What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

An Overview of the ‘Why University of Michigan’ Essay

This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Robert Crystal in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.


What’s Covered



What Is the ‘Why University of Michigan’ Essay?


The University of Michigan requires all applicants to submit supplemental essays. The prompt for the University of Michigan’s first supplemental essay is: 


“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 to the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests?” (100-550 words) 


This essay is one of the most common prompt archetypes: the “Why This College” essay. The goal of this prompt is for admissions officers to gauge your interest in the school, why you want to attend, and how you would contribute to the university as well as ensure you have done your research on the school. 


What Is the Prompt Asking? 


This prompt contains two significant questions that you need to be prepared to answer. At a more general level, the admissions officers want to know why you like this specific program at the University of Michigan. More specifically, they are curious why the program is a good fit for you personally and academically, based on your prior experiences and future goals. 


What To Write about in Your ‘Why Michigan’ Essay


Before writing, spend some time thinking critically about how the college can support your interests and how the curriculum would support both your academic and professional goals. To come up with specific examples, browsing the college or school’s website can be helpful. Finding professors you would be interested in working with and courses that appeal to you is a good place to start, as well. 


You can also research programs within the department that interest you and whether they have any initiatives, events, or workshops that other universities do not. These are good to reference in your essay, particularly if they are unique to the University of Michigan. 


How Culture Should Factor Into Your ‘Why Michigan’ Essay


Although it may not be obvious to write about, department culture should be referenced in your “Why Michigan” essay. You want to make it clear to the admissions reader why you want to be a part of the department’s community. 


From an admissions standpoint, the university wants students who will be engaged and embedded in the campus community. That goes beyond academics, so your essay should too. 


How Long Should Your ‘Why Michigan’ Essay Be? 


The word count for this essay is 100 to 550 words, which is a much larger range than is normally listed for supplemental essays. 


If you submit a 100-word response, readers are going to assume that you are doing the bare minimum and do not have much to say about the school. That would be very detrimental to your application, especially in a “Why This College” essay. Colleges will assume that is the sort of student and community member you are, and there are probably other applicants they would choose to have on their campus instead. 


As such, you need to use the whole word count to go into detail about the program you are applying to and how that can support your goals. You are the main character in all these essays, so you need to remember to center yourself and use the full 550 words to do so in a compelling way.