A few weeks ago we called out an issue with the Michigan Ross essay questions: The phrasing of Essay 1 was different in their online application from how it was originally announced on their blog and website.
The original version was, “What are you most proud of and why? How does it shape who you are today?”
The online application said, “What are you most proud of? How does it shape who you are today?”
Ross responded quickly (which is great) by changing the website to match the app.
Well, OK, but we knew, as the good Snarksters that we are, that the original version of the question actually was still totally relevant and appropriate, and the “why” part is important for BSers to answer. We even posted as much about it to purchasers of our Ross essay guide, so that they would understand why there’s so much focus there on the “why” part of the question even when the prompt now lacks it.
Yet imagine our surprise – nay, actual consternation, to discover advice from Ross Admissions Director Soojin Kwon on their blog the other day:
Q: For Essay 1 (“What are you most proud of?”), are you looking for a professional or personal story?
A: Either. The story itself isn’t the important part. What we’re “looking for” is why you’re proud of the thing you share with us. We hope that it’s authentic. By that, I mean it should be the answer you’d share with a close friend, not with an “admissions committee.” It should sound like you. [emphasis added]
Yes yes yes we agree, obviously, since that’s also what we’ve been coaching candidates on. The “why” matters. Of course it does.
But Soojin? If that’s what you’re looking for first and foremost, how come you deleted it from the question?!??
Talk about sending mixed signals. 🙁
This is of great concern to us. We know that you’re not INTENTIONALLY doing a bait-and-switch or trying to give BSers a complex. But as you know, writing these essays is hard! Can we please be a little more consistent in what you communicate to these struggling and stressed-out people who are trying to do what you want in their essays?
UPDATE: On the Michigan Ross webinar today, they actually addressed this directly (yay Ross Adcom!). But, the answer wasn’t exactly very satisfying (boo Ross Adcom!). Here’s what Soojin said (roughly paraphrased):
“When we’re on the road we get a lot of questions about Essay 1. People want to know whether it’s OK to write about a personal story for that question. Yes, you can write about a personal story, or a professional one. One of our admissions consultants [yes she referred to EssaySnark that way – **swoon**] pointed out that the ‘why’ is missing from the question. When we ask ‘what’ then the ‘why’ is inferred.”
OK OK OK. Soojin, that’s fine – but then why is the “why” included in Essay 2??!????
We’re gonna let this rest now – but this is a not-great answer to what really was simply a MISTAKE somewhere along the way. Presumably the application was supposed to have the “why” included in the Essay 1 question and it got dropped by accident, and because the app is the “official” requirement, then the adcom decided to scrub the “why” from the question elsewhere on their site – but they didn’t scrub it from their minds. It really is what they want to hear about. The after-the-fact answers don’t strike us as honest. It created this flipflopping situation which could’ve been avoided.
Not the worst thing we’ve ever seen a bschool admissions office do, but also not handled quite as cleanly as it could’ve been.
Wonder what one of your students in that executive crisis management simulation course would be saying? 😉
Anyway, Soojin and the whole Ross admissions team, we still love you – and we’ve been coaching applicants to talk about the “why” anyway, so hopefully they will all impress you with their amazing essays coming in Round 1!