At Ross, Business As Usual, With Tweaks

Ross School of Business. Courtesy photo

Ross School of Business. Courtesy photo

For the second year in a row, applications were up at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Just not as much in the second year as in the first.

Applications for the 2016-2017 year rose 5%, a healthy increase compared to many of Ross’s peer schools, but dwarfed by last year’s 31% increase, says Soojin Kwon, director of admissions. The smaller jump didn’t trouble school officials at all, she says.

“We were happy to see a second consecutive year of an increase in apps,” Kwon says, “especially in light of the large increase we saw last year and the small increases — or declines, in some cases — we saw among some of our peers.”


Breaking down the makeup of applicants to Ross, Kwon says there was at least one notable shift: “We had a healthy increase in apps from the U.S. and Latin America and a decline in apps from Asia.” She adds that little else will likely change this year, with class size expected to remain around 410 and no major changes planned for the admissions process. Scholarship offers rose, Kwon says.

“The increase in apps from Latin America was largely from Brazil, where the economy is weak. It’s common to see a rise in apps when an economy is weak,” Kwon says. “Regarding Asia, we’ve heard from many peers that they, too, have seen a drop in apps from Asia.”

She says Ross has made a pair of small adjustments to its two essay questions. The first now reads (changes in italics): “What are you most proud of outside of your professional life? How does it shape who you are today (up to 400 words).” The second question, “What is your desired career path and why?” has been given a limit of 250 words.

“We have an annual meeting to discuss potential changes to the application,” Kwon says. “The AdComm assesses whether we were able to glean the insights needed to determine whether an applicant has the skills and traits we’re looking for. The primary areas for review are essay questions, interview process, and interview questions. This year, we tweaked the essay questions. The last major change in our admissions process was a few years ago when we introduced the Team Exercise.”


Kwon says the 2016-2017 year is shaping up to be business as usual, with a pair of possible caveats: More women applied, and more applicants are expressing a desire to work in some of the fields that were traditionally on the lower end of the pay scale — perhaps an indicator that money is not foremost on many applicants’ minds.

“We didn’t see any major differences in applicants’ backgrounds. We did see an increase in apps from women and expect to have more women in this year’s incoming class,” Kwon says.

“We did see some changes in applicants’ career goals, with more intending to pursue careers in social impact, tech, and health care.”


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