Category Archives: Ross

Ross EMBA Essay Questions for 2013

While applying to executive MBA programs is significantly different from applying to tradition two-year MBA programs, many top schools can still be challenging to get into, and most of them do have essay requirements. Today we take a look at the U. of Michigan (Ross) EMBA essays for 2013:

  1. What has been your most significant professional achievement? What has been your toughest professional challenge and how did you address it? (500 words)
  2. What are your long-term professional goals? How will a Ross Executive MBA help you achieve your goals? (500 words)
  3. Describe how your professional and personal experiences will contribute to the Executive MBA class and teams. (500 words)
  4. (Optional) Is there anything else you think the Admissions Committee should know about you to evaluate your candidacy? (500 words)

Notice the heavy emphasis on professional stories. Yes, the admissions committee does want to know about you overall as a person, and does invite some personal stories in Question 3, but overall this is about the professional you and how a Ross EMBA can help accelerate your career. In discussing your career goals, be as clear and specific as possible, but know that you don’t need to have the next 30 years of your career perfectly mapped out. More than anything, the admissions committee wants to know that you have a realistic vision for your career and where a Ross executive MBA program can fit into those plans.

Regarding the optional essay prompt, only use this essay if you feel that you need to. No need to harp on a minor weakness and sound like you are making excuses when you don’t need to. If you have nothing else to tell the admissions committee after answering the first three questions, it is entirely okay to skip this essay!

For more advice, take a look at our book, Your MBA Game Plan, now in its 3rd edition. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Michigan’s Ross School of Business to Pilot Group Interviews… in China?

Recently Soojin Kwon, Director of Admissions of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, announced that the school will pilot its first ever group admissions interviews for Round 2 applicants. This is not too surprising in and of itself… For the past year Wharton has been slowly but surely rolling out its own MBA group interview process, and the early feedback has been mostly positive. We figured that other top MBA programs would announce similar new initiatives to “break out of the essay box” and get to know applicants in new ways.

What surprised us was the fact that the school’s first group interviews won’t be in Ann Arbor, or anywhere else in the United States, for that matter. Ross will pilot its first group interviews with some Round 2 applicants in… in Beijing and Shanghai! Why would Ross fly halfway across the globe to conduct such an important experiment that could dramatically impact its MBA admissions process?

This is what Soojin Kwon had to say in her blog post:

The group interview, while not a requirement for admission, is highly recommended. Candidates who are invited to interview in those cities will still be required to conduct a standard, one-on-one interview with an alumni or current student interviewer.

Adding to the intrigue, knowing that this is so new and experimental (not to mention that Ross announced it after Round 2 applications had already been submitted), why would Ross make the new interview process “highly recommended?” Normally, when a business school introduces a pilot such as this, the school will go out of its way to let applicants know that it’s optional, and that participating or not participating will not have a significant impact on their admissions chances.

So what gives? The most likely explanation is that the Ross admissions team is looking for a new, better way to evaluate China-based applicants’ English skills. Some MBA programs rely on local alumni interviewers, and others rely on Skype for overseas applicants. These all work well for the most part, but what better way to evaluate these applicants’ communication skills and English fluency than to go to where they are, sit in a room with them, and hear how well they can participate in a discussion that could go in any number of directions?

The Ross admissions team has not made much of a point about Chinese applicants’ English skills being tested in these group interviews, we can’t help but think that this is a big reason (if not THE reason) why Ross will pilot this process starting in China. It will be interesting to see if this process expands to cover more Ross applicants next year.

For more business school admissions advice, get yourself a copy of our book, Your MBA Game Plan, now in its 3rd edition. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Michigan (Ross) Admissions Essays for 2012-2013

The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business recently released its application deadlines and essays for the Class of 2015. While Ross hasn’t made changes quite as big as those at some other schools this year, the school’s total essay word count has slimmed down a bit, continuing the trend we have seen among most top-ranked business schools. We’ll dig into the Michigan’s essays and deadlines below, followed by our comments, in italics:

Michigan (Ross) Application Essays

  1. Introduce yourself to your future Ross classmates in 100 words or less.

    This question carries over unchanged from last year, and so our advice remains pretty much the same. Think of this essay as your “elevator pitch” to the Ross admissions team. You have just four to six sentences to highlight what the admissions committee absolutely must know about you. This is not an exercise is seeing how much information you can cram into 100 words. Instead, your challenge is to distill down your candidacy to no more than a couple of key points that 1) demonstrate your fit with Ross and 2) help you stand out vs. the competition. Note that, although the new wording this year changes the audience from the Ross admissions committee to your future classmates, your goal remains the same here. This essay will be a super-summary of the rest of your application, so don’t be bothered if some of the content here overlaps a bit with what’s in your other essays.
  2. Describe your career goals. How will an MBA from Ross help you to achieve those goals? (300 words)

    This question is sort of a repeat from last year, but Ross made two big changes: First, it dropped half of the question (“What is your vision for how you can make a unique contribution to the Ross community?”). This is interesting since that dropped question was introduced last year, but apparently it wasn’t doing its job for the Ross admissions committee. And, the word count has dropped from 500 to 300 words. For the part that’s left, you need to keep your response realistic and to demonstrate that you understand what a Ross MBA will and won’t do for you as a young professional. Note that many similar questions start with “Describe your career progress to date,” but this essay is only forward-looking. Still, any discussion of your career goals will likely include at least some background on what you’ve learned and accomplished, although you will need to do it succinctly. You shouldn’t dwell on your past, but you should plan on succinctly discussing what you’ve done until now as a way to “set the stage” for your career plans.
  3. Describe a time in your career when you were frustrated or disappointed. What advice would you give to a colleague who was dealing with a similar situation? (500 words)

    This is another case of a question that carries over from last year, but with a notable change. In this case, Ross changed the second sentence from “What did you learn from that experience?” to what you see here. While it’s actually not a substantial change, we actually like this version a little better. While this isn’t explicitly a “failure” essay, an example of a time when you failed is fair game here. Other possibilities are a time when you had to deal with a difficult co-worker or a time when you had a hard time winning others over to your way of thinking. These would all make for good demonstrations of how you have dealt with adversity. And remember that the second half of this question is the most critical: How would you impart this knowledge to others? This sort of maturity and emotional intelligence is what admissions officers look for. yes, you may be young, but you’re already far enough along in your career that you can help others… Show the Ross admissions team how you would do that using these life experiences.
  4. What are you most passionate about and why? How will this passion positively impact Ross? (300 words)

    This question is an evolution of an optional one that Ross offered last year. The entire second part is new, which suggests to us that, while the school was getting interesting answers from applicants, the admissions team wanted to see these passions tied back to Ross a little more explicitly. This question requires an honest response about something that truly moves you. You can be passionate about anything, but what really makes great responses stand out is when the “Why” part is memorable, believable, and contains specifics about how you have acted on that passion. Are you passionate about bicycling? Great. Now explain why, using specific examples. Now, convince the admissions team that your passion is something that you’ll share with your classmates… That doesn’t mean you will start a cycling club, but maybe the endurance you have built up in your cycling training will make you a valuable study team member when the clock strikes midnight. Don’t be afraid to get a little creative here!
  5. Optional question: Is there anything else you think the Admissions Committee should know about you to evaluate your candidacy? (500 words)

    As always, only use this essay if you need to explain a low undergraduate GPA or other potential blemish in your background. No need to harp on a minor weakness and sound like you’re making excuses when you don’t need any. More generally, if you don’t have anything else you need to tell the admissions office, it’s okay to skip this essay!

To stay on top on all of the latest news from Ross and other top-ranked business schools, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Get to Know: Ross School of Business

When clients talk to us and list the handful of MBA programs to which they’re applying, the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business is often on the list. Given the school’s strong academics, impressive alumni reach, and strength in multiple academic disciplines, it’s no wonder that so many people apply to Ross each year.

Today we dig into five reasons why you should consider Ross

You have a little more work experience
With an average of 5 years of experience for incoming students, Ross wants to see some significant work history. In fact, the admissions office states outright that it is “difficult to be admitted” straight from college. They generally require at least a year or two of high-quality work experience — preferably a bit more before seriously considering an applicant. Unlike some other schools, Ross will not even accept an application from someone who is currently a college senior.

You’re interested in sustainability or want to launch a social venture
Ross has led the way with socially responsible business and sustainability, with a focus on these issues for much longer than any other school. Ross has a well established track record of educating social entrepreneurs and supporting ventures with a heart. If you want a “green” education, there’s not another school that can easily top Ross.

You’d like to get your MBA while keeping your day job
Ross has some very practical part-time programs, including the Ross Global time-shifted and globe-trotting track which is geared for those doing business in Asia.

You’re interested in study supply chain or operations
The one-year MSCM degree is not an MBA but it is appealing for certain types of people looking to advance in operations, and it is a unique degree not found at many other schools. Ross also has strong offerings for MBA students pursuing careers in this function.

You like the idea of attending a large state school
As a state school, the tuition at Ross is about $5,000 per year lower for Michigan residents, but even out-of-state students will find that the overall bill is less than most other Top 10 schools, and the cost of living in Ann Arbor is certainly less than the cost of living in most cities on the right and left coasts.

To stay on top on all of the latest news and analysis of Ross admissions, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Michigan MBA Application Essays for 2011-2012

The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business recently released its application deadlines and essays for the Class of 2014. After making big changes to its essays last year, Ross has only made small tweaks this time around. We’ll dig into the school’s essays and deadlines below, followed by our comments, in italics:

Michigan (Ross) Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: October 10, 2011
Round 2: January 4, 2012
Round 3: March 1, 2012

Virtually no changes since last year. Note that, unlike some other top-ranked MBA programs, Ross does not notify Round 1 applicants before the end of December (notifications are released by January 13). So, if you apply to Ross in Round 1, you will need to pull the trigger on Round 2 applications in early January before you know where you stand with Ross.

Michigan (Ross) Admissions Essays

  1. Introduce yourself to your future Ross classmates in 100 words or less.

    This question essentially carries over from last year, although Ross tweaked the phrasing this year to include the “… to you future Ross classmates” part. Think of this essay as the quintessential “elevator pitch.” You have just four to six sentences to highlight what the admissions committee absolutely must know about you. This is not an exercise is seeing how much information you can cram into 100 words. Instead, your challenge is to distill down your candidacy to no more than a couple of key points that 1) demonstrate your fit with Ross and 2) help you stand out vs. the competition. Note that, although the new wording this year changes the audience from the Ross admissions committee to your future classmates, your goal remains the same here. This essay will be a super-summary of the rest of your application, so don’t be bothered if some of the content here overlaps a bit with what’s in your other essays.
  2. Describe your career goals. How will an MBA from Ross help you to achieve those goals? What is your vision for how you can make a unique contribution to the Ross community? (500 words)

    This is another question that carries over from last year with some changes. In this case, the entire third sentence is new. Remember to keep your response realistic and to demonstrate that you understand what a Ross MBA will and won’t do for you as a young professional. Note that many similar questions start with “Describe your career progress to date,” but this essay is only forward-looking. Still, any discussion of your career goals will likely include at least some background on what you’ve learned and accomplished. So, while you shouldn’t dwell on the past, you should plan on succinctly discussing what you’ve done until now as a way to “set the stage” for your career plans.

    The addition of the last sentence (about making a contribution to the Ross community) does mean that you may need to take a fairly dramatic left turn in the course of your essay in order to work in this message. Given that this question related to your career goals, we interpret the “contribution to the Ross community” question to be about how you’ll contribute over the next 50 years, not during your two years in Ann Arbor. The obvious answers involve being a donor, helping out as an alumni interviewer, or a getting involved with your local alumni club… What else do you have to offer?
  3. Describe a time in your career when you were frustrated or disappointed. What did you learn from that experience? (500 words)

    This question is a verbatim repeat from last year’s third question. This new question gets at the “emotional intelligence” that we hear admissions officers talk about wanting to see in applicants. While this isn’t explicitly a “failure” essay, an example of a time when you failed is fair game here. Other possibilities are a time when you had to deal with a difficult co-worker or a time when you had a hard time winning others over to your way of thinking. These would all make for good demonstrations of how you have dealt with adversity. And remember that the second half of this question is the most critical: What did you learn from this rough patch in your career? (And, how did it make you a better person or more successful professional later on?) That is really what Ross admissions officers most want to know.
  4. Select one of the following questions:

    – What are you most passionate about? (300 words)
    – Describe a personal challenge or obstacle and why you view it as such. How have you dealt with it? What have you learned from it? (300 words)

    The first question carries over from last year, although in last year’s application it also included “… and why?” Perhaps Ross decided this was a little too “Stanford-ish,” and dropped it for that reason! Regardless, this question requires an honest response about something that truly moves you. And, even if they dropped the “Why” part, you still need to answer that. You can be passionate about anything, but what really makes great responses stand out is when the “Why” part is memorable, believable, and contains specifics about how you have acted on that passion. Are you passionate about bicycling? Great. Now explain why, using specific examples… All in 300 words!

    The second question is new this year. It’s an interesting addition in that Ross already asks about a time when you were frustrated or disappointed in your career. However, note that this question asks about a personal challenge, so keep the focus on something other than a professional challenge. As always, the most interesting part is what you learned from the experience, and — ideally — how you put that lesson to use down the road. The Ross admissions committee here wants to see introspection, maturity, and evidence of personal growth here.
  5. Optional question: Is there anything else you think the Admissions Committee should know about you to evaluate your candidacy? (500 words)

    As always, only use this essay if you need to explain a low undergraduate GPA or other potential blemish in your background. No need to harp on a minor weakness and sound like you’re making excuses when you don’t need any. More generally, if you don’t have anything else you need to tell the admissions office, it’s okay to skip this essay!

To learn more about Ross and other top-ranked MBA programs, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

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.

To learn more about Ross and other top-ranked MBA programs, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Alison Davis-Blake to Take Over as Dean at Ross

Recently the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business announced Alison Davis-Blake will become the first ever female dean of the school, effective August 22. The announcement marked the end of a ten-month-long search to find a replacement for Robert J. Dolan, who will step down on June 30 after serving as dean for the past decade.

For the past five years she has served as the dean of the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, where she became the highest-ranking woman at any U.S. business school at the time of her appointment. There she made a name for herself by significantly improving the school’s fundraising efforts and improving the school’s overall national standing.

Ross professor Jerry Davis, who led Ross’s Dean Search Advisory Committee, said in an announcement released by the school:

“She impressed the committee with her grasp of the broad competitive landscape of business education, its future trends, and the factors that distinguish Ross from the other top schools,” he says. “She has had great success working with faculty, staff, students, alumni, and donors at Carlson, and the school’s reputation has risen accordingly. She also has great experience with globalizing the educational experience of students at Carlson, managing alliances with schools in Europe and Asia, and implementing a required overseas experience for undergraduates.”

Just as was the case with Sally Blount’s appointment at Kellogg last year, many news outlets led with the fact that Davis-Blake will be Ross’s first-ever female leader, but her track record stands on its own regardless of gender. She has moved up through the ranks relatively quickly, starting out as an assistant professor of industrial administration at Carnegie Mellon before moving to the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas in 1990. There she moved up from an instructor to eventually serve as the school’s senior associate dean for academic affairs before leaving for Carlson in 2006.

While Dolan will be a tough act to follow — his legacy includes garnering a $100 million naming gift from Michigan alumnus Stephen M. Ross — Ross believes it has found a worthy successor in Davis-Blake.

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