2015 University of Michigan Ross Executive MBA Admissions Tips

Click here for more school-specific EMBA application essay tips!Ross Executive MBA students have, on average, about ten years of “progressive work experience” that include about five years as a hands-on manager. Such students are people who know where they’re going and why. So this year the EMBA essays give you the benefit of the doubt in that regard – no goals essays. Rather, the essay questions enable the adcom to get to know you and to assess your fit with the program. In writing the essays, keep on your radar their stated desire for students “whose notion of leadership includes a willingness to be part of something larger than themselves, who are receptive to new ways of thinking, and who bring varied experiences to bear on how they tackle a challenge.”

Essays:

1. What are you most proud of professionally and why? What did you learn from that experience? (400 words)

This essay presents an opportunity to “zoom in” on you tackling challenging issues, having an impact, and succeeding in the workplace. Ideally select a story that is relatively recent, that directly or indirectly reflects at least one of the values quoted above, and that can be told fairly succinctly without a lot of backstory (given the word limit). Also select a story that has an external, concrete impact, to show that you are a doer, who makes things happen. With the short word count, keep the structure simple: tell the story and add a short, thoughtful statement at the end about what you learned.

The essay can also work with a slightly older story, if you have something particularly strong, but in that case add a sentence summarizing how you have actually acted on, and employed what you learned.

2.What are you most proud of personally and why? How does it shape who you are today? (400 words)

In selecting this essay topic, coordinate it with the first essay – ensure that it reflects a fresh point about you. Also select the topic with an eye to where application strategy and your heart converge. The “heart” element gives your essay immediacy and authenticity – things the adcoms are sensitive to. Again, I recommend a simple structure: tell the story, and then reflect on how the experience shaped you, with concrete evidence of the latter.

Deadlines:

Early deadline: February 1, 2015

Regular deadline: April 1, 2015

Final deadline: May 15, 2015

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Cindy Tokumitsu By , co-author of The EMBA Edge, and author of the free special report, Ace the EMBA. Cindy has helped MBA applicants get accepted to top EMBA programs around the world. She is delighted to help you too!

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. 

Essays:

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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.