Before we begin…
The University of Michigan supplement is one of the more comprehensive sets of essay questions out there; so if you’re applying to a wide swathe of schools, it’s an excellent place to start. The supplement asks you for a “why,” “community,” and “activity” essay — three assignments that are fairly common on applications at schools of all sizes and academic levels. Use this as an opportunity to think through the full package you want to present to admissions and highlight your diverse areas of interest.
Supplemental Essay Types:Community, Why, Activity
University of Michigan 2017-2018 Application Essay Question Explanations
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. Approximately 250 words.
This is a pretty standard community essay and admissions is giving you very specific instructions and launch points, both expected and unexpected, to draw from. You could be a part of an Italian Culture Club or a schnitzel appreciation association, either way, University of Michigan wants to hear about it. So try your best, despite the small space you are given, to answer all parts of this question. Describe the community and then detail how you contribute to that community. The point of this question is to show admission you will add value and diversity to campus, and that you are a proactive and involved student who will help to build their community.
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 freshman applicants. 500 words maximum.
Here is your “why” essay, and it’s a nice, hefty one at 500 words. Your answer should be mostly focused on the academic offerings: what you want to study, what subjects interest you, and how you will use the resources at your disposal to pursue your professional goals. This is where you prove to University of Michigan that they are a good fit for you and vice versa, and getting this essay right requires a lot of research. You’re going to want to dig deep into the programs that you’re interested in: find classes, professors, even extracurricular activities related to your desired major that interest you. The more specific you can get, the better. Show admissions that you know what differentiates U-M from other colleges and, in turn, you’ll distinguish yourself from other applicants. Finally, don’t forget to connect your own past experiences and accomplishments to the resources you choose to highlight. Paint the picture of where you’ll be found on campus (whether that be the bio lab, math building, or theatre) and what you hope to accomplish.
2. (For transfer students only) Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests?
Required for all transfer applicants. 500 words maximum.
This is also a “why” essay, but the supporting information that connects you to the school will be drawn from your current undergraduate experience. Be specific about why you think Michigan is a better fit for you then your current stomping grounds. Of course, be careful not to smack talk the institution in which you’ve spent the last year or two years. Be considerate, while still being specific about your desire to change environments and asserting your Michigan-aligned goals for the future.
3. If you could only do one of the activities you have listed in the Activities section of your Common Application, which one would you keep doing? Why?
Required for all applicants. Approximately 150 words.
In this essay prompt, admissions wants to know about your ride or die. What is your all-time favorite activity? The one that gets you through finals week and heartbreak and sock-soaking rain? Talk about this activity or experience in a way that lets University of Michigan know that you’re a passionate and motivated person. Your essay should also say something about your priorities and outlook on the world. Do your weekly church bake sales give you the opportunity to get creative in the kitchen after a long week of crunching numbers? Do you take care of your neighbor’s kids in the afternoons to practice the skills you hope to use as an elementary teacher later in life? Use your favorite activity to tell admissions something new about yourself.
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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