University of Michigan (Ross) Essay Analysis

1. We believe one of the keys to effective leadership is the ability to transform ideas into action. Describe a time within the last three years in which you exercised such leadership. What did you learn about your leadership strengths and development needs?

Michigan is not just looking for a standard leadership essay, but wants to ensure that you have imbued your actions with both vision and the drive to succeed. It should be noted that the idea that you discuss need not have originated from within, but it needs to be clear that you took a static idea – yours or someone else’s — and turned it into something tangible, if not remarkable.

In the same vein as Tuck, Michigan challenges you not only to discuss your strengths, but demands a critical appraisal of your talents as well. As always, be sure not to disingenuously offer strengths as weaknesses (“I tried too hard”) as they are transparent and have the negative effect of showing that you cannot objectively view your own actions. As for your strengths, try to push yourself; clichés about “realizing I had the potential to lead” are easy to write, but hardly differentiate you from others. If you spend some time truly reflecting on your experiences and successes, you should be able to create a distinct statement that reveals your philosophy, ideas and personality.

2. What are your career goals? How will a Ross MBA help you achieve your goals? How might the action-based learning aspects of the Ross curriculum make a difference?

Again, because of significant overlap from school to school, we have produced a document on personal statements and are more than happy to offer it to anyone interested. Please email for an electronic copy which will help you approach this essay. It is important to note that Ross wants to understand how you intend to use their specific resources. With such an emphasis on “action based learning,” you must ensure that you are well-informed about the Ross curriculum and that you chart a course for how you intend to seize these offerings. You should not merely laud Ross’s curriculum, but do as the question says and explain the impact it will have on you professionally and how it will facilitate your career goals.

3. Describe the initiatives you have taken over the past two years to develop professionally and personally. What motivated you to take those initiatives?

Most candidates are not so intent and focused that they develop a coherent two year professional/personal development plan and then methodically put it into action. So, if you are like 90% of applicants, this essay, at first, might seem a bit baffling. Well, you can relax and simply look back and “data-mine” your previous experiences; inevitably, you will have challenged yourself in many different ways, professionally and personally. While you may not have undertaken experiences specifically to develop, you pursued them and developed nonetheless. As you select a mix, possible one strong professional and one strong personal experience, consider that the context is key; you are not just telling stories of success; we need to understand that there were tangible changes and that you grew because of these experiences.

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