This set of essay questions covers broad ground, eliciting information that will allow the adcom to get to know you professionally and personally and hence to determine your fit with the Michigan Ross EMBA program. The straightforward, down-to-earth nature of the questions reflects the program’s practical slant, and you should reflect that quality back in your answers – indeed, with 500-word limits, you will have to be succinct and make good decisions about what content to include and what to leave out.
Essay 1: What has been your most significant professional achievement? What has been your toughest professional challenge and how did you address it? (500 word maximum)
Try to make this essay do “double duty”—while you present an impressive accomplishment and also your effective handling of a tough challenge, through the story you select also try to showcase some differentiating aspect of your profile, such as unique industry or role, important issue engaged, etc. The accomplishment and challenge should be relatively recent. It’s possible to use one experience and show how you turned the challenge into the significant achievement, but discussing two separate experiences allows you to broaden your picture. Answer the question straightforwardly, telling the stories and adding a sentence or two afterward about why you consider the achievement significant and how you grew through the challenge. Also, select an achievement that had a strong external impact – it should not just be about your own growth or development.
Essay 2: What are your long-term professional goals? How will a Ross Executive MBA help you achieve your goals? (500 word maximum)
Notice the focus on long-term. Respect that focus. You can and probably should mention short-term goals and possibly pivotal aspects of your career to date, but only briefly, to create a relevant context for your long-term goals. Then detail those goals – include what you’ll do, what motivates those goals, what you want to accomplish and what impact you want to have, and some practical aspects of how you’ll achieve them. You might want to include some discussion of related points about the target industry and/or challenges you anticipate. Your discussion of how the Ross Executive MBA will support your goals should be concrete and specific; avoid generalities and stock phrases (e.g., “renowned professors”). One way to shape this part of the essay and keep the focus practical is to identify your more important learning needs and then discuss how the program addresses those needs.
Essay 3: Describe how your professional and personal experiences will contribute to the Executive MBA class and teams. (500 word maximum)
Selecting excellent topics is the key to taking full advantage of the opportunity this essay presents. With 500 words, you have to be selective; you have to choose representative points. I suggest limiting the number of experiences described to three in order to have sufficient space to give a brief anecdote and some detail on each. Therefore, select topics that (a) are relevant to future classmates and the program, (b) complement the preceding essays, (c) round out your profile, and/or (d) portray a relevant and differentiating or impressive aspect of your experience. Convey the points through anecdote and story (succinctly, obviously). A discussion about something as common as playing tennis can become a memorable statement with an engaging, illuminating anecdote. Do try to discuss a mix of personal and professional topics.
Essay 4: Optional question: Is there anything else you think the Admissions Committee should know about you to evaluate your candidacy? (500 word maximum)
This question’s wording indicates that you can use it not just to explain a problem (low GMAT, employment gap) but also to present new material that you think will enhance your application. However, if you are making the adcom read more than is required, there better be a darn good reason; not just that something is nice to know. First, succinctly explain any points that need explaining. Then, if there is something you feel is important that you haven’t had a chance to discuss elsewhere, write about it, noting why it’s important for the adcom to know.
Application deadline: June 1, 2012
Classes start: August 2012
The website advises, “Applications are reviewed as they are received, and admissions decisions are made on a rolling basis. Decisions are typically made within six to eight weeks after a completed application has been received. Admission into the Michigan Ross EMBA Program is highly competitive. If you are interested in pursuing your EMBA this fall, we encourage you to apply early.”
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