Michigan Ross has a highly successful MBA program both in terms of its employment results and its academic quality, so it comes as no surprise that Ross consistently ranks among the top MBAs in the US. As Ross is very conscious of choosing the right candidates, it’s important that you first take the time to familiarize yourself with program, both through learning more about its contents and structure, and through interacting with its admissions committee, current students and alumni. Once you have a handle on what Ross can offer you, you’ll be ready to tackle the essays.
Outside of application content, you should also keep an eye on Ross’ deadlines.
Part 1: Short-Answer Questions
Select one prompt from each group of the two groups below. Respond to each selected prompt in 100 words or less (<100 words each; 200 words total).
I want people to know that I:
I made a difference when I:
I was aware that I was different when:
I was out of my comfort zone when:
I was humbled when:
I was challenged when:
As you approach this question, there are two major factors you should keep in mind. One, it is not a job-focused essay, so, in most cases, you’ll want to discuss points that are not related to your career; and, two, Darden is trying to evaluate applicant fit here, so you should be looking for experiences that represent sought-after values, such as inclusivity and leadership.
In order to figure out which to choose, a good approach would be to create a list of possible examples for each of the different prompts. Since you’ll be selecting concrete instances, you should try avoid including any sort of general points. Once you have a list at the ready, choose two examples that have differing contexts and might illustrate different strengths or important attributes of your profile.
For the examples, you’re not given too much runway with only 100 words to discuss each, so you’ll need to figure out what’s the most concise and engaging way to present the content. This is a test of your ability to pitch yourself effectively, so make sure that your storytelling is as streamlined as possible.
Part 2: Short-Answer Question
Pick one thing from your resume and tell us more. (100 words)
For this answer, you’ll need to find something in your resume that’s really worth highlighting: in other words, something that shows you having a major impact. Not only that, but you’ll be faced with explaining the context, challenges and outcomes in a short space. In terms of examples, you’ll want to choose something that’s not discussed at length in other sections of your application.
Now, let’s talk about what we mean by impact. Was there an activity you handled that led to a promotion or recognition? Did you participate in something that greatly impacted others or the organization? Did you have a seminal moment or turning point in your career? Was there a project that illustrated your particular strengths? Or, perhaps, was there something that included particularly difficult challenges that you had to surmount? These are some of the questions you may want to answer as you evaluate potential options.
Whichever direction you choose, you should try your best, despite the word limit, to highlight to the admissions committee the importance of the experience through your narrative. As much as possible, be engaging.
Part 3: Career Goal
What is your short-term goal? (25 words) Why is this the right short-term career goal for you? (150 words)
Short-term goals are a key element in the application process. What Ross is looking for here is realizability and ambition.
The first is likely the most important. If the admissions committee senses that your professional objective is beyond reach, they will likely pull away from your candidacy. So, it’s vital to understand not only what exit opportunities Ross realistically offers, but what your previous experiences will allow you to achieve.
At the same time, you want to choose a short-term goal that’s ambitious, i.e., one that doesn’t fall below the roles that Ross desires its graduates to achieve post-MBA. You want to illustrate that you’re not afraid of tackling positions that the program will give you access to.
Is there something in your resume or application that could use some explanation? You might want to discuss the completion of supplemental coursework, employment gaps, academic issues, etc. Feel free to use bullet points where appropriate.
This essay should only be used to explain any sorts of negative points in your candidacy. While it might be tempting to stuff in a particularly juicy essay that you’re submitting for another program, do avoid the temptation. Ross is clearly looking for candidates to use this space wisely.
If you do have some problem areas in your profile, make sure to very quickly explain not only why they occurred but, in the best case, why they won’t be a problem in the future. For instance, if your GPA was below average during your undergraduate studies, you can use this space to discuss how further courses you’ve taken since graduation and/or a high GMAT/GRE score help to illustrate that any questions concerning your academic prowess have been put to rest.
Whatever you do, if there’s something off about your profile, make sure to explain it here and try your best to be as brief as possible.
For those looking to significantly boost their entry chances, be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to connect with a Michigan Ross Expert. And, if you’re looking for information on technical points of the application process, you can have a look at the official Ross MBA site.