Michigan Ross 2015 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

Click here for more top b-school application essay tips!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. 

Michigan Ross 2015 MBA Application Deadlines:

Round 1
Applications due Oct. 6, 2014 at 11:59 PM (EST)
Decisions posted Dec. 19, 2014 at 12:00 PM (EST)

Round 2
Applications due Jan. 5, 2015 at 11:59 PM (EST)
Decisions posted March 13, 2015 at 12:00 PM (EST)

Round 3
Applications due March 23, 2015 at 11:59 PM (EST)
Decisions posted May 15, 2015 at 12:00 PM (EST)

MBA 5 Fatal Flaws

Linda Abraham By , 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.

The Economist’s Top 20 North American MBA Programs

How much do MBA rankings matter? Click here for the short answer. Below you’ll find The Economist’s top 20 American business schools, with a rank on the left (ranking the top 20 in the U.S. and Canada) and a rank on the right (the school’s place in the top 100 global rankings). As you’ll see, the American programs listed are all located at the top or very close to the top of the top global programs. The Economist article highlights the legacy of American programs – their size, their history, their all-star faculties (all of Wharton’s 245 professors have PhDs), and their financial magnitude.

As always when looking at rankings, you need to understand the methodology behind them. The Economist’s methodology is a weighted average going back to 2011 of some fairly quirky factors including “Diversity of recruiters,” “Number of languages taught,” and “Number of overseas countries with an official alumni branch.” If those and other factors considered by the Economist are not important to you, then this ranking probably isn’t that useful to you.

There are 16 schools on the global rankings that have an average GMAT score over 700; 14 of them are American (with Stanford GSB taking the cake with an average of 729).For opening up doors career-wise, the top 5 schools in the global rankings were all Americans – Chicago Booth, Dartmouth Tuck, UVA Darden, and Columbia. Interestingly, even with the top marks for job opportunities, graduates from American programs tend to earn less than those from European and Australian programs – the Economist article claims that this is likely due to the limited pre-MBA work experience of those accepted at American programs. (Even Stanford’s grads, who in America boast the highest average salary of around $130,000, earn less than grads from less prestigious programs like IMD in Switzerland and University of Queensland in Australia.)

In terms of cost, the American schools certainly rank at the top of the chart. A Harvard MBA will run students $112,000. A degree from Wharton costs $130,000.

How much do rankings really matter? Click here to view our 2-min answer.

Download our free special report: Best MBA Programs


Where Does Wall St. Hire: U.S. B-Schools Sending Grads into Financial Services

According to GMAC’s just released Prospective Students Survey Report, 37% of prospective MBA students hope to go into finance after they earn their degree, making it the most popular post-MBA destination. If you fall into this crowded category, then you’ll be interested in knowing which b-schools prepare the most grads for jobs in financial services.

As you’ll see below, we’ve created two charts (based on data from U.S. News’ top 25, which happens to have 26 schools because of a tie for 25th place) that display the U.S. schools with the highest percentage of grads going into financial services and those with the highest number of grads reporting financial services jobs. We did not include non-U.S. programs because U.S. News doesn’t rank them, and we wanted the data to be consistent. There are definitely financial powerhouses outside the U.S.

Want to learn more? Get your free copy of MBA in Sight: Focus on Finance

For more information about the top MBA programs, check out our B-School Zone pages.

The top names on this list, in terms of absolute numbers, are the standard bearers in finance, known as Wall St. breeding grounds. I was a little surprised at how low MIT Sloan came out on both totem poles. It has very prominent faculty in finance, including Nobel Prize winner Robert C. Merton. Perhaps those smaller schools known for entrepreneurship, like Stanford, MIT Sloan, and Haas, are sending more of their graduates into non-traditional fields. Consequently they will not do as well in this kind of a ranking even though they have the curricular, co-curricular, and placement ability to support financial services goals.

Can you put less weight on attending schools at the top of the list even though you may want to go into financial services when you graduate? You can if you’ve already worked in financial services and are looking to get a broader understanding of business, management and leadership through the MBA. Those of you with that background already have valuable skills and a relevant network. Those of you looking to get into financial services for the first time, however, will probably want to look more closely at the programs higher up this list.

Realize that these lists don’t reflect the class profile of the programs or the typical credentials of admitted applicants. You need to know that information too to assess your competitiveness when choosing where to apply. Washington Olin (2nd in percentages) has an average GMAT of 696. UNC Kenan-Flagler (ranked #4 in percentages) has an average GMAT of 683. Both schools send 32% and 28% of their grads respectively into financial services. For those of you without GMAT bragging rights or other qualifications to get into Chicago (average GMAT 723), Columbia (716), and Wharton (average GMAT 725) — the leaders on this list in absolute numbers and overall USN ranking – Olin and Kenan-Flagler may be a good alternative and at least start you down your desired career path.

Much as I did with the similar data we compiled on consulting I must issue a warning: This list or ranking is valuable, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. “Financial services” is a very broad category covering everything from private equity and venture capital, to investment banking, money management, corporate financial analyst positions, and even good old bean counting (AKA accounting). Clearly your specific area of interest is critical, and you have to dig deeper into the employment reports at your target schools to confirm strong placement in your particular area of interest. Also understand how the curriculum and co-curricular activities, events, and clubs will help you do what you want to do after your MBA.

You want to attend a b-school that will help you realize your career goals. Identifying schools with exceptional track records for students with similar goals – especially for those of you seeking to change industries and enter financial services – is an excellent place to start when choosing which MBA programs to apply to, and ultimately, deciding where to attend. This list helps you focus your research. It is the starting gate, not the finish line.

Focus on Finance will help you research and identify the best programs for you to apply to given your finance goals.

Linda Abraham By , 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.

Consulting at Top MBA Programs

MBA In Sight: Focus on Management Consulting - Click here to download your copy!Entrepreneurship is the sexy post-MBA job, but the reality is that less than 5% of grads from top MBA programs start a business at graduation. Per GMAC’s just released Prospective Students Survey Report, 34% of all graduate business students seek consulting positions after they earn their degree. My suspicion is that the figure is even higher among full-time MBA candidates. True, many will work as consultants for a few years, and then down the road start their own business.

If you are in that vast mass of MBA wannabes planning/hoping for a job in consulting immediately after you earn your degree, this ranking is for you! We’ve examined US Newstop MBA programs and the number of grads who have gone into consulting from each one. (The data here is from U.S. News.)

Schools Ranked by Percentage of Grads Going into Consulting

Schools Ranked by Number of Grads Going into Consulting

The biggest surprise is how low Stanford places on these lists. I would attribute that low ranking to the relatively high percentage of MBAs going into entrepreneurship (approximately 18%, the highest of any of these programs by far.).  Yale’s placement as #1 in percentage as well as Duke Fuqua’s, CMU Tepper’s and Emory’s as respectively #2,#6 and #8 on the percentage list also indicate real strength in consulting placement, which sometimes isn’t recognized.

Similarly Wharton’s #1 placement and Chicago Booth’s #4 spot in total numbers call into question the meme that these two programs are “just” finance powerhouses.

Certainly a high ranking in either of these lists indicates that the program has the recruiting ties, placement track record, and alumni network, as well as the curriculum, to support your consulting goals.  However, these numbers don’t tell the full picture. Dig into the schools’ class profile, placement stats, curriculum, extra-curricular activities and opportunities to determine which schools to apply to.

Ultimately you want to apply to programs that will take you where you want to go and that are likely to admit you.

Click here to download your free copy of Focus on Management Consulting

Linda Abraham By , 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.

Top MBA Programs for Entrepreneurs

B-schools are always touting their entrepreneurial offerings, programs, and placement, so when we examined the employment reports of U.S. News’ top 25 business schools to see which schools send the most graduates into entrepreneurship, we were surprised to find that only thirteen programs provide this information in their employment reports.

Below you’ll find the results – the U.S. News’ top 25 MBA programs that reveal the number and percentage of 2013 grads who immediately founded their own businesses after completing their MBA:


# of 2013 Grads

Starting Their Own Business

% of 2013 Grads

Starting Their Own Business

Standford GSB 70 18%
MIT Sloan 37 9.5%
Wharton 59 7.5%
Harvard Business School 63 7%
Yale SOM 10 4.5%
UCLA Anderson 14 4%
Kellogg* 3%
Chicago Booth 17 3%
Columbia 18 2.5%
NYU Stern 2%**
Michigan Ross 8 1.5%
Duke Fuqua 4 1%
CMU Tepper 2 1%

* Numbers include all Kellogg MBA programs
** % of reported placements

Clearly, Stanford is way out in front in this horse race. MIT Sloan with its program in Entrepreneurship and Innovation is a distant #2, followed by HBS and Wharton in a tie for third place. Stanford and Sloan have long been known for entrepreneurship, but HBS and Wharton are generally thought of as financial services and consulting breeding grounds. In reality, both programs – without taking away from their strength in consulting and financial services – have sharpened the entrepreneurial saw over the last decade.

This comparison is useful for those of you who want to start your own business ASAP after earning an MBA. It is an indication of an entrepreneurial culture and education. And if entrepreneurial spirit and ultimately an entrepreneurial alumni network is important to you, then you need to know which schools are strong in this area and how they compare.

While this listing is useful, it still doesn’t tell the entire story of MBA programs’ entrepreneurial strength. Many business school grads will work for a few years to pay back loans and then start their own businesses. Among those, there will be a few grads who immediately enter a startup, so essentially they will initially be entrepreneurs on someone else’s dime. There are other MBAs who will work in entrepreneurial areas of established companies. None of these MBAs are reflected in the chart above, but all still benefited from their MBA program’s entrepreneurial education and culture.

Additionally, either we couldn’t find the data or schools don’t all publish these numbers. Consequently, the chart above is incomplete. Don’t automatically assume that programs we haven’t listed aren’t good for entrepreneurship. For example Haas has a highly entrepreneurial culture and many courses relevant to entrepreneurship, but we couldn’t find the number of 2013 grads who started their own business immediately upon graduation. Don’t let that lack of info prevent you from considering Haas if founding a startup is your dream. Similarly, Georgetown has many entrepreneurship resources (See Jeff Reid on Entrepreneurship at Georgetown). Finally, programs outside US News’ top 25, may be excellent for entrepreneurship, deserving of consideration, and easier to get into (For example, Babson).

As with almost all stats in MBA admissions – especially anything related to (un)rankings and comparing programs – take this data as useful information not as the be all and end all of evaluating the entrepreneurial value of different MBA programs. It is simply a succinct compilation of data that you should incorporate into the additional research you should do before deciding where to earn your MBA. Also consider:

• Entrepreneurial curriculum. What classes are offered? Are there opportunities to develop and work on a business plan?

• Extracurricular groups and activities. Are there venture capital competitions, clubs, events, etc.?

• The student profiles at specific schools. Are they entrepreneurial? Would you like to be on a project with them?

Now it’s time for me to get back to drafting that business plan on the back of a napkin.

If any school in the US News’ top 25 includes that data in their employment report and we missed it, or they published the data after we visited their site, please email saraw@accepted.com and we’ll add it.

MBA Admissions A-Z: 26 Great Tips

Linda Abraham By , 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.