Four Things You Should Know About Ross

The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business is one of the top-ranked MBA programs in the world, and we get inquiries about it every week. And, if you’re reading this, odds are that you’re interested in it, too. But, how well do you really know the school? How do you know if you and Ross are a good fit? More to the point, how do you know if the Ross admissions committee will decide that you’re a good fit for the school?

Today we look at four things that might make Ross your first choice among MBA programs:

Ross Multidisciplinary Action Projects
A lot of programs talk about hands-on learning, but Ross embodies this philosophy perhaps better than any other school. The hallmark of the action-based learning approach is the cross-functional Multidisciplinary Action Project. Ross is working hard to break down silos, and MAP projects are an experiential learning opportunity for students to apply theory to the real world. Every spring, Ross MBA students break from traditional coursework and focus entirely on the MAP program, which is a required component of the Michigan curriculum.The school fields opportunities from a variety of sectors, including corporate America, nonprofit organizations (NGOs), and start-ups. MAP teams are composed of between four and six Ross students who are tasked with solving a very real, very current organizational problem. Projects end with both a formal written report as well as an oral presentation.

Active Social Responsibility
More than many other schools, Ross, and especially its students, has embraced the responsibility of being advocates for the earth and its people. This is evident in the approach the school takes to constructing new buildings, and to constructing new programs. About a third of full-time MBA students are members of the Ross Net Impact Club. RNI initiatives have shaped the student experience at Ross, including corporate responsibility units and practicums in the core curriculum and the annual Leadership Crisis Challenge, a real-time simulation of an environmental or ethical crisis that unfolds over 12 hours. Boston Consulting Group has also partnered with RNI for the Mission-Driven Case Competition. The Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, jointly managed with the School of Natural Resources and Environment, and to a lesser extent, the William Davidson Institute for emerging-market economics, are key resources for Ross students interested in this dynamic area of study.

Ross Leadership Initiative
It is difficult for an elite business school to distinguish itself with regard to leadership training, since leadership is at the core of all MBA programs, but Ross has a unique offering in this regard: the Ross Leadership Initiative (RLI). A program that lasts for the entire MBA experience and is required of each MBA student, the RLI attempts to put students into situations where leadership strengths are fostered and weaknesses are exposed (and addressed). If the description or mission of the program sounds vague, know that Ross has a very detailed roadmap for how RLI develops students.

It begins with what is called a “foundation session,” which is a six-day orientation process (mandatory for all students) that starts with theory, ideas, and self-analysis. From there, students are exposed to a variety of leadership opportunities (variously known as challenges, odysseys, exploratories, workshops, and programs), highlighted by the Leadership Odyssey, which is an outdoor training program held at a new location each year (2009 was at the Utah Canyonlands). All of these activities are buttressed by a student advisory board and an ongoing peer feedback program. Again, “leadership” is a buzzword at all top schools, but Ross really does take it to another level.

Location & Size
Attending business school in Ann Arbor is the best of both worlds: students are part of one of the largest university populations anywhere (41,000 students, 5,200 faculty), while being conveniently located just blocks from the abundant dining, shopping, and entertainment options of Ann Arbor. While the entire student population at Ross is much larger than many schools, because of all the undergrads, the full-time MBA program is about the same size as Stanford’s, with about 400 graduates in each year’s class. The Ross administration feel that students benefit from the location because there are fewer distractions than would be found in the big cities of Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, or New York, which means that students are able to focus more, and get more involved in the campus community. If you’re interested in going to Michigan for business school, you should think about how Ross and Ann Arbor might be an advantage for you, and try to express that succinctly in your essays.

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