Michigan Ross School of Business Class of 2016 Essay Analysis by Stacy Blackman Consulting
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. At the same time, fit is a crucial part of the Ross evaluation process and Ross wants to know that you have investigated the program thoroughly and know why you want to attend. When you are approaching this set of essays, think carefully about how you will best illustrate your fit with the Michigan MBA program.
Essay 1 Introduce yourself to your future Ross classmates in 100 words or less.
The first thing to ask yourself is what you would want to know about your future classmates as potential teammates and friends? That is the information you should communicate here. If you have worked on your application strategy and thought about your personal branding, this question is just one part of the whole. You will be discussing career goals and other professional aspects of yourself in the next few essays, so this is your opportunity to tell your future classmates something about you as a person. Do you have a unique background you will be able to share with your classmates? What about hobbies and personal accomplishments? Think about this question as the “elevator pitch” to adcomm, and one that should be more personal than professional.
Essay 2What about your professional experiences has led you to determine that business school is the right next step? (150 words)
As you have researched 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)
The changes to this career goals question for Ross demonstrate that each part of this question is equally important and requires individual attention. While there are distinct sections, the overall narrative of “why MBA, why Ross” should be cohesive.
When you consider your professional experiences and what has led you to pursue an MBA think about the inflection points in your career. When did you face a turning point or make a big decision about your career? What were some of your proudest accomplishments? With a limit of 150 words you will want to clearly encapsulate this progression and why they led to business school.
Why Ross is a crucial part of this essay question and is focused on separately in the second part of this essay. Ross is an important part of the equation, and some portion of the essay should focus on coursework, clubs and people who may help you achieve your goals while at Ross. Research on Ross should include both basic online resources and speaking with current students, alumni and anyone else you know in the Ross community. The personal connections you make will show both interest in Ross and give you unique perspective on why Ross is the right program for you specifically.
The third part of the question asks about the career path you plan to pursue after Ross. Think about the goal that will represent the pinnacle of your career in the next 10-20 years as your overall aim and then you can work backwards to the step you will take immediately after Ross to get there. This goal should be a vision of your future career that is both aspirational and possible with your background and a Ross MBA.
Essay 3Describe 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? (400 word maximum)
Behavioral questions like this one are meant to illustrate how you have acted in situations in the past, as a predictor of future behavior. Your answer should be concise but detailed, and clearly lay out both the situation and what you did and thought as you navigated the outcome.
Often a tough experience is an excellent learning opportunity and contributes to your growth and development. Don’t be afraid to admit that you have faced frustration and disappointment, because you are only human. The important part of this story is how you reacted and what you learned. Think about the type of person who will be successful in a Michigan MBA program and as a manager and a leader. What skills do you share with a strong leader, and were any formed during a challenging interpersonal situation like this?
The second part of the question asks what you would advise a colleague in a similar situation, which is just another way to ask you what you learned. Think about the lessons you have taken from this challenge and may have applied since. Perspective and clarity about the frustration or disappointment will demonstrate maturity and self-awareness.
Optional EssayIs there anything not addressed elsewhere in the application that you would like the Admissions Committee to know about you to evaluate your candidacy? (300 word maximum)
If there are any areas of concern, this is the correct place to address them. Strike an upbeat tone here and avoid excuses. Explain your issue clearly and focus most of the essay on the correction for the issue. For example, if you had a disciplinary issue in college, spend most of the issue demonstrating that you learned from the experience and have been an ideal citizen ever since.
If you do not have a weakness to address here, it’s an ideal opportunity to provide any information that you were unable to work into the other three essays. If you have an unusual background, hobby or extracurricular experience, this may be an opportunity to provide that information to the admissions committee.
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