As promised in my tweet (#MichRossAD), I wanted to share some tips and advice for writing your Ross essays. Hopefully this will take some of the mystery out of what the AdComm is "looking for."
Essay 1: "Introduce yourself to your future Ross classmates in 100 words or less."
Last year we saw many different good approaches to this essay. Here's what set the successful ones apart:
- They didn't give us the highlights of their resume.
- They didn't fill it with adjectives like "collaborative" and "achievement-oriented" that could describe hundreds of other applicants.
- They made it personal, distinguishable. Their families would probably be able to pick their essay out from a stack of other essays.
Essay 2: Career goals, why Ross and your unique contribution to Ross.
Here, we're looking for clarity of your goals and whether an MBA makes sense for what you want to do. We're also looking to see whether you understand what Ross is about and can articulate why we're a good fit for you.
The most common mistake I see with this essay is that applicants regurgitate what's on our website. We're not looking for you to tell us about us, the essays are your chance to tell us about you. We know we have a MAP program, we know we're a student-driven community. We want to know why you think that these and other aspects of our program resonate with you.
Essay 3: "Describe a time in your career when you were frustrated or disappointed. What did you learn from that experience."
I underlined "career" because we have a separate optional question about a personal challenge or obstacle. What we're looking for in this essay, and really all of the essays, is self-awareness. We're most interested in your reflections on an experience, not on the play-by-play of the experience.
Essay 4: Select one of the following questions: What are you most passionate about? Or, describe a personal challenge or obstacle and why you view it as such.
We want to understand who you are as a person and not just as a professional. Again, we're looking for self-awareness and fit by getting a sense of what has had, or has, an impact on your life.
Essay 5: OPTIONAL - Is there anything else you think the Admissions Committee should know about you to evaluate your candidacy?
I put it "optional" in all caps because it truly is optional. It is not code for "We say it's optional, but if you don't do it, we won't think you're serious about us." Use this essay only if: (1) there's something in your application that may cause us to wonder about (e.g., gap in employment, anomaly in your academic record) and wasn't addressed elsewhere in your application; or, (2) if there's something you think we should know about you that is material to our evaluation. Telling us that you're really interested in Ross (again) is not material.
Our Round 1 deadline is October 10. I'll be meeting with the AdComm that week to do a refresh of their evaluation training before they begin to read your files. The tips I've shared above are the same as the guidance I'll be sharing with the evaluators. So now you've got the inside scoop on how we look at essays. Good luck to you!