Blaire Moody Rideout
"Be unique. Be yourself."
By Blaire Moody Rideout
I don’t need to tell you that the essays are an important part of the Michigan Ross BBA application process.
These essays give us insight into who you are, what goals you have, the way you approach problem solving, how you learn from your past, and so much more.
There are four essays total:
That can be a daunting task if you’re just starting out in your college application process. But it doesn’t have to be!
I’ve read thousands of college application essays, and I know what makes a good essay and what makes a bad one — and I want to share those secrets with you.
Here are my best tips for writing your essays for the Michigan Ross BBA application:
Read and Answer the Question Asked
You might be surprised to hear that many applicants do not follow the essay prompt very well; and some don’t even answer the question we’re asking!
Please ensure that you are reading, understanding, and writing an essay that meets what the college is asking for. A good exercise I often suggest is to give the final draft of your essay to a friend, teacher, guidance counselor, family member, or someone else you trust. But don’t give them the essay prompt or essay question.
Once they have read your final essay, ask them what they think the question was that you are trying to answer. If their answer comes close to the actual essay prompt, then you have done your job well!
There is No Right Answer
Admissions essays are a form of reflective writing, not academic writing. Since essays should reveal a personal experience, there is no right answer.
All too often our reading team sees application essays that are modeled after a template someone has given them, or are very similar to an essay that was lauded in the media (we all remember that Costco essay that got someone into five Ivy League Schools and Stanford!). But that is not what we want.
The essay should be a reflective writing piece that conveys a unique aspect of yourself, an experience you have encountered that has shaped who you are, and your reasoning for studying a particular academic field.
The Essay is About You
Going off my statement above that it is your essay, please do not tell us that “business is in my blood because of the dinner time discussions I have had with mom and dad.” We’re more interested to read about you as the applicant (sorry Mom and Dad!).
Please also do not tell us about the sibling that is currently studying business and that through their experience you can see yourself at a business school. The essays are about you and your intentional choice for picking the academic area that interests you. Remember that you will be completing the course work for your degree, not your mom and dad’s, or your brother’s or sister’s.
Use Current Information
Please, please, please avoid writing about the lemonade stand you had when you were five years old and how that was your first experience running a business.
While I love lemonade stands (I do have a 4-year-old, you know), it is just too dated for it to be the main reason why you want to study business at 17 years of age. Instead, tell us what you do in high school that has sparked your interest. What event, experience, or moment in your teen years led you to this decision?
Words on paper. Words on paper. That is what my doctoral advisor used to tell me when I was writing my dissertation to motivate me and to keep me from thinking about the enormity of the project.
A college admission essay is nothing like a dissertation, but the enormity of the outcome from this one simple essay can seem overwhelming. So much so that you might continue to put it off. I hear ya. But remember “words on paper.” Just write!
It can all start with a simple brainstorming exercise that leads to an outline of your thoughts. From there pick the richest idea or topic (which is often the one that is most personal) and begin your essay.
I hope you found these tips helpful. If you take them to heart and are honest and open when writing your essays, you'll stand out from the pack. Trust me, I read a lot of these.