Michigan Ross takes a short-and-sweet approach to its application essays. The maximum number of words you can use for both the school’s essays is just 400! For one, you must choose two sentence prompts to complete that will give the admissions committee more insight into your personality and character, and for the other, you’ll need to share your career goal for right after you graduate.
Part 1: Short Answers
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). Every word counts here—the tight word count is intentional to force you to focus.
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:
The purpose of these short-answer questions is to give the admissions committee a better idea of who you are as a person and how you view yourself—kind of a peek “behind” your resume. Ross is guiding its applicants to share more about themselves in a very direct and focused way. When the school first switched to this question format in 2020, Ross’s MBA Admissions Blog noted, “The most interesting and insightful responses to these prompts remain when applicants share personal examples that allow us to learn more about who you are as a person, and what unique experiences and insights you would bring to the MBA class.”
Most of the prompt choices focus on your personality traits and actions you have taken in the past. Use your answers to demonstrate to the admissions reader how you are like no one else. Try to find examples that give insights into who you are and that complement information in your resume, rather than repeating it, and don’t be afraid to share non-work-related examples. Incorporate details that will make your responses clearly and undeniably your own, and be sure to focus on what you have learned from the experiences and how those takeaways have contributed to the person you are today.
Most applicants will probably assume that they should only discuss positive experiences or accomplishments in their answers to these prompts, but keep in mind that sharing an example of how you failed or made a mistake and learned from it can be an effective way to show growth. Relating a challenging experience can show that you are self-aware and can learn from challenges, so the resulting essays can often be great as long as you focus on how you grew from the experience. Focus on choosing the two prompts that will set you up to share your most revealing stories, whatever they may be.
Part 2: Career Goal Essay
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)
This is a pretty straightforward and traditional essay prompt; Ross wants to know what you envision for yourself professionally in the years right after you graduate, as well as what your motivation is for pursuing this path. Be explicit in describing your short-term career goal, and make sure to build a compelling story as to “why” this is a fitting choice for you, including how your background or interests have prepared you for your stated goal. Maybe a work project got you excited about pursuing a leadership position, or maybe a personal passion is driving a career change. The “why” shows that you have been thoughtful in selecting this career aspiration and creates a compelling story. Given the minimal word count, prioritize telling your story as clearly and directly as possible.
Although “Why Ross?” is not explicitly asked here, if you are efficient enough in your response that you have a little wiggle room to work with, consider addressing specific ways you believe that Ross in particular will help you achieve your goal, such as via certain courses, programs, events, clubs, and so on. Make sure to do your research—Ross has a lot to offer in addition to its big-ticket programs, so showing you’ve familiarized yourself in depth with the school will impress the committee!
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.
By stating outright that it’s okay to use bullet points in your response to this prompt, Ross is clearly indicating that it just wants the most relevant information here. This is not your chance to share another story you think is interesting but that will not actually add to the admissions committee’s knowledge or understanding of you in any meaningful way. So, provide this optional information only if one of the suggested situations applies to you (“completion of supplemental coursework, employment gaps, academic issues”) or some other element of your candidacy would benefit from further clarification. One example would be if your recommender is not your direct supervisor. Or maybe you have a disciplinary issue in your past that could be mitigated by some explanation. At any rate, there’s no need to make your response any longer than it needs to be (or even to respond at all!)—just communicate any critical information.
In Stratus Admissions’ Guide to Getting into Michigan Ross School of Business you will find information on a variety of the MBA program’s offerings such as the Multidisciplinary Action Project (MAP), The Erb Institute, MTrek Program, and the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund. This free guide also includes class profile statistics and our expert advice on answering the business school’s application essay questions. Download our brand-new guide to learn more about Michigan Ross!