Write an Essay That Will Stand Out
Despite the university’s large student body, admissions to Michigan are still very competitive. The university has a 26.2% acceptance rate with an average SAT score of 1430 (new standard) and ACT range scores from 30-34. The average high school GPA is 3.87.
Students seeking unparalleled research opportunities will relish the incredible opportunities and resources that this school offers. In order to write a quality essay that will make you stand out, there are a few suggestions we at CollegeVine would like to mention.
University of Michigan Writing Prompts
Essay #1 (Required – Approximately 250 words)
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.
Essay #2 (Required for all freshman applicants – 500 words maximum)
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?
Writing the First Essay Prompt
The first prompt requires a sincere and nuanced response. The focus of this prompt is on community — and it includes a broad definition of community. Make sure to take time to carefully choose the community that you want to write about.
For many people, writing about your race or ethnicity is an appealing option. After all, living in the United States as a person of color is a defining experience for many people. This prompt invites some important personal reflections that demonstrate deep thought and conviction on your identity. Given that this is a common direction for students to take in this essay, the challenge is to make this topic as unique as possible for you.
In describing the community to which you belong, explore why that community is important to you and how that can connect to a broader narrative about yourself. This can be especially helpful if you have experience doing volunteer work on issues that matter to your community. For example, if you have volunteered for an organization that advocates for criminal justice reform or changes in education policy, you can connect that to your place within a certain community.
Community, as used in this prompt, is a broad category and is by no means limited to race or gender. If you have a creative or uniquely personal understanding of community, write about it! The goal is to convey sincerity and authenticity and to demonstrate as a thoughtful person who cares about more than just yourself.
Make Sure to be Specific
Another key point to stress about the community prompt is the importance of specificity. Ideally, the essay should demonstrate personality and conviction. Stay away from using vague, broad phrases and instead contextualize the themes you wish to address through the lens of community. This means if, for example, you choose to write about how systemic inequalities in society have affected you, make sure to explain how these broader issues relate to your community and how your understanding of community has helped you deal with these issues.
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Writing the Second Prompt
The second prompt asks you two things: to isolate the specific qualities of the particular undergraduate school to which you are applying and to explain how those qualities will help you pursue interests. This prompt requires a bit of research into the specific undergraduate school and connecting it to a broader narrative you want to construct about yourself.
Much like the first prompt, specificity is also a key element to a successful response. This prompt might require conducting a bit of research on Michigan’s website in order to mention specific qualities that draw you to that school. For example, if you’re a student applying to Michigan’s engineering school, do some research on the undergraduate engineering program and talk about why it appeals to you, mentioning specific factors, such as Michigan’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity.
Connect your Passions to the University of Michigan
The second part of the prompt gives a great opportunity to connect your passions to the unique traits of the school. This is an opportunity to view your application from a strategic lens: if you have structured your Common Application essay and extracurriculars around a particular narrative of yourself, here you can apply that narrative to the specific context of the school. This can effectively give the admissions officer a clear vision of what you would look like as a student.
For instance, continuing with the engineering example, let’s say that you are really interested in aerospace engineering and that’s been “your thing” throughout high school. You have some prior exposure to the field, and you dream of working for NASA or Boeing crafting the next generation of airplanes or space shuttles.
Mention this in your essay, but also add specific details about Michigan’s aerospace engineering program that you think will allow you to fulfill those aspirations. Whether it’s a series of professors who are the leaders in the field or access to some of the best research facilities, the goal of this prompt is to show why you think a Michigan education will best equip you to meet your goals.
- For the first prompt, the goal is to craft an essay that shows personality and thoughtfulness about your relationship in a broader community. This can be a personal essay that includes strong themes of social justice and community advocacy, or it can be a more creative take that highlights an uncommon talent or ability.
- For the second prompt, it is important to show that you have done your homework on the specific undergraduate school that you’re applying to and give the reader a clear vision of what you would look like as a Michigan student.
The University of Michigan boasts a vast array of resources and tools that truly add to the value of an education there. For a chance to become a proud Wolverine, focus on writing an essay that will differentiate yourself and shows a true desire for wanting to be a student there.
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Of all the supplemental college essays out there, the “Why Us?” essay is the most difficult to master, especially when you have to write one for each school on your college list. So, how do you convince admissions officers at each college you belong there, while staying true to yourself?
With AdmitSee’s database of successful application files we will show you essay examples that address key elements every “Why Us” supplemental essay should include.
1. Example with a UMich Essay Excerpt
It’s essential to talk about the school you’re applying to. After all, you are answering the question “Why Us”? What makes this specific school you’re applying to stand out from others?
- Talk about your academic interests and how the school you’re applying can help you explore that
- Be specific about the academic programs at the university
- Are these academic programs unique? Are they the best? If there’s other schools have this program, why theirs?
“Throughout high school, I discovered that I enjoy a variety of subjects; therefore, I am entering Michigan with an undeclared major. However, I am not exactly undecided; rather, I am multi-interested. I love the areas of mathematics and statistics, yet the economy and government fascinates me as well. Still, the field of art history beckons me, and luckily the University of Michigan has enough museums to pursue endless hours of thorough art appreciation. Thankfully, LSA allows me to explore a plethora of majors found in the various colleges of the University of Michigan. With forty top ten programs, no matter what major I ultimately chose, I can feel assured that I will be working with the most talented and experienced faculty. In addition, University of Michigan’s research program, one of the best in the United States, will allow me to make discoveries and contributions as an undergraduate student. The University of Michigan is the ideal school for me, and has been my number one since I first saw the maize and blue uniforms take Michigan Stadium by storm.” – MichiganMath, ‘19
In this excerpt, the author starts by talking her interests in a number of fields, thereby leading her to show off her knowledge about UMich’s academic programs. She is concise about how each of her interest can be furthered by the opportunities that University of Michigan can offer her if she’s accepted. In a paragraph, she demonstrated how her interests and resources at UMich are an ideal match without simply regurgitating informative facts about UMich.
2. Example with a Barnard Essay Excerpt
Don’t forget this is a part of your college application! Every supplement you send in should provide another perspective of who you are.
- This is another opportunity for you to highlight something about yourself that you weren’t able to in our common app personal statement
- What other information about yourself will help paint a full picture of who you are in your application?
“Not only is NYC an incredibly diverse place, but Barnard is as well. The unique backgrounds of its community members create a compelling dynamic in and out of the classroom. I grew up in a half French and half Chinese household, which gave me a very different perspective than a lot of my peers. My father grew up in France, then immigrated to San Francisco after living in the Congo. My mother grew up in China, then immigrated to Wisconsin after living in Nigeria. Throughout my childhood, I was lucky enough to be able to learn multiple points of views from my parents because of their unique backgrounds, leading to a fascinating upbringing which I believe Barnard students possess as well.” –ccg32, ‘19
The author of this excerpt draws a parallel between the diverse background of NYC and her own. She uses this opportunity to share how incredibly diverse her family background is and what that has done for her. In fact, she’s able to share this intimate detail to connect to the community of Barnard students, again pointing out she’s an ideal prospective student.
3. Examples with NYU Excerpt
Finally, think about this supplemental essay as a way to express how compatible you are with the college you are applying to.
- You can talk about university programs in relation to your interests, but you can also connect it to something about you.
- This is how you connect point 1 + 2
“Never have I encountered an atmosphere so invigorating and so impassioned as I found during my visit to NYU. It is this passion that unites the urban campus and forms a profound sense of unity within its diversity. I could want nothing more than to one day call myself a part of this motivational community, building relationships with people who share my passion for helping others and who will both value my talents as well as challenge me to grow. As a student at NYU, I could continue my tutoring and mentoring work through the university’s America Reads program or explore my love for travelling while providing invaluable aid as a part of the unique option for alternative breaks. Regardless of what path I find myself taking as NYU opens my eyes to growth and change, I know that an education and an experience spent in such a special community is one that has the potential to change my life and make an everlasting impact.” – Katiedolci ‘19
Here you see the author use the university’s programs and unique offerings to demonstrate the author’s own interests and passion. She explicitly mentions programs that NYU offers to highlight the extracurriculars she’s been involved with. By doing so, she has also subtly emphasized her compassionate nature and desire to help others not only in the area she studies, but in her free time as well.
Want to see more successful examples? AdmitSee has the largest database of successful college application files to help you through the admission season. View full college essays in the context of the rest of their application to better understand how to craft the best version of yours.
About Frances Wong
A math major turned growth hacker, Frances has worked in PR and marketing in Hong Kong, New York and San Francisco. AdmitSee is her third edtech startup, coming from Course Hero and Purpella. Frances was born in Hong Kong and received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. Fun Fact: Frances was a certified and licensed EMT during her time at Georgetown.
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