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Michigan / Ross Essay Topic Analysis 2013-2014

The 2014-2015 Michigan / Ross Essay Topic Analysis is now available.

Now that the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business has announced its essay topics for the 2013-2014 admissions season, we’d like to offer our thoughts on how to approach this year’s questions.  While two of Ross’s three essays are repeats from the 2012-2013 application, the school has revised its career goals essay and removed last year’s essay about passion.  Director of Admissions Soojin Kwon explained the reasons behind these changes in a recent post on her blog, stating that the admissions committee hoped to “make the experience as user-friendly as possible for our applicants while providing us with the data points necessary to enroll the best class possible.”

Let’s take a closer look at each essay:

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

Making an appearance in the Ross application for the third year in a row, this essay looks to see how applicants present themselves to their peers, requiring applicants to reflect carefully on the aspects of their backgrounds they most want to highlight.  While a brief mention of your professional background and career goals may be appropriate, we encourage applicants to use this opportunity to showcase elements of their personalities and candidacies that they will not have the chance to address in their responses to the other application essays.  Perhaps you have a particularly interesting work or extracurricular experience to share, or a personal accomplishment or aspect of your heritage of which you’re especially proud.  By focusing on a range of qualities and characteristics, this essay will allow applicants to demonstrate the well-rounded nature of their candidacies, even within the 100-word limit.

Essay 2: a) What about your professional experiences has led you to determine that business school is the right next step?  b) As you have researched MBA programs, what actions have you taken to learn more about Ross and what has led you to believe that Ross is the right MBA program for you?  c) What career do you plan to pursue after business school and why? (150 words maximum for each question)

Although similar to Essay 2 from last year’s application, this year the Ross adcom has chosen to separate the second essay prompt into three distinct questions; according to Kwon’s blog post, this was done “with the hope that it’ll help applicants be more focused in their responses.”  As a whole, this is a variation of the typical career goals essay, requesting a clear and concise picture of the applicant’s career history, reasons for targeting Ross and post-MBA plans.  This essay provides a great chance for applicants to demonstrate their understanding of Ross’s unique approach to learning, and doing so effectively will make a positive impact on the adcom.  Taking the time to learn about the school’s curriculum, special programs and extracurricular activities—whether through a visit to campus, conversation with alumni or reading the Clear Admit School Guide to Ross—will pay dividends here.

Essay 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? (400 words maximum)

Part of Ross’s application for a second year in a row—albeit with a shorter word limit—this topic is open to a wide range of answers, and thus there are a variety of personal skills and qualities that an applicant can highlight.  Some examples of relevant topics include encountering disagreements with one’s team or superiors, receiving negative feedback, making an unpopular decision, falling short of a goal or benchmark, responding to a coworker’s or employee’s mistake, or being faced with an ethical challenge.  Regardless of the story you choose, it’s important to concisely outline the situation by clarifying what caused you to feel frustrated or disappointed, and to refrain from playing the “blame game.”  In responding to what advice you would give a colleague, applicants should think carefully about what they learned and then indicate that they would share this knowledge as well as a few pieces of actionable advice.  Space permitting, candidates should also consider referencing a scenario where they avoided what could have been a similarly frustrating or disappointing circumstance thanks to a different approach.  In demonstrating your leadership abilities, communication skills, creativity and overall growth, you will show the adcom how you persevere through difficult circumstances—something that will attest to your ability to succeed in the face of future trials at Ross and in your career.

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Posted in: Essay Topic Analysis, Essay Topics

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