University of Michigan (Stephen M. Ross School of Business)

Diversity of opinions, backgrounds, and interests makes Ross one of the most sought out business schools in the United States. With more than 25% of the class coming from “non-traditional backgrounds”, students enjoy working side by side with people with unique, and oftentimes very different perspectives, as they work on real-world projects for 7 weeks in it’s well-known MAP (Multidisciplinary Action Project) course. Ross is also known for it’s collaborative culture and hyper-supportive alumni base, which is known to go above and beyond to help MBA students land their dream jobs after business school.

How to Demonstrate Your 'Fit' for

University of Michigan (Stephen M. Ross School of Business)

Ross has long championed its reputation as a place that places heavy emphasis on two things: business innovation and shaping students who can apply business concepts to real-world scenarios. Its Multidisciplinary Action Project (MAP) requires students to complete a 7-week project, directly with companies, in small teams.  These projects are known to be very analytical in nature, and allows “real life” opportunities to apply what’s being learned in the classroom.  But Ross also offers different types of MAP projects for different students, based on their career goals.  Its IMAP is for students with more international ambitions, and its EMAP is more entrepreneurs.  Demonstrating your passion for real-world learning, and the MAP, is a great way to show a strong level of interest in Ross.

For finance students, also in the vein of real-world application of concepts, Ross offers its Tozzi Electronic Business and Finance Center, which features an actual trading floor, computer lab, and elliptical classroom.  Consistent with its theme of innovation, Ross believes that the Tozzi Center is an innovative way of teaching finance:  the trading floor allows for real-time access to global markets and is used for several student projects and finance-focused academic exercises.  If you’re interested in going into finance in your career, or even learning about finance in general, showing enthusiasm for learning in the Tozzi Center is an absolute must.

Consistent with its focus on real-world application of business principles, Ross students have historically had more work experience than those at peer schools, on average. So if you’re coming in on the lower end of that, with only a couple years of experience, be sure to articulate how those years in the world force were particularly high quality, and how you were able to learn skills and attain knowledge in those years that will enable you to contribute to a program that values real-world experience and perspectives.  Also, be sure to demonstrate your willingness to share your perspectives by being outspoken and opinionated. 

Ross has continued to focus increasingly on entrepreneurship instruction.  Its Samuel Zell-Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies supports students as they create real-life start-ups and business plans.  Entrepreneurship has also become increasingly integrated into its core coursework, and it offers more entrepreneurship classes now than it did in the past.  It stands to reason, then, that Ross is trying to attract more entrepreneurship-focused applicants and create a more entrepreneurial environment.  Articulating how you fit that mold will certainly help you!

Overall, Ross has publicly instructed applicants to demonstrate four key attributes in their application – leadership, innovation, maturity, and teamwork.  Making sure to cover all four bases in your application is important.  The last of these, teamwork, is particularly important to Ross.  The vast majority of activities at Ross – including academic work – are team based.  Providing examples of your success in teams in your essays and interview will be worth your while.

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