Our Thoughts on Ross’ MBA Application Essays for 2015-2016

Michigan Ross MBA Admissions GuideApplication season at the University of Michigan’s Ross MBA program is officially underway with the release of the school’s 2015-2016 essay questions. Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach these new essay prompts.

Essay 1:

What are you most proud of and why? How does it shape who you are today? (400 words)

This is a typical “accomplishment” essay, and with the limited word count it would be wise to focus on one accomplishment in the most direct fashion possible.

Dig deep as you identify what topic to discuss as these types of open-ended questions give applicants an opportunity to really differentiate themselves from the competition. Breakthrough applicants will align their personal, professional, or academic stories around some of the relevant values expressed by the Ross MBA.

Don’t be afraid to select a topic that extends outside of your professional career. Many candidates will opt to go the professional route, so consider “zigging” when the rest “zag.” Remember admissions committees will be reading a lot of essays so stand out by allowing them to explore a topic a bit more unique then the mundane. Also, keep in mind that you will have time to talk about your professional career and highlight some of your past accomplishments via the second essay.

Finally, don’t think if your accomplishment does not involve $100 million in savings or climbing Mount Kilimanjaro that your response will not be well received. What makes your response to this question relevant is the impact this accomplishment had to YOU.

Essay 2:

What is your desired career path and why? (400 words)

This is a traditional “career goals” essay. This type of question should come as no surprise to any candidate applying to business school. In fact, your response to this question should involve what initially drove your interest in business school to begin with, so Ross will be expecting a pretty polished essay here.

Many candidates will write generic essays outlining their career goals that could be relevant to any MBA program. What will separate breakthrough candidates from the masses is how personalized the essay reads.  Ross will be looking for you to combine your well thought out career goals with specifics on how you plan to utilize their program to reach these goals. Also, if relevant, connect your goals to an underlying passion you have for the role or industry. This will make your interest more tangible and highlight underlying elements of your personal story.

Just a few thoughts on the new batch of essays from Ross that should help you get started.

If you are considering applying to NYU Stern, download our Essential Guide to NYU Stern, one of our 14 guides to the world’s top business schools. Ready to start building your applications for Stern and other top MBA programs? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here

Michigan (Ross) Application Essays and Deadlines for 2014-2015

Michigan Ross MBA Admissions GuideThe University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business recently announced its application essays and deadlines for the 2014-2015 admissions season. After dropping from four required essays to three last year, the Ross MBA admissions team decided to shed another one, going down to just two required essays this year. And, the two required essays that remain are entirely new this year. The changes just keep coming!

Here are Ross’s MBA application deadlines and essays for the Class of 2017, followed by our comments in italics:

Michigan (Ross) Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: October 6, 2014
Round 2: January 5, 2015
Round 3: March 23, 2015

Here Ross bucked the trend that we’ve seen at other top business school — Ross actually pushed back its deadlines a bit this year. The Round 1 and Round 2 deadlines really only moved back by a few days apiece, but it’s interesting to see given that admissions deadlines have been creeping earlier and earlier over the past few years. The biggest change is in Ross’s Round 3 deadline, which comes about three weeks later than it did last year (although we normally advise applicants to aim for Round 1 and 2 if they can hit those deadlines). Note that applying in Round 1 means that you will receive a decision from Ross before Christmas, giving you at least a couple of weeks before most other MBA programs’ Round 2 deadlines come in early January.

Michigan (Ross) Admissions Essays

  1. What are you most proud of professionally and why? What did you learn from that experience? (400 words)

    As mentioned above, this essay prompt is new this year. This and the next essay question — and you really can’t think about one without considering the other — are asking you to be choosy and pick two things that you really want the MBA admissions committee to remember about you. Regarding this professional question, the best responses will demonstrate a time when you went outside your comfort zone or went beyond what was expected of you. Did you take a risk? Did you notice a problem that no one else was willing to tackle, and constructively solve it? While doing that, did you grow as a result?

    This essay is a great place to use the “SAR” method (Situation, Action, Result) that normally works so well in admissions essays. You only have 400 hundred words, so you need to strike the right balance between properly setting the stage (otherwise, admissions officers may not fully appreciate the significance of your accomplishment) and getting right into describing what you did and what results you achieved.

    Finally, don’t overlook the second part of the question, about what you learned about yourself. While what happened is obviously important, evidence of how you grew and how you got to know yourself better is even more critical. A great essay tells about how you learned valuable about yourself and how you were able to act and improve upon it. That’s the type of response that has the potential to stick with the application reader.

  2. What are you most proud of personally and why? How does it shape who you are today? (400 words)

    Even though this is about the personal side of you, our advice here isn’t radically different from what we wrote above. Use the “SAR” to succinctly help the reader understand the challenge or opportunity you faced, describe what you did, and then move into how you grew as a result. Again, how you answer the second part of the question is really what can turn this from an okay essay into a memorable one that will help admissions officers really feel like they got to know you better.

    A final thought: Don’t feel that your personal achievement needs to be something that’s outwardly impressive, such as completing a marathon or climbing Mount Everest. Some of the best essays we’ve seen have dealt with intensely personal issues, such as overcoming a speech impediment or putting life ahead of work to care for a sick relative. Be real and honestly discuss how you’ve grown, and odds are that you will write a great essay as a result.

  3. Optional question: Is there anything not addressed elsewhere in the application that you would like The Admissions Committee to know about you to evaluate your candidacy? (300 words)

    As always, only use this essay if you need to explain a low undergraduate GPA or other potential blemish in your background. No need to harp on a minor weakness and sound like you’re making excuses when you don’t need any. More generally, if you don’t have anything else you need to tell the admissions office, it’s okay to skip this essay. Yes, the fact that there are only two required essays in which you can tell your story, but don’t feel compelled to command admissions officers’ attention for an extra 300 words if you don’t need to.
  4. Are you thinking about applying to Ross? Download our Essential Guide to Ross, one of our 14 guides to the world’s best MBA programs. If you’re ready to start building your own MBA application plan, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

    By Scott Shrum

Michigan (Ross) Admissions Essays for 2013-2014

Michigan Ross MBA Admissions GuideThe University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business has released its MBA application essays and deadlines for the Class of 2016. Ross is the latest top MBA program to shed an essay, going from four required essays last year to just three this year. The school has also trimmed word counts on a couple of its essays. However, the school’s most interesting question (its first one) remains unchanged.

Without further ado, here are Ross’s admissions deadlines and essays for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:
Continue reading “Michigan (Ross) Admissions Essays for 2013-2014”

Michigan (Ross) Application Essays for 2012-2013

Michigan Ross MBA Admissions GuideThe University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business recently released its application deadlines and essays for the Class of 2015. While Ross hasn’t made changes quite as big as those at some other schools this year, Ross’s essay word count has slimmed down a bit, continuing the trend we have seen among most top-ranked MBA programs. We’ll dig into the Michigan’s essays and deadlines below, followed by our comments, in italics:

Michigan (Ross) Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: October 10, 2012
Round 2: January 3, 2012
Round 3: March 4, 2012
Continue reading “Michigan (Ross) Application Essays for 2012-2013”

Michigan (Ross) Admissions Essays for 2011-2012

Michigan Ross MBA Admissions GuideThe University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business recently released its application deadlines and essays for the Class of 2014. After making big changes to its essays last year, Ross has only made small tweaks this time around. We’ll dig into the school’s essays and deadlines below, followed by our comments, in italics:

Michigan (Ross) Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 10, 2011
Round 2: January 4, 2012
Round 3: March 1, 2012
Continue reading “Michigan (Ross) Admissions Essays for 2011-2012”

Ross Is a Good Fit for You If…

Michigan Ross MBA Admissions GuideIf you’re researching top MBA programs, chances are that the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business is on your radar. Besides knowing that it’s a top-ranked school, though, how well do you really know Ross? How do you know if Ross really is a good fit for you? More to the point, how do you know if the Ross admissions committee will decide that you’re a good fit for the school?

Today we look at four things that might make Ross your first choice among MBA programs:
Continue reading “Ross Is a Good Fit for You If…”

Michigan’s Ross School of Business Appoints New Dean

Michigan Ross Admissions GuideLast week the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan announced Alison Davis-Blake will become the first ever female dean of the school, effective August 22. For Ross, the announcement came after a ten-month-long search to find a replacement for Robert J. Dolan, who will step down on June 30 after serving as dean for the past decade.

Davis-Blake will trade one cold-weather school for another: For the past five years she has served as the dean of the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. There she made a name for herself by significantly improving the school’s fundraising efforts and improving the school’s overall national standing.
Continue reading “Michigan’s Ross School of Business Appoints New Dean”

Michigan (Ross) Application Essays for 2010-2011

A couple of weeks after releasing its application deadlines for 2010-2011, the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business has released its admissions essays for the coming year. Ross has made some very significant changes to its essays this year. While the school’s Round 1 deadline is still more than three months away, now is a great time to start mapping out your application strategy, starting with these essays.

Here are Ross’s admissions essays, followed by our comments in italics:

Michigan (Ross) Admissions Essays

  1. Introduce yourself in 100 words or less.

    Wow… Short and sweet! This question is new this year, and it’s the quintessential “elevator pitch.” You have just four to six sentences to highlight what the admissions committee absolutely must know about you. This is not an exercise is seeing how much information you can cram into 100 words. Instead, your challenge is to distill down your candidacy to no more than several key points that 1) demonstrate your fit with Ross and 2) help you stand out vs. the competition. This essay will be a super-summary of the rest of your application, so don’t be bothered if some of the content here seems to overlap with what’s in your other essays.

  2. Describe your career goals. How will the Ross MBA help you to achieve your goals? (500 words)

    This question is also new this year. It is essentially the typical “Why do you want an MBA, and why this school?” question. Remember to keep it realistic and to demonstrate that you understand what a Ross MBA will and won’t do for you as a young professional. Note that many similar questions start with “Describe your career progress to date,” but this essay is only forward-looking. Still, any discussion of your career goals will likely include at least some background on what you’ve learned and accomplished. So, you should plan on succinctly discussing what you’ve done until now.

  3. Describe a time in your career when you were frustrated or disappointed. What did you learn from that experience? (500 words)

    This question is also new, and replaces a question on last year’s application that asked for an applicant’s most significant professional accomplishment. This new question gets much more at the “emotional intelligence” that we hear admissions officers talk about wanting to see in applicants. While this isn’t explicitly a “failure” essay, an example of a time when you failed is fair game here. Other possibilities are a time when you had to deal with a difficult co-worker or a time when you had a hard time winning others over to your way of thinking. These would all make for good demonstrations of how you’ve dealt with adversity. And remember that the second half of this question is the most critical: What did you learn from this rough patch in your career? (And, how did it make you a better person or more successful professional later on?) That’s what Ross admissions officers most want to know.

  4. Select one of the following questions:
    • What are you most passionate about and why? (300 words)
    • We expect that Ross MBAs will not only be effective leaders, but also effective teachers. How will you contribute to the learning experience of your peers at Ross? (300 words)

    Both of these questions are new. The first one is very much like Stanford’s famous “What matters most to you, and why?” question, and requires an honest response about something that truly moves you. Again, the second half of the question is the meatiest part: You can be passionate about anything, but what really makes great responses stand out is when the “Why” part is memorable, believable, and contains specifics about how you have acted on that passion. Are you passionate about bicycling? Great. Now explain why, using specific examples… All in 300 words!

    Regarding the second question, when you hear the word “diversity” used to describe a business school classroom, this goes beyond race or gender. This also refers to the experiences (both personal and professional) that you bring to the classroom. Your job here is to demonstrate those experiences and convince the Ross admissions office that you’ll actively contribute these in the school’s “action-based learning” environment. Ross doesn’t want wallflowers in the classroom, so don’t look like one!

  5. Optional question: Is there anything else you think the Admissions Committee should know about you to evaluate your candidacy? (500 words)

    As always, only use this essay if you need to explain a low undergraduate GPA or other potential blemish in your background. No need to harp on a minor weakness and sound like you’re making excuses when you don’t need any. More generally, if you don’t have anything else you need to tell the admissions office, it’s okay to skip this essay!

If you want to learn more about the Ross School of Business, download our Ross Annual Report, one of 15 completely free guides to the world’s top business schools, available on our site. And, as always, be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!

Michigan (Ross) Application Deadlines for 2010-2011

Free Business School GuidesAttention all Ross applicants! The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business has released its application deadlines for the coming year.

Here they are, followed by our comments in italics:

Michigan (Ross) Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: October 11, 2010
Round 2: January 5, 2011
Round 3: March 1, 2011


There are virtually no changes to Michigan’s MBA application deadlines this year. The most noteworthy change is that the Round 2 deadline was moved back by three days, gibing you a bit more breathing room to finish your application after the holidays. The school’s Round 2 and Round 3 deadlines are virtually unchanged from a year ago. The school’s notification deadlines are also almost the same, with the lone change being that Ross’s Round 2 notification will come one week earlier this year.

If you want to learn more about the Ross School of Business, download our Ross Annual Report, one of 15 completely free guides to the world’s top business schools, available on our site. And, as always, be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!

Dean Robert J. Dolan to Step Down at Ross

Robert J. DolanLast week Robert Dolan, Dean of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, announced that he will step down at the end of his second term, due to end in summer 2011. His announcement signals the end of what has to be one of the most successful runs by a dean at a graduate business school over the past decade.

Perhaps the most obvious sign of Dolan’s impact on the school is its name: In 2004 the U. of Michigan Business School received a $100 million gift from Stephen M. Ross, founder of The Related Companies and majority owner of the Miami Dolphins. Ross’s gift helped transform the school, literally — in January, 2009, Ross opened its new state-of-the-art building, fondly referred to as Big Orange or The Big Orange House by some students and alumni.The building’s opening signaled a great deal of achievement for the MBA program under Dolan’s tenure.


More Than a Fancy New Building
Academically, Dolan also oversaw a significant evolution of the school’s program. Ross is one of the leading proponents of a teaching method known as “Action-Based Learning,” which is similar to experiential learning in that it fuses traditional classroom instructional models with myriad real-world scenarios and opportunities for hands-on learning. This, along with a renowned multidisciplinary projects approach, has given Ross a reputation for being a cutting-edge business school.

Under Dolan the school also launched and expanded its Ross Leadership Initiative (RLI), which puts students into situations where leadership strengths are fostered and weaknesses are exposed (and addressed). If the description or mission of the program sounds vague, know that Ross has a very detailed roadmap for how RLI develops students. It begins with what is called a “foundation session,” which is a six-day orientation process (mandatory for all students) that starts with theory, ideas, and self-analysis.

What’s Next for Dolan and for Ross?
While it’s too early to start speculating who will replace Dolan at Ross, he did have this to say about the upcoming search process in an email to the Ross community:

I am proud of what we have accomplished together since the summer of 2001 and how we have worked together–through a historic naming gift, an ambitious facilities project, and several economic cycles–to strengthen the School and maintain its tradition of excellence.

More information about the process for determining a new Dean will be forthcoming. In the meantime, there is important work to be done, and I very much look forward to pursuing it together during the remainder of my term.

We don’t yet know where Dolan will go next (or whether he even knows), but with so many other high-profile dean positions open or soon opening at other top business schools, one would have to think that Dolan’s next stop could be another top-ten MBA program.

If you want to learn more about Ross, download our Ross Annual Report, one of 15 completely free guides to the world’s top business schools, available on our site. If you’re ready to start building your own application for Ross or other top MBA programs, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today!

Six Terrific Professors at Michigan (Ross)

Business School GuidesContinuing our series of admissions insights clipped from Veritas Prep’s Annual Reports, our in-depth insider’s guides to 15 of the world’s top business schools, this week we look at six of the Ross School of Business’ most popular professors. (Our Annual reports are absolutely free with registration, but we thought we’d share some snippets here to help get you started in your Ross research.)

The Ross faculty is populated with many prominent business leaders, researchers, and teachers. Among Ross students, there are a handful of professors who are considered a “must” to have for a class, due to their reputation both as educators and as experts. This list isn

Michigan (Ross) Admissions Essays for 2009-2010

As we round out our analysis of the top business schools’ admissions essays for the coming season, today we look at The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business’ admissions essays. Ross’s essays actually carry over completely unchanged vs. last year, and so our analysis remains pretty much the same.

When a school keeps its essays the same, that suggests that its essays are working well for the admissions office, meaning that they do a good job of helping the admissions team separate out the great applicants from the merely good ones. So, make sure you’re sufficiently answering the questions they ask! That’s always important advice, but in this case it’s even more important (if that’s even possible!).

Here are the Ross MBA admissions essays, followed by our comments in italics:

Michigan (Ross) Application Essays
Long Answers:

  1. Briefly describe your short-term and long-term career goals. Why is an MBA the best choice at this point in your career? What and/or who influenced your decision to apply to Ross? (500 words)
  2. Describe your most significant professional accomplishment. Elaborate on the leadership skills you displayed, the actions you took and the impact you had on your organization. (500 words)
  3. (Note the emphasis on leadership in the second question. Ross not only wants to know what you accomplished, but also wants to understand exactly what you did to make it happen. Also, note that this question also focuses on the impact that your actions had on your organization. More than your role or job title, admissions officers care about what positive impact you truly have on those around you.)

Short answers:

  1. If you were not pursuing the career goals you described in Question 1, what profession would you pursue instead? (For example, teacher, musician, athlete, architect, etc.) How will this alternate interest contribute to your effectiveness in solving multidisciplinary problems? (300 words)

    (This question provides a good opportunity to show another side of you that may not otherwise come out in your application. As long as you can tie it back to one of the core dimensions in your application, don’t be afraid to write about something that seems to be off the wall here.)

  2. Describe your experience during a challenging time in your life. Explain how you grew personally, either despite this challenge or because of it. (300 words)

    (As is the case with all “personal growth” questions, the most important part is the second one — describing what you learned and how you changed as a result. While many schools ask more job-related failure/challenge questions, Michigan’s focus here appears to be a little more on your personal life. If your most compelling story is a professional one, that’s not out of bounds, but make sure you can tie it back to what you learned and how you grew.)

Optional Question:

  1. Is there anything else you think the Admissions Committee should know about you to evaluate your candidacy?

    (If you really do feel the need to explain something, then address it and move on. In other words, don’t dwell on it or provide that weakness with more stage time than it deserves!)

To learn more about Ross, visit the Veritas Prep University of Michigan (Ross) information page. For even more advice on applying to Ross, download our FREE Veritas Prep Annual Reports! And, of course, be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Michigan (Ross) Application Deadlines for 2009-2010

Late last month the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business released its application deadlines for the coming year. Regular readers of our blog will notice that the school’s deadlines haven’t changed at all vs. last year.

Michigan (Ross) Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 10, 2009
Round 2: January 2, 2010
Round 3: March 1, 2010

Note that, like many other top business schools’ Round 1 deadlines, Michigan’s first deadline is in early October. However, unlike some of those programs, Ross will still notify Round 1 applicants of their decision after the holidays (and after nearly every schools’ Round 2 deadline). So, you should assume that your other schools’ Round 2 deadlines will pass before you know your final application status with Ross.

For more advice on applying to Ross, visit the Veritas Prep University of Michigan (Ross) information page.

What's in a name? Remembering Davidson Hall

One can learn quite a bit in business school. I learned quite a bit from business school. As a BBA student at the University of Michigan Business School (now Ross), I went to school each day in Davidson Hall, and each day when I passed under those words, I smiled. “Davidson” – and I always wondered how many of my classmates realized it – stood for Bill Davidson, owner of Guardian Glass, and, more importantly to me, the Detroit Pistons. Mr. D, as he was affectionately called by everyone who worked for him, died last week at age 86, saying goodbye nearly three years after the building that bore his name was torn down. His legacy, however, is one that won’t, and shouldn’t, be forgotten.

Mr. D’s building was demolished to make way for a state-of-the-art facility for the newly-named Ross School of Business just a few years ago, and to his credit, Davidson embraced the change. It was classic Davidson, to be honest – for a man who, and I say this with reverence, came across as old-fashioned, and stubborn, he was seemingly always on the forefront of change. I first came to know his work as a young fan of the Detroit Pistons; as owner, he was the first to purchase a private plane for an NBA team (which is now standard) and in 1988 built an arena still considered to be among the class of the league…and did it completely with private financing. Unlike many owners who saw their teams as hobbies, Davidson ran his as a business, and considered these luxuries to be investments in his team success.

I witnessed that success firsthand as a sales representative for his company, Palace Sports & Entertainment, in the early years of this decade. By then, some 15 years after building the Palace of Auburn Hills and truly beginning his entertainment empire, Davidson owned multiple concert venues, the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, and the WNBA’s Detroit Shock. He ran a tight ship – employees wore jacket and tie at all times, were prohibited from wearing facial hair, and kept rigid hours. But, more importantly, he ran a family, and saw his staff as that. Like a grandfather to most of us – salespeople in sports tend to be young and energetic – his words carried quite a bit of weight. “Mr. D would like it if we…” was all anyone needd to say, and the initiative commanded respect. We worked hard for him, but loved doing it.

He cared just the same for his employees at Guardian – perhaps even more so, as that was the business that earned him his fortune – and carried this incredible aura of love and respect throughout his businesses and the state of Michigan. He was fiercely loyal to his employees and his companies, demanding respect but giving it right back. My two favorite memories:

1) At the parade celebrating the Pistons’ 2004 NBA Championship, he took personal exception to those in the media who nearly unanimously predicted that the Lakers would make quick work of the Pistons, grinning from ear to hear as he shouted some choice words at those who disrespected his team.

2) In 2003 we distributed our season tickets in packages designed to look (and perform) like lunchpails in the style of a blue collar, hardworking team. Mr. D, a multimillionaire who could afford anything he wanted, brought his lunch to work each day in that free, souvenir lunchpail.

I learned a lot in business school, but I think I learned quite a bit from the man whose name appeared on my business school, as well. Command respect by giving respect, and lead by example when it comes to keeping expenses lean and work ethic high. Invest wisely and don’t let pride get in the way of doing the right thing. Hire good people and trust them to do the same. Thanks, Mr. D, from all of us who were fortunate to spend time in your school and your Palace.

New Facility Opens at Michigan’s Ross School of Business

Ross School of Business
The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business will welcome back its students from the winter break with its new 270,000-square-foot facility.

First announced in late 2004 after the school received a then-record-setting gift from real estate developer Stephen M. Ross, the building incorporates state-of-the art technology everywhere. Every classroom in the new building features three mounted video cameras and instant lecture-capture technology. Each study room has its own plasma screen Plasma screens hang in each group study room, and students can print, copy, and fax documents from anywhere in the building.

The new Ross building also features many leading-edge green technologies, including the use of recycled building materials, high-efficiency lighting and and heating/cooling systems, and water conservation technologies.

Despite its large size, the building has apparently held on to the close-knit, collaborative nature that the school’s students appreciate. Plenty of natural light and impromptu meeting spaces mean that Ross students will always be able to grab a seat for a quick huddle on a team assignment.

For more advice on applying to Ross, visit Veritas Prep’s University of Michigan Ross School of Business information page.

More Rankings Controversy – Michigan Dumps the LSAT (Sort of)

The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog has uncovered an interesting announcement on the Michigan Law School website regarding a new admissions policy.

The Wolverine Scholars Program allows University of Michigan undergraduates to apply to the law school without an LSAT score provided that the individual in question has a GPA of at least 3.8.

Michigan provides its rationale for the program on the website, but suffice it to say that this has “gaming the system” written all over it. It is common knowledge that the Michigan residency quotas negatively effects the school’s GPA and LSAT numbers, as out-of-state applicants consistently produce higher profiles. By eliminating the LSAT requirement for UM students, the law school is able to cherry pick applicants with high GPAs and no pesky LSAT scores to offset those glistening grades. The obvious benefit to eliminating the LSAT is that it enables the school to avoid admitting high-GPA UM applicants with low scores (that would drop the LSAT percentiles and negatively affect the rankings), but the other side of the coin is that the school can lock in extremely bright students who might have scored in the 170s and gone elsewhere.

The whole thing feels pretty cheap and almost painfully obvious. Someone get U.S. News and World on the phone and let them know they have yet another adjustment to make to the rankings.

Finally, a Public Interest Incentive That Means Something

If you have been following the law school admissions game, or even if you just read this blog post, then you know that public interest incentives are all the rage at top law schools. By advertising creative loan forgiveness programs, J.D. programs are able to appeal to those candidates with the best intentions … even if the majority of those students graduate and go on to work in corporate law firms. The gaudy numbers advertised by the loan forgiveness program don’t amount to much if students don’t actually work in the public interest sector.

The appropriate question here is why? Why do so many starry-eyed law students give up the dream of helping people and instead trudge off to help corporations and hedge funds and banks? There are a lot of answers to that question, but I would suggest that the biggest reason for this public interest melt is that quality summer jobs are harder to come by when one moves outside of the law firm arena.

The most attractive public interest summer positions often come with little or no compensation, putting students in a bind when it comes to, well, surviving. Already strapped with massive loans, law students often find themselves working at a law firm during their 2L summer just to reverse the ugly financial trends. These same students wind up getting wined and dined and convinced (some might use the word “tricked”) into staying at that same firm after graduation. It is easy to be seduced by the big paycheck, promises of ample pro bono work (“you can make a difference here!”), and the idea that one can easily escape it all and turn to public interest work after a few years. It rarely works out that way.

That’s why it is exciting to see that Michigan Law School has launched a new program called Public Interest Guarantee. Unlike so many other public interest subsidy devices, the UM program promises to pay all students $5,000 for their 2L summers, provided they intern with a qualified government or public interest group.

[Update: Harvard Law already offers a similar program. In fact, Harvard offers a guaranteed public interest scholarship of $5,000 to both 1L and 2L students. Impressive stuff and I would venture to guess that there are other schools doing this as well. Kudos to Harvard, Michigan, and anyone else helping students work in the public interest sector.]

Granted, students can earn $5,000 in less than two weeks of work at a big New York or L.A. firm, but it is still a step in the right direction. This might be just enough money to keep some promising and well-intentioned lawyers in the public interest fold.

Michigan (Ross) Application Essays for 2008-2009

University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business has released its application essays for the 2008-2009 season. Our comments are in italics:

Ross Application Essays

Long Answers: (500 word max)

  1. Briefly describe your short-term and long-term career goals. Why is an MBA the best choice at this point in your career? What and/or who influenced your decision to apply to Ross?
  2. Describe your most significant professional accomplishment. Elaborate on the leadership skills you displayed, the actions you took and the impact you had on your organization.

(These questions are the exact same as those in last year’s application. Note the emphasis on leadership skills in the second question.)

Short Answers: (300 word max)

  1. If you were not pursuing the career goals you described in Question 1, what profession would you pursue instead? (For example, teacher, musician, athlete, architect, etc.) How will this alternate interest contribute to your effectiveness in solving multidisciplinary problems?
  2. Describe your experience during a challenging time in your life. Explain how you grew personally, either despite this challenge or because of it.

(Also the same as last year. The “other profession” question provides a good opportunity to show another side of you that may not otherwise come out in your application. As long as you can tie it back to one of the core dimensions in your application, don’t be afraid to write about something that seems to be off the wall here.)

Optional Question

  1. Is there anything else you think the Admissions Committee should know about you to evaluate your candidacy?

(The natural tendency is to explain a weakness here, but no need to do that here if your application doesn’t have an obvious weakness. If you do feel the need to explain something, then address it and move on. In other words, don’t dwell on it or provide that weakness with more stage time than it deserves!)

For more advice on applying to Michigan, visit the Veritas Prep Ross School of Business information page.