Ross 2016 Essays On The Great

Michigan / Ross Essay Topic Analysis 2016-2017

Following up on the announcement of the Michigan / Ross MBA essay topics for the 2016-2017 admissions season, we wanted to offer some thoughts about how prospective members of the Class of 2019 might approach this application.

The overall length of the essay component of Michigan’s MBA application has been shortened. While applicants have 400 words to answer the first essay prompt, as they did last year, the second essay this year has a 250-word limit. There is, though, some consistency in the subjects of these prompts. Last season, Ross asked applicants to comment on what they are most proud of; however, this season, a specific request for “outside” of one’s professional life has been added. This suggests a greater interest in candidate’s personal sense of accomplishment and growth.  Meanwhile, the second question remains traditional, with a fairly straightforward question about the candidate’s post-MBA career goals.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the Michigan / Ross MBA essay prompts for the Class of 2019:

Essay 1: What are you most proud of outside of your professional life? How does it shape who you are today? (400 words)
While the adcom has specifically excluded professional accomplishments from the essay this year, the door is still open to academic, and purely personal experiences or accomplishments. Indeed, the “what” of which one is most proud could be something fairly concrete, for example a youth mentoring relationship in the community, or something more abstract like being the first in one’s family to attend college or navigating a challenging coming-out process. This response can be used to showcase one’s impact on an individual, team, or larger organization, or to highlight brave choices or resilience in overcoming setbacks.

As you decide what to cover in this response, a logical starting point will be to think about your honest answer. We’d recommend reflecting on your two proudest personal or community achievements. Once you have that list, consider what each says about your values and priorities. Our impression has always been that the Ross adcom seeks authentic, humble, hard-working students to join its ranks. Think about what each of your potential options says about your personality and priorities, and choose the one that feels truest to you while also aligning with the MBA student culture at Ross.

As for structure, an effective response to this prompt will describe the accomplishment or situation in full, while also spending ample time addressing the reasons that the applicant is proud of the chosen topic. Meanwhile, the second element of the prompt suggests that the admissions committee is looking for applicants to address some lasting growth or transformation that occurred as a result of this experience. Therefore, in addition to considering your authentic answers and fit with Ross, you might also want to give particular consideration to those that posed a challenge or pushed you out of your comfort zone in order to most completely flesh out this essay.

Essay 2: What is your desired career path and why? (250 words)
The Ross adcom reintroduced a career goal question in part to help them evaluate whether business school makes sense for the applicant. You’ll therefore want to spend some time clearly laying out your post-MBA career trajectory. The use of the word “path” suggests that the adcom is looking for a sense of how you hope to progress in your career rather than a focus on a single role. We’d therefore recommend that applicants touch on the position they hope to obtain immediately after school — down to the job title and 2-3 dream employers — and then move on to a comment about how this will set them on a course toward their five- or ten-year target position.

The “why,” meanwhile, reflects the same desire to hear about the applicant’s interests and motivations that we see in the first essay. With this in mind, it would make sense to comment on the experiences to date that have informed your excitement about and commitment to the career path you mention. Looking forward to the big picture, it would also make sense to remark on the larger impact that you hope to have in your target post-MBA role, whether on a single organization, a broader stakeholder or customer base, or an entire industry or region. Covering both of these angles will help the adcom get to know you as a person in addition to confirming the appropriateness of b-school for you.

Finally, while not specifically requested in this prompt, it might make sense to include a few sentences about why the Ross MBA program and student community are a particularly strong fit with your objectives and priorities. If there’s a program or course that seems particularly relevant to your professional plans (you can find some ideas in the Clear Admit School Guide to Ross), it could be worth mentioning to show the adcom that you’ve done your homework on the school and see Michigan as an important part of your desired career path.

Clear Admit Resources
Thanks for reading our analysis of this year’s Ross MBA essay topics. As you work on your Ross MBA essays and application, we encourage you to consider all of Clear Admit’s Ross School of Business offerings:

Posted in: Essay Topic Analysis, Essays

Schools: Michigan / Ross


Michigan Ross is a program that emphasizes learning both inside and outside the classroom, and is seeking candidates that are intellectually curious and able to accomplish their goals. Ross is also a close-knit community and fit with the program is important to demonstrate in the application process. Visiting Ross or learning about the program through current students, alumni or faculty would be helpful before starting this set of essays.

The Ross admissions blog states that concise, clear and simple language is prized in the essay portion of the application. Make sure you are using the limited space to explain specifics about you and your experiences and goals rather than generic statements.

Essay One: What are you most proud of and why? How does it shape who you are today? (up to 400 words)

Last year Ross separated the professional and personal in this question, asking candidates to explain what they were most proud of in both realms. This year you have the flexibility to pull from any area of your life to discuss what you are most proud of and why.

If you choose a professional topic remember that intellectual ability, professional achievements and teamwork are all among the qualities the Ross admissions committee is looking for in applicants. As you consider topics for this essay focus on the ones that will demonstrate you are a strong leader and that you can learn from experience.

The personal attributes the admissions committee are looking for in applicants include community engagement and interpersonal, communication and teamwork skills.

When you consider topics for this essay you may want to write about an important extracurricular accomplishment, a challenge you overcame, or an event in your life that highlights something unique about your background. For example, if you have a track record of club leadership through college and afterwards that can be compelling evidence of your community engagement and leadership skills. On the other end of the spectrum perhaps you have spent time outside your home country for school or work and that has shaped your teamwork, interpersonal and communication skills.

In some cases you may be most proud of an accomplishment because of what you learned and how it shaped your career. In other cases the follow up questions are two separate components of the essay. Either way the why behind your pride in accomplishment will reveal what you value most – whether prestige, credit, or the motivation to achieve your goals. Make sure that your values are aligned with how you want to be perceived by the admissions committee.

Whatever you are most proud of, make sure you are addressing why it is important to you. What you learned and how you have used what you learned since in your life can offer invaluable insight as well.

Essay Two: What is your desired career path and why? (up to 400 words)

Michigan Ross is interested to hear what you plan to do after your MBA and what is motivating that decision. The Ross admissions blog is clear that the question is meant to understand your motivation and interests, and that no specific “correct” career is expected. Both traditional and non-traditional MBA goals are welcomed as long as you are sincere about the path you plan to take.

Answering “why” you chose your career path is crucial. As you describe your career path make sure you explain what has led you to pursue it, and why it resonates with you. The answer doesn’t need to be elaborate or dramatic, but it should be convincing and real. The question doesn’t ask “Why MBA?” or “Why Ross?” but you may want to address both questions. Particularly if Ross has unique resources that will help you achieve your goal, it may help your case to explain why Ross.

Stacy Blackman Consulting has worked with successful candidates to Michigan Ross for over a decade and can offer comprehensive strategic advice every step of the way. Contact us to learn more.

This entry was posted in Application Tips, Michigan Ross Advice and tagged advice, application, application deadlines, Application Tips, applications, career goals, deadlines, Essay Questions, MBA application, MBA program, Ross School of Business.
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