- Our comprehensive, “Ultimate Guide to Applying to UMich“
- this year’s post on How to Write the UMich Essays (2016-2017)
How to Write the University of Michigan Ann Arbor Essays 2015-2016
Note: this post has been updated for the 2016-17 application cycle. Click here to view the 2016-17 post!
Boasting strong academic programs, competitive Big Ten athletics, and a spirited, highly social student culture, University of Michigan Ann Arbor is often touted as one of the top research-oriented public universities in the world. Ann Arbor is a vibrant college town that caters to student life, and Wolverine undergrads are all praise for the various opportunities and organizations available to them. Sports lovers will find themselves in the nation’s largest football stadium, and academic types will find themselves with 260 areas of study to choose from.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the size – the university is ranked among the top across various academic fields for good reason, and students will find research opportunities abound. School pride is evident, whether it is on campus, through athletic and social events, or through Michigan’s vast alumni network. Children of Michigan alum grow up cheering “Go Blue,” and alumni remain highly involved throughout their lifetime.
Admission to the Wolverine nation is highly selective at around 30% for the class of 2019, and applicants have a chance to apply early or regular, regardless if they go restrictive EA elsewhere or not. It’s important for a prospective student to differentiate himself or herself from the massive applicant pool, as Michigan admissions highly values class and student diversity, and strives to pick students from various backgrounds in and out of Michigan.
The CollegeVine Essay Team has prepared a guide on how to write the UMich essays for the 2015-16 application cycle. Read on!
Describe your community…
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. (250 word limit)
This question can be tough to answer in 250 words, because it can be easy to talk about the various communities and groups you are a part of, from your direct family and relatives to your favorite food-eating club at school. However, the prompt asks that you choose only one community, so don’t get carried away and talk about all of organizations you are proud to be a part of. As tempting as it is to give the admissions readers a taste of just how diverse your affiliations are, you want to build a strong, compelling story about a single community you have been a part of, how you have impacted this community, and how this community has changed you.
This prompt is a perfect chance to showcase your writing ability, and to go in depth and personal. Try to avoid clichés when choosing the group you want to talk about – the majority of applicants have school communities, familial communities, or athletic communities they can talk about extensively. Choose a community that is rather unique, whether you helped start that community, that community worked to start a non-profit, or that community spans all seven continents. If you do choose a more “clichéd” community, then take necessary steps to de-cliché that topic.
Use a vehicle, create a narrative, or find some other means to show off your writing style. The community you choose can also be multi-faceted in reference to the various examples the prompt offers (religion, ethnicity, income, and on), so bring in as many facets out of this singular community as you can in order to paint a larger picture. Finally, this should not just be a community you have been a part of or a spectator in, but a community you have made a difference in. Explain what actions you took as a part of this community. This essay is an opportunity for admissions to learn what life is like for you from a new angle— to discover what makes you human—so make it personal. The word count allotted may be small, but the impact this essay can have on admissions is large.
Why X College or School?
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? (Same question for transfer applicants, 500 word limit)
This question is a subtly disguised “Why Major” essay prompt, where you are asked what school you are interested in instead of what major. Make sure to convey that you have done your research, whether or not you name-drop a professor or class you wish to take, and be specific as to why you are applying to that school or program.
For example, preferred admission is only offered by certain schools, and Michigan Engineering may be more selective for students strong in math or with previous research experience, so know what the school you are applying to offers and what it is looking for in applicants. Talk about what drives you to apply to Michigan, previous experiences in the fields of study associated with this specific school, and how your attendance of this school will support your long-term goals. Maybe throw in a personal narrative about how you grew up tinkering with software and thus want to be a software engineer—as long you as you address how you will accomplish your goals through your Michigan education.
Additionally, don’t be afraid to address any other aspects of the school you are applying to, like aesthetics, because this question allows you to talk about the school as a whole rather than just the major within the school. If the architecture at the Ross School of Business took your breath away during a visit, find a clever way to weave that into your essay, and really sell the reader on why you belong at this school in more ways than just academic. In the end, you want the reader to have a feel of what life would be like for you at this school, what you would gain out of an education at this school, and how you will contribute back to the various programs within this school.
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