Ross School Of Business Application Essay

Several short-answer questions with multiple options each, plus a standard career goals essay:

Hmmm… EssaySnark likes the clarity they’ve given here, with the separate questions — but covering FOUR SPECIFIC ANSWERS in only 300 words???? That’s a tall order. We wish they’d been more permissive on the essay length on this one.

The potentially more interesting — and more challenging, if you haven’t yet grasped the importance of being authentic in your MBA essays — are the short-answer questions. You get choices here! You’ll be choosing one from each group of prompts:

These questions will require extensive BRAINSTORMING and even more STRATEGY – and we lay out some dos and don’ts in our Michigan Ross MBA guide for 2017, including which pairs of questions should not be answered together, how dated your stories can be, and what other topics maybe won’t serve you so well in these individual prompts, based on what we’ve seen from others before you.

Full-Time MBA App Deadlines for Michigan Ross

Michigan Ross MBA Application Deadlines
Deadlines and the schedule are about the same as they had last year.

  • Round 1:
    In the past, they have required any international Rd 1 applicants who want to participate in the Team Exercise to travel to Ann Arbor. Make plans to do so if you’re serious about this school (or, try in Round 2 instead).

    All Round 1 interview invitations went out on Monday, October 30. (In 2016, interview invites were issued the week of October 24th but if you weren’t interviewed, then there was still a possibility of being offered a spot on the waitlist when final decisions come out in December. Meaning, nobody was released in mid-cycle, as happens at other schools.)

  • Round 2: Harumph. Ross is inflicting the same pain on this year’s BSers as they did last time. Apparently they didn’t hear our plea from January! This deadline is IMMEDIATELY after the holiday. Very very difficult.

    Expect Round 2 interviews to go out in two waves in January with the interviews / team exercise happening in February (if you do not get the interview invitation in the second wave, you’re either going to be waitlisted or denied. For Round 2, the Ross admissions team will be traveling to Sao Paulo, Shanghai and Tokyo to conduct interviews and the Team Exercise (last year it was in Delhi, Shanghai, and Tokyo) — and you can do it in Ann Arbor too, of course, or you have the option of interviewing locally with an alum, pretty much anywhere you are in the world. However, we suggest that you plan to attend one of these four locations so that you can participate in the Team Exercise (HIGHLY recommended) .

    Last season in Round 2, they released all no-go Rd 2 candidates on February 17th.

See the useful decision tree they posted on their blog in February 2015 to better understand how the admissions cycle works.

Michigan Ross MBA Recommendations

1Ross is using the second set of standardized recommender questions in 2017.
  • Again in 2017, just one recommendation (which as we said in 2014 we don’t think is the best thing for applicants, but they’re sticking with it). This rec must be from current direct supervisor, or you need to explain why not in the optional essay.
  • Three main questions for your recommender to answer

Lots of resources for choosing your recommender available here on the blahg; if you want more help, our Letters of Recommendation App Accelerator walks through the specifics and lets you submit your recommenders’ strategy for feedback from EssaySnark.

Also:

EXCELLENT examples of accmplshmts that show distinction. Thank you Soojin @MichiganRoss & congrats on amazing class! https://t.co/qqvNqDpMHa

— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) December 24, 2015

Michigan Ross Interviews and Team Based Exercise

Starting halfway through the 2012 admissions cycle, Ross piloted a team interview format which they standardized upon in 2013. There is (almost) no way to prepare for this; it’s very impromptu, by design. If you’re a decent person with some manners who treats others well, not too shy and not too pushy, you should do just fine.

It’s still important to go through the standard interview prep process, of course, so that you’re fluid and comfortable in talking about your interest in the MBA – especially since Ross does not have a question about career goals in its current essays. You need to be prepared to discuss those.

You can see more information about the Team Exercise on Soojin Kwon’s blog post from October 2013 , and be sure to also check out this one from January 2015 that emphasizes the importance of this opportunity .

Michigan Ross General Info

official school pages

EssaySnark stuff

We live-tweeted the Ross admissions webinar on 12/16/14:

From @MichiganRoss prez: You need to know yr career goals for the adm interview, but we know that might change. Lots of support on job chgs.

— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) December 16, 2014

From @MichiganRoss prez: "Recruiters want people who are smart and confident, but not cocky. And that's what we want too." (Us too!)

— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) December 16, 2014

New international student loan option from @MichiganRoss: https://t.co/0lV30PuDPi

— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) December 16, 2014

"We're looking for reasons to admit you, not deny you." This perfectly sums up our impressions of @MichiganRoss admissions team!

— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) December 16, 2014

From @MichiganRoss prez: "Don't make a sport of the #GMAT" – in other words, don't get obsessive with retakes.

— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) December 16, 2014

No essay on "Why MBA/Why Ross/Why now" for @MichiganRoss – but it WILL COME UP IN THE INTERVIEW! "Why Ross" esp important.

— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) December 16, 2014

Strong emphasis on attending the @MichiganRoss Team Exercise for your interview if you're invited.

— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) December 16, 2014

.@MichiganRoss "We mean truly optional for the optional essay." Use for gap in resume, glitch in academics-NOT for expounding on other stuff

— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) December 16, 2014

"Recommenders should answer the questions we've asked" not just submit a generic letter to @MichiganRoss. Manage up in this process.

— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) December 16, 2014

Frm @MichiganRoss abt waiving right to view rec: "It doesnt matter to us but keep in mind how it may affect how yr recmdr provides input."

— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) December 16, 2014

No scholarship $ left for @MichiganRoss Rd 3 – if you care about being considered for free money, apply now!

— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) December 16, 2014

#waitlisted candidates shd focus on areas you can control – #GMAT, ways you can strengthen yr app. From @MichiganRoss but true everywhere!

— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) December 16, 2014

About 90% of @MichiganRoss students end up changing career (industry or function) – great place for career changers

— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) December 16, 2014

Some blahg posts about Ross

This guide is new for this year’s short-answer groups of questions and the short-term/long-term/skills and strengths and Ross essay!

For reference: Past Season Ross Essays

The reason we include these past-year questions is so you get a better sense of the school. Studying what they’ve asked before helps you understand more of what they value. When they keep questions consistent, then you know they’re important; when they make changes, the deltas can give you additional perspective.

Click to view 2016 questions


2016 MBA Essays for Ross
They’ve clarified what they’re looking for with these individual questions. Thank you, Ross!

Two questions plus an optional essay:

  1. What are you most proud of outside of your professional life? How does it shape who you are today? 400 words (emphasis added)
  2. What is your desired career path and why? 250 words (ouch!)

The first essay question is near-identical to what they had last year except that they’re being specific: They don’t want professional stuff here! That bolded text is new.

The second question is identical – except, dang, only 250 words now? That means you’re going to answer the question succinctly, right? Right!

The career goals should be a natural outgrowth of what you’ve done to date. That doesn’t mean that your goals must be only a continuation of your current career. You can certainly pursue something very new and different through the advantage of the Ross MBA. But it should be fairly obvious how you’re qualified and capable to go do this new thing, based on your background – and Essay 2 is where to make the case for that. Your short-term goal in particular shouldn’t be such a radical departure from everything you’ve ever done before that your reader becomes skeptical in seeing how you’ll pull it off. The way you tie these pieces together will be important. (Wanna know how to do that? We go into lots and lots of details in the Ross app guide!)

This July 2016 post from Ross explains these changes .

Plus, here’s the May 2015 announcement from the Ross adcom on these questions – again that’s from last year – with perhaps the best essay-writing advice we’ve ever heard from an adcom: “You can even start with, “I am most proud of….'” (hint: one of the worst and also most common mistakes is not answering the question – yes it happens all the time). Starting your essay with a direct statement like that, that incorporates the question in it, is a wise move indeed.

Ross got 30% more apps in two years’ ago Round 2 and we heard that 2016’s Round 2 was also high for them – as was this past Round 1 in Fall 2016. For Round 2 2017, the admissions team will be traveling around to conduct interviews and the Team Exercise in Delhi, Shanghai, and Tokyo – and you can do it in Ann Arbor too, of course, or you have the option of interviewing locally with an alum, pretty much anywhere you are in the world. However, we suggest that you plan to attend one of these four locations so that you can participate in the Team Exercise (HIGHLY recommended) . Expect Round 2 interviews to go out in two waves in January with the interviews / team exercise happening in February (if you do not get the interview invitation in the second wave, you’re either going to be waitlisted or denied; this year in Round 2 they are officially releasing all no-go candidates on February 17th, though there’s still a chance that you get an offer then to stick around on the waitlist even if they’re not asking you to interview yet).


[end discussion of 2016 questions.]


Click to view 2015 questions


2015 MBA Essays for Ross
Guess what?

Hey @MichiganRoss: Your Essay #1 is worded differently in your app and on your blog announcement. Is "and why?" in or out this year?

— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) August 28, 2015

After we sent them that today (8/28/15), Ross updated their website Essay section to reflect the same version of their question as they have in the app, as noted below. Honestly, the “why” should be pretty obvious through the way you answer the question, so our advice is to consider the prompt unchanged!

Two questions plus an optional essay:

  1. What are you most proud of How does it shape who you are today? (400 words)
  2. What is your desired career path and why? (400 words)

Woo-hoo! A school resurrects a career goals question after having ditched it in past years!

This makes EssaySnark very happy – particularly when Ross had to communicate to candidates last year, after they had no essay asking about goals, that they really do care about goals after all and to please be prepared to discuss them in your interview. That was a little confusing.

The first essay question is near-identical to what they had last year except that they’re just asking it once (last year they had the same question twice, once asknig for a professional thing, and one asking for a personal thing). (ETA: Thanks to a sharp-eyed BSer for pointing out that the second question of Essay #1 is actually worded differently this year. Last year the subquestion was, “What did you learn from that experience?” which is similar to, but different from, this year’s version. It’s now been corrected!)

[For 2016 obviously this is not the case!! -ES]

Here’s the announcement from the Ross adcom on these new questions , from May 2015 – with perhaps the best essay-writing advice we’ve ever heard from an adcom: “You can even start with, “I am most proud of….'” (hint: one of the worst and also most common mistakes is not answering the question – yes it happens all the time). Starting your essay with a direct statement like that, that incorporates the question in it, is a wise move indeed.

This “5 Things to Know Before You Submit” post from Soojin Kwon in late September 2015 is also helpful – except for that darned inconsistency on what’s important with Essay 1.

We’ve updated the Ross SnarkStrategies Guide – and these essays questions are perfect to tackle as your first MBA application writing project.



[end discussion of 2015 questions.]



Click to view 2014 questions


2014 MBA Essays for Ross
Two questions plus an optional essay:
  1. What are you most proud of professionally and why? What did you learn from that experience? (400 words)
  2. What are you most proud of personally and why? How does it shape who you are today? (400 words)

They’ve gone in a different direction this year! Two simple, straightforward questions, designed to force you to reflect on what’s important and who you are, and communicate that concisely. A total of 800 words for what will essentially be two stories. Great stuff.

[end discussion of 2014 questions.]



Click to view 2013 questions
2013 MBA Essays for Ross
Not much changed in 2013 from previous year. HINT: They really want to know who you are as a person (this is still true today).
  1. Introduce yourself to your future Ross classmates in 100 words or less.
  2. Multi-part question:
    • What about your professional experiences has led you to determine that business school is the right next step? (150 words)
    • As you have research MBA programs, what actions have you taken to learn more about Ross and what has led you to believe that Ross is the right MBA program for you? (150 words)
    • What career do you plan to pursue after business school and why? (150 words)
  3. Describe a time in your career when you were frustrated or disappointed. What advice would you give a colleague who was dealing with a similar situation? (400 word maximum)

[end discussion of 2013 questions.]


Click to view 2012 questions


2012 MBA Essays for Ross
Here’s the full set of questions from 2012, in case you want to see where they were coming from before. Note: These questions were not easy! Especially #3.
  1. Introduce yourself to your future Ross classmates in 100 words or less.
  2. Describe your career goals. How will an MBA from Ross help you to achieve those goals?
  3. Describe a time in your career when you were frustrated or disappointed. What advice would you give to a colleague who was dealing with a similar situation?
  4. What are you most passionate about and why? How will this passion positively impact Ross?

[end discussion of 2012 questions.]




 

The essays are very important at Michigan.

EssaySnark has reviewed a fair number of Ross essays over the years. Here’s a couple from past seasons for you to check out along with Ross-specific essay commentary.

Ross is very open about their use of plagiarism detection software. We know you’d never be tempted to stoop to such low levels, but consider yourself warned: don’t copy essays, for here or for elsewhere.

We found a BSer’s 2013 school visit report that’s worth sharing:

  • Go Blue! from Boots to Suits applicant blog April 2013

The 2016 Ross guide will help you figure out the best topics to cover, including some tips to keep in mind for a holistic strategy across essays, resume, and the single recommendation. We cover the group interview format that Ross adopted several years ago too, and advice on whether or not to use the optional essay for this school.

 

Success Stories!

There’s actually A LOT of former Brave Supplicants wandering the halls in Ann Arbor every year. We are always careful to protect confidentiality, but one great guy outed himself in his guest post on the blahg. If you end up at Ross, we can tell you for sure that you’ll be surrounded by some truly amazing students.

And just to end things on a note of cuteness:



[Index of essay questions by business school]


Michigan / Ross MBA Essay Topic Analysis 2017-2018

Following up on the announcement of the Michigan / Ross MBA essay topics for the 2017-2018 admissions season, we wanted to offer some thoughts about how prospective members of the Class of 2020 might approach this application. In her admissions director blog, Soojin Kwon announced a new format to the Ross application’s essay portion: “There is now a short answer section and a more traditional essay question.” The short answer section contains three groups of prompts. The adcom asks that applicants select one prompt from each group and respond to it in 100 words or less; there should not be more than 300 words total.

2017-2018 Michigan / Ross MBA Essay Question Analysis

Let’s take a closer look at each prompt.

Short Answer Questions

Select one prompt from each “group.” Maximum 100 words each.

GROUP 1

  • I want people to know that I:
  • I turned an idea into action when I:
  • I made a difference when I:

GROUP 2

  • I showed my resilience when I:
  • I was humbled when:
  • I am out of my comfort zone when:

GROUP 3

  • I was aware that I am different when:
  • I find it challenging when people:
  • A valuable thing I have taught someone:

As an initial approach to these short answers, consider the broader themes of each group—impact through action, attitude under adversity, and self-awareness amidst diversity—and ensure you have a balance of content across the set. By dividing the questions into groups, the adcom is sending a signal that they want to hear about different aspects of your candidacy. The Director of Admissions at Ross, Soojin Kwon, told Clear Admit, “We want to get to know more about you than we would in a traditional essay where you’d talk at length about one topic. You’ll get to share different sides of yourself that will be relevant to your experience during business school.” So, diversify your topics for each group.

Group 1 starts off with a very open-ended option allowing candidates to introduce an interest, but the other prompts in the group are geared towards impact (which could provide a clue as to how one might frame a response to the first prompt). With only 100 words, each sentence becomes that much more valuable and must move the story along by conveying some action or impact. It makes sense to ‘complete’ the selected prompt in the first sentence, and, ideally, this opening would include your impressive results. For instance, “I made a difference when I resolved X problem for my local YMCA, resulting in more after school programs” or “I turned an idea into action when I launched X after school program, which helped dozens of underprivileged students gain access to Y opportunities.”

In regards to Group 2, the overall theme of attitude under adversity stands out. The first option regarding resilience could apply to a situation in which you faced a setback or hurdle. The problem could certainly arise from external forces, such as a team member missing a deadline; that said, an important thing to keep in mind is to avoid a “blame game” and ensure that you take responsibility if and when due. Most importantly, you’ll want to account for your actions (to show) and briefly comment on why the process was difficult for you. After all, resilience entails a struggle with an outcome of success. Moving on, humility is certainly a positive trait worth exploring. For instance, it would be appropriate to be humbled by how large a project team is, and how many colleagues contributed to its success; or one can be humbled when climbing a challenging peak or navigating a tropical storm in a small sailboat. Regarding being outside of one’s comfort zone, this is an ideal opportunity to introduce any international or cultural experiences you have had. You may also have a hobby that entails consistent growth and challenges; for instance, perhaps your quest for the next belt in your martial arts classes pushes you outside of your comfort zone. The key to this essay is to quickly establish context and then elaborate on how you handled the situation and grew because of it.

Finally, Group 3 invites self-awareness amidst diversity—whether it’s a particular value, approach to a problem, or viewpoint. There is also the potential to showcase your ability to adapt or to show how you have coached someone else to adapt. The key to a strong response here will be establishing what was different or challenging, elaborating on your constructive response and concluding with the positive results.

Career Goal Essay

Please share your short-term and long-term career goals. What skills/strengths do you have that will be relevant to your career goals? How will Ross prepare you for your goals? (300 words)
The Ross adcom has maintained a career goals question for this admissions season with a few more detailed requests. Establishing where you are headed from the start would help create context for your short-term goals; hence, we’d recommend that applicants open with their five- to ten-year target position. Then, you can touch on the position you hope to obtain immediately after school — down to the job title and 2-3 dream employers.

Next, summarizing your skills/strengths based on your past experience—and connecting to how they would enable your career plans—sets up the gap in your skill set that an MBA would fill. Be sure to include a few sentences about why the Ross MBA program and student community are a particularly strong fit with your objectives and priorities. If there’s a program or course that seems particularly relevant to your professional plans (you can find some ideas in the Clear Admit School Guide to Ross), it could be worth mentioning to show the adcom that you’ve done your homework on the school and see Michigan as an important part of your desired career path.

Clear Admit Resources
Thanks for reading our analysis of this year’s Ross MBA essay topics. As you work on your Ross MBA essays and application, we encourage you to consider all of Clear Admit’s Ross School of Business offerings:

Posted in: Admissions Tips, Application Tips, Essay Tips & Advice, Essay Topic Analysis, Essays

Schools: Michigan / Ross

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