This Michigan Ross MBA Application tip post is one of a series of posts providing MBA application and essay advice for applicants to top MBA programs around the world. Check out the entire 2012 MBA Application Tips series for more valuable MBA essay advice.
My tips for answering Michigan’s essay questions are in blue below.
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 the admissions committee readers to know?
Essay 2: Describe your career goals. How will an MBA from Ross help you to achieve those goals? What is your vision for how you can make a unique contribution to the Ross community? (500 word maximum)
The strong response to this question will show fit. How is Ross going to help you achieve your short-and long-term MBA goals? What aspects of the Ross program convinced you to attend? If you spoke to current students or recent alumni, say so. What impressed you from those conversations? Let the reader know you’ve done your homework. Finally, your answer to the last part of the question — contribution to the Ross community — will make or break the essay.
Essay 3: Describe a time in your career when you were frustrated or disappointed. What did you learn from that experience? (500 word maximum)
Choose one experience where you revealed resilience and growth in response to disappointment. Please note: Ross is not requesting general discourse on frustration or disappointment. It wants a specific example showing how you respond to challenges and hurdles. And of course, what did you learn?
Essay 4: Select one of the following questions:
Choose the option that will be easiest for you to answer and add the most to the admissions committee’s understanding of you.
- What are you most passionate about? (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.
- Describe a personal challenge or obstacle and why you view it as such. How have you dealt with it? What have you learned from it? (300 word maximum)
This could be a disability, a rough patch in your family or your health or that of a loved one. It hopefully will be something more mundane, like not getting a position you really, really wanted. Or perhaps something like running a marathon or meeting a personal athletic or artistic goal. Lots of possibilities here. Here again, Ross, an action-oriented, experiential program, is looking for deeds.
In respond to this question, please review the late Randy Pausch’s views on “brick walls” and their purpose.
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 “explain” 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, 2011
Round II: January 4, 2012
Round III: March 1, 2012
Please note that all deadlines are 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time.