OT- Ross and other MBA programs

Submitted by Yostbound and Down on February 16th, 2015 at 11:28 AM

Requesting some advice from the MGoBlog community, and specifically MBA program students/graduates.

I'm planning to go back to school in the fall of 2015 for a full time MBA...long story short I am both desperately in want of a career change and also want to beef up my resume/business knowledge. A little further background, I am in my mid 20s, in-state with I'd say average work experience and undergrad GPA. My GMAT right now is a 650 and I am taking it again in one month to try and boost it into the 680-690 range, with the benefit of some quant tutoring. My dream school is Ross: one of my parents went there, it's a highly ranked school and I have always wanted a degree from Michigan. If I can't get into Ross, I really love Seattle and am looking at UW-Foster, otherwise I'm looking at mostly Big Ten schools where I'd qualify for scholarship money.

I came to this decision a bit late in the game as I am obviously hoping to still get in to a school in Round 3 so I can enroll in the fall. I'm hoping for answers to a couple questions:

1. What was your admissions process/experience like at Ross or other MBA programs?

2. What were some other schools you considered, or think I might want to look at?

3. What's some advice you have in choosing programs, getting admitted, making the most out of B-school, etc. 

I've posted on a couple boards like beat the GMAT, etc about this but wanted to ask for your advice/opinions. Thanks in advance.

Mods feel free to take down if this is too OT.



February 16th, 2015 at 11:39 AM ^

Consider our weekend MBA program - every other weekend for two years. If you are not an epic distance away from A2 this is a workable alternative to full time, providing your current job is not too miserable to endure through that period.

I don't teach in that program but I am on the faculty and teach evening and day MBAs and soon some BBAs as well. Good luck

Yostbound and Down

February 16th, 2015 at 11:43 AM ^

Thanks for the response.

Just to clarify I am set on doing a full time program...I am pretty miserable with my job and also want the experience of being back on a campus, in school, for those two years (I will get a part time job or two, but I don't want to be putting in the hours I have now while I study). I actually live in Ann Arbor right now so in many ways besides it being my dream school, it would be nice to not have to relocate.


February 16th, 2015 at 12:30 PM ^

If you can swing it, I would recommend full time.  

I attended the Michigan MBA program (wasn't called Ross at the time) full time.  I worked for a very small company in a small town before then, so I did not have any exposure to the big time corporate world or anything on a national scope.  My undergrad was a small school also in the same small town.

So I got a lot out of not just the classes, but the constant interaction with the other students, the prof's, and the recruiters and companies that came to give presentations.  It was great to be part of the whole B-school scene and not just putting in my time in classes part-time and then checking out as quickly as possible.

It became my job and I was able to immerse myself in it.  Plus it was great to be a part of the larger University . . . the campus, the football games, the nightlife, the girls!

It was a unique experience that is impossible to replicate the rest of your life.  I would not trade it for anything.




February 16th, 2015 at 11:42 AM ^

My dad's friend is an admission officer at Ross, and I spoke to her before applying. She told me I had no chance of getting in because I did not have long enough fulltime experience. You basically need either 3+ years experience or perfect grades/scores. A combination of both would be best.

I ended up going to Iowa where I was given a lot of money. For out of state students, you are pretty much guaranteed a GA scholarship. It's a small class size, and I enjoyed it. Iowa City is like a smaller version of Ann Arbor.

Yostbound and Down

February 16th, 2015 at 11:47 AM ^

Thanks for that insight.

I have the 3 years of work experience, although I am not sure if it would be the type Ross is looking for (not Big 4 accounting or Wall Street or consulting). 

Thanks for perspective on Iowa. Of the other Big Ten schools the three I's are primarily where I'm looking. Do you work in Iowa now? What did the MBA there do for you?


February 16th, 2015 at 11:53 AM ^

For this late in the cycle, you probably do not have the best shot at Ross, but if you wait for next year, that experience (plus improved test scores) will probably be enough to at least get you an interview. 

I ended up coming back to Michigan when I finished. I did not have a job offer yet (mostly my own fault, the vast majority of my class did) so figured I could go wherever I wanted. I probably could have come into my company at a lower level without an MBA, but would have been making at most 2/3 of what I'm making now. I'm glad I did it, and managed to do it without as much debt as the other options I was looking at. 

Wherever you go, you have to make sure you take advantage of the networking opportunities, which I sucked at. You get out what you put in, basically. The education you get will be similar pretty much anywhere you go, it's the contacts you make and on campus recruiting opportunities that will be different. 

Lt. Pete Mitchell

February 16th, 2015 at 11:43 AM ^

It will likely be a scramble to get everything done for fall of '15 enrollment.  You will need to study for GMAT, get references and applications in order, etc.  You have also already missed the first and second round application deadlines, which puts you at a disadvantage in terms of acceptance rates landing in round 3.

Not saying it can't be done, but it may be better to get your ducks in a row and put best foot forward once.


Yostbound and Down

February 16th, 2015 at 11:50 AM ^

Yeah I definitely have a long month or so ahead of me!

My applications are basically complete aside from tuning up some of the essays. I have one very good reference/letter of recommendation from a business professor at Illinois, and my other references I think will be sufficient for the schools that want multiple references.


February 16th, 2015 at 12:03 PM ^

I agree with Maverick--definitely don't recommend applying 3rd application cycle unless you're bringing unique experience to the table.  By the last cycle, they are only cherry-picking select profiles to round out the class.

I'd recommend taking extra time to study and boost your GMAT to 700+.  If you can't get into Ross, a top-15 MBA program makes a huge difference in terms of on-campus interview opportunities.  The top companies can't recruit at every school, so they're quite picky in terms of which schools they'll interview.  Have a clear objective of which companies/industries you want to get to and focus on the schools that can best provide those opportunities.  MBA is a great experience....good luck!!!

Omniscient One

February 16th, 2015 at 11:55 AM ^

Honestly, I've heard from many people that unless you go to a Top MBA program where you'll be directly recruited from the school for a $150k job(Ross et al) or having your current company pay for the degree which will allow you a promotion, an MBA is one of the more worthless degrees out there.

Keep that in mind before dropping $100k. A buddy of mine now has a $1000 per month payment for student loans and is making the same as before.

Yostbound and Down

February 16th, 2015 at 12:30 PM ^

I don't have a company to sponsor me (and I doubt I would get any scholarship money) but I have no student debt from undergrad and also have a potential job lined up afterwards, provided I get the degree. I understand for everyone the MBA might not be the best idea but in my case, I think the expense would be justified. 

74 ZRide

February 16th, 2015 at 1:05 PM ^

I was in a similar (but still fairly different) position as you a few years ago. My background is in Engineering (BS in Computer and MS in Electrical working in SE MI in the Auto Industry). I attended information sessions to a few local universities for their part time programs (The Evening Program at Ross was one of them). My company at the time would sponsor up to $5k/year which even at that time was a drop in the bucket for Ross. I spoke to one of the reps after the information session. She was also an engineer in the Auto Industry and was doing her Ross MBA to move into product planning. That was something I was somewhat interested in, but my main purpose was to further my engineering career into management within Engineering. She told me that for someone not looking to make a career change the MBA may not be as useful due to the amount of time and money it takes. The desicion for me was to not pursue the MBA. I had no intention of going to a 2nd Tier School (like Wayne State) due to the time involved and the cost of a top tier school wouldn't have provided a good enough ROI when looking at my salary pre and post MBA. To the posters point above with the friend paying $1000/month in loans, the decision to pursue or not to pursue is a very individualized desicion. My advice to you is to contintue the application process, but also inparallel look at ALL your options. There may be some options that arn't apparent to you at this time that will serve you well in the future. From there, weigh the pros/cons of each and move forward with the best one. Good luck!


February 16th, 2015 at 5:41 PM ^

are tenuous at best in terms of being useful.  If you actually want to continue being an engineer I would say they can actually be useless, especially in CS.  I've never had a job that would have paid me an extra cent for having an MBA (I'm EE working the CS field).  However, management positions can be different.  The companies I have worked for didn't give a patoot about MBAs, but I know that some do.  It really is company specific and for Engineers, I would make the MBA decision specifically based on where you want to work and what their attitude towards MBAs are.  For example, a lot of the top CS places just really don't care at all.

For Engineers, I would only recommend getting an MBA if, as you said, you are looking to do a career change or you have a very specific job advancement that either requires it or specifically pays you additional money for it.

However I didn't get the sense that the OP was necessarily an Engineer.


February 16th, 2015 at 11:52 AM ^

I graduated from Ross a few years back, and I would say it was one of the single greatest decisions I made in life. (I also applied to Harvard, Kellogg, and Haas: was accepted at Haas, not at the others)

That being said, you need to really make sure you've thought the decision through. I would say full time is 1000% the way to go if you a.) have the means to do so and b.) are looking to switch careers. The beneifts of an MBA are 1.) the network you make while you're there 2.) the opportunities / recruiters that come to campus and 3.) the quality of education you receive, in that order. Part time programs really make it hard to excel at the first one.

You also want to understand what you're thinking about doing after school. Ross is pretty diverse in terms of oppportunities (finance, consulting, marketing, etc.), but other schools are much more focused, both by funciton and by region. Make sure any school you apply to will set you up for success after graduation.

On that point, once you get outside of the top 15-20 schools, it's gets much harder to justify the expense (both money you spend and the lost income for 2 years). If you are going to "check the box", so to speak, and already have your post MBA job lined up, it's less of an issue, but you need to think about what doors will an MBA from school X really open up.

Bottom line is it will be an amazing time, no matter where you go: just make sure you're getting the return you're hoping for.



February 16th, 2015 at 11:54 AM ^

I graduated some time ago, so some of my input my be a bit dated.  To answer your questions directly:

1.  I was very involved in the MBA process (i.e. open houses, talking to lots of alumni, school sponsored events in Chicago, etc.). To be honest, the Ross admission process was really no different than any other school I applied to.  Haas (Berkeley) was definitely the least pleasant as they were very tough to interact with and they had a quick open house in Chicago that was not well planned.

2. I applied to 5 top schools.  What is your career change plan?  That will dictate where you should focus.  Example: Finance -> Wharton, Chicago; Marketing -> Kellogg, Ross

3. Unfortunately, compared to other graduate programs (medical, law), the name of the b-school goes a long way.  Especially if you are going full time.  The network your school brings is almost as important (if not more so) than what you actually learn.  You mentioned UW-Foster.  To be honest, never heard of it.  I work in a well-known management consulting firm, and I don't think I have ever come across someone from that school.  That is not to say you can't get a great education and have great experiences there.  Unless you want to stay regionally in Seattle or its a feeder to school to your desired career, I would recommend looking at other schools.

My quick and dirty recommendation:

a. Get your GMAT above 700.  Or at least aim to do so.  I don't know what the hip way to study these days, but I used GMAT club back in the day.

b. Fully understand what you want to do and what schools can get you there, and focus on those schools

c. Again, unless there is a common application now (don't know for sure), your application should show that the MBA program will fullfill a need for you to get you to the next level.  

d. Consider waiting until next year if you are not fully ready.  I spent a good year preparing for applications.  Getting admitted in round 3 is much tougher than previous rounds, and its not really good for those "last minute" applications.  You should really have this thought out.

I was on the admissions committee at Ross, so I have lots of info.  What I just told you is the tip of the iceberg.  Let me know if you have any other questions.

Yostbound and Down

February 16th, 2015 at 12:41 PM ^

Thanks for listing the recommendations out. I'm hoping I can boost the GMAT into that range. The Quant section was tough to handle in terms of time management, I was in the 90th percentile on the Verbal, (IR I scored the max and I think I nailed the essay but obviously, those don't seem to be as much of a factor). With better pacing through the first 15 and last 10 or so questions I think I can definitely get a few questions back there (I was in the mid 40s percentile wise).

Ross struck me as a pretty well-rounded school in terms of specialties, is that not the case? General management/operations is my career path but I have interests in finance, marketing and supply chain as well. 

To my knowledge there is no common app to all schools.

Thanks for the advice. I am 99% certain that I want to go back in the fall, no matter where, as a career change is my top priority. But, ideally I would love to go to Ross, so maybe waiting will be the best option.


February 16th, 2015 at 2:01 PM ^

I wanted a change badly and rushed to take the gmat. It didn't go well. I waited, studied harder for the gmat (did well on it the second time), and strategized my approach to the whole application process. It worked out well and I'm glad I waited an extra year. You're young, so I recommend doing what I did.

With regards to "grading" Ross. I didn't go to any other school to an objective comparison is hard to make. But, based on my expectations, here are my grades for respective emphases:

-strategy: A-; CKP (RIP) was overrated, but he was still good. There are other profs I thought were better.

-finance: D; with the exception of a couple profs, overall big disappointment. We still sent bankers to bulge bracket at a decent clip, but I recommend all would be bankers to NOT go to Ross.

-operations: B+; solid

-marketing: A-; wasn't even that interested in this topic, but took more classes because of the great profs

-entrepreneurship: B; the PE/VC classes were horrible, but the rest were great.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

Cake Or Death

February 16th, 2015 at 9:59 PM ^

(97 for me), but my assessment is very similar, including CKP.  I did not get the good draw in marketing profs, so I would grade lower, and I was also not impressed with finance - although both financial and cost accounting were great.

I would say that the organizational behavior classes were something that I didn't think would hold my interest, but were really interesting and involved concepts I think of to this day.

Back to the finance thing for the OP, since Ross is not known as a "quant" school, the recruiters that come for positions like that openly say: "If you wanted to do a job like this, why did you choose Ross?"  However, it's well-rounded enough to be suited for many other things.


February 16th, 2015 at 11:54 AM ^

The most important consideration in selecting an MBA program is brand.  As unfortunate as that sounds, it's true.  Ross has an excellent national brand.  UW-Foster seems to be more of a regional brand.  I considered selecting a more regional program over Kellogg when I made my choice and in hind-sight, I am very glad I didn't.  When you leave school, Ross will open up national opportunities, UW-Foster, you are more likely to have opportunities in the Pacific Northwest.  Happy to help however, I can....

UM undergrad, Kellogg MBA

Yostbound and Down

February 16th, 2015 at 12:53 PM ^

Thanks for your response. 

I am not considering Kellogg because I figure since it's on par (maybe even ahead depending on ranking) with U of M and given the fact I have no connections to that school, it's probably beyond a long shot. I recognize Ross is a long shot, but I can at least see the possibility.

Washington is very interesting to me because of Seattle and possible connections there, I've visited the campus area while seeing friends and it's awesome out there. Have some extended family in the Northwest that love it out there and of all the parts of the country I've seen, that's the only place I might prefer to staying around Michigan post-degree. Foster definitely isn't the elite program that Ross is though.


February 16th, 2015 at 12:00 PM ^

If you're serious about Ross being your #1 choice, then show commitment. Apply to ONLY Ross this year, and let them know you're only applying to Ross. This is your dream, and you'll do whatever it takes. They need to know that.

My guess is from the background provided, you probably won't get in, but maybe land on the waitlist. Or maybe you get lucky. Make sure you get an on-campus interview so you can drive home your commitment.

Assume you don't get in, then you ask them what you need to do next year to get in. But come with suggestions. My guess is you won't get your scores to a place where they HAVE to let you in, becuase anything under 800 won't make that a mandatory. Your work experience won't get appreciably better where you currently are and my guess is a new job won't either if you stay on the current path. 

My guess is the way to prove you're "Ross/Michigan man" is that you do something incredibly committed on the non-profit side over the next year. Show you're more than just a guy who wants to make a career change. Show them you want to go to Michigan to be a part of the incredible network, and you want to be a contributing member of the network by showing them how you can give back. Even better if you do that locally in Ann Arbor/Detroit/Michigan.

It's all about tie-breakers in MBA admissions. If you a) show your commitment to Michigan is real and b) you're they kind of person who cares more than just making money then they'll see someone who will give back to Michigan long-term. That's the tie-breaker you need.

This approach above parallels my strategy when I originally applied back in '04. It took me two years to get it in and I had some pretty crappy undergrad grades to get past, but it worked and I finally got that Ross degree. In the last 7 years I have tripled + my salary and am working at my dream job. I have also continuously given back to UM/Ross whenever I get the chance since I know none of my current success would be possible without the Michigan brand. Plus season tickets for two years man. Season tickets.

In year two I applied to other schools in case I didn't get in, but didn't end up needing them, so I'd reco that as well since you never know...

Cheers, good luck, and go blue.


February 16th, 2015 at 12:21 PM ^

Far lower than the Ross class average.  I was an engineer at Michigan UG, so it was the norm.  I took some night business classes in Chicago a couple years before I applied to Ross and got all A's to show that I am academically ready for B-school.  Plus I did well on the GMAT.  

The point: there are ways to mitigate a low GPA. 


February 16th, 2015 at 12:50 PM ^

Just one person's perspective, but...

...If I were reading the application and you made a big deal about Michigan being the ONLY school you were applying to, I would question the applicant's judgment.  Even for the most qualified of candidates, getting into a top b-school is not a guarantee.  So it sounds to me like an applicant who is either lying; thought of applying so late they didn't have the time/energy to apply to others; and/or does not understand the odds of getting accepted into top schools.  Doesn't mean any of that is true at all, but that is what I would be thinking when I read that.

But I'm just one person.  Though I am a former Admissions Committee member (as a student and alum) for the Michigan MBA program.

Yostbound and Down

February 16th, 2015 at 1:43 PM ^

Thanks for the perspective.

I definitely don't want to give that impression! Of the schools I'm considering, Ross is easily the highest caliber school across the board, but it would be prudent to at least have a couple other options whenever I do apply. They may not be the best value to everyone in terms of education but to me, looking at my place in life and career an MBA definitely seems worth it to me.

I love Michigan. I was 3-4 when my dad was at Ross in the 90s and it was really fun growing into loving Ann Arbor and the school as a kid, as well as obviously the football team. It's always been a dream to get a Michigan degree and live the experience of being a student in Ann Arbor, to learn from all the different students and faculty that live here. If accepted there's virtually no chance I leave the state for a while to work, and would be happy to contribute as an alumnus. So I guess I do have that passion going for me, in that Michigan has never been a second choice to me instead of say Harvard or Wharton or wherever...I'd still take Michigan for the convenience of location, the family connections and my passion for it.

At the same time, I know that sometimes that it's not supposed to work out exactly the way you want, and given the struggles I had in undergrad and the lack of great quality work experience, it might not happen for me. My dad didn't go back until he was older (early thirties, with a job lined up afterwards and a family already) but that's not an experience I want to repeat...I'd like to go back to school while I'm younger and take more advantage of the networking opportunities.


February 16th, 2015 at 2:42 PM ^

As the other person said, it may work.  There's as much art to the process than science, and getting in is definitely much more difficult than the actual MBA.  At the very least, you definitely want to share that passion for the school - but reading your response to me I'd advise that you focus on why the Ross School and its strengths and weaknesses are critical.  Also, to help combat applying so late in the cycle, reviewers are generally going to be reading your application and hoping for a compelling "why now?"  Sooner is always better than later, in the minds of most applicants, but that's usually not a compelling reason for the Admissions Committee.  Having read and interviewed lots of candidates, those would be things I'd be looking to address in my application given what I'm reading here about your situation.


February 16th, 2015 at 1:43 PM ^

This is game theory man. The shotgun approach to admissions doesn't work for everyone, but it can work obviously. Everyone has to figure out their own odds based on their own resume. My strengths were in my work experience and commitment to the school. My GMAT was above average for Ross but not good enough to overcome the poor grades (for Ross) on their own. I knew all of this from talking to the Head of Admissions at the time.

Point is, there was almost no chance of me getting in without going with a different strategy. I think the OP is in a similar situation given his background. And that's probably true for any of the other top 15 - 20 schools that are worth going to full-time. So my reco is take a different approach, just figure out the best for him...shotgun probably isn't the answer if he wants to get into Michigan.

Maybe there were 5 others that would have worked otherwise. But from conversations afterwards, I know for a fact that the only reason I got in was because of this approach.All of the stories are N=1, so good of you to offer a different view.

For what it's worth, I was also on the admissions committee for Ross for a couple of years before work got the better of my schedule, and the bias I saw (and live by at work as well), is that you admit people who show a bias for action, not just a pretty resume...


February 16th, 2015 at 12:05 PM ^

Pay attention to the reputation of the school in a specific area. Many MBA programs have reputations in specific area. Also, check the placement of these programs. In fact, if you are interested in a specific industry then top "regional" schools may not be bad. UW may have a strong pipeline to firms in northeast. Finally, if you are specifically interested in finance or operations management, there are good MS programs that might be better than MBA.

Undergrad, MBA, PhD Ross.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad


February 16th, 2015 at 12:12 PM ^

I'm currently in the (much less prestigious) MBA program at UM-Flint.

One thing that I was very naive about is the amount that mathematics is involved in nearly every course.  Even intro/core Marketing courses have a Quantitative Analysis portion to them.

With your GMAT score it doesn't sound like it'll be a problem for you, but it's good to understand exactly what you're getting into. 

Yostbound and Down

February 16th, 2015 at 1:29 PM ^

I was a finance major in undergrad and took a few quantitative classes so that shouldn't be too much of a challenge for me, but thanks for the response. The Quant section is the weak part of my GMAT but I don't really consider the quant section to be much more than high-school level math...it's just tough to answer those types of questions on a time crunch like the test demands.


February 16th, 2015 at 12:25 PM ^

I finished up my MBA at Detroit Mercy a couple years ago, so, a few insights:

1) I think the quality of your education is in large part dependent on the quality of your classmates, not just your professors.  I had some GREAT professors at UDM.  I consider myself to have gotten a very good education at an unbeatable price.  (UDM gives you half off your tuition if you top 600 on the GMAT.)  But the quality of many of my classmates was.... lacking.  Very up and down.  Some of them were just plain lazy, a few were incredibly rude, and would take lots of opportunities to complain about the workload.  (There were also plenty of people who took it seriously and worked hard.)  I would guess there would be less of that at a more selective school, but when you're sorting yourself into groups, try and gravitate toward people who actually expect more than just showing up and being handed a piece of paper two years later.

2) Take an extremely hard look at the quality of the career center at the schools you apply to.  You can have the finest, most prestigious degree in the world, and it don't mean shit if you can't get a job.  UDM's career center was excellent, IMO.  My brother is at UW-Foster right now and he considers the career center to be so-so.  He couldn't find an internship in Seattle and had to come back to Detroit for the summer to find one.  (Now that's a backwards story if ever there was one.  Maybe a good sign.)

3) Consider where you want to have a job when you finish.  If you're dead set on getting a job in Michigan, you may not want to fly all around the country for business school; it might not be worth it.  UDM and Wayne have just as good a name around here as any.  If you want to look more nationwide for a job, then you definitely want a more nationally-recognized school.

UofM Snowboarder

February 16th, 2015 at 12:23 PM ^

I'm finishing my MBA at William and Mary's Mason School of Business this spring. I'd say if you want to get into Ross, you'll need to crack 700 on the GMAT.

The one thing I'll say is that admissions are weird.

I got a 670 (only took it once). I didn't apply to Michigan for grad school. I applied to CU's Leeds, Case Western's Weatherhead, and W&M's Mason. Leed's was supposed to be my safety school, and it was the only one I didn't get into (getting nice scholarship packages to the two I got into).

I know people who got 780s and 790s who didn't get into HBS and people with mid-600s that got into Wharton. Having a clear goal: knowing what you want to do, preferably both function and industry (and experiene in at least one of them), will help you both in your school applications, and, more importantly, in your job search.

Key things:

Practice your interview - don't bumble into it/wing it.

Own your work experience - Even if you hated it, be able to enumerate what you learned from it. 

Have a plan - Know what you want to do. Research the program and how that program specifically will align with your goals. When they ask 'Why Ross/Why School X', be able to speak intelligently on the subject.


Good luck.


February 16th, 2015 at 12:27 PM ^

I don't mean to ruffle any feathers by this question, but Michigan (Ross) gives some unbeatable advantages for being a minority.  One of which is participating in the consortium (see link below).

My skin is too pale for these programs, but others should utilize it if they can.



February 16th, 2015 at 4:43 PM ^

You actually don't have to be a minority to earn a fellowship via the consortium.  You just need to demonstrate commitment to diversity.  The race thing is often misunderstood, so I figured i'd correct that.  So if you were a TFA teacher or a "big brother" you can make a great case.

Also a note: the disadvantage of applying this way is that you have to reveal a ranking of the consortium schools you're aplying to.  I put Ross first over Tuck/Darden which certainly helped with Ross, but didn't help with Tuck/Darden.