Michigan Ross has released its 2013 application essays. Unlike most programs this year, it has not shortened its essays or reduced the number of required essays. It has removed options from its fourth essay and focused the question for Essay 2.
Essay 1: Introduce yourself to your future Ross classmates in 100 words or less.
What’s your elevator pitch? What do you want them to know first about you? That’s not what do you think they want to read, but what do you want your classmates (and yes the admissions committee readers too) to know?
Essay 2: Describe your career goals. How will an MBA from Ross help you to achieve those goals? (300 word maximum)
How is Ross going to help you achieve your MBA goals? First of all, relate them in terms of industry and function. What aspects of the Ross program convinced you to attend? How will they help you achieve your career goals. You need to do your homework about Ross before you answer this question.
Essay 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? (500 word maximum)
Choose one professional experience where you revealed resilience and growth in response to disappointment or frustration. Please note: Ross is not requesting a general discourse on frustration or disappointment. It wants a specific example showing how you respond to challenges and hurdles.
Then (off the page) think about it. What did you do right? How could you have handled the situation more effectively. Also possibly think about another time when you applied the lessons learned in the first situation and had a better outcome.
Now, what would you tell your colleague? Let’s call her Jane. You would probably tell Jane what happened and that you can relate to her experience because you once stood in her shoes. Then you would encourage her based on your experience. You might share that you too felt disappointed (or ?) and then tell her the effective part of your reaction and how you have used these lesson personally later on.
Essay 4: What are you most passionate about and why? How will this passion positively impact Ross? (300 word maximum)
If you are passionate about something, you must have acted on that passion and shown commitment to it. Passive passion is an oxymoron. Tell a story illustrating your enthusiasm and commitment for whatever it is. It does not have to be professional. This could be an excellent essay to reveal a non-professional side of you.
Is there anything else you think the Admissions Committee should know about you to evaluate your candidacy? (500 word maximum)
Optional questions aren’t junk drawers or shoe boxes in which to jam “stuff.” Focus on one facet of your life or an experience that is important to you, reveals the human being you are, and isn’t described in other parts of the application.
Of course, you can also use this essay to provide context for a weakness, but I prefer not to end your application on that note if possible. So weigh your options. If you have something to explain, do so. If you can slip in the explanation somewhere else (perhaps #4?), great. If the best place for the explanation is this last essay, so be it.
Round I: October 10, 2012
Round II: January 3, 2013
Round III: March 4, 2013
*Please note that all deadlines are 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time.
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.