The MBA Gatekeeper To Michigan’s Ross

So tell me what happens when an applicant hits the enter button on his or her computer and sends an application into your office.

We have our back office processors who download all of our information. It goes into a spreadsheet where everyone’s information on the application, beside the essays and recommendations, are input.

Like what exactly?

Their name, where they are from, date of birth, where they went to undergrad or grad school, their GPA, their GMAT or GRE scores. All the breakouts and percentiles. Where they worked, what their title is, where their citizen is and where they currently reside. All that stuff that is on a form.

All this goes onto one massive spreadsheet? You had nearly 3,000 applicants last year. That must be one helluva mind-boggling spreadsheet.


I get the exported Excel version, but it’s in a university database. So we take a look at what the pool looks like, how many people do we have, what’s the distribution of different people, and then we send it all out for review. First, we look through the applications to decide if we’re interested in interviewing an applicant or not.

Who does the first read of an application?

That would be this team, the admissions team.

How many people do you have on your team?

Four people, not including myself. I don’t read applications during the first stage.

I know applicants can spend a week or more applying to a single school. How long does it take one of your staff members to read an application? Two hours?


Three hours?



Much less. Because we require the interview, the first evaluation is designed to quickly assess ‘is this someone that we might want to know more about?’ So it could be up to half an hour because really we’re making a first pass. Some people will float to the top and we know there’s a lot there and we can quickly assess that this is someone we’re interested in. And then others may go on to a second evaluation before we decide whether to invite them for an interview.

Pretend I’m one of your employees and I just evaluated an application. And I spent 45 minutes on this first read, not half an hour or less. You then get my evaluation, right?

No. It’s entered into our system. All of your comments would be online. They review it online. They comment online.

So then who sees that first evaluation? You?

I can see it and the Senior Associate Director Jon Fuller can see it. But the rest of the team doesn’t see it. Subsequent evaluators don’t see it because we want them to be independent reviews.

And the senior associate director is also a reader as well?

Yes, he is.

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.