My Top Advice for Applying to Michigan Ross

Photo of outside of the Michigan Ross building that reads Ross School of Business

As we kick-off the 2023-24 application cycle, I am sharing a handful of my top tips to keep in mind when you are applying. 

If you have previously looked at the Common Application, you should note there have not been any major changes to the application or the materials you need to submit to Michigan Ross this year. Your application is an important part of the admissions process, and one of your first steps on your journey to college, and hopefully into the Ross BBA Program. 

Tip 1: Read the instructions

Every year I write this blog post, and I start with this tip: Slow down and read ALL of the instructions. Seems simple, right? But with all that you need to keep together, and for how quickly the eyes want to move through your application, it is important to take your time. 

To help with this, we have a variety of resources on our How to Apply: First Year Applicants page, including a video on how to select Michigan Ross within the Common Application. 

Also, if you happen to forget where to submit your portfolio, we have a Ross Admissions Portfolio website with the SlideRoom link available. 

Tip 2: Take ownership of your application process 

The more organized and in control of your college application process, the less stress you may feel. Taking ownership means understanding and tracking all deadlines you need to meet for the colleges you are applying to (including financial aid). This also means organizing what materials you need to submit in addition to what is requested within the actual application. You will need to submit transcripts, and letters of recommendation, among other items, and it is your responsibility  to ensure that these materials are delivered on time.

Another tip I often give to students is to write a thank you note to your recommenders about a month before each application deadline (which also means you gave them more than a month to write your letter). This is both a form of gratitude, and a good way to politely remind your teachers and counselors if they have not already submitted your letters. 

Tip 3: Make the call, not your parents

Speaking of ownership, it is important that you make the call or initiate the email when you have a question related to your application. It can be brave to navigate a complex application or university system, but it is also a very important experience for you to gain before you arrive on a college campus. Building that independence begins now. The more confident you are now in talking with the staff and faculty at colleges and universities, the more successful you will be later. Remember the common phrase, “no such thing as a stupid question”. That is entirely true! We are here to answer every question you may have and it excites us even more when we talk to a student who is considering our program.

Tip 4: Show an authentic voice through reflective writing

Your voice is the most important part of the application process. College essay writing is reflective writing - not academic writing, and usually not creative writing. What do I mean by reflective? We want students to reflect on their interests, goals, what they will contribute to this new academic community, and what they want to gain from it.

Let’s take that typical “why [this college] essay.” When you answer that question, it is not about what the school will give you in terms of job placement rates or fancy facilities. It is about what you want to get out of your college experience. Reflect on the moment you knew you wanted to study business and tell us why. Was it a class within your high school? An extracurricular activity that exposed you to a new concept or idea? Try to be present with your thinking and stay away from essays that center others as your reason, such as the “dinner time conversations with my parents on their business/job” or “my cousin who attended business school.” Remember, you are the one completing this degree, not anyone else, so you need to show that you have thought through your why.

And, write all of this without platitudes on how great Michigan or Ross is. We certainly love Michigan and Ross, too! But the essay is about you, your goals, and a reflection of what you want to study and why.

Tip 5: The Business Case Discussion is not a research-based prompt

In the BBA program, we solve a lot of problems and case study analysis is at the core of our broad-based management degree. Therefore, the portfolio has a performance assessment known as the Business Case Discussion that allows us to view and analyze your problem-solving ability. I recently wrote a blog post on it and recommend that you check it out. But to quickly summarize a few things here, the Business Case Discussion is not a research-based prompt. You will give no citations or reference works of others. That is because the topic you will choose is local and not global. We are instead looking to see how you identify the business implications and what steps you take to think through or get to a solution. It should all be original thinking on your part.

Tip 6: Submit by the Early Action Deadline

I will end with the last tip I always give: Please apply by the Nov. 1 Early Action deadline. This is the Ross priority deadline. Early Action is non-binding (we do not have any application deadline restrictions or Early Decision deadlines at U-M), and applying by the Nov. 1 deadline is in your best interest. We receive, review, and make decisions periodically for the BBA program, and the later you apply, the higher likelihood that we are filling up and will have less space for admission offers later in the process.

I hope these application tips were helpful. Remember that our website is a wonderful resource for more information on applying, and we have many ways to connect with us. I look forward to reading your applications this winter.