Three Pieces of Back-to-School Advice for Ross Students


In the next few weeks, we will welcome approximately 4,500 students back to Ross, including more than 450 new MBA and 500 new BBA students, for the start of the new school year.

Dean with StudentsThe back-to-school season is always an exciting one for our students, faculty and staff, and me personally.  I am proud of the Ross community and am looking forward to welcoming students from across the globe to Ross.  As students prepare for the upcoming year, I have three pieces of advice which I hope will help students make the most of their time at Ross and the University of Michigan.

1.  Leverage your appetite to make a positive difference. 

We are hearing from students at Ross, across the U-M campus, and in stories throughout the media, that young people today want to make a positive difference in the world.

Perhaps you personally experienced the impact of the economic collapse of 2008.  Perhaps you are observing the challenges governments and public organizations face in creating necessary change.  Or perhaps you are witnessing the growing number of companies taking a more active role in shaping positive solutions to critical problems such as lack of access to clean water or high quality education.

Whatever your reason for wanting to do more with your degree than just being good at your own, specific job, Ross is the best place for you.  At Ross, our mission is to develop leaders who make a positive difference in the world.  We believe that educating students about positive business principles will allow you to lead successful businesses and careers that create value for both shareholders and society.  Your Ross education can transform you into a positive catalyst who innovates through entrepreneurship or from within a large company.  At Ross you will be surrounded by students and faculty who share your sense of purpose, and you will have unprecedented access to leading scholars of positive business and leadership.

Throughout your education and career, I encourage you to keep this personal motivation to make a positive difference close with you.  Use your time at Ross to develop this sense of purpose and forge a path that will enable you to create organizations that develop great products, are great places to work, and are great neighbors and citizens of the world we all inhabit.

2.  Create time to stop and think.

Today we go about our lives at a rapid pace.  On a daily basis, smart phones, interconnectivity, and non-stop activities create a constant feeling of needing to rush from one thing to the next.  As you plan for your future career paths, you want to be adaptable and ready for change.  And as business leaders, you will operate in an environment of continual reinvention.

With such rapid pace of movement and change, it is also vitally important to create time stop and think. Continually acting quickly without critically and carefully assessing decisions may yield change but not positive change.

At Ross we place a great emphasis on the role of analytically rigorous decision making throughout our curriculum and extracurricular activities.  Ross’ position as a leading school for research defines our culture of learning and also provides a unique opportunity for students to learn about generating and evaluating ideas that work.  Through our Ross Leadership Initiative, you can learn more about mindful engagement, a method for learning from experience based on research done at Ross.  I encourage you to learn from our culture of analytic reasoning and research at Ross, and leverage its potential in your daily life, career path, and actions as future leaders. Don’t be afraid to stop and think because at Ross, it is encouraged. 

3.  Take advantage of all the University of Michigan has to offer.

In today’s economy, you face a great deal of pressure to focus on your post-graduation job while you are in school.  Here at Ross we place great attention on helping you craft your employment plans and providing opportunities for you to meet with and learn about employers.

While it is important to concentrate on your future career plans, it is also vital to live in the now.  You are attending one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Take advantage of the extraordinary diversity of high-caliber, intellectually enriching activities that exist across the University of Michigan campus.

Whether through joint or dual degree programs, taking classes outside of Ross, or more informally, the opportunity to explore such a wide variety of disciplines, perspectives, ideas, and issues will likely not come again in your lifetime.  During your time here, I encourage you to explore interests and ideas that are completely new to you.  Pursue learning broadly and be open to the idea that unforeseeable but tangible benefits will flow from your openness to learning.  Whether you pursue an entrepreneurial endeavor or large corporate opportunity post-graduation, your development from an expansive and boundaryless experience while here will be invaluable.

The caliber of our Ross students and the opportunities that lie ahead of you as the future leaders of our business world fill me with pride as your dean, and I look forward to welcoming you to Ross this fall.

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