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Analysis of Michigan / Ross Essay 4, Option 2: Describe a personal challenge or obstacle and why you view it as such. How have you dealt with it? What have you learned from it?

Describe a personal challenge or obstacle and why you view it as such. How have you dealt with it? What have you learned from it? (300 words maximum)

A new addition to the Ross application (replacing a question about contributing to the MBA learning experience), this prompt shares the personal character of the other Essay 4 option, and invites the candidate to reflect on some circumstance or barrier that he or she has had to work to overcome.  As distinct from questions about a challenging situation, the wording of this question suggests that the admissions committee is interested in learning about a more enduring obstacle and the strategies the candidate has developed or the steps he or she has taken to address it.  Topics that might fall under this category include a physical or learning disability, familial or social expectations, challenging socio-economic circumstances, or experiences of discrimination, persistent cultural misunderstanding, or language difficulty.

This isn’t the place to discuss perfectionist tendencies or time management troubles, so not all candidates will have a compelling answer to this question.  It it does speak to you, note that you’ll need to keep your comments fairly high-level and straightforward, given the tight word limit for this response.  An effective approach might be to summarize your challenge and its broad implications in a few sentences, followed by a discussion of how you  have dealt with it – along with a brief illustrative example – before concluding with a reflection on the lessons you’ve learned and they ways you hope that they’ll serve you in the future.

To read our analysis of all of Ross’s essay questions, click here.

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Posted in: Essay Topic Analysis

Schools: Michigan / Ross

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