Posted on June 24, 2015

Ross Essay Questions Analysis 2015-16

Dates & Deadlines

Application Deadline Decisions Announced
Round 1 October 04, 2015 December 18, 2015
Round 2 January 05, 2016 March 18, 2016
Round 3 March 21, 2016 May 13, 2016

This year’s application process has three rounds. You must submit undergraduate and graduate transcripts when you apply. Unofficial transcripts are accepted. However, should you be accepted, you must submit official transcripts. Other documents that you should include with your Ross Business School application are GMAT or GRE scores, essays, a resume and one recommendation letter. International applicants, whose native language is non-English, must submit TOEFL or PTE scores.

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

 Essay Questions

The number of questions for 2015-16 application cycle remains the same and so does the length of the questions   Like last year, two essays (400 words each) are required. Last season, Ross asked applicants to explain what they were most proud of professionally and personally, in two separate essays. The school has retained one question on this subject, but this year’s question offers the applicants an option to choose either personal or professional accomplishment, not both. The second question marks a return of the traditional career goals questions from previous years which requires you to tell the school what your career path is and why you chose this path.

Let’s take a look at the two essay questions:

Essay Question 1: What are you most proud of and why? How does it shape who you are today? (400 words)

This question allows you to choose your story from your professional, academic, or personal experiences or accomplishments. Indeed, the “what” of what you are most proud of is as important as the ‘why’ of it.

Since this question is designed to determine your fit with the school’s values and priorities, you will need to do a lot of self-reflection and come up with a story that best aligns with Ross’s values. Create a list of your two proudest professional accomplishments, and your two proudest personal or community achievements. Then reflect on how each of these accomplishments helped you demonstrate your values and priorities.

For example, if you have chosen a professional accomplishment, it may not be the one that had saved your company millions of dollars or created a platform for your promotion, but it was significant in other respects. The experience might have taught you leadership skills or team working skills that paved the way for your future success or it might have enabled you to resolve conflicts within the team and turned around your relationship with your member / members..  You may also choose an experience form your personal life (may be a personal setback) or community life that is meaningful to you because it gave you an opportunity to make an impact on other people’s lives and demonstrate your personal values of resilience, honesty, and integrity. Whatever story you choose, don’t forget to explain what makes you proud of your experience and  how you have grown from that experience and emerged a better person, or a professional, or a member of community .

When the school asks you “What are you most proud of and why?” they don’t want to know about your career history and all of your accomplishments throughout your career ( some of my students  actually made this mistake); instead they want you to share a single accomplishment that makes you feel proud of yourself.  Ross admission director Soojin Kwon explains in her blog: “Don’t write two paragraphs of introduction before stating what you’re most proud of. You can even start with, “I am most proud of….” Write as you would speak. To a real person. We, who read the essays, are real people.” 

As for the structure, I  recommend that you  follow the 4 part structure :

1. Situation

2. Action


4. Significance

To learn more, refer to my blog on accomplishment essay

Essay Question 2: What is your desired career path and why? (400 words)

This is a straightforward goals question that aims to know why you want to go to business school. Begin your essay with a brief career history and provide details about how you have pursued your career, acquired new skills and progressed along your career path all these years. Explain your rationale behind each career move. Then go on to describe why you believe that an MBA is the next logical step in your career path NOW? What are those skills that   you still lack which you hope to acquire by an MBA?

Then explain your post MBA and long term  goals.  Please be as specific as you can in discussing your post MBA goals. That is, 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. You need to make sure that there is a logical connection between 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.

Please remember that the ‘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). The key is to justify your rationale behind your chosen career path.

Finally, even though the essay prompt doesn’t ask you why you are interested in Ross, it makes sense to add a concluding sentence about how an MBA from Ross will bring to closer to your career objectives. Establish a connection between their offerings and your goals, and interests to justify your ‘fit’ with program.

As you develop your stories, aim at helping Ross admissions committee get to know you more fully.

Ross admission director Soojin Kwon explains in her blog, “For both questions, there isn’t an answer that we “want to hear” other than a response that demonstrates that you’ve done some self-reflection and gives us a sense of you as a person.”

For Soojin Kwon’s detailed guidelines on the two essay questions, click here

For questions, email  me at

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