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Admissions Director Soojin Kwon Shares the Skinny on Ross’s New Application Essays

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Soojin Kwon, who leads MBA admissions at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, began her most recent Director’s Blog by suggesting that things are quiet on campus right now—only to reveal big news about planned changes to its approach to essay questions this year.

Ross's New Application Essays
Soojin Kwon, Ross director of admissions

The two are connected, of course. It’s the relatively quiet time—when students jet off for global immersion courses around the world or gear up for summer internships every bit as far flung—that the Admission Committee can finally catch its breath, review its process, and really examine what’s working and where there might be opportunity to change things up a little.

New Twists on Short Essays This Year
“We’re taking a new approach to our essay questions this year,” writes Kwon at the conclusion of that Admissions Committee review process.

The application this year will feature a short-answer section and a more traditional essay, each with a 300-word limit, she shares. As part of the short-answer section, applicants will choose one prompt from each of three groups of prompts and will have 100 words or less in which to answer each.

“We want to get to know more about you than we would in a traditional essay where you’d talk at length about one topic,” Kwon says in explaining the move to this new format. “You’ll get to share different sides of yourself that will be relevant to your experience during business school.”

Indeed, some of the short-answer questions are pretty personal: “I was humbled when…” “I want people to know that I…” “I was aware that I was different when…”. They promise—provided applicants respond authentically—to really help accelerate the pace at which the admissions team can hope to get to know the applicants as real people.

And get this—Kwon herself has promised to share her own answers to some of the questions in her next video blog.

Career Goal Essay Tweaked This Year

Here’s what applicants will be asked to answer this year:

Please share your short-term and long-term career goals. What skills/strengths do you have that will be relevant to your career goals? How will Ross prepare you for your goals? (300 words)

“In previous years, some applicants wrote about their long-term career goals. Others wrote about their immediate plans after B-school,” writes Kwon. “We want to learn about both. So, we thought we’d ask you to spell it out.”

But in asking applicants to spell things out, Kwon also generously provided some specific tips on how to tackle individual parts of the essay prompt. For example, for the skills/strength question, applicants don’t need to show that they already have the experience to pursue a particular career goal, rather that they understand the skills that are important for that career. “Recruiters assess whether you’re able to bring relevant skills/strengths to the table, so we do the same,” notes Kwon.

But she and others at Ross understand completely that many applicants are pursuing an MBA program precisely to develop some of the skills and knowledge they don’t yet have—and that’s fine. “But students are more successful in their career search if they understand the skills required to succeed in their chosen field,” she points out.

The final part of the question is where you show the Admissions Committee that you’ve done your homework on Ross. This is not a generic “how will the MBA prepare you for your goals?” question.

“The final part of the question allows you to demonstrate your research on Ross and the experiences, knowledge, and skills you’ll develop here,” Kwon writes. “We want to know how you see Ross helping you achieve your goals.”

Application due dates and other requirements can be quickly accessed on Ross’s Application Requirements page. And Kwon and the rest of the AdCom will also host a “Tips from the Top” webinar on June 13. If Ross is on your list of target schools, don’t miss this chance to hear straight from the source just what they’re looking for!