisions are made about the candidates, the weight on [our] shoulders only increases further. It all comes to a head the day after results are announced. In my case, I was staring at an extra-long line of emails from candidates who I’ve met along the way, from candidates who thought they did a great job in the application, from candidates who thought they had a really good interview, from candidates who thought they had a competitive GMAT score, from candidates who thought they had a compelling profile, and so on.

Each of the emails had disappointment writ large in the writing, each of them a little hurt, and each of them a little incredulous about what just happened. Each of them wondering what might have gone wrong, and each of them seeking insight into why the decision was the way it was.

I am not someone who will shy away from the responsibility of answering these emails, and I will eventually respond to all of them. And this is what increases that responsibility even more—the fact that the candidates actually felt that I was approachable enough that they reached out to me sharing their thoughts.

Being a member of the Tuck Admissions Committee is an emotional roller coaster ride. The high of meeting so many exceptional candidates along the way, combined with the challenge of making some very tough decisions and then, the responsibility of connecting with everyone who is looking for answers, while also simultaneously moving things forward for the many, many applicants that are also jostling for a space in the class in the future rounds.

For all those who have written to me, and the many more who have stopped short, I’d like to take this opportunity to address them here:

The Tuck Admissions Committee has the unenviable job of choosing from a large pool of exceptional candidates to fill a class of finite size. I know it is very difficult to digest the news as a candidate who has put in so much effort into the application. Every person on the Tuck Admissions Committee is supremely empathetic, especially since we get to know every candidate so well, and it’s so difficult to make these tough decisions.

Still, that doesn’t make things any easier for those at the receiving end of these decisions. The whole point of this blog is to give you a glimpse into the dynamics within the Admissions Committee and let you know these are not decisions that are taken lightly and in an off-handed manner. Every file gets due consideration and every candidate gets the opportunity to present her/himself.

All said and done, I sincerely hope you take back with you, the positives from this experience. Maybe you are planning to reapply to Tuck next year. Maybe there are schools you have heard back from with a positive news. Maybe there are schools you are applying to as you go along. Whatever your case, I wish you all the very best in your future endeavors.


This is an abbreviated version of Suds’ post. Check out the full version at MBA Crystal Ball.

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