How to Write the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor Essays 2021-2022

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, including the Ross School of Business, School of Kinesiology, and the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. 

 

The University of Michigan offers two forms of application: Early Action and Regular Decision. Make sure, however, to check the website of the UMich department you’re interested in. Certain programs have differing deadlines and individual requirements for specific majors.

 

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.

 

University of Michigan Supplemental Essay Prompts

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)

 

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)

 

Ross School of Business Applicants—Admissions Portfolio: Business Case Discussion

Choose a current event or issue in your community and discuss the business implications. Propose a solution that incorporates business principles or practices. The review panel will look for creativity, drawing connections, and originality. Your response should be limited to approximately 500 words.

 

This case discussion helps us learn more about your understanding of business. The topic should be unique to your interests, experiences, and knowledge. There is no “right” or “wrong” business situation to choose — it’s truly up to you. We encourage you to select a topic that you are passionate about, and not a global topic that you are disconnected from.

 

Ross School of Business Applicants—Admissions Portfolio: Artifact & Description

Upload an artifact that represents something significant about your life and shows how you’ve put learning into action. This could be related to something inside or outside of the classroom (like an extracurricular accomplishment you’re particularly proud of). The goal is to give you the chance to showcase a unique aspect of yourself.

 

Artifact examples can include a: 

 

An academic project

A community project

Community newspaper article highlighting an important achievement

Personal website 

Piece on a school, extracurricular, or community program/event that you were instrumental in creating or implementing

High school or community award that was meaningful or prestigious

Local, state, or national competition related to a club or school activity 

Picture of something of value to you 

A culminating event for an ongoing activity from high school

 

The options for artifacts are endless — there is no need to feel limited by this list. Note that your artifact does not need to be business related. Ask yourself:  “What are you most proud of from your four years in high school?”

 

We also ask that you submit a short description that explains how your artifact demonstrates your learning in action. Essentially, what did you learn from this experience? Please limit this response to approximately 250 words.

 

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 contribute to the academic and social environment of the university. This supplement contains two significant questions that you need to answer:

 

  1. Why do you like the specific College at UMich?
  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, or because you see it as a safety school). They also want to know whether you have thought critically about how the college can support your academic and professional interests.

 

Specificity is key, and you’ll need 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 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 doing proper research on your compatibility with it. 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, and scroll through various affiliated websites. In the end, you’ll come out knowing whether UMich and the College are in fact a good fit for you. You’ll also 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. 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 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 contributed to and learned from a specific community, to better understand how you might interact with others at UMich.

 

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. It can also 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. 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.

 

Remember that you should primarily focus on your contributions to the community, rather than simply describing the community itself. The essay, after all, should focus on you and who you are.

 

Ross School of Business Applicants—Admissions Portfolio

 

UMich’s Ross School has a renowned undergraduate program, ranked #3 nationally by U.S. News & World Report. The school claims that its graduates can land jobs at some of the most popular corporations, and that they earn a median starting salary of $78,500. 

 

Applicants to this school must complete an Admissions Portfolio, which gives admissions officers a better look at your personality and goals. The portfolio is submitted through SlideRoom via the Common App or Coalition Application. This consists of two parts, the Business Case Discussion and the Artifact & Discussion. Read on to learn how to make your portfolio the best it can be.

Ross School of Business Applicants—Admissions Portfolio: Business Case Discussion

 

Choose a current event or issue in your community and discuss the business implications. Propose a solution that incorporates business principles or practices. The review panel will look for creativity, drawing connections, and originality. Your response should be limited to approximately 500 words.

 

This case discussion helps us learn more about your understanding of business. The topic should be unique to your interests, experiences, and knowledge. There is no “right” or “wrong” business situation to choose — it’s truly up to you. We encourage you to select a topic that you are passionate about, and not a global topic that you are disconnected from.

With this prompt, Ross admissions officers want to better understand your grasp of business processes. Be sure to include technical terms and plenty of business jargon in order to demonstrate an understanding of the field. That being said, you don’t want your response to lack a narrative flair.

 

First, identify the current event or issue in your community that you wish to write about. Don’t worry about the scale of the issue, but rather, make sure it is something you can write about extensively. The prompt emphasizes that it should be a pre-established passion, and not a vague global topic that you’re not connected to. 

 

Ideally, the topic will be something you have experience with and have already made an effort to research or resolve. For example, if you volunteer at an animal shelter, your essay could be about stray animals in your community. If you’re one of the only girls in your STEM classes, your issue could be targeting the gender gap in the field.

 

You’ll want to start your essay with some sort of anecdotal line that provides enough context for readers to understand the issue at hand, and your connection to it. Then, you’ll want to spend the majority of your response constructing a business solution to the issue of your choosing. This, rather than the issue itself that you chose, is the most critical part of your response.

 

When crafting a business plan, think about marketing tactics, consider relevant costs, and define what success looks like. You’ll want to research different business models and plans online to adequately grasp the best approach to your solution. However, don’t just copy one you like; use creative ways to splice different techniques and make a business solution that is uniquely yours. 

 

For example, maybe you want to implement a foster care initiative to combat the overcrowding at your local shelter. You would need to brainstorm an incentive, such as free vaccinations or neutering/spaying services for adopted animals. Then, you would estimate the relevant costs to the shelter and justify how the business decision makes financial sense for the shelter using the proper terminology.

 

In your solution, the prompt emphasizes a focus on creativity and originality. The easiest way to communicate both of those things is by being specific and drawing on your personal experience. This will help you establish a unique perspective (your own!) and help admissions officers learn more about you and your approach to business – and the world. 

Ross School of Business Applicants—Admissions Portfolio: Artifact & Description

 

Upload an artifact that represents something significant about your life and shows how you’ve put learning into action. This could be related to something inside or outside of the classroom (like an extracurricular accomplishment you’re particularly proud of). The goal is to give you the chance to showcase a unique aspect of yourself.

 

Artifact examples can include a: 

 

An academic project

A community project

Community newspaper article highlighting an important achievement

Personal website 

Piece on a school, extracurricular, or community program/event that you were instrumental in creating or implementing

High school or community award that was meaningful or prestigious

Local, state, or national competition related to a club or school activity 

Picture of something of value to you 

A culminating event for an ongoing activity from high school

 

The options for artifacts are endless — there is no need to feel limited by this list. Note that your artifact does not need to be business related. Ask yourself:  “What are you most proud of from your four years in high school?”

 

We also ask that you submit a short description that explains how your artifact demonstrates your learning in action. Essentially, what did you learn from this experience? Please limit this response to approximately 250 words.

This prompt can be extremely overwhelming to read at first. There are probably a lot of accomplishments from your four years of high school that you are proud of, so it might be hard to narrow it down to just one. As you read over the list of examples, take note of whatever comes to mind and keep the result as a working list of options.

 

From this list, determine which activities meant the most to you, and that you felt the most passionately about. Then, think about which of these activities would be the most unique in the eyes of admissions officers. What best showcases a unique aspect of your personality that has not been adequately explored in other parts of your application? What demonstrates your ability to think outside of the box and pursue your passions?

 

Additionally, Ross only gives you 250 words to explain your artifact – so you’ll need to use this space wisely. Make sure you focus on the “learning in action” component to really drive home the extent of your intellectual curiosity. For instance, if your artifact is a personal website, you could discuss learning a new coding language to create it. If your artifact is a set piece you built for the school musical, you could discuss how you acquired woodworking and painting skills. 

 

Again, the prompt gives you a lot of room and flexibility, so it can be tempting to focus on what you choose to write about. But equally as important is how you write about the artifact in question. Whatever you choose to discuss, make sure to use specific and technical language to demonstrate that you genuinely learned something new. This specificity will also be instrumental in illustrating your authenticity to the admissions committee. With this in mind, you’ll be on track to submit a stellar artifact and description.

 

Want more guidance? Check out these University of Michigan essay examples written by real students!

 

Where to Get Your UMich Essays Edited for Free

 

Do you want feedback on your UMich essays? After reading your essays over and over, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our Peer Essay Review tool, where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. Since they don’t know you personally, they can be a more objective judge of whether your personality shines through, and whether you’ve fully answered the prompt. 

 

You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. We highly recommend giving this tool a try!

 


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