Essay Advice – University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business

Michigan Ross’ full time MBA application is live! This midwestern stalwart prides itself on its collegial culture and focus on action-based learning. Its location in one of the preeminent ‘college towns’ and passionate alumni network also count as some of this program’s key selling points.

If you’re considering applying to Michigan Ross, here is what you need to know:

Application Run Down

The deadlines are as follows:

Round 1: 20 September 2021

Round 2: 10 January 2022

Round 3: 4 April 2022 (please do yourself a favor and don’t wait for Round 3)

The essays include:

Two short answer questions (100 words each; 200 words total) where you choose one prompt from each of two ‘groups’

Group 1:

  • I want people to know that I:
  • I made a difference when I:
  • I was aware that I was different when:

Group 2:

  • I am out of my comfort zone when:
  • I was humbled when:
  • I was challenged when:

One essay (200 words) that answers the following:

  • Michigan Ross is a place where people from all backgrounds with different career goals can thrive. What is your short-term career goal and why? (200 words)

How To Tackle These Essays

The format of Ross’ essays really speaks to the culture of their program. While they are clearly interested in your career goals (hence the focus of the longer essay), they also want to get to know you personally, as evidenced by the short answer section.

Use Stories to ‘Show Not Tell’ Who You Are

Since they are asking to get to know you on a deeper level, give them what they want! In your short answers, think of stories that exemplify the qualities about yourself that you want to showcase (i.e., your personal brand) and see which of the prompts they may fit within. The prompts are intentionally broad, so use that leeway to your advantage.

Importantly, make sure the two stories you tell highlight different attributes, so you paint a robust and multi-dimensional picture of yourself.  Perhaps from Group 1, you use the second prompt to highlight the time you formed a nonprofit organization to benefit a cause about which you are passionate. This demonstrates initiative and the ability to rally others around a common purpose. Then from Group 2, you use the middle prompt to talk about a failure and what you learned from it (yes, talking about failures is ok!). This shows you are self-aware and have a growth mindset.

Don’t Forget the ‘And Why’

When it comes to answering the career goals essay question, the last few words of the prompt (‘and why’) are perhaps the most critical. The adcom doesn’t just want to know what you want to do after graduation, they want to know why this is your goal.

While somewhat counterintuitive, the ‘why’ for your short-term goal might actually lie in your long-term career goal. For instance, perhaps you are targeting a post-MBA role in social impact consulting because it will give you the ‘reps’ you need to, one day, run the CSR function of a large corporation.  I know they’re not directly asking about your long-term plans, but nine times out of ten its hard to make a compelling argument for a particular short-term career path without talking about where it will ultimately take you.

If you need help with your MBA applications, including Michigan Ross, click here to schedule an initial consultation.

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