University of Michigan Supplemental Essay Prompts and Tips
In forming the Class of 2025, the University of Michigan received over 80,000 applications, an all-time high. For historical comparison, there were under 24,000 applicants at the turn of the millennium. Therefore, it is safe to say that many more students around the country/world desire to become Wolverines in 2022 than ever before in the school’s 200+ year history.
The acceptance rate at UMich has fallen all the way down to 18%, but this figure is typically twice as high for applicants who reside in the state of Michigan. If you are an out-of-stater or international student, you’ll need to bring even more impressive credentials than your in-state peers. Speaking of credentials, overall, the median SAT for current Wolverine undergrads is 1450, 77% placed in the top decile of their high school class, and the average unweighted GPA is 3.8. If your numbers are in the ballpark (compared to those figures), you have a great shot of one day donning the maize and blue, but, if you’ll still want to find ways to to stand out again the intense competition.
Through its two essay prompts, the University of Michigan supplemental section still affords applicants an opportunity to showcase what makes them uniquely qualified for admission. Below are the University of Michigan supplemental prompts for the 2021-22 admissions cycle along with tips about how to address each one:
2021-2022 University of Michigan Essay Questions
1) 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)
This can be done well whether you are taking about an ethnic, religious, neighborhood community or a group of individuals who gather for a club, sport, or service project. Pretty much everyone applying to the University of Michigan is deeply involved in a number of communities. You are the captain of a team, the editor-in-chief of your school paper, the president of a club… but don’t just rest on those laurels—instead, bring your involvement to life. Use your writing ability to show the admissions officer what type of community member you are rather than merely telling them.
You can also discuss how you have engaged with your high school local/community and what you have learned from interacting with people of a different ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual identity, etc. Draw on past evidence of your commitment to being a positive force in your community and speculate how that is likely to manifest on the University of Michigan’s campus. Research and cite UMich student-run organizations, local nonprofit groups, or anything else you are drawn to. The Michigan admissions committee now desires to understand precisely how you will contribute their campus community of 31,000+ undergrads. Drawing the link between your past efforts and future aims is critical here.
For example, if you dedicated many hours working with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout high school, it will be most impactful if you express your commitment to joining UMich’s chapter of Best Buddies in the future.
2) 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)
In some ways, this is your quintessential “Why Us?” essay, but UMich is particularly interested in hearing about why the curriculum in your desired academic department is attractive to you—not so much about your love for the football team or the beautiful campus. Below are some quick tips for writing an essay that will help your admissions cause:
- Cite specific academic programs, professors, research opportunities, internship/externship programs, study abroad programs, student-run organizations, etc.
- Make sure to address why your chosen academic program at Michigan is the perfect fit for you and why you are the perfect fit for it.
- Show evidence of how your past/current academic endeavors/achievements will carry over onto UMich’s campus.
- What special academically-related talents and passions will you bring to the University of Michigan? What contributions will you make?
You’ll definitely want to dedicate some time to researching more about your college/department of interest and what makes it truly world-class. The more specific you can get here, the better your essay will be!
How important is the essay at the University of Michigan?
The two factors that Michigan deems as “very important” in evaluating a candidate are the rigor of your secondary school record and GPA. The essays—both the general Common App essay and the Michigan supplements—are rated as “important” alongside standardized test scores, recommendations, character/personal qualities, and first-generation college student status.
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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).