We’ve Reviewed Hundreds of Round 1 Apps — Here Are Our Best Tips For Round 2


As usual, it’s been a busy couple of weeks here! We’ve met hundreds of applicants at our Round 1 interview days. Current students are coffee chatting and mock interviewing in preparation for internship interviews.

They’re gaining career and industry insights from alums from firms like McKinsey, Reddit and Salesforce who are part of our Alumni-In-Residence. Last week, our students recorded a podcast about mental health in business school. And hundreds of MBAs came together for Ross’ VetX, TED Talk-style stories from students about their experience serving in the military.

Trends We’re Seeing in Round 1 Apps:

More GRE’s

And that’s just fine by us! Twenty-four percent of our MBA1s took the GRE. The percentage of applicants who applied in Round 1 and took the GRE is higher than ever before. We’ve looked at key “performance” metrics and found that students who took the GRE do just as well in our classes and recruiting. So when we say we don’t have a preference on the tests, we mean it.

Short answer essays: The most compelling ones are personal

The team has found that essays that reveal something personal — about what you value, how you think — give us much more insight into how you’ll fit into the Ross culture than an accomplishment story. And, as you’ve probably learned, fit is an important part of our decision. (It should be an important part of yours, too.) There are many other opportunities in the application to share your work accomplishments, use the essays to get personal.  

Career goals essay: Lots of laundry lists

We’ve been seeing laundry lists of roles and accomplishments instead of clearly articulated career goals. We know applicants want to “stand out” by shining a light on what you’ll bring to the table, but the place to do that is through your resume, not the short term career goal essay. This essay is also not the place to tell us “Why Ross.” We specifically deleted that question from the essay to avoid reading laundry lists of what Ross offers.

Advice for Round 2 applicants: answer the question that we ask, what is your short-term career goal and why do you want to do that (career goal)?

Optional essays can help — or hurt — your chances

You may have read on a message board that you should use every opportunity to show us who you are — e.g., attend events, visit campus, write the optional essay. Pro tip: Yes to the first two, not necessarily to the last. The optional essay is great for explaining a lengthy work gap or why you didn’t ask your supervisor for a recommendation. Simply using the optional essay to submit something you wrote for another school makes us question your judgment.

Rec letters from people with impressive titles aren’t impressive

As in years past, we’ve seen lots of recommendations from CEO’s and VPs who haven’t worked directly with an applicant. Though you (or your parents) may know a current or former President, a Nobel Prize winner or a celebrity, we wouldn’t recommend asking them to write you a rec — unless they were your direct supervisor. You’ll be better served getting a letter from a less senior executive who really knows your work style, personality, and passions.

To hear more insights into what we’re seeing in applications to better prepare your Round 2 submission, join us next week for our Round 2 App Tips webinar.

And feel free to submit questions in advance (through the registration form). We’d love to cover the topics that are on your minds!

Register for Round 2 App Tips Webinar

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