Posted on June 15, 2017

Michigan Ross MBA Essay Questions Analysis- 2017-2018

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Michigan Ross School of Business has introduced a new essay format for their MBA application for the 2017-18 admission season.

Dates &  Deadlines:

Round 1:  Application Deadline: Oct. 2, 2017;         Decisions Announced: Dec. 15, 2017

Round 2:  Application Deadline: Jan. 2, 2018;          Decisions Announced: Mar. 15, 2018

Round 3:  Application Deadline: Mar. 19, 2018;      Decisions Announced: May 11 , 2018

Admissions Criteria:

“The Admissions Committee seeks to bring together talented students from a broad range of academic and professional backgrounds. Applications are reviewed holistically; no single factor– e.g., GPA, GMAT/ GRE score, or years of work experience— determines the outcome.  Applications are reviewed with three broad criteria in mind:

  • Intellectual ability
  • Professional and personal achievements
  • Interpersonal, communication, and teamwork skills


On May 25, Soojin Kwon, Admission director of Michigan Ross School of Business,  announced in her admissions director blog that they are “taking a new approach to the  essay questions  this year.

Moving away from the previous years’ questions, “What are you most proud of?” and "What is your desired career path?”, Ross admission committee  will now be asking 3 short answer questions of 100 words  and a traditional goals essay of 300 words.  Soojin Kwon explains  the reason for this change, "We want to get to know more about you than we would in a traditional essay where you’d talk at length about one topic. You’ll get to share different sides of yourself that will be relevant to your experience during business school.”

It is important to note that this year’s applicants will have only 600 words instead of 800 words to present their candidacy.

Let’s take a closer look at the questions:

Part 1- Short Answer Questions:

The short answer section contains three groups of prompts. The Ad Com asks that applicants select one prompt from each group and respond to it in 100 words or less.


  • I want people to know that I:
  • I turned an idea into action when I:
  • I made a difference when I:


  • I showed my resilience when I:
  • I was humbled when:
  • I am out of my comfort zone when:


  • I was aware that I am different when:
  • I find it challenging when people:
  • A valuable thing I have taught someone: 

The purpose of these short questions is to give the admissions team valuable insight into who you are as a person and how you view yourself. For these  questions, you have to introspect and dig deeper for specific stories/life experiences when you ‘made a difference’ or when you were ‘humbled’ or when you ‘taught someone a valuable thing’.  Begin your response to each prompt by completing the question. Your responses to these questions will showcase your unique personal traits-your interest as well as the impact you made (Group 1), your resilience after facing setback, your humility, your experience of being out of your comfort zone (Group 2), your self-awareness, and your ability to teach someone else valuable thing (Group 3). The key to all these responses is to demonstrate how you responded in the face of different situations and emerged a better and a stronger person.

What makes these essays more challenging is the multiple choice component. I can imagine applicants having hard time deciding which option will paint them in better light or which stories will reflect the traits that Ross is looking for. My advice is that you should brainstorm ideas on all the 9 prompts and then decide which 3 are your best stories that you would want the Ad Com to know about you as a person. After you have finalized your best 3 stories, begin formulating your response, focusing on the action you took and the impact you made.

To meet the tight word limit, make every word count and be as precise as you can.

Part 2- Essay: Please share your short-term and long-term career goals. What skills/strengths do you have that will be relevant to your career goals? How will Ross prepare you for your goals?

For the last two years, Ross admission committee asked applicants about “their desired career path and why. This year the committee has tweaked their goals essay. In fact, it is more straightforward now. Kwon explains the reason, “In previous years, some applicants wrote about their long-term career goals. Others wrote about their immediate plans after B-school. We want to learn about both. So, we thought we’d ask you to spell it out.”

The word limit for goals essay has also been reduced- instead of 400 words, this year's applicants  have only 300 words to explain their career objectives .

Explain your post MBA and long term goals.  Please be as specific as you can in discussing your post MBA goals. Specify which industry, which company, and what position you would like to see yourself at after graduating from Ross.  Even if you are not 100% sure, you should be clear and quite decisive about your short term goals. Also, please make sure that there is a logical connection between your short term and long term goals.  For example, you do not want to say that your long term goal is to be CEO of Xyz Company if your past experience, current skills set, and your short term goals do not at all seem to be leading to that direction.

To address the second part of the essay question, provide a very brief account of your career history so far to show your readiness to reach your goals. Please note Kwon’s advice on this part of the essay question: “In the second part of the career goal essay (re: skills/strengths) you don’t have to show that you have the experience needed to pursue a particular career goal. We want to know that you understand the skills that are important for your desired career. Recruiters assess whether you’re able to bring relevant skills/strengths to the table, so we do the same. Some of the skills and knowledge you’ll need will be developed during your time in the MBA program, but students are more successful in their career search if they understand the skills required to succeed in their chosen field.”

To address the last part of the prompt, provide details about how an MBA from Ross will bring you closer to your career objectives. Show the Admissions Committee that you’ve done your homework on Ross; establish a connection between their offerings and your goals and interests to justify your ‘fit’ with program.

Kwon explains, “The final part of the question allows you to demonstrate your research on Ross and the experiences, knowledge, and skills you’ll develop here. We want to know how you see Ross helping you achieve your goals.”

With a maximum total of only 600 words to tell your story to the Ross admission committee, you should make every word count. There is no room for elaborate details or beating around the bush. To present a well-rounded picture of your candidacy, use 300 words (short questions) to demonstrate  who you are as a person  and 300 words (goals essay) to showcase who you are as a professional.

Optional Statement

This section should only be used to convey information not addressed elsewhere in your application, for example, completion of supplemental coursework, employment gaps, academic issues, etc. Feel free to use bullet points where appropriate.

As directed in the essay prompt, you may use this essay question to address a weakness in your profile, such as employment gap, or low GPA/low GMAT, or unusual choice of recommender. Your weakness may also bring out a positive aspect of your personality.  You may either use bullet points or essay format for the optional statement.

Pablo was admitted to Michigan Ross School of Business with 100% scholarship. Click here for his experience of working with Poonam of MER.

You may be interested in previous years’ essay questions:

Ross Essay Questions Analysis – 2016-17

Ross Essay Questions Analysis – 2015-16

Ross Essay Questions Analysis – 2013-14

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