How to Get Into the University of Michigan: Admissions Data and Strategies
In recent years, the University of Michigan has opened its doors to more and more out-of-state and international students than at any point in the school’s history. Today, roughly half of the undergraduate student population are non-Michigan residents. A decade ago, 64% were Michigan natives. The 30,000+ current Wolverine undergrads are a more high-achieving bunch than ever before, typically earning near-perfect GPAs in high school and SAT/ACT scores in at least the 85th percentile. If you aim to join this elite cohort, you’ll need to possess a solid understanding of how the Michigan admissions process works. To guide you, this article will help provide:
1) An understanding of how highly-selective the University of Michigan admissions process truly is.
2) Data that will help you better assess how you measure up to the competition.
3) How the Michigan admissions committee operates and what they look for in a successful candidate.
To accomplish these goals, we will touch on the following topics:
- Michigan’s Class of 2023 acceptance rate
- SAT, ACT, GPA and class rank of accepted Michigan applicants
- Admissions trends at the University of Michigan
- The demographics of current Michigan undergraduates
- Michigan’s yield rate
- How Michigan’s admissions officers evaluate candidates
- Tips for applying to Michigan
- How to assess whether applying to Michigan is even worth the $75 application fee (for you)
Let’s begin with an examination of the most recent admissions data.
Michigan: Acceptance Rate – Class of 2023
Michigan’s 22.9% % acceptance rate in the 2019 admissions cycle was almost identical to the previous year’s rate of 23%. The out-of-state acceptance rate was just 19.4%. Out of 64,972 applicants, the university extended offers of admission to 14,883 individuals. Acceptance rates for the Class of 2024 are not yet available.
Michigan Admissions – SAT, ACT, GPA and Class Rank
Of those entering Michigan’s Class of 2023, the middle 50% range on the SAT was 1340-1530; the ACT range was 31-34. The average unweighted GPA was 3.9 and 78.8% of those enrolled possessed better than a 3.75. Applicants to UMich are not required to submit a class rank but, typically, close to 80% place in the top 10% of their high school class.
Admissions Trends & Notes
- There were 65,684 applications for the Class of 2022; this fell to 64,972 the following year.
- The in-state acceptance rate is far higher than the acceptance rate for non-resident—for the Class of 2022, over 41% of state taxpayers’ children were accepted.
- Two years ago, the 25th percentile SAT score was 1330; last year, it rose ten points to 1340.
- Close to two-thirds of accepted applicants each of the last two cycles possessed SAT Math scores of 700 or above.
- In 2018, there were 415 waitlisted applicants who were eventually admitted. In 2019, this number fell to just 89 individuals.
Who Actually Gets Into Michigan?
Let’s look at the demographics of Michigan undergraduates:
Geographically, the greatest number of Wolverines hail from the following states (in order):
- Michigan: 16,524
- New York: 1,848
- Illinois: 1,803
- California: 1,573
- Ohio: 547
- Florida: 547
- Massachusetts: 422
- Pennsylvania: 420
Of course, it pays to be an applicant from a less-populated state since Michigan likes each class to be comprised of residents of all 50 U.S. States. The states with the fewest current UMich students are as follows:
- Idaho: 4
- Wyoming: 4
- North Dakota: 5
- South Dakota: 8
- Montana: 9
- Mississippi: 9
- Arkansas: 10
Looking at ethnic identity, the breakdown undergraduate students currently attending the university is as follows:
- Asian American: 14.6%
- Hispanic: 6.3%
- African American: 4.2%
- International: 7.4%
- Caucasian: 58.2%
The breakdown by gender of all current undergraduates reveals and equal number of men and women, a rarity in today’s postsecondary landscape (outside of engineering-heavy schools). Many institutions have more female students than males.
- Male: 50%
- Female: 50%
Some of the top public high schools in the state send massive numbers of students each year. Freshman entering the 2017-18 school included representatives from the following schools:
- Oakland International Academy: 98
- Ann Arbor Pioneer High School: 87
- Northville High School: 78,
- Troy High School: 65
- Novi High School: 62
- Ann Arbor Skyline High School: 62
- Ann Arbor Huron High School: 55
- Bloomfield Hills High School: 51
- Saline High School: 49
- Rochester Adams High School: 46
Most People Who Get Accepted Choose to Attend
Michigan’s yield rate — the percentage of accepted students who elect to enroll, divided by the total number of students who are admitted — was 46% last year. This figure is comparable to other top flagship state universities like the UNC Chapel Hill (44%), UVA (43%), and UCLA (37%).
How Michigan Rates Applicants
There are only two factors that Michigan ranks as being “Very Important” to their admissions process: rigor of secondary school record and GPA. Standardized test scores, application essays, recommendations, extracurricular activities, first-generation status, and character/personal qualities are all rated as “Important.” Extracurricular activities, talent/ability, legacy status, geographical residence, state residency, racial/ethnic status, volunteer experience, work experience, and the level an applicant’s interest are all “Considered.”
In the admissions office’s own words: “We look at each student as a whole package, a combination of talents, interests, passions, and skills. In this way, we can look beyond grades and test scores to recruit the most dynamic group of students possible. A wide variety of backgrounds, intellectual passions, and interests make up the typical applicant. What they share is a drive to pursue academic excellence in a challenging and rewarding academic environment.”
Michigan uses a holistic process in evaluating candidates, considering “all aspects of your record and experience. They “do not admit applicants solely on the basis of any single criterion. We value the whole record — excellent grades in rigorous courses, top ACT/SAT scores, participation in extracurricular activities, professional arts training, and evidence of leadership, awards, and service.”
On the academic end, they consider the following data points:
- Your cumulative GPA
- Your test scores (SAT or ACT)
- The quality of your curriculum (its solid college preparation, strength of courses, what courses you’ve taken based on what is available in your high school, such as AP, IB, or honors, etc.)
- Your class rank, if available
- Your specific academic interests
The U-M application reviewers rate each applicant with respect to the following criteria:
- Secondary School Academic Performance
- Educational Environment
- Counselor and Teacher Recommendation
- Awards/honors, involvement, leadership, and service
Applicants are rated on the following scale by category (listed above) and then assigned an overall grade. The ratings and criteria are as follows:
- Outstanding: All of the applicant’s materials exemplify superior and/or exceptional characteristics that contribute to the specific evaluation categories.
- Excellent: The applicant’s materials illustrate extremely strong, but not exceptional, characteristics. The reviewer may have a reservation, but there are enough redeeming features to compensate for, or outweigh, the reservation.
- Good: The applicant’s materials demonstrate competitive average characteristics in most of the criteria, but may be particularly strong in one or more areas. The reviewer may have reservations about the applicant’s academic competitiveness.
- Average/Fair: While the applicant’s materials are competitive in each of the criteria, the reviewer has substantial concerns about the overall strength of the application and may have reservations about the applicant’s academic competitiveness.
- Below Average/Poor: In the applicant’s materials, the reviewer detects serious deficiencies in most of the evaluation criteria in comparison to other applicants. In addition, several of the evaluation criteria may or may not be met or may not have been addressed in applicant’s materials.
It definitely helps if you are recruited as an athlete to join one of Michigan’s 29 Division I sports teams. More than 900 athletes are members of these highly-competitive squads.
Tips for Applying to Michigan
If you plan on joining the roughly 65,000+ Wolverine hopefuls for the next admissions cycle, you should know the following:
Michigan offers optional alumni interviews as part of the admissions process for engineering students. So-called HAIL interviews do not, however, play a large role in the admissions process.
Michigan does consider “demonstrated interest” so it is important to make contact with the admissions office, connect through social media, and (when COVID-19 is no longer an issue) visit campus or meet Michigan reps at college fairs near you.
Make sure to dedicate sufficient time and effort to the supplemental essays required by Michigan. In the 2019-20 cycle, there were three required prompts in addition to the 650-word Common App essay.
- If you could only do one of the activities you have listed in the Activities section of your application, which one would you keep doing? Why? (Required for all applicants; 150 word limit)
This is chance to escape the limitations of the character count in the activities section and elaborate on the extracurricular activity that means the most to you. Use this space to sell the admissions committee on the level of passion, commitment, and talent you will bring the university in a particular niche area.
- 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. (Required for all applicants; 300 word limit)
If this question doesn’t resonate completely with you (you don’t really identify as a member of an official “community”), you can still utilize this space to reveal something personal about you that can help you connect with an admissions officer. This is also another opportunity to showcase your writing prowess.
- 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? (Required for all applicants; 550 word limit)
The key to tackling this 550-word essay is to do your homework on the college within Michigan University to which you are applying. It is essentially asking you: “Why Michigan” Learn how to write a killer “Why This College” essay in our previous blog post on the subject.
Should I Apply to Michigan?
If you possess anything shy of a 1350+ SAT score and a 3.75 GPA obtained in an honors/AP course load, you’ll need to bring some other compelling aspects to the table whether it’s athletic prowess or being a member of an underrepresented group. Those from in-state can breathe a little easier as they enjoy an acceptance rate nearly twice that of their non-resident competitors. All college-bound teens need to make sure that they formulate an appropriate college list, containing a complement of “target” and “safety” schools. You’ll definitely want to do this in conjunction with an admissions professional (including your own high school counselor).
Dave has over a decade of professional experience that includes work as a teacher, high school administrator, college professor, and independent educational consultant. He is a co-author of the books The Enlightened College Applicant (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Colleges Worth Your Money (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020).