Saturday 20 October 2012

Michigan Ross School of Business– Bangalore Information Session

Dear Readers and My fellow applicants, I am back with one more (and probably the last one this season) details of my experiences of business school information session. This last Wednesday (17th October, 2012) I attended the Bangalore Information Session of Ross School of Business, University of Michigan. The session was scheduled at 7.30 PM in the Taj Vivanta Hotel, M.G Road and started right on schedule. The session was hosted by Diana Economy, Associate Director of Admissions at the business school. 6 alumni were also present at the venue making it the largest number of alumni present at any business school info session in Bangalore that I’ve attended.
Even before the session formally started, I got to talk to alum who he shared his story of the Ross admission. The formal session started with a presentation about various aspects about the business school. Most of the information in the presentation is available on website and hence I’ll only write about some Key takeaways from the info session.
Since the info session was being organized after the Round 1 application deadline was over, Diana apologized for not being able to come to Bangalore before the Round 1 deadline. However, she emphasized that there was absolutely no difference in admissions decisions in Round 1 and Round 2. She told that even the scholarship decisions are evenly distributed across Round 1 and Round 2 deadlines, so it does not necessarily makes any difference if someone applies in Round 1 or Round 2. On the same note, she informed that all the scholarships are Merit based and there are NO Need based scholarships.
Speaking of the infrastructure, the newest Stephen M Ross School of Business building is a state of the art facility and is a LEED certified building.
Academics: The core-curriculum focuses mostly on team based learning primarily through case studies and lectures at times. 2nd year is entirely electives with some options of electives in the 1st year too. As popular, Ross follows the philosophy of Learning by Doing i.e. Action based Learning. The most important part of this philosophy is the MAP which happens over the last 7 weeks of the 1st year. It is a part of the core curriculum and hence everyone has to participate in this. These are small consulting projects sponsored by industry and about 50% of the MAP projects are from outside the US which gives good opportunities for an international exposure. Some alumni highlighted the importance of MAP projects for Career switchers when students can do MAP projects in their desired field. There are several other opportunities for Action Learning through the various Institutes (like Tauber, WDI) at the University of Michigan. The Operations program through the Tauber institute, in fact, offers special Operations focused internships for people interested in pursuing career in operations.
One other great program about the Ross Learning by Doing philosophy which I found very interesting is the Leadership Crisis Challenge. As part of this, Ross talks to very senior business leaders (read CXOs) about a crisis challenge that they have handled. Now a group of students are given the same challenge and data relevant to that. The students then address a real live press conference where journalists ask questions and the students have to respond. I mean, can you really have a better experience than this.
Careers: Every year, some 50 2nd year MBA students are trained by career services and they act as mentors to the first years. They are people who have done the same internship that you want to do, are in the same industry that you want to focus on and hence this provides a great learning experience. For applicants interested in Consulting post-MBA, here is a great news. Apparently, the writer of the famous case preparation book Case-in-Point, has told that the Ross Consulting Club is the best consulting club.
Daina was very kind to let us know some folloing key information about the recruitment for International students at Ross. The top firms hiring international students last year were Citi, Delloite, Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey and PwC. The top functions were Strategy Consulting, Marketing & Brand Management, IT consulting and Finance. About 50% of the class went to New York, Chicago and San Francisco.
Life @ Ross: Ross boasts of its Community. The community building starts right from MTreks which are adventure trips and they happen even before the school starts. Ann Arbor is a great city and has many things to do from Golf to Biking to Hiking. Most students live within 1-2 miles of the business school and this again forms a great community.
Admissions: Talking of GMAT/GRE, Daina informed that the business school is very quantitative and hence they look at evidences of quantitative skills through GMAT and Academic transcripts. In academic transcripts, they will look at the quantitative courses that we have taken. A member from the audience asked a question about the school’s judgment of quantitative skills for an applicant from the liberal arts background. Daina replied that in case of a liberal arts background, they will focus more on GMAT to see evidence of Quantitative skills. On TOEFL (although this is mandatory only if the language of instruction in undergrad was not English), Ross has a cut-off of a minimum of 100. They are specifically looking at the Speaking and listening scores on TOEFL.
On Essays, Daina advised that the essays must reflect Authencity (Be Yourself), Clear Goals and Reasons for Ross. On the same note, an alumnus advised the following while writing the essays, “Write an essay which can convince the admissions committee on Why MBA, Why Now and Why Ross”. Daina told that essays are also a way to judge our writing skills and they compare the AWA essays (on GMAT) with the application essays to see for signs of essays written by admission consultant.!!! Daina informed that essays essentially gauge two things – Can You Write and What is your story?
On Recommendations, she told that a recommendation from a current supervisor is the most preferable. However, in cases where one can’t approach his/her current supervisor for some reason, he/she must explain the reason for the same in the optional essay. Academic recommendations were not advised. Daina especially stressed on preparing the recommenders for writing one. An applicant asked if it was fine to share essays with the recommenders and to this Daina told that it was fine until they don’t copy the essays in the recommendations. She advised to hand over our Resumes to recommenders and explain them clear reasons for pursuing an MBA. The recommendations must essentially highlight Professional skills of the applicant.
Resume: Daina emphasized that the resume should be tailored to suit a business school application and not for a job application. In essence, it should talk of career progression, impact on the organization, quantified results, a brief about ECs and academic highlights. She advised not to put internship experience in the resume. Importantly, resume should be 1 page only.
The interviewer will only have our resume and it could be alum or a current student via Skype. Interviews are mostly used to gauge Communication Skills and the right ‘FIT’ with the school.
Diana advised us to closely follow the Blog of the admissions director as many important information will be directly published there.
The formal session ended with this and we proceeded for informal chats with the alumni. Alumni advised on writing consistent application and being human. We must highlight our stories sharing insights on the challenges we faced and the learning from such challenges. During the informal sessions, some applicants asked about career support for international students at the business school. To this, the alum replied that the career service at the business school is phenomenal. One alumnus pointed out 1 very great advantage of being an international student and that is that as international students the entire US is all the same for us. We don’t have any regional preferences whereas Americans might have very rigid preferences. So this flexibility of location works very well when it comes to recruiting. There were some discussions about the specifics of MAP process – Students have to give a preference for 15 projects out of the 100s and usually people get some project within their top 5 choices. There may be some company imposed restrictions on the profile of students but the business school works hard to ensure that such restrictions are few. For example, for a finance heavy MAP project companies might insist that at least one person on the team should have a finance background and similarly a company offering MAP project in India might insist on having at least one Hindi speaking person on the team. Essentially, the MAP projects are not too much functionally deep and hence everyone can almost work on every project. During the informal discussions, Diana highlighted that Ross is looking to Create Public Leaders.
There was a discussion on the need of work experience for MBA. Alumni pointed out that most of the discussion in the class is within the students and the Professor is only facilitating the discussion. Hence, work experience brings perspectives to the class during discussions and hence it is very important for going to a business school and making the most out of it.
I left the session at around 10.30 PM leaving with a firm belief that Ross is the business school where I want to go for my MBA. To learn more about my MBA Journey, Stay Connected…!!!


  1. The Ross Finance faculty’s research interests cover a broad range of topics, including corporate finance, asset pricing, financial intermediation, market microstructure, and real estate. The faculty’s research is regularly published in top journals and has won numerous awards.

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