Ross cuts regular admissions to focus on pre-admits

Tuesday, September 13, 2016 - 7:02pm

Starting in the fall 2017 semester, the Ross School of Business will no longer offer the option for prospective undergraduate students to apply through a regular admissions process after they've already enrolled at the University of Michigan.

Instead, applicants will have the option of applying through the preferred admissions process as high school seniors or through the normal transfer application process for students already studying at the University of Michigan or at other college institutions.

According to the Ross website, under the new system 500 students will be admitted to Ross as high school students and enroll during the first semester of their sophomore year through the preferred admissions application following the Fall semester of 2017. This pre-admissions system, which currently accounts for roughly 20 percent of Ross students is slated to increase exponentially to 80 percent of all students per year once the regular admissions application is replaced.

Lynn Wooten, senior associate dean for student and academic excellence at the Business School, emphasized in an interview with The Michigan Daily that the purpose of the change is to admit more students to Ross who have a demonstrated interest and talent for business through the pre-admissions system.

“Currently business is the number one intended major for students coming out of high school,” Wooten said. “Because of the high demand, more students are looking to be accepted before their freshman years at college. Therefore, in trying to eliminate the barrier for students to get into the business school, this change will give more students an opportunity to know if they will become Ross students right out of high school.”

This shift in admissions policy is, in part, designed to resemble admissions at other elite business schools such as Indiana University and University of North Carolina — something that some Ross students, like Business sophomore Arjun Prakash, welcomed.

“I think it will make us more competitive against those schools especially.” Prakash, who was a pre-admit, wrote in an email.  “If a student has an assured seat in the business program at, say, NYU Stern, he/she may not want to risk enrolling at Michigan with the chance of not getting admitted to Ross as a sophomore.  I think the move will cause the university’s yield as a whole to increase, since students can choose Michigan with the full confidence that they will be studying the major they want.”

In the past two years, Ross has already begun to expand their preferred admissions enrollment from 181 students in 2015 to 261 students in 2016.  This change has also coincided with an expansion in class size from 580 students to 625 students between 2015 and 2016.  Meanwhile, external transfer students accounted for 1% of incoming students in 2015. The other 473 were accepted through the regular admissions process.

Despite the increase in the number of pre-admits, the Business School will still be aiming to add 100 transfer students each year to the incoming class who are transferring from other colleges at the University, according to Wooten. 

Wooten also pointed to the importance of fostering academic diversity within the BBA program, emphasizing the need for individuals who have complimentary academic interests outside of business, as a benefit of increasing pre-admission.

“By increasing the number of pre-admits, most of our incoming students will not have the concerns about being accepted and will feel more free to pursue different academic interests, not just what they think we want to see,” Wooten said. “And this is something that is very important to us; we want all of our students to be exploratory learners since we do consider Ross to be a liberal arts business school.”

Prakash echoed Wooten's sentiments, writing that he agreed that the preadmission program enables academic freedom during their freshman year.

“Having the safety net of being a preferred admit certainly helped my general morale of being a freshman that wanted to study business.” Prakash wrote. “It allowed me to focus on extracurriculars and academic classes for my long-term benefit rather than a short-term admissions gain.  I wasn’t afraid to take challenging computer science classes at the expense of lowering my GPA, and I strived for leadership because I really wanted it.”

While the current regular admissions application mainly focuses on academic achievement in college, the preferred admissions application is designed to showcase student affinity and interest in business fields.

As a result of the popularity of the preferred admissions application, prospective preferred applicants are now expected to complete the Ross Admissions Portfolio. The portfolio incorporates an additional essay about a current event or issue that involves business principles or practices. This task is designed to highlight the applicant’s interest in business school.

In addition to a personal statement essay, preferred applicants must also include an “artifact” that demonstrates their ability to learn in action. These artifacts, according to the Business School website, can include “a high school project or paper, a community newspaper article highlighting an important achievement, a personal website, a piece on a school or community program or an event that (the applicants) were instrumental in creating or implementing.”

Students already enrolled at the University will still have the option to apply to the Business School, though they will have to do so through a transfer application rather than the regular admissions application.

The transfer application the same format as transferring to and from other University schools, and is meant for students who did not apply for preferred admission.