Ross completely redid the essay part of its MBA application this year. Getting rid of its long-standing goals essay, a fairly new “elevator pitch” question, and a question about dealing with frustrating or disappointing situations, it added two questions on achievements. The overall word count is down 150 words.
Since the application is not live, I can’t see the short answer questions or the online boxes. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Ross asks about goals in the non-essay portion of the application.
Review Ross’ Evaluation Criteria before you sit down to write the essays. And remember: your essays should reveal the qualities Ross seeks — not just mouth them. Show that you walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Also, read carefully the introductory paragraph to the essay questions. The advice is excellent.
My comments are in blue below.
Our goal with these new questions is that we’ll get a sense of who you are, how you think about yourself and how you process your experiences. The range of responses can be quite wide – from an accomplishment to a challenge or difficult situation that you overcame or a characteristic about yourself. There isn’t a “right” or “preferred” type of response. Applicants often ask how they can differentiate themselves. The essays are the best way to do it. Your undergraduate school and major may be similar to another applicant’s. Your career path and goals may be similar to another applicant’s. But your experiences and what you take away from them will be unique.
1. What are you most proud of professionally and why? What did you learn from that experience? (400 words)
The first part of the question is fairly straightforward. What are you truly proud of professionally? The reasons for your pride and the lessons learned require thought and soul-searching. And of course, you only have 400 words.
Good reasons for the choice: Contribution to your team, department, company, or society. Impact on you or others. Try to quantify this part of your answer. Numbers are a great way to show both contribution and impact. However, if your #1 achievement is qualitative or difficult to quantify, don’t let lack of numbers stop you from using it.
For the lessons learned part of the question, focus. Choose one lesson that has changed how you think or behave and describe those changes. You don’t have room for many lessons learned, so select the most important one.
2. What are you most proud of personally and why? How does it shape who you are today? (400 words)
This response should compliment your response to #1 and obviously it should not be professional. Ross wants to know that you have a life off the job and that you make a difference then too.
What have you done off the job that you are really proud of? Raised money for a favorite charity by running a marathon? Organized a political event? Engaged in interfaith dialogue that broke down communications barriers? Led a sports team to victory?
Any of the above and many, many other non-professional achievements would qualify as a good topic for this essay.
Then what was its impact on you? Please don’t write that you learned you can do anything you put your mind to. That response is cliched and not really true. It’s a non-answer. A good response will show how your behavior or thinking has changed as a result of this accomplishment.
3. Optional question: is 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)
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, great. If the best place for the explanation is this last essay, so be it.
If you would like professional guidance with your Michigan Ross MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the Michigan Ross application.
Applications due Oct. 6, 2014 at 11:59 PM (EST)
Decisions posted Dec. 19, 2014 at 12:00 PM (EST)
Applications due Jan. 5, 2015 at 11:59 PM (EST)
Decisions posted March 13, 2015 at 12:00 PM (EST)
Applications due March 23, 2015 at 11:59 PM (EST)
Decisions posted May 15, 2015 at 12:00 PM (EST)
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.