How The Admissions Director Would Answer The Michigan Ross MBA Essay Questions


The last couple weeks have been incredible here, and school hasn’t even started yet!

Students from the Class of 2019 went through new student orientation, which included the Ross Impact Challenge. This year’s challenge combined food and entrepreneurship in Detroit. Students worked with 15 Detroit-based entrepreneurs seeking to impact the community through food - from creating community spaces in their restaurants to facilitating access to healthy food.

The week concluded with student teams pitching their ideas to grow these businesses. Now, much of the class is out traveling the globe on MBA2-led MTreks to places like Iceland, Brazil, Croatia, South Africa, and more.

My Responses to Ross’ Essay Prompts

In a previous blog post, I promised to share how I would approach this year’s short answer essay prompts. If you haven’t read our new essay prompts for this year, take a minute to do that before continuing here.

To answer the prompts, I sat with a few co-workers who asked me the questions out loud.

As a first pass, I responded verbally, to see what would come to mind first to each question, then picked the responses that felt the most ‘authentically me’ within each group. If you’re like me, this may be an easier way to start the reflection process than staring at a blank screen.

I’m not sure if I’d call this a “pro tip,” but it may be helpful as a starting point.

Here’s what I shared with my co-workers (in 100 words or less):   

Group 1: I made a difference when I taught Business Communications classes to Ross undergrads. I taught them how to communicate with and present to a variety of stakeholders in different professional contexts. Over the years, students have told me that my class was one of the most valuable classes during their time at Ross. They say they use those skills in their internships and in other classes. One student was told by the senior management team in her banking internship that her presentation was one of the best they’d heard in years. It’s rewarding to know I’ve helped enable students’ success.

Group 2: I was out of my comfort zone when I switched careers from consulting to admissions. It was an unconventional move for an MBA grad, and highly uncommon among Asian Americans who strive to succeed in traditional fields. I worried that family and friends would see it as “stepping off the MBA career track,” and that the pace would be uncomfortably slow. I was wrong on both counts. My job is a great combination of marketing, analytics, strategy, and operations. The pace is as crazy as consulting sometimes. Allowing myself to be uncomfortable enabled me to have a job I love.   

Group 3: A valuable thing I have taught someone is to do things they don’t have the courage to do. I’ve done this through an annual “fireside chat” with a student club. The topic: “Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.” I share with students my own fears and how I overcame them. Then I have them reflect on their fears and set personal goals. At the end of each year, students tell me the hard thing they did - from getting over the fear of public speaking to running for a leadership position. They credit my openness and encouragement for giving them courage.  

My Post Essay-Writing Reflection

The hardest part of doing this wasn’t coming up with the “what.” The hardest part was getting each word count down to 100 words. It required boiling each response down to its core elements. Every word had to be critical to the story. It was like solving a puzzle to try to balance content with brevity.

I tried to focus on “What do I want the AdCom to know about me?” In addition to the “what,” I wanted to show that I’m self-reflective, self-aware, willing to be honest about who I am and that I’ve had a positive impact on others.

The purpose of an application is to show us the many sides of who you are - academically, professionally, personally - so we can get a sense for how you’d fit into the Ross community.

Essays are an opportunity to share information and insights about you that aren’t visible through a transcript, resume or rec letter. We hope you enjoy this self-reflection period, and the process of communicating who you are. We look forward to learning about you!

For More Advice and Tips…         

If you’re looking for more insights into our admissions process, join us for an App Tips Webinar next week or come meet us at events around the world. We look forward to connecting with you, and getting to know you through your application and possibly, your interview!

More to come on that in a future post!