Answers To Some Of Your Biggest MBA Application Fears


This week, we had our first meeting with this year’s student ambassadors - more than 220 of them! They come from all over - geographically and professionally - and have aspirations to pursue a wide range of career goals. If this year’s employment stats are any indication, they’re going to do quite well in their career search. More than 98 percent of our grads had offers within 3 months of graduation, with an average starting salary and bonus of $148K.

I talked with many of them after the session to reflect on their journey to Ross. I thought some of the things they told me might be relevant to you, so here’s what I heard, and how I’d think about these issues now if I were you:

“I was afraid my GMAT/GRE score was too low.”

That’s a concern that applicants often have. What you should know is that the GMAT/GRE (yes, we accept both and either is fine) is only one piece of the equation. The other pieces of the application are also important. Academic, professional and personal experiences also factor in, as does an applicant’s fit with our school. So don’t let what you think is a low GMAT/GRE score deter you from applying.

“I wasn’t sure that Ross and Ann Arbor would be as diverse as other schools/cities I was considering.”

Nearly a third of our students come from outside of the U.S., with India, Brazil, China and Peru as our leading international countries. Within the U.S., the state with the highest representation at Ross is California. The metro area where the most students lived prior to Ross is New York, followed by Washington, D.C.

Our entering class has worked in a wide range of industries - from consulting, banking, marketing, and startups to the military, education, nonprofit, healthcare/pharma, tech, law and hospitality. They’ve worked in 340 different organizations including the Kenya Ministry of Health, the Turkish Treasury, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, NBCUniversal, Time Warner Cable, Coach Inc, and Coca-Cola.    

Women comprise 40% of our entering class. Minorities comprise 24%.

As far as Ann Arbor goes, it may surprise you to know that we have more restaurants and independent bookstores per capita than any other city in the U.S. It’s been ranked among the most educated city in the U.S. And one thing students tell me they love about going to school in Ann Arbor is that with most students coming from outside of Michigan and living close to campus, the bonds they form with their classmates are especially strong. They’re not dispersing every night/weekend to the apartments and friends they had before b-school.

Chat with a student about the Ross community

“I knew some schools are known for marketing, some are known for finance. I wasn’t sure what Ross is ‘good at.’”

Ross is one of only three schools with nine or more specialization areas ranked in the top 10. In other words, we’re strong. And we’re strong across the board. This will better prepare you for today’s more cross-functional business world, and it will also better prepare you to work in many different areas throughout your career.

“I didn’t think I had enough time to write good essays for yet another school.”

Applicants tend to spend way too much time on the essays. They spend time (over)thinking them. They spend time lots of time writing and revising them. They spend time getting others to read them before they feel like it’s good enough to submit. But “essays” is a misnomer. It’s not a “short literary composition on a particular theme or subject, usually in prose and generally analytic, speculative, or interpretative”. We view ours as more short answer questions. The best responses are the ones that are clear. And in case you’re stressed about getting recommendations, keep in mind that we only require one.

“I heard mixed messages about which round to apply in. Obviously, it worked out in the end, but I was worried I’d hurt my chances if I applied in one round vs another.”

Chances are, you have an idea of which school is your top choice. Let’s call it “School A.” You submit an app to School A in Round 1. Your app to Schools B and C are nearly ready but you decide to wait until Round 2 to submit those apps. In the months following your Round 1 submission to School A, you visit the campus of Schools B and C. You connect with students and alumni of those schools. You fall in love with School B and decide that that school is your new top choice. (We see this a LOT.)

You resolve to submit a killer app for School B in Round 2. In December, you find out from School A you’re admitted. Great! School A requires you to submit a non-refundable enrollment deposit in February...before you find out if you’re admitted to your new top choice school. Now you have to either (1) put money down to hold your spot at School A or (2) take your chances on being admitted to School B. We frequently see applicants choose Option 1.

The moral of this story: if you’re close to being ready to submit an app for several schools, you should strive to submit them in the same round. It’ll give you the benefit of being able to make a decision with all your options laid out at once. Of course, you should apply when your application is as strong as it can be. But if your app is ready for one school, chances are, you’re probably close to being ready for another school. The main difference is generally only the essays.

These are only a sampling of the stories I heard from our ambassadors, so if you don’t see something here that you’ve been thinking about, chances are still high that someone in this team of students was having the same concern or thought as you – you just need to ask them about it.

I encourage you to reach out to an ambassador today. Something to keep in mind - our students get inundated with questions, especially around application deadline time (which is just around the corner), so they may not be able to respond to your questions within 24 hours. But they sure do try!

Connect with a student

All the best to those of you planning to submit in Round 1. We look forward to reading your apps. And Round 2-ers, there’ll be more opportunities for you to connect with us, learn about our program, academic areas, career paths and apps tips in the coming months. Hope you join us!