Posted on July 6, 2012

Ross Essay Questions Analysis: 2012-2013

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

Undoubtedly, introducing yourself in 100 words is a daunting task. It is a test of your thinking and writing skills, a test of how concisely you can describe yourself. To brainstorm ideas, you may reflect on who you are and come up with 4-5 adjectives or phrases that broadly define your personality (i.e. your interests, background, and perspective of life.) Then you can use those themes to build a picture of yourself illustrating them with anecdotes. This question offers you an opportunity to be creative and humorous which you may later use as an introduction to your actual classmates.

Note: The above paragraph is exactly 100 words.

2. Describe your career goals. How will an MBA from Ross help you to achieve those goals? (300 words maximum)

This is a typical ‘goals’ question in two parts. The first part expects you to clearly define your short term and long term goals/objectives, and the second part requires you to articulate why you need Ross to fulfill your goals. Since you are allowed only 300 words for this question, you should give approximately 150 words to the ‘Goals’ part, and approximately 150 words  ‘Why MBA from Ross’ part. As stated earlier, a Goals essay requires you to make a realistic connection between your past (past experience and skills), present (your need of an MBA), and future (your future goals). In other words, you need to demonstrate how your professional accomplishments have enabled you to set your goals and how an MBA is the logical next step towards the realization of those goals/ objectives. Please do not go into details of your professional accomplishments; just provide a general reference to them to show why you need an MBA to fulfill your aspirations.

Please remember that earning an MBA is just one piece of your career puzzle, and you want to prove it to the admissions committee that you understand where it fits in the grand scheme of things. Be specific about why you feel now is the right time for you to learn the required skills with an MBA to move ahead on your career path. Also, make sure there is a convincing connection between your short-term and long-term goals.

The second part of the question focuses on the ways Ross’s MBA program will help you achieve your objectives. In order to tailor your response to Ross’s offerings, you will need to identify certain programs and courses that match your goals and interests.  For this, you should take time to do some research so you can identify ties between the school’s curriculum, special programs, and extracurricular activities, and your goals and study style. If possible, make a visit to the campus, talk to students, professors, and alumni, and attend a class.

3. Describe a time in your career when you were frustrated or disappointed. What advice you would give to a colleague who was dealing with a similar situation? (500 words maximum)

Through this essay question, Ad Com expects you to share a frustrating or disappointing experience from your professional life. So you need to look for instances when you were disappointed because things did not work the way they should have or the way you had expected them to be. This maybe your inability to handle a project in the desired manner or your inability to keep your team members aligned with each other or to get the expected results from them etc.

Please remember this question is different from a mistake or a setback question. Ross is not expecting you to admit or explain your mistake; instead, they are asking you to explain a situation that frustrated you. So you need to be honest in explaining your part, your team members, or your superiors’ role in that situation.

In spite of the frustration you experienced, your story can still present you in a positive light, revealing your strengths in the areas of diplomacy, honesty, maturity, creativity, and integrity. Make sure, to be honest in narrating your story rather than indulging in a blame game.

Since the second part of the question asks you to share what advice you would give to your colleague who was dealing with the same situation, you should think carefully about the thought process you went through during that difficult time, and the lessons you learned from that experience. Also, make sure to mention how you are now applying those lessons successfully in your work life. Your advice to your colleague should reflect your maturity, perseverance, and overall growth in the face of challenges and setbacks.

4. What are you most passionate about and why? How will this passion positively impact Ross? (300 words maximum)

This question has two parts and you only have 300 words to answer them. So make sure you discuss not only your passion but also the purpose behind your passion (in approximately 150 words) and then go on to explain your contribution to Ross (in approximately 150 words). Since you have already discussed a part of your personality and interests/passion when introducing yourself in Essay #1, be careful in choosing content for this essay. Make sure not to repeat those aspects of your personality here that you have already revealed in Essay #1. Consider these two questions as opportunities to show your uniqueness that sets you apart from other Ross candidates in terms of your values and interests.

Also, when discussing your skills, interests, and hobbies that fascinate you, make sure to substantiate them by providing real-life examples. For example, simply stating that you are passionate about particular sports is not enough; you should also reflect on ways you have evidenced that passion in your life e.g. by playing it on a regular basis, and by watching live matches. To answer the ‘why’ part of the question, you should talk about your passion in such a way that gives the reader an insight into the purpose of your pursuit.

Then describe how your passion will make a valuable contribution to Ross.  For this, the first step is to do thorough research of the Ross MBA program and then connect your topic to its specific offerings. The key to answering this question is explaining how and when you will contribute. The more specific you are about your contribution, the better it is for you, for it demonstrates your thorough knowledge of Ross.

5. Optional question: Is there anything else you think the Admissions Committee should know about you to evaluate your candidacy? (500 words maximum)

An optional essay is an opportunity for you to give the Ad Com relevant information that you could not give in other essays or other parts of your application. This question is also meant to shine a spotlight on the experience or a side of your personality that has not been revealed in the other parts of your application: essays, recommendation letters, and resume.

You may still use this essay in a variety of ways to further strengthen your candidacy. First, you may use this question to reveal your non-professional side. For example, if you have significant extracurricular accomplishments (sports, music, writing, painting, etc.) or a community welfare activity that you initiated or led, you should share those stories. You can also use an optional essay to address a weakness in your profile, like a low GPA or GMAT, a gap in your job history, or your inability to get a recommendation from your current supervisor.

Note: For my article on an optional essay, click here. For a sample optional essay, click here.

 Do you have questions about your application? E-mail Poonam at or sign up here for a free consultation.