The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business is a top ranked MBA program that provides real-world opportunity for students. Ross emphasizes learning both inside and outside the classroom. This is a close-knit community, and you should demonstrate your fit with the program within the application process. Review our Ross MBA essay tips and show the admissions committee you are intellectually curious and able to accomplish your goals.
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 committee offers guidance through videos, blog posts and other communications. For example, Admissions Director Soojin Kwon has provided tips in a series of videos on the Michigan admissions website.
In one of her videos, she says that a clear resume sets candidates apart and is the first thing they review in the application. Kwon also emphasizes the importance of test scores. In addition, Kwon and her team want to see candidates at events, showing strong people skills.
PART 1: SHORT ANSWER QUESTIONS
Select one prompt from each group. Respond to your selected prompts using 100 words or fewer (<100 words each; 300 words total).
• I want people to know that I:
• I made a difference when I:
• I am out of my comfort zone when:
• I was humbled when:
• I was aware that I was different when:
• I was challenged when:
Take note that these short answers are about getting to know you personally, not your collection of accomplishments. Ross values: community engagement, interpersonal communication and teamwork skills.
When you think about your short answers 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. The questions are short and purposeful. The experiences you describe should be clear and stand alone.
Looking at each group in turn, Group 1 might be an opportunity to talk about impact and action. It reads as a place to highlight accomplishments. The first open-ended prompt allows you to talk about something you feel proud of—a personal quality, or an experience. For the next prompt, you could describe when you made a difference to an organization, person or advanced a cause important to you.
Group 2 is more about your reaction to events in your life and your character. How do you interpret what happens to you and how do you handle adversity and discomfort? Perhaps you have unique experiences in your life thus far. For example, living outside your home country, working with diverse groups, or overcoming a challenge at work or in your personal life.
Group 3 is an opportunity to highlight how you are unique as compared to other people you know. These questions ask for some self-awareness as you describe who you are and how others may view you. What makes you different from your peers? What is a particular challenge to you that may not be to other people?
PART 2: ESSAY
Michigan Ross is a place where people from all backgrounds with different career goals can thrive. Please share your short-term career goal. Why is this the right choice for you? (300 words)
Admissions Director Kwon said Michigan Ross is “looking for — straightforward” in response to this essay question. Therefore, to answer this essay in a straightforward way you should state your career goal in a sentence or two. Then, use the remainder of the space to elaborate.
Make sure to answer “why” you chose your short-term career goal. As you describe your goal 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.
Note that the question highlights “all backgrounds and different career goals” that all thrive at Ross. If you have a unique background or goal it can be an asset to show how you will contribute to this environment where everyone thrives.
Kwon advised last year that the admissions committee does not expect you to have all the experience needed for your career goals right now. However, “We want to know that you understand the skills that are important for your desired career. Recruiters assess whether you’re able to bring relevant skills/strengths to the table, so we do the same. Some of the skills and knowledge you’ll need will be developed during your time in the MBA program, but students are more successful in their career search if they understand the skills required to succeed in their chosen field.”
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. Now that you’ve reviewed our Ross MBA essay tips, contact us to learn more.