Posted on December 21, 2018

Michigan Ross MBA Essay Questions Analysis for Round-2 Applicants- 2018-19


Michigan Ross MBA deadline for Round 2 applications is less than 3 weeks away. Ross has changed certain aspects of its application this year, but the basic structure remains the same. The number of short essay prompt choices went from three per group to two per group. They are still 100 words or less each. As per Ross, "We kept the ones that seemed to provide the best platform for sharing something meaningful and unique about yourselves." The career essay question has been reworded. Like last year, the applicants have 600 words to present their candidacy to the admission committee.

Application Deadlines

Round 1:  Application Deadline: October 1, 2018

Decisions Announced: December 19, 2018

Round 2:  Application Deadline: January 7, 2019

Decisions Announced: March 15, 2019

Round 3: Application Deadline: March 18, 2019

Decisions Announced: May 10, 2019

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


Let’s take a closer look at the essay 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 made a difference 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:

Select one prompt from each group of the three groups below. Respond to each selected prompt in 100 words or fewer (<100 words each; 300 words total).

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. Therefore, answer it in such a way that allows you to tell them what you want them to know about you. 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 humility, your experience of being out of your comfort zone (Group 2), and your self-awareness. (Group 3). All three groups ask for a behavioral response, where you discuss one experience or situation and reflect on it. The key to all these responses is to demonstrate how you responded in the face of different situations and emerged a better and stronger person.

What makes these essays more challenging is the multiple-choice component. I can imagine applicants having a hard time deciding which option will paint them in a better light or which stories will reflect the traits that Ross is looking for. My advice is that you brainstorm ideas on all the 9 prompts and then evaluate which are your best 3 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.

It’s a challenge to discuss 3 different experiences in only 300 words. To meet the tight word limit, make every word count, and be as precise as you can.

Ross MBA Admissions Blog provides useful tips to Round 2 applicants:

Short answer questions Tips from Ross MBA Admissions Blog:

The team has found that essays that reveal something personal- about what you value, how you think- give us much more insight into how you’ll fit into the Ross culture than an accomplishment story. And, as you’ve probably learned, fit is an important part of our decision. (It should be an important part of yours, too). There are many other opportunities in the application to share your work accomplishments, use the essays to get personal.”

Part 2 Essay:

Michigan Ross is a place where people from all backgrounds with different career goals can thrive. Please share your short-term career goal. Why is this career goal the right choice for you? (300 words)

This year, Ross also changed the goals essay to focus on short-term goals and your reasons for those goals. Last year's question also included a "Why Ross?" component.

Explain your post-MBA 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 after graduating from Ross. Even if you are not 100% sure, you should be clear and quite decisive about your short-term goals. You may still touch upon your long-term goals, but you should not elaborate on it.

Next, provide a brief account of your career history, summarizing your skills/strengths. Then go on to explain how your work experience has inspired your career plans and discuss the gap in your skillset that an MBA would fill. You don’t want to discuss the ‘Why Ross’ part because the school doesn’t want a ‘laundry list’ of the courses offered by Ross.

Goals Essay Tip from Ross MBA Admissions Blog:

We’ve seen laundry lists of roles and accomplishments instead of articulated career goals. We know applicants want to “stand out” by shining a light on what you’ll bring to the table, but the place to do that is through your resume, not the short-term career goal essay. This essay is also not the place to tell us, “Why Ross.” We specifically deleted that question from the essay to avoid reading laundry lists of what Ross offers.

Advice for Round 2 applicants: answer the question that we ask, what is your short-term career goal, and why do you want to do that (career goal)?”

With a total of 600 only 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 the 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.

Optional Essay Tip -Ross MBA Admission blog:

The optional essay is great for explaining a lengthy work gap or why you didn’t ask your supervisor for a recommendation. Simply using the optional essay to submit something you wrote for another school makes us question your judgment.

You may be interested in previous years’ essay questions:

Ross Essay Questions Analysis -2017-18

Ross Essay Questions Analysis – 2016-17

Ross Essay Questions Analysis – 2015-16

Ross Essay Questions Analysis – 2013-14

Video interview of a current student at Michigan Ross:

In this video interview with Poonam, Pablo, now a second-year student at Ross School of Business, shares his amazing experiences during his first year at Ross.

Since 2011, MER has helped many applicants get accepted into the top 20 programs, including Ross.

For essay tips of other schools by MER, click here.

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Since 2011, MER (myEssayReview) has helped many applicants get accepted into the top 20 MBA programs. (Poonam is one of the top 5 most reviewed consultants on the GMAT Club.)

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