2 University of Michigan Essay Examples
The University of Michigan is an outstanding research institution, known for its school spirit and large alumni base. Based in the picturesque city of Ann Arbor, students at UMich are surrounded by city culture, urban nature trails, as well as outstanding students and professors. UMich is a “most selective” school, so you’ll need strong essays to help your application stand out from tens of thousands of applicants.
In this post we will share two essays real students submitted to the University of Michigan. We will also walk through what each essay did well and where they could be improved to give you inspiration for your essays.
Please note: Looking at examples of real essays students have submitted to colleges can be very beneficial to get inspiration for your essays. You should never copy or plagiarize from these examples when writing your own essays. Colleges can tell when an essay isn’t genuine and will not view students favorably if they plagiarized.
Read our University of Michigan essay breakdown to get a comprehensive overview of this year’s supplemental prompts.
University of Michigan Essay Example #1
Prompt: 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. (300 words)
This summer I coached my first junior basketball team in two years, the Thunderdragons. From the beginning, this team of “misfits” was different from any I’d coached before. We were the only rookie team in the league and most of our players had no sports experience, while our opponents had spent years building chemistry together.
The beginning of the season was a disaster. At practice, whenever I demanded attention and tried to demonstrate drills, the kids were unfocused and didn’t show interest in the sport. Unsurprisingly, our games went much like practices, with opponents often defeating us by over 20 points. This pattern continued for weeks. I felt I wasn’t doing my job correctly, and began to lose confidence in my own coaching abilities.
Out of desperation, I finally voiced my frustrations to the team. Heart-to-heart, I asked them why they weren’t respecting me as a coach, and more importantly, never putting in 100% effort. Fortunately, they empathized with my reasoning and from then on, effort and attentiveness were never a problem. Our season culminated in a playoff game, playing a team featuring older, experienced players. We fought hard, bringing the game down to the wire, making me the proudest coach even in the face of defeat.
Though our season ended that day, I experienced one of the most gratifying feelings I’d had in high school. Not only could I visibly see the growth in all my kids’ basketball talent, ability, and maturity, but every single parent personally thanked me for coaching their kids and more importantly, instilling a love for the game and team sports in general. I’d formed a community myself, one that consisted of my new little brothers who viewed me as a role model, and one I hope to lead to the championship next season.
What the Essay Did Well
This essay has a very solid story that is a great response to the prompt. The reader can very clearly see the community this student was a part of (junior basketball) and the role they played within it (coach). Not only that, we get a sense of the type of leader this student was and their passion for teaching and the sport.
There is a very simple, yet effective structure to this essay that makes it extremely easy to follow—albeit a bit predictable. The student gives us an overview of the team in the beginning, explains the challenge they experienced, how they overcame the obstacle, and then they end with a reflection. While this isn’t necessarily a creative or exciting structure, it allows the student to share their story in a clear fashion.
Another positive aspect of this essay is the community this student chose: coaching a basketball team. Many students feel trapped when they encounter a community prompt if they don’t have a unique cultural background, but this essay is a perfect example of how you can write about anything! As long as you explain the essence of your community and its meaning to you, admissions officers will be happy to hear about any group you are part of.
What Could Be Improved
This essay is a good foundation, but it could be strengthened with a more sophisticated structure and by showing, not telling. In terms of the structure, rather than following a traditional story arc, this student could have started the essay with the playoff game at the end of the season and then once they hooked the reader, they could have gone back and explained how far the team had come. Or they could have used a vignette structure to show the growth from practice to practice, game to game.
As for showing and not telling, there are many sentences in this essay that could be far more engaging and descriptive.
For example, “At practice, whenever I demanded attention and tried to demonstrate drills, the kids were unfocused and didn’t show interest in the sport,” could be “‘Circle up!’ Impatiently dribbling the ball waiting to demonstrate a three-pointer, I watched as 15 boys casually sauntered over, too engrained in an Iron Man vs Hulk debate.”
Another example would be switching “We fought hard, bringing the game down to the wire, making me the proudest coach even in the face of defeat,” to something like, “36 to 33! I couldn’t help the smile that spread across my face as we took the lead in the final minutes. The squeaking of the court as they pivoted to throw the ball to each other was music to my ears.”
University of Michigan Essay Example #2
Prompt: 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? (550 words)
An aspiring trilingual clinical psychologist, I am drawn to the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts because it’s loaded with opportunities to build me into a scholar with a heart for service.
As a Psychology major and Spanish minor, I will satisfy my pursuit of academic excellence with LSA’s inexhaustible course offerings. Curious how songwriting helps me remember difficult words, I’ll find the answer from Psych 211-002: Mind, Music, and Community. As I learn what music does to the human mind through this exciting experiential course, I hope simultaneously to brighten the day of local seniors and children by playing the flute for them. While I will continue to explore indigenous cultures through the mythology my Latinx friends tell me outside of class, I look forward to examining these communities from an academic standpoint through Spanish 472 – Indigenous Societies. The combination of oral traditions and classical texts will deepen my knowledge of, and appreciation for, Latin American countries’ indigenous roots. Because of the variety of offerings LSA provides, I’ll get to zoom in on my specific topics of interest in psychology and Hispanic cultures.
An advocate for pursuing academic excellence, not perfectionism, I hope to join the Chang Lab to investigate how race and culture give rise to perfectionism, applying my knowledge in Psychology to advance the science of well-being. With our common ethnic background, I’m especially intrigued by Dr. Chang’s studies regarding the Asian community. After gaining more research experience, I will write an honors thesis with Professor Nestor Lopez-Duran to research mental illness treatment. I want to develop a new form of psychotherapy combining ASMR and talk therapy, and I hope that our research contributes to this cause.
Joining the Residential College will be the cherry atop my LSA sundae. Beyond the courses, alumni network, and research opportunities, I’ll get to share my opinions and consider others’ in small classrooms. I can’t wait to take the residential college writing seminar Psychology of Creativity and join the language lunch table to practice speaking Spanish outside the classroom. As someone who sought out native speakers to talk incessantly in Spanish about mythology, I hope to find other Spanish lovers at RC with whom I can practice my language skills. I will also participate in the Multicultural Psychology in Argentina program, traveling to Buenos Aires to learn the Argentine perspective on mental health. This cross-cultural exchange is crucial in helping me build an empathetic mindset as a clinical psychologist, arming me with tools to help people of different cultural backgrounds.
What the Essay Did Well
This student has clearly done their research on UMich! They come across as focused, dedicated, and passionate because of the details they include across multiple disciplines and opportunities. However, despite including many UMich resources, it doesn’t come across as name-dropping because the student elaborated on each point.
Telling the reader things like, “The combination of oral traditions and classical texts will deepen my knowledge of, and appreciation for, Latin American countries’ indigenous roots,” and “I want to develop a new form of psychotherapy combining ASMR and talk therapy, and I hope that our research contributes to this cause,” helps us appreciate what this student values and hopes to accomplish with a UMich education.
Ultimately, this essay gives a very strong impression of the reader. Right from the first sentence, they refer to themselves as “An aspiring trilingual clinical psychologist,” and every subsequent idea builds on that. Whether they are discussing psychology, Spanish, or their Asian heritage, we walk away from the essay knowing that all three of these are important to this student’s identity, making them much more memorable.
What Could Be Improved
While this essay shows a high level of research and interest in the school, it would benefit from more of a focus on the student—after all the point of your essay is to convince UMich to admit you. In the ideal essay, descriptions of UMich programs and self-descriptions should weave together to form a seamless trajectory. If this student were to rework their essay, they could organize their paragraphs according to their values or interests, rather than organizing them by the type of UMich program that they are discussing (i.e. coursework, research, extracurriculars).
- Paragraph 1: What the student values about Psychology and how UMich courses and the honors thesis program can support those values
- Paragraph 2: Why the student believes Psychology must be supplemented by studies of race, ethnicity, and culture and how UMich’s Spanish programs and Chang lab would advance that belief
- Paragraph 3: How the student thinks it is important to simultaneously use the academic setting and social/residential setting to advance their interests and goals (still regarding the interactions between psychology and culture!) and how a Residential College would accomplish this
These paragraphs would help the UMich facts to make more sense and feel less random (because readers would know why they matter to the writer), while also giving the writer more depth
Where to Get Your University of Michigan Essays Edited
Do you want feedback on your University of Michigan essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool, where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays.
If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!