Ross is shaking things up this year. It has different essay questions (requiring very short answers) and a more traditional goals question, but all is different from previous years. Why? Here’s what Ross says about the change:
“We want to get to know more about you than we would in a traditional essay where you’d talk at length about one topic. You’ll get to share different sides of yourself that will be relevant to your experience during business school.”
And the short answer questions definitely provide you with the means to paint a more colorful, multi-dimensional picture of yourself than you could with last year’s essay questions. Keep that reasoning in mind as you respond. You don’t have to be something you’re not or be weird, but you can certainly use these questions to provide context to events described elsewhere and different perspective on who you really are. Remember, the application is a way for the admissions committee to meet you.
My tips are in blue below.
Part 1: Short Answer Questions
Select one prompt from each group. Respond to your selected prompts using 100 words or fewer (<100 words each; 300 words total).
While I wish Ross would have given you more room to answer these questions, make the most of what you’ve got here. The first question you’re going to have to answer is “Which prompts should I respond to?” Answer the question in each group that is easiest for to answer and that allows you to present events and experiences that complement each other and the information provided in other parts of the application. You want to minimize duplication and overlap.
Ross hasn’t labeled the groups thematically. It seems to me that Group 1 is an opportunity for you to talk about something you’re proud of — a contribution you made, an achievement. Group 2 relates to overcoming and bouncing back from a difficult experience or failure. And Group 3 is about you interacting with others. Again, choose the individual questions that allow you to present yourself best.
Think much more about what you want Ross to know about you as you choose what to answer. The questions tells you what they want to know. Now answer it in such a way that allows you to tell them what you want them to know.
• I want people to know that I:
• I turned an idea into action when I:
• I made a difference when I:
• I showed my resilience when I:
• I was humbled when:
• I am out of my comfort zone when:
I was aware that I am different when:
I find it challenging when people:
A valuable thing I have taught someone is:
Given the 100-word limit on each response to these behavioral questions, spend most of the 100 words describing the incident, and if you have room, consider including some analysis. For example why you “want them to know” about X (Group 1, #1) or what was the motivation behind your initiative for the second two questions in group 1.
Part 2: Essay
Please share your short-term and long-term career goals. What skills/strengths do you have that will be relevant to your career goals? How will Ross prepare you for your goals? (300 words)
In previous years, some applicants wrote about their long-term career goals. Others wrote about their immediate plans after B-school. We want to learn about both. So, we thought we’d ask you to spell it out.
In the second part of the career goal essay (re: skills/strengths) you don’t have to show that you have the experience needed to pursue a particular career goal. We want to know that you understand the skills that are important for your desired career. Recruiters assess whether you’re able to bring relevant skills/strengths to the table, so we do the same.
Some of the skills and knowledge you’ll need will be developed during your time in the MBA program, but students are more successful in their career search if they understand the skills required to succeed in their chosen field.
The final part of the question allows you to demonstrate your research on Ross and the experiences, knowledge, and skills you’ll develop here. We want to know how you see Ross helping you achieve your goals.
This is somewhat similar to Ross’ Essay 2 last year, but not identical. Ross is very clear in what it’s asking for: Your short- and long-term career goals, the skills you have developed already to prepare you for this path, and how Ross will complete the preparation. In other words, what are the gaps in your education and experience that Ross will fill in and that need to be filled in to achieve your goals?
The question, especially with the additional explanation is pretty straightforward. The word limit will make it difficult to go into any depth. You could start with a “day in the life” that you foresee after your MBA and how you intend to get there. Alternatively, you could start with an achievement or challenge that you faced and how it has influenced your goals while at the same time revealing gaps in your education and experience that the Ross MBA will close. You could also just answer the questions in the order posed, but that could get a little dull and also be what most people do.
This section should only be used to convey information not addressed elsewhere in your application, for example, completion of supplemental coursework, employment gaps, academic issues, etc. Feel free to use bullet points where appropriate.
Use this statement if necessary to provide context surrounding circumstances that affected your performance or that may lead admissions readers to the wrong conclusion about your abilities.
Ross doesn’t provide a word limit, but keep it short
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 MBA application.
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted and co-author of the definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.
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• Make a Difference at Michigan Ross: An Interview with Soojin Kwon [Episode 185]
• How to Write About Overcoming Challenges Without Sounding Like a Whiner