An Inside Look At How We Make BBA Admissions Decisions


One of the hardest, but most rewarding, parts of my job as admissions director is evaluating the applications we receive to the Michigan Ross BBA Program.

From the outside, this evaluation process can seem pretty opaque — you submit an application, you wait and wait, and then three months later you get a yes or a no.

So what happens in between?

What criteria do we use to evaluate you? Is there any way to figure out your “chances” of getting admitted based simply on stats? Let’s take a look at these questions by diving into the life cycle of your application and showing you what happens behind the scenes after you click “Submit.”

STEP ONE — After you’ve submitted your application (here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do that), and you are admitted by the University of Michigan, they send your application to us at Ross.

STEP TWO — After we receive your application, we assign it to two different “readers” who review your application separately.

STEP THREE — The readers give my team and me a recommendation on admissibility, based on a holistic review of your application (This part is important! So, I expand on it a bit in the next section).

STEP FOUR — The Undergraduate Admissions team conducts a further review of the applications our readers recommend, and put forward a final group of applicants for decisions.

STEP FIVE — Norm, Paul, and I take all of these inputs into consideration and make decisions on the applicant pool before forwarding them to the Dean for approval.

STEP SIX — Dean Scott DeRue approves admit decisions (or not) and we alert the applicants and welcome admits to the new class.


Here’s how we evaluate applications:

When we complete an academic review of your high school transcript, we look at everything, not just your GPA.

We want to see courses you have taken. We want to see that you have been challenged by your curriculum, and that you are always striving to learn more.

Test scores are important, but they are just one piece of the puzzle. The reality is that the majority of applicants forwarded to us by the University of Michigan already have strong grades and test scores, so what really sets an applicant apart can often be the essays, extracurricular experience, awards, leadership, and of course the Ross Admissions Portfolio (which I’ve written about in the past).

Since we don’t conduct interviews, the essays and the portfolio exercise really help us understand who you are, and what your goals and aspirations are.

We often hear people stress out over a single aspect of their application, thinking “I got a 31 on the ACT; I need to take it again to get a 34 or 36.”

Or, perhaps an even bigger trap for applicants is thinking: “I have a 34 ACT and a 4.0 GPA; that means I’ll get in for sure!”

Well, here’s the good news about our evaluation criteria:

One single factor won’t disqualify you. We take a holistic view of all applications.

Instead of stressing over your “stats,” it’s a much better strategy to think of your application as a whole.

What can you do to show us that 1) you’re ready for the rigorous Ross education and 2) you have a clear reason for wanting to pursue business education?

If you can do that, you’ll impress us for sure.

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