Less than a week after Harvard Business School tossed out its two-year-old essay question in favor of a new one, the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business today (May 20) weighed in with one new essay and a twist on last year’s prompt.
The school kept the length of the responses to each question to 400 words for a total of no more than 800. The two questions this year are:
1. What are you most proud of and why? How does it shape who you are today?
2. What is your desired career path and why?
The first question is only a slight variation on last year’s required essay which asked applicants to say what they were most proud of professionally and what they learned from that experience.
ROSS WANTS A GLIMPSE INTO HOW YOU THINK ABOUT AND PROCESS THINGS
Soojin Kwon, director of admissions at the Ross School, said the new initial question is intentionally broad. “We want to give you the option to pick something from either your personal or professional life,” she explained in a blog post. “The context (personal or professional) is less important than your reason for being proud of something. We want to understand what makes something important to you. It gives us a glimpse into how you think about and process things, and what your priorities and values are.
“This is how we assess fit – through alignment of your values with the values of our community – not whether you pick a personal or professional example.”
The second question is completely new, replacing one that asked applicants what they were most proud of personally and how it shaped who they are today.
‘A GOOD ANSWER DESCRIBES YOUR RATIONALE FOR BEING INTERESTED IN A SPECIFIC PATH’
“The main purpose of the career path question is so we can evaluate whether business school makes sense,” added Kwon. “A ‘good’ answer isn’t about saying you want to go into a traditional business field. In fact, many of our students pursue a wide range of careers outside of traditional business fields (e.g., education, nonprofit, emerging markets). A good answer will describe your rationale for being interested in a particular path.”
Kwon, whose blog has made Ross admissions among the more transparent admissions offices, offered would-be MBA candidates some additional advice.
“For both questions, there isn’t an answer that we ‘want to hear’ other than a response that demonstrates that you’ve done some self-reflection and gives us a sense of you as a person,” she said, adding some further guidance on writing style.
ADVICE: ‘WRITE AS YOU WOULD SPEAK TO A REAL PERSON’
“We like clear and succinct. ‘Up to 400 words’ means it can be less than 400 words. It’s not a word count test, nor is it a creative writing test. Don’t write two paragraphs of introduction before stating what you’re most proud of. You can even start with, “I am most proud of….” Write as you would speak. To a real person. We, who read the essays, are real people.”
The school has yet to formally post its new application deadlines. Last year, however, the first round deadline was Oct. 6, while the second round closed out on Jan. 5 and the third and final deadline was March 23rd.