What a couple of amazing days!
At the end of my “trip” to the US I got to visit Hanover, NH and Tuck School of Business at Darmouth. On sunday march 2nd I jumped into the Vermonter train at Union Station in New Haven, excited, for I was just 5 hours away of one of the moments I had been waiting for: my first official visit to one of the top b-schools in the US. And one of my favourites no less. Good news was the train had wi-fi available, therefore I could refresh my knowledge about Tuck revisiting the website and thinking about possible questions to ask during my visit. Besides, I was enjoying the sights from my window, with the frozen Connecticut river by my side along the way (we don´t see frozen rivers in Madrid that often, I have to say). So, in the end, it resulted a very pleasant trip.
I arrived right on time to White River Junction, VT, where one of the Spanish students at Tuck was waiting to take me to the house of another one of them , where I would be staying for my visit and where all the Spaniards where gathered to celebrate my arrival. That first night we spent it talking about their experiences on their first 6 months at the school (full of anecdotes and fun facts) and also about myself, my backgorund and why I like Tuck… among other less-business-school-related topics, of course , while having some beer . We also had time to watch the Oscars for a little bit.
Tuck main entrance
The following day was the “Big Day”. I woke up just in time and walked to the school. I arrived a little early to the Admissions Office, therefore I took the opportunity to say hello and talk with Gelsey, who had arranged the visit for me. After a few minutes, one of the Spanish tuckies came to take me to his Coprporate Finance class (with also Spanish professor Diego García). It was my first experience in a case-method class, and I have to say that I liked it: the case was interesting, I had no problem following the class, and I liked how the students were eager to contribute. The hour and a half went by flying.
Once the class had finished, all the visitors (all in their suits except for me and another Argentinian guy, since they were also interviewing) grabbed a sandwitch and had a 30 minute luch/conversation with a couple of 2nd-years. And right after, I headed back to Admissions to meet one of my hosts, who had offered me the possibility to talk to (and arranged a meeting with) a classmate of his who is pursuing a career in healthcare (as you may know, my intended path also). So I skipped the “official” tour organized by the school (I would have a private one afterwards), and instead spent more than half and hour at the amazing Stell Hall talking with an MD/MBA student from New England about healthcare at Tuck: courses, clubs, activities, recruiting…
Although every part of my visit was useful, enriching and fun, this was one of the most valuable ones, since I got to talk to someone who is already where I precisely want to be a couple of years from now and who shares my same iterests. I received worthly insight and specific advice on how to address school selection, recruiting, how to prioritize… I really appreciated this student taking the time to talk to me in such a busy week for all of them just because a classmate asked him.
Stell Hall at Tuck
Before I attended my second class of the day, there was enough time to a private and very detailed tour around Tuck facilities. To put it simple: they are jawdropping. I assume all top business schools have great facilities of similar quality, but surely these are among the best. I can definitely see myself studying there… I loved the main halls of both Achtmeyer and Whittemore dorms.
At 3 p.m. I attended my second-class of the day. Again, this was not part of my “official visit”, but Spanish tuckies had insisted I should attend as many classes as I could. So one of the 2nd-year tuckies took me to Richard D´Aveni´s Strategy class. Before the class started, I was able to talk to prof. D´Aveni for a while, mostly about his trips around Spain, and what I though about the school so far. During the class they dicussed the situation in Ukraine (there was a Ukrainian student present, so she provided very valuable insight on the matter) and the second half oh the class was an analysis of the movie “The Godfather” from a strategic point of view. As you imagine this class was very different from what I am used to, so I enjoyed every minute of it. I did not want it to finish. But it did, and I was just sad that my visit was coming to an end and that I would not be able to sit the next day for the end of the analysis.
I allowed the tuckies to actually spend some time studying, and went for a walk around Hanover with a TP´15, visiting Baker library, the lake or Sachem. Afterwards, we both met with the gang and professor García for dinner, and then had a couple of beers at Murphy´s (a.k.a. Tuck bar), that was already full of tuckies. I was told that it does not matter when you go to Murphy´s, you will always find a classmate there. I really appreciate them wanting to show me a little bit of everything, even if they all had papers and exams that were due to be delivered on the following days.
The meeting point
After one and a half great days, my visit was over and, with sadness, mixed with excitement from what I had learned, I jumped on the Vermonter next morning to get back to New Haven.
What I have learned
Of course, the purpose of a visit is to get a glimpse of what your life could look like should you be accepted to that school and schould you choose to actually attend. To get to answer to the “why this school?” question. In that regard,visiting is specially important when you are considering Tuck. Why? Because of its unique location, which is also one of the reasons behind its very close and collaborative community.
Tuck is an 11,000 inhabitant town some 2 hours away from “civilization”, so to speak; therefore if you are used to living in a big metropolis, you might find it difficult to adjust to life at Hanover, so it is in your best interrest to visit and see it for youself. Then again, MBA life is a bit different: you spent almost all your time at the school, with classes, asignments, recruiting…. and afterwards you have more than 200 classmates to do something with, although that “something” might be a little different that what it could be in, for example, San Francisco. The visist helped me confirm that I wouldn´t have a problem living in a small town for two years. As I said, it is a very unique experience and, although I love big cities, after living in Madrid for 10 years, I see it as an opportunity to have a different experience. Chances are, in any case, after Bschool I go back to a big city.
I also experienced the close community Tuck is so proud of. The Spanish students (and TP), as I have commented all this post long, made sure I had the best of times while in Hanover: they opened their homes, took the trouble to arrange meetings or classes I might find valuable and interesting without me even asking, and they took the time to be with me and show me around, even when they had exams and papers to prepare during their finals week. All the other students I met were just as nice, and just as helpful, and the professors whose classes I visited took the time to talk to me and were interested in my impressions of the school (one of them even joined us for dinner). So, from my experience, it is true: it is a close and helpful community.
In the end, it was a great experience and completely worthwile. I will definitely apply to Tuck.
P.S. They only thing I did not like is that I did not have the time to visit more schools, although I payed an unnofficial visit to Stern.