University of Michigan Essay Examples: Breakdown + Analysis

What’s Covered:

 

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, with an acceptance rate of 23%. 

 

UMich requires that first-year applicants submit either the Common App or the Coalition App. You will be required to submit a 650-word essay for whichever application method you choose. Additionally, you are required to submit two supplemental essays answering the following two prompts:

 

  • 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)
  • 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)

 

In this guide, we will walk through potential ways to answer this second question. You will see an analysis of two essays that students submitted, including what they did great and what they could have done better.

 

University of Michigan Supplemental Essay 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)

 

This prompt, which is specific to the University of Michigan, is a unique combination of the “Why This Major” Essay and the “Why This College” Essay. It is effectively asking why this major at this college. 

 

A necessary first step for responding to this prompt is choosing which undergraduate College or School to apply to or knowing which College or School houses your major. The University of Michigan has eight undergraduate colleges and schools that accept first-year applicants and jointly house 280 different majors:

 

  • College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
  • College of Engineering
  • Ross School of Business
  • School of Music, Theatre & Dance
  • School of Kinesiology
  • School of Nursing
  • Stamps School of Art & Design
  • Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning

 

Some of these schools have distinct features, programs, and facilities that may be easy to write about. On the other hand, if you are applying to a school that encompasses multiple disparate fields of study, like the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, you may want to do some research to figure out how to center your essay. CollegeVine’s article on the steps for researching for the “Why This College” Essay will help guide you through this process.

 

After considering the different benefits of your program of study—which could include coursework, research, extracurricular opportunities, residential communities, and more—it will be imperative to personalize these aspects while also connecting them to the unique personality that you want to be present in your essay voice. Remember that the intention of college essays is always to help admissions officers get to know you better (and like and want you!). 

 

It is important to avoid discussing basic aspects of UMich like weather, location, or general prestige. Knowing that you like the Michigan climate doesn’t tell UMich much about you. And telling them that you value the school’s prestige and the opportunities it will give you later in life tells them even less. Instead of focusing on these overdone topics, use the unique aspects of UMich as an avenue for exploring your unique values!

 

Here are some steps for brainstorming and writing this essay:

  1. Research, make lists, and decide on the best aspects of UMich to center your essay on
  2. Think about what you value about UMich connects to your values
  3. Begin writing, then rewriting, then rewriting again
  4. Get feedback

 

University of Michigan Essay Example 1

 

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.

 

Breaking Down Essay Example 1

 

Overall, this essay was thorough and well-written. Early on, readers learned important information about the student, including their goal—to become a trilingual clinical psychologist—and their values, through their emphasis on scholarship and community service.

 

To answer the prompt, the student mentions specific classes (Psych 211-002: Mind, Music, and Community) and programs (the Multicultural Psychology in Argentina program) at the University of Michigan that they plan to get involved with and even adopts the language of the school by referring to the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts as “LSA.”

 

While this essay’s strength comes from the detailed research that went into the writing, it is important to remember the overall goal of college essays: to convince admissions officers to let you into their university. Aside from the goals outlined in the introduction and conclusion, readers don’t learn much about this individual student through this essay. To put it simply, in its current state this essay has good content but is flat.

 

In the ideal essay, descriptions of UMich programs and self-descriptions should weave together to form a seamless trajectory. Readers should be told a story, with each paragraph building on the paragraph that came before it. 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). 

 

Example: 

  • 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.

 

Overall, this essay shows dedication and research, but some of the words describing UMich programs could have gone to self-reflection by the student. With some reorganization and personalization, this essay could be amazing!

 

 

University of Michigan Essay Example 2

 

As a student passionate about math, science, engineering, and medicine, UMichigan’s biomedical engineering program encapsulates my desire to learn and solve societal problems in healthcare on a global level. 

 

I am excited to study biomedical engineering at UMichigan because I look forward to applying engineering concepts to construct devices that solve healthcare issues while gaining knowledge of cellular biology, physiology, and gene therapy. I am excited to learn about brain processes to understand how to help people suffering from neurological disorders or cellular biology to construct biomimetic tissue with the courses Tissue Engineering and Cellular Biotechnology. The prospect of understanding diseases at the cellular level and developing devices to alleviate problems that patients face incites feelings of excitement because my education will feed my curiosity with the knowledge that piques my interest while furthering my goal to resolve healthcare issues. 

 

I hope to conduct research with the Summer Undergraduate Research in Engineering opportunity because of my desire to treat diseases with cutting-edge technology. I aspire to work on the ongoing Antibiotic Resistance & Drug Combination Discovery Project under Dr. Chandrasekara or Design of New CAR T Cells Through Live Cell Systems Biology project under Dr. Shea to study the application of nanotechnology and biomaterials to treat diseases, especially using drug delivery and tissue engineering to treat diseases that have become resistant to therapy and drugs. Antibiotic resistance and diseases resistant to treatment therapies are fields that I’ve longed to explore to devise ways to combat the resistance and provide treatment to those impacted—which I will be able to pursue at UMichigan. 

 

With the study abroad opportunity CGIS: STEM Summer Research Program, I hope to study Brisbane, Australia for biomedical engineering and biomedical sciences. I will learn in a foreign nation, surrounded by faculty members and students with a different perspective, to broaden my understanding of healthcare issues. The study abroad program furthers my goals of inciting change in healthcare on a global level by understanding variances in medicine in foreign nations and learning about the cultural differences in healthcare. The study abroad program captures my study interests in biomedical engineering because I will observe the nuances in healthcare and devise plans for devices that will be used globally. Since high school, I’ve loved learning languages and cultural differences because I love the unique traditions that each culture holds, so I will use the opportunity to explore Australian culture. 

 

I love the variety of student organizations at UMichigan, creating an environment that includes all members with different interests and backgrounds. I hope to join the academic organizations, Biomedical Engineering Society, and Association for Women in Science, because these organizations represent my academic interests, allowing me to meet people with similar interests and backgrounds. I imagine myself deep in conversations with my peers about our technological ideas for the medical field and ways to help the underprivileged access healthcare. To meet people from the same background as me, I hope to join the Asian American Association to maintain a connection with my culture even when I’m far from home.

 

UMichigan encapsulates my passion to incite change globally, feed my curiosity, and grow as a person academically and socially. I perfectly imagine myself at UMichigan like a puzzle piece contributing to the campus life and pursuing my interests with the myriad of opportunities. 

 

Breaking Down Essay Example 2

 

This essay seems like a solid first draft that would make for a great essay after editing. The student presents valuable content and tells readers lots about themself and their values, but the current writing requires a lot of mental work for a reader to parse through.

 

The student identifies a clear goal that they use to guide their essay: to learn and solve societal problems in healthcare on a global level. Additionally, the student identifies UMich features and programs that they believe will help them advance this goal: the courses Tissue Engineering and Cellular Biotechnology, CGIS: STEM Summer Research Program, the Biomedical Engineering Society, and Association for Women in Science.

 

That being said, all of this valuable personal information and research gets lost in a sea of words. For one, this student wastes a lot of unnecessary words on medical jargon: “the application of nanotechnology and biomaterials to treat diseases, especially using drug delivery and tissue engineering to treat diseases that have become resistant to therapy and drugs.” Even if the admissions officers are science-minded, these lengthy scientific descriptions are superfluous and distracting.

 

The monotony of this essay is augmented by the repetition of certain ideas and words. A majority of the sentences begin with “I am excited to,” “I look forward to,” “I aspire to,” and “I hope to.” Naturally, you will end up with some of these in your essay, but because this prompt can facilitate more boring essays, try to keep your essay interesting through varying language and sentence structure! 

 

Here is an example of how more engaging writing could improve the strength of this student’s content.

 

Current writing:

 

I love the variety of student organizations at UMichigan, which create an environment that includes all members with different interests and backgrounds. I hope to join the academic organizations, Biomedical Engineering Society, and Association for Women in Science, because these organizations represent my academic interests, allowing me to meet people with similar interests and backgrounds.

 

Improved writing (with the same content):

 

The sheer number of student organizations on campus shows that UMich values inclusion. Personally, student organizations will help me to find a comfortable home away from home on a foreign campus. As a woman in STEM, and more specifically a woman in engineering, the future can feel scary and the present can feel isolating. I hope to participate in UMich’s Biomedical Engineering Society and Association for Women in Science to find students who understand where I come from and why the intersection of my interests and background is fundamental to my identity.

 

Currently, this student’s concluding sentence is the most compelling part of their essay:

 

UMichigan encapsulates my passion to incite change globally, feed my curiosity, and grow as a person academically and socially. I perfectly imagine myself at UMichigan like a puzzle piece contributing to the campus life and pursuing my interests with the myriad of opportunities.”

 

If this student intensely edited this essay to make it more engaging, clear, and personal—more similar to the final sentence—this would be a great submission for the UMich supplemental prompt!

 

Where to Get Your Essay Edited for Free

 

It’s important that you submit the best essay you can to the University of Michigan, both for your peace of mind and your admissions chances. To make your essay stand out, you will need other people to give you feedback and ideas of areas for improvement. CollegeVine’s peer essay review tool can help. Other students will edit your essay for free, and you can edit your peers’ essays to help you improve your writing skills!

 

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Brooke Elkjer
Blog Writer

Short Bio
Brooke is going into her senior year at the University of Southern California and is originally from Dallas, Texas. She is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in English and a Bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience. Brooke is the associate literary producer for the intersectional feminist production company on campus, ART/EMIS. She also is a Resident Assistant (RA) and a student worker for the Thematic Option Honors GE Program. In her free time, Brooke enjoys reading, writing, and watching Gilmore Girls.

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