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? How does it shape who you are today? (up to 400 words)
- What is your desired career path and why? (up to 250 words)
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.