Category Archives: Michigan Ross Advice

Michigan Ross Director Calms Common Applicant Concerns

Applying to a top-tier business school is a time of high anxiety for many MBA hopefuls. With such fiercely competitive admission rates, it’s only natural that candidates might feel vulnerable about their chances. Plus, going for …

Ross MBA admissions

Applying to a top-tier business school is a time of high anxiety for many MBA hopefuls. With such fiercely competitive admission rates, it’s only natural that candidates might feel vulnerable about their chances. Plus, going for an MBA is a huge and expensive decision, so how do you know if the school you’re targeting will be right for you?

In a recent update to the Admission Director’s Blog at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, Director Soojin Kwon shared the reflections of several second-year Ross Student Ambassadors who were in your shoes not that long ago. Their experiences should help calm any fears or concerns you have about the application process in general and, in particular, about choosing to apply to the Ross School.

Here are some key excerpts from Kwon’s post:

 Applicant Fear #1: “I wasn’t sure that Ross and Ann Arbor would be as diverse as other schools/cities I was considering.”

Kwon: Nearly a third of our students come from outside of the U.S., with India, Brazil, China and Peru as our leading international countries. Within the U.S., the state with the highest representation at Ross is California. The metro area where the most students lived prior to Ross is New York, followed by Washington, D.C.

Our entering class has worked in a wide range of industries – from consulting, banking, marketing, and startups to the military, education, nonprofit, healthcare/pharma, tech, law and hospitality. They’ve worked in 340 different organizations including the Kenya Ministry of Health, the Turkish Treasury, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, NBCUniversal, Time Warner Cable, Coach Inc, and Coca-Cola.

Women comprise 40% of our entering class. Minorities comprise 24%.

As far as Ann Arbor goes, it may surprise you to know that we have more restaurants and independent bookstores per capita than any other city in the U.S. It’s been ranked among the most educated city in the U.S.

Applicant Fear #2: “I heard mixed messages about which round to apply in. Obviously, it worked out in the end, but I was worried I’d hurt my chances if I applied in one round vs another.”

Kwon: Chances are, you have an idea of which school is your top choice. Let’s call it “School A.” You submit an app to School A in Round 1. Your app to Schools B and C are nearly ready but you decide to wait until Round 2 to submit those apps. In the months following your Round 1 submission to School A, you visit the campus of Schools B and C. You connect with students and alumni of those schools. You fall in love with School B and decide that that school is your new top choice. (We see this a LOT.)

You resolve to submit a killer app for School B in Round 2. In December, you find out from School A you’re admitted. Great! School A requires you to submit a non-refundable enrollment deposit in February…before you find out if you’re admitted to your new top choice school. Now you have to either (1) put money down to hold your spot at School A or (2) take your chances on being admitted to School B. We frequently see applicants choose Option 1.

The moral of this story: if you’re close to being ready to submit an app for several schools, you should strive to submit them in the same round.

It’ll give you the benefit of being able to make a decision with all your options laid out at once. Of course, you should apply when your application is as strong as it can be. But if your app is ready for one school, chances are, you’re probably close to being ready for another school. The main difference is generally only the essays.

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The Ross admissions director also shares advice on handling low GMAT/GRE scores,  enlightens applicants who are unfamiliar with what Michigan Ross is “good at,” and reveals why you don’t need to devote an excessive amount of effort to answering the Ross essay questions.

Read Soojin Kwon’s complete post, and with any luck, you’ll feel much more relaxed about the whole process…well, at least a little bit!

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Michigan Ross School Fall 2017 MBA Essay Tips

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Tuesday Tips: Michigan Ross Fall 2017 MBA Essay Tips

Michigan Ross is a program that emphasizes learning both inside and outside the classroom, and is seeking candidates that are intellectually curious and able to accomplish their goals. Ross is also a close-knit community and …

Michigan Ross MBA admissions

Michigan Ross is a program that emphasizes learning both inside and outside the classroom, and is seeking candidates that are intellectually curious and able to accomplish their goals.

Ross is also a close-knit community and fit with the program is important to demonstrate in the application process. Visiting Ross or learning about the program through current students, alumni or faculty would be helpful before starting this set of essays.

The Ross admissions blog is an excellent resource for tips to approach these essay questions, and gives you a window into what the admissions committee is looking for.

Essay One: What are you most proud of outside of your professional life? How does it shape who you are today? (up to 400 words)

Last year Ross permitted either a professional or personal example for this essay. This year, Ross Admissions Director Soojin Kwon explains: “The motivation for adding “outside of your professional life” (to Q1, which asks what you’re most proud of) was to get to glimpse into the personal side of you. We’ll already have your resume and rec letter to give us a sense of your professional life. Besides, would you want to read thousands of essays about the time someone was a project manager and completed the project on time and under budget? (I hope you said “no”). Me either. (I’m going to assume you said “no”).”

Some of the personal attributes most valued at Ross include community engagement and interpersonal, communication and teamwork skills. When you consider topics for this essay you may want to write about an important extracurricular moment, a challenge you overcame, or an event in your life that highlights something unique about your background.

For example, if you have a track record of club leadership through college and afterwards that can be compelling evidence of your community engagement and leadership skills. On the other end of the spectrum perhaps you have spent time outside your home country for school or work and that has shaped how you approach your life and decisions.

Take note that this essay is really about getting to know you as a person, not as a collection of accomplishments. Your values and personal life will ideally shine through, as you explain what is most important to you and why.

“Why” is a crucial part of this essay, along with how your values have impacted your life. Finally, make sure that your values, as expressed in this essay, are aligned with how you want to be perceived by the admissions committee.

Essay Two: What is your desired career path and why? (up to 250 words)

Michigan Ross is interested to hear what you plan to do after your MBA and what is motivating that decision. Both traditional and non-traditional MBA goals are welcomed as long as you are sincere about the path you plan to take.

This essay is straightforward and Ross is not looking for extra explanation. Ideally you can describe your career path in a sentence or two and use the remainder of the space to elaborate.

Answering “why” you chose your career path is crucial. As you describe your career path make sure you explain what has led you to pursue it, and why it resonates with you. The answer doesn’t need to be elaborate or dramatic, but it should be convincing and real.

The question doesn’t ask “Why MBA?” or “Why Ross?” but you may want to address both questions. If Ross has unique resources that will help you achieve your goal, this is a great place to describe how you will use them.

Optional Statement: This section should only be used to convey information not addressed elsewhere in your application, for example, completion of supplemental coursework, employment gaps, academic issues, etc. Feel free to use bullet points where appropriate.

Take it directly from the Ross admissions director: “The optional essay should only be used if there’s something in your background that requires a brief explanation. It’s not the place to submit an essay you wrote for another school, or to tell us how much you love Ross.”

Think about anything that may raise questions while reviewing a resume, transcript or recommendations. Typically the kinds of gaps that raise questions are significant gaps in employment (more than a few months), anything below a C on your college transcript (particularly in quantitative coursework) and low test scores.

Stacy Blackman Consulting has worked with successful candidates to Michigan Ross for over a decade and can offer comprehensive strategic advice every step of the way. Contact us to learn more.

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Michigan Ross Fall 2017 MBA Application Essays

The University of Michigan Ross School of Business poses these two required essay questions and one optional statement in the Fall 2017 MBA application: What are you most proud of outside of your professional life? …

Michigan Ross MBA admissions

The University of Michigan Ross School of Business poses these two required essay questions and one optional statement in the Fall 2017 MBA application:

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

Optional Statement:

This section should only be used to convey information not addressed elsewhere in your application, for example, completion of supplemental coursework, employment gaps, academic issues, etc. Feel free to use bullet points where appropriate.

This season’s MBA applicants may be interested in revisiting the advice Soojin Kwon, director of MBA admissions at the Ross School, offered last year when addressing a similar iteration of these questions.

For the first question, Kwon said, “The context … is less important than your reason for being proud of something. We want to understand what makes something important to you. It gives us a glimpse into how you think about and process things, and what your priorities and values are. This is how we assess fit – through alignment of your values with the values of our community.

This year, in her typical disarming way, Kwon elaborated on why the team asked applicants to focus specifically on something outside of your professional life.  “We’ll already have your resume and rec letter to give us a sense of your professional life,” she explained. “Besides, would you want to read thousands of essays about the time someone was a project manager and completed the project on time and under budget? (I hope you said “no”). Me either. (I’m going to assume you said “no”).”

For the second question, the admissions director explained that, “The main purpose of the career path question is so we can evaluate whether business school makes sense. A ‘good’ answer isn’t about saying you want to go into a traditional business field. In fact, many of our students pursue a wide range of careers outside of traditional business fields (e.g., education, nonprofit, emerging markets). A good answer will describe your rationale for being interested in a particular path.”

This year, Kwon explained why the word count went from 400 last year to 250 this season by reminding applicants, “There’s nothing to over-think in this essay other than stating what you think you want to do after b-school and why it interests you.”

Finally, the Ross School admissions team wants to see essays that are clear and succinct. “It’s not a word count test, nor is it a creative writing test. Don’t write two paragraphs of introduction before stating what you’re most proud of,” Kwon advised last season, adding, “You can even start with, ‘I am most proud of….’ Write as you would speak. To a real person. We, who read the essays, are real people.”

For more information about applying, please visit the Ross School admissions website.

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Michigan Ross School Fall 2017 MBA Application Deadlines

Image credit: Michigan Ross (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Ross MBA Admissions Director Shares Her B-School Comparison Spreadsheet

Now is the time when many potential business school applicants are neck-deep in the school research phase of the MBA admissions process. With that in mind, we’d like to share this excellent video posted by …

Now is the time when many potential business school applicants are neck-deep in the school research phase of the MBA admissions process. With that in mind, we’d like to share this excellent video posted by Soojin Kwon, director of MBA admissions at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.

Kwon, who always appears so down-to-earth and approachable in her videos, celebrates the “nerdiness” of applicants who create detailed spreadsheets to compare and contrast the various business schools they are considering…and she shares her very own that you can download and start using today!

As Kwon points out, by looking at the career opportunities, learning experiences specific to each program, and culture of each school, you’ll be several steps closer to making the right choice for you when deadlines hit this fall.

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Reputation and Rankings Trump All in B-School Selection
Tips on Finalizing Your B-School List
How to Narrow Down Your B-School Application list

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5 Application Tips from Michigan Ross School of Business

The Round 1 deadline at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business is just days away on October 5th, and Soojin Kwon, director of MBA admissions and financial aid, has a few tips for …

Michigan Ross MBA applicationThe Round 1 deadline at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business is just days away on October 5th, and Soojin Kwon, director of MBA admissions and financial aid, has a few tips for candidates doing that final polish on their application, as well as for those preparing their package for Round 2.

Whether you’re applying this week or in January, make sure you follow these tips to  ensure your application is Ross-ready.

Tip One: Only apply when your application is at its strongest. While many applicants are leaning toward submitting in the first round, if your GMAT score isn’t where you’d like it to be and you think you can improve it in time for Round 2, then don’t rush for Round 1.

Says Soojin: “The best choice is to apply in the round when your application is the best it can be, including the GMAT score.”

Tip Two: The best way to approach the “What are you most proud of?” essay is by presenting an authentic story—not one you think is most impressive. Actually, the Why is more important than the What.

Says Soojin: “It should be the answer you’d share with a close friend, not with an  ‘admissions committee’.” 

Tip Three: Just because other schools ask for two letters of recommendation doesn’t mean you should go ahead an submit an extra one to Ross as well. When the school asks for one recommendation letter, that’s how many they want to see.

Says Soojin: “We only want one letter…preferably from your current direct supervisor. If you can’t ask your current supervisor, ask the one just prior to the current one, and be sure to briefly explain why you didn’t ask your current supervisor.”

Tip Four: The Team Exercise may be optional, but not doing it would be a mistake. Not only will the experience help you decide whether Ross is a good fit for you; it also provides the admissions team with crucial information about your communication and interpersonal skills, the soft skills recruiters want to see in their MBA hires.

Says Soojin: “If you come to campus for your interview…You’ll meet potential classmates (even potential roommates), attend a class or conference with current MBAs, meet folks affiliated with our Centers and Institutes, and engage in an optional post-interview Q&A session with the AdComm and students.”

Tip Five: Applicants need to spend more time on their resumes. The essays aren’t the only part you have control over, and your MBA resume is an important indicator of how you present yourself.

Says Soojin: “It’s the first thing we look at when we open an app, so it’s the ‘first-impression-maker.’ It’s your opportunity to tell us where you’ve been, what you’ve accomplished, how you’ve made an impact and what you’re interested in.”

Best of luck to all Round 1 applicants to Michigan Ross!

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Michigan Ross Reports Record GMAT Scores for Class of 2017

Michigan Ross Fall 2016 MBA Essay Tips

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Tuesday Tips: 2015 Michigan Ross Fall 2016 MBA Essay Tips

Michigan Ross is a program that emphasizes learning both inside and outside the classroom, and is seeking candidates that are intellectually curious and able to accomplish their goals. Ross is also a close-knit community and …

Michigan Ross is a program that emphasizes learning both inside and outside the classroom, and is seeking candidates that are intellectually curious and able to accomplish their goals. Ross is also a close-knit community and fit with the program is important to demonstrate in the application process. Visiting Ross or learning about the program through current students, alumni or faculty would be helpful before starting this set of essays.

The Ross admissions blog states that concise, clear and simple language is prized in the essay portion of the application. Make sure you are using the limited space to explain specifics about you and your experiences and goals rather than generic statements.

Essay One: What are you most proud of and why? How does it shape who you are today? (up to 400 words)

Last year Ross separated the professional and personal in this question, asking candidates to explain what they were most proud of in both realms. This year you have the flexibility to pull from any area of your life to discuss what you are most proud of and why.

If you choose a professional topic remember that intellectual ability, professional achievements and teamwork are all among the qualities the Ross admissions committee is looking for in applicants. As you consider topics for this essay focus on the ones that will demonstrate you are a strong leader and that you can learn from experience.

The personal attributes the admissions committee are looking for in applicants include community engagement and interpersonal, communication and teamwork skills.

When you consider topics for this essay you may want to write about an important extracurricular accomplishment, a challenge you overcame, or an event in your life that highlights something unique about your background. For example, if you have a track record of club leadership through college and afterwards that can be compelling evidence of your community engagement and leadership skills. On the other end of the spectrum perhaps you have spent time outside your home country for school or work and that has shaped your teamwork, interpersonal and communication skills.

In some cases you may be most proud of an accomplishment because of what you learned and how it shaped your career. In other cases the follow up questions are two separate components of the essay. Either way the why behind your pride in accomplishment will reveal what you value most – whether prestige, credit, or the motivation to achieve your goals. Make sure that your values are aligned with how you want to be perceived by the admissions committee.

Whatever you are most proud of, make sure you are addressing why it is important to you. What you learned and how you have used what you learned since in your life can offer invaluable insight as well.

Essay Two: What is your desired career path and why? (up to 400 words)

Michigan Ross is interested to hear what you plan to do after your MBA and what is motivating that decision. The Ross admissions blog is clear that the question is meant to understand your motivation and interests, and that no specific “correct” career is expected. Both traditional and non-traditional MBA goals are welcomed as long as you are sincere about the path you plan to take.

Answering “why” you chose your career path is crucial. As you describe your career path make sure you explain what has led you to pursue it, and why it resonates with you. The answer doesn’t need to be elaborate or dramatic, but it should be convincing and real. The question doesn’t ask “Why MBA?” or “Why Ross?” but you may want to address both questions. Particularly if Ross has unique resources that will help you achieve your goal, it may help your case to explain why Ross.

Stacy Blackman Consulting has worked with successful candidates to Michigan Ross for over a decade and can offer comprehensive strategic advice every step of the way. Contact us to learn more.

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