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How to Tackle the University of Michigan Ann Arbor Essays 2014-15

Note: this blog post has been updated for the 2015-2016 application cycle. To view the most recent version, click here.

The University of Michigan, often referred to as UMich, U of M, or Michigan, is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Midwestern public research university is known for its quality research work—indeed, its graduate programs are considered to rival those at top private universities. However, its undergraduate program is nothing to scoff at either—to date, the powerhouse school has produced 26 Rhode Scholars. With NCAA Division I participation and a variety of student organizations, UMich undergrads have access to a fine mix of academics and extracurricular activities.

Some quick details about UMich’s admissions: With approximately 28,000 undergraduates walking its campus, around 32% of all applicants are admitted to UMich, with the number skewing higher for in-state students. Nearly 42,000 high school seniors apply to UMich every year. All applicants to UMich are required to write two essays—let’s see what our essay team has to say about each prompt.

Essay #1 (Required for all applicants. Approximately 250 words)

Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it.

This prompt strongly resembles the short answer question asked by MIT’s application. In terms of the approach to this essay, you have a lot of leeway in the “world” you choose to base the essay on, mainly due to the word “community.” As we have discussed for other schools, your definitions for “community” can be as disparate as your race or the online forum you use when discussing RuneScape; hence, the prompt’s references to “geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology” or even “intellectual heritage” (this last one really defines the boundaries widely). The key element of this essay is the shaping of your dreams, whether that’s a personalized one (that you want to achieve some sort of intrinsic goal such as accepting new members to any community), or a professional one (that you want to study biotechnology because of your good friend who had to get a prosthetic leg). You’ll want to pick one single concept to focus your idea of “community” on—don’t try to talk about all the different communities you come from, or you’ll risk spreading your answer too thin.

Essay #2 (Required for all applicants. 500 words maximum)

Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests?

This essay question is the bread and butter of college writing supplements—“Why X School” essays can be found on pretty much every other application. Accordingly, you’ll want to tackle this prompt by carefully researching the specific aspects of UMich that interest you. Recall that, when filling out your application to UMich, you indicated a specific College or School at UMich. Ask yourself, “Why did you choose this particular program?” Go online to find facts and evidence of why you think you would thrive in that program—perhaps you are a die-hard biology buff, and there’s no better way to fulfill your intellectual curiosities than by taking classes taught by faculty like Professor X, whose work on sea urchins revolutionized the field of marine biology. The more specific you can be (while still seeming genuine), the better. For more help with “Why X School” essay prompts, check out Admissions Hero’s other blog posts—some good places to start would be Georgetown, Columbia, and Yale.

Zack Perkins
Business Development Head

Short Bio
Zack was an economics major at Harvard before going on indefinite leave to pursue CollegeVine full-time as a founder. In his spare time, he enjoys closely following politics and binge-watching horror movies. To see Zack's full bio, visit the Team page.