How to Write the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor Essays 2020-2021

The University of Michigan is one of the leading public universities not only in the U.S., but around the world. Consistently highly ranked, the research university consists of 12 different colleges, from the College of Literature, Science and the Arts to Ross School of Business to School of Kinesiology. 


The University of Michigan offers two forms of application: Early Action and Regular Decision. The Early Action deadline is November 1st, while Regular Decision applications are due by February 1st. Make sure, however, to check the website of the UMich department that you are interested in for application information. Certain programs have differing deadlines, as well as individual requirements for specific majors that the general application does not have.


Each school at the University of Michigan varies in its individual acceptance rate, but the general rate of admission to the University of Michigan for the Class of 2024 was 25.9%. Keep in mind that your chances also depend on whether you’re in-state or out-of-state. Want to know your chances at the University of Michigan? Calculate your chances for free right now.


Want to learn what University of Michigan will actually cost you based on your income? And how long your application to the school should take? Here’s what every student considering University of Michigan needs to know.

How to Write the University of Michigan Essays

All Applicants—Prompt 1


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? (100-550 words)

This essay is what CollegeVine calls a “Why This College” supplement: it is meant to gauge your interest in the school and how you would fit into/contribute to the academic and social environment of the university. This supplement contains two significant questions that you need to answer in order to effectively respond to the essay:


  1. Why do you like the specific College at UMichigan?
  2. Why is this program a good fit for you on a personal and academic level?


Basically, the admissions officers want to see whether you are genuinely passionate about attending the university (not reluctantly applying because your parents told you to) and whether you have though critically about how the academic opportunities offered by the college would couple with your academic interests.


Specificity is key. If there is only one thing you come away with in regards to answering this question, it is to do your research. Put the time and effort into studying what the university has to offer and what opportunities appeal to you. Why do you be a student here? Why is this college different to you from any other university?


An effective way of checking that your essay is sufficiently specific to the school is the Name Plug-in Test. The steps to the Name Plug-In Test are as follows:


  1. Replace the name of the school or department the essay is about with the name of a different school or department
  2. Read the essay over with the new name
  3. If the essay reads as an acceptable supplement for the new name school/department, it does not have enough detail.


The goal of this question is for admissions officers to see how invested you are in truly attending the program you select and if you would be a good fit for that program. You can show them your interest and passion for the program by portraying that you have done the work into figuring out why the program is a good fit for you. Go on your College or School’s website and try to find answers to the following questions:


  • Which professors would you be interested in working with? Why?
  • Which courses appeal to you?
  • What are programs within the department that interest you?
  • Are there any initiatives, events, or workshops the department has that differ from other universities?
  • What is the department atmosphere? Why would you want to be a part of that community?


For example, if you’re interested in studying Education and are passionate about social justice, the UMich School of Education (SOE) might be a good fit for you because there’s a strong emphasis on diversity, inclusion, justice, and equity. During your time in the SOE, you might join the Student Rights Project, an interdisciplinary initiative by law, social work, and education students at UMich. The goal of the project is to keep students “in school, learning, and out of the criminal justice system.” You’re particularly interested in helping provide special education support, as your sibling has a learning disability, and has faced an unsafe educational environment that led to unfair disciplinary action for their disability-related behavior.


This would be a strong example, as the student not only cites a unique resource at UMich, but also connects that resource to their personal goals and background. You have to go beyond listing things you’re interested in, as anyone can do that. Take your essay the next step and mention why you’re interested in those aspects of UMich, and how they support your goals.


Wondering how to research for this essay? Go through the course catalog, ask current students of the college, scroll through various affiliated websites, etc. in order to find an answer to the previously listed questions. In the end, you’ll come out knowing whether UMich and the College are in fact a good fit for you. As well, you’ll have a large amount of material to “describe the unique qualities” of whichever program you are applying to. You have 550 words: ample space to fully (and with plenty of detail!) describe why UMich is the best place to support your goals.

All Applicants—Prompt 2


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. (100-300 words)

The point of supplements in the college admissions process is for officers to gain a better, well-rounded understanding of who you are as an individual that goes past the Common App and transcript. Here, you are asked to reflect on a community that you are a part of, how it has changed you as an individual, and what space/role you fulfill in this community.


This question gives you three separate parts to respond to: “describe a community to which you belong” and “describe your place within it.” It is important to always make sure that you are answering each part of the supplement! UMich is a university that prides itself in the openness and connection of its community, both between students on campus and between the university and the city of Ann Arbor. The school wants to read about how you grow, learn from, and contribute to a group setting and gain a better understanding of you socially.


Although community is commonly thought of as a large cultural or societal group, you have flexibility in defining what your community is. As stated in the question, a community does not only have to be geographic, ethnic, racial, or societal: consider groups to which you belong that share something in common with you, regardless of size. It can consist of various individuals who all have a specific interest in common, like a sport, an academic passion, an extracurricular activity, or consist of a tight group of friends who all have bonded over a particular idea or club.


Choose a group you belong to that has been most fundamental in shaping who you are, or that has been doing the most significant work that you are a part of. The university wants to hear your story of connecting to your community, and how you have both grown from it and contributed to it.


For instance, maybe you’re a vegetarian, and you have a vegetarian recipes blog. You could discuss the connections you’ve made online (whether other bloggers or your audience), and how you’ve used your platform to discuss intersectional issues, like poverty and access to healthy/vegetarian food. Or, maybe you’re part of the Minecraft community, and have collaborated with people around the world to develop plugins for the game.


The key is to balance your description of the community with your contributions to it. The essay, after all, should focus on you and who you are.


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