This week, I’m writing about a recent visit to the Stephen M. Ross school of business.
I’ll start by saying the Ann Arbor is a fantastic town. I have been to a few “college towns” before, and A-squared doesn’t disappoint. From the people I met to the perfect spring day to endless school spirit, Ann Arbor is a special place. Unlike my Darden visit, I don’t have any recommendations on where to stay at Ross, as I was fortunate enough to be staying with a friend for the trip, but there are a number of hotels in the area, and the campus is very walkable. I actually walked a fair amount on this visit, as I wanted to see some hotspots like Zingermans, the Big House, Burton Memorial Tower (I’m an architecture nerd), the Diag, and of course Ross.
Amongst my walkathon, I had also scheduled meetings with current students at Ross, to help me really get a feel for campus life, recruiting, and academics. True to what I had heard previously, Ross students were more than willing to go out of their way to sit down with me, and scheduling meetings was painless. Furthermore, students were more than willing to talk about Ross candidly, rather than giving me the glass-half-full perspective. Now, there wasn’t too much negative said, but it was very helpful to have what seemed to be 100% honesty. The first meeting I had was with a first year student who was interning at a lower-end-bulge bracket bank – that is to say not JP Sachs, but rather something like Royal Bank of Fargo. I soon learned, that he chose this bank due to lifestyle and location constraints, not out of a lack of options. I was told that there were ~ 70 people going for banking in his class, with many recieving at least one offer. Sounds good so far. From there, we also talked about clubs and lifestyle at Ross. I was surpised to learn that he thinks most of the benefits as far as on campus recruiting come through clubs, rather than career services.. interesting. Beyond that, we chatted a bit about the culture of students there. Being a very large institution, I was curious to know how the MBAs interacted with the undergrads with whom they share a campus and a building with. From what I can tell, there is something for everyone at Ross. If you want to drink 5 nights a week and go on vacation every weekend there are people who will be there with you. Contrarily, if you’re looking to get perfect grades, end up at McKBain Group, and explore classes at a few of the other graduate schools at Michigan there will be people there with you. And obviously, if you’re looking for something more balanced, there will be plenty of MBAs along with you. One of the other things I learned from students there was that MAP is really an amazing thing. Surely you can go and read on UM’s website about the program, but hearing individual experiences of students that were in the process of finishing up their respective project was very interesting. I think MAP is a very big plus for someone who is thinking of attending Ross.
Aside from talking with the ever helpful students, I had a good bit of time to scope out the building. First things first, the building is amazing. It has 6 floors with plenty of study rooms, as well as a large atrium where many students congregate. The building is LEED
Finally, I had an opportunity to sit in on one of three classes as I had signed up through the Visit In Person (VIP) program. Among my choices were, and I’m paraphrasing, a tax course, corporate strategy, or global strategy. On the recommendation of a student, I decided to go see global strategy with professor Karnani. Professor Karnani did a very good job of challenging the students positions on the issue at hand, often seemingly playing one student off of another to force the students to defend their position. My one quip, however, is that out of the 50 students in class, only about a dozen participated, with another 10-20 seemingly interested in the subject at hand. Perhaps we can chalk that up to the fact that MAP was ending and students were preoccupied with that, or that it was the end of the semester, and one of their last classes. Either way, just something I noticed. To be fair, the students who were active were well spoken, and raised excellent points. I left at the break after the first hour of class, and professor Karnani informed me that the second half would be wrap up for the course, and I probably wouldn’t get too much out of it. I was more than welcomed to stay, but I took the opportunity to get a head start on my drive home.
In conclusion, I had a really good visit at Ross. While I won’t go into ranking my preferences, I am certain ross deserves a spot in my first round application list. While the school is different from Darden, it isn’t different in a bad way. There is a lot going for the program, and it is definitely somewhere I would be thrilled to attend. If you are at all thinking about applying, and able to get to Ann Arbor, DO IT. I’m not sure what the impact would be on your application, but visiting always provides you some essay fodder through interactions with staff and students. Furthermore, seeing the campus really helps you figure out if it is a good fit for you. Afterall, it is 2 years of your life that you will be spending here, you had better make sure you’re OK with it.