Michigan Ross Essay Tips

Updated for 2019/2020 Application Season

The University of Michigan-Ross MBA experience is filled with a tight group of classmates who love to work together and who spend plenty of time learning outside of the classroom.

Not only is it an opportunity to take classes from world-renown professors, participate in a Multidisciplinary Action based Project (MAP), or start an organization focused on any specific initiative you are passionate about, but maybe more importantly, you join a “family.”

Just to be clear, you might not become best friends with all of your classmates, but there is a huge chance that you will find some of your best friends at Ross. Students and alums have consistently described their Ross experience as collaborative and in an extremely competitive business world, having a supportive network to help you achieve your goals is invaluable. One example of the tight knit bonds formed between not just students but also faculty is the recent trek MBA students took to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with Dean Scott DeRue.

So now the big question is “How do I get in?”

Good question! This year, Ross admissions made only a minor change to the first set of Short Answer questions after an overhaul last year. Ross MBA Admission blog, The Ross team shared their essay review process: “At the end of each admissions cycle, the team assesses whether we should change our essay prompts based on: (1) the quality of the insights we were able to glean from responses; and (2) feedback from applicants and students on whether they felt the essays gave them an opportunity to share something unique about themselves. Based on those criteria, we’ve decided to modify only one of the six short-answer options (in italics below). All others remain the same as last year.”

Part 1: Short Answer Questions (100 words each, 300 words total)


  • I want people to know that I:
    • I made a difference when I:


  • I was humbled when:
    • I am out of my comfort zone when:


  • I was aware that I am different when:
    ••: I was challenged when(changed from “I find it challenging when people:”)

Likely this question was changed to encourage applicants to focus more on THEIR own story rather than someone else’s


To answer the Short Answer Questions, you respond to one prompt from each of the three groups. Each answer should be less than 100 words, with the total word count at 300 words or less.

The purpose of these questions is to give the admissions team some insight into who you are as a person and how you view yourself; here you can give the admissions committee a peek “behind” your resume.

Here you can tell the reader, in real concrete terms, how you are like no one else. Take some time to brainstorm examples for each prompt. With only 300 words to answer three questions, every sentence you submit needs to be strong and purposeful. There is no room for fluff!

Most of the short answer prompts are looking for you to highlight your personality traits and actions you have taken in the past. Past behavior is one of the best predictors of future actions, so Ross is guiding applicants to share more about themselves in a direct and focused approach. It’s important not only to share your experiences, but how you have learned from them and grown into a stronger person or leader.

One aspect to be aware of is that most applicants will approach this prompts by only answering the questions with positive examples. Although you definitely always want to paint yourself in the best light, sharing an example of how you failed or made a mistake and learned from it is also a way to show growth.

Try to answer these questions with a variety of personal and professional examples. The personal examples help round out your application and allow the admissions committee to get to know you as a person, and to see how you would contribute to the broader community at Michigan.

Part 2: Essay

Michigan Ross is a place where people from all backgrounds with different career goals can thrive. Please share your short-term career goal. Why is this the right choice for you?


Ross will continue to ask only about the short-term career goal after making the shift a year ago to remove the long term career goal, giving you the opportunity to share more about your background and the motivation that is driving this goal.

The motivation behind this goal as well as sharing more about how your background prepares you for this goal is more important than emphasizing Why Ross as this is not explicitly asked here. However if you are efficient enough in answering this question you may also have a little bit of room to tie this how Ross will help you achieve this short-term goal as well.