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University of Michigan Questions

The Common Application Personal Essay

The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don't feel obligated to do so. (The application won't accept a response shorter than 250 words.)

Transfer Applicants:   If you are a transfer student, please view the Transfer Essay Questions webpage  for additional required essays.

What are your chances of acceptance?

Calculate for all schools, your chance of acceptance, your chancing factors, extracurriculars, next step: add more factors to complete chancing.

why us university of michigan essay

5 Tips for 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:

1. Mention the School You Are Interested In

2. mention specific classes, 3. show your writing prowess, 4. highlight extracurricular interests.

What Is the ‘Why University of Michigan’ Essay?

The University of Michigan requires all applicants to submit supplemental essays . The University of Michigan’s first supplemental essay is a “Why This College” essay , which should help you think through the optimal approach to answering the question. The prompt reads:  

“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) 

In this article, we will walk through this example response for the prompt and highlight important tips to keep in mind when writing an excellent essay.

An aspiring trilingual clinical psychologist, I am drawn to the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts because it’s loaded with opportunities to build me into a scholar with a heart for service.

As a Psychology major and Spanish minor, I will satisfy my pursuit of academic excellence with LSA’s inexhaustible course offerings. Curious how songwriting helps me remember difficult words, I’ll find the answer from Psych 211-002: Mind, Music, and Community. As I learn what music does to the human mind through this exciting experiential course, I hope simultaneously to brighten the day of local seniors and children by playing the flute for them. While I will continue to explore indigenous cultures through the mythology my Latinx friends tell me outside of class, I look forward to examining these communities from an academic standpoint through Spanish 472 – Indigenous Societies. The combination of oral traditions and classical texts will deepen my knowledge of, and appreciation for, Latin American countries’ indigenous roots. Because of the variety of offerings LSA provides, I’ll get to zoom in on my specific topics of interest in psychology and Hispanic cultures. 

An advocate for pursuing academic excellence, not perfectionism, I hope to join the Chang Lab to investigate how race and culture give rise to perfectionism, applying my knowledge in Psychology to advance the science of well-being. With our common ethnic background, I’m especially intrigued by Dr. Chang’s studies regarding the Asian community. After gaining more research experience, I will write an honors thesis with Professor Nestor Lopez-Duran to research mental illness treatment. I want to develop a new form of psychotherapy combining ASMR and talk therapy, and I hope that our research contributes to this cause. 

Joining the Residential College will be the cherry atop my LSA sundae. Beyond the courses, alumni network, and research opportunities, I’ll get to share my opinions and consider others’ in small classrooms. I can’t wait to take the residential college writing seminar Psychology of Creativity and join the language lunch table to practice speaking Spanish outside the classroom.  As someone who sought out native speakers to talk incessantly in Spanish about mythology, I hope to find other Spanish lovers at RC with whom I can practice my language skills. I will also participate in the Multicultural Psychology in Argentina program, traveling to Buenos Aires to learn the Argentine perspective on mental health. This cross-cultural exchange is crucial in helping me build an empathetic mindset as a clinical psychologist, arming me with tools to help people of different cultural backgrounds.

“An aspiring trilingual clinical psychologist, I am drawn to the University of Michigan College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) because it’s loaded with opportunities to build me into a scholar with a heart for service.” 

This student immediately states what school they are interested in and how it fits into their purpose and life goals. Readers have already learned important information about this student in the first sentence: They want to become a trilingual clinical psychologist and learn about their values through an emphasis on scholarship and community service. 

Even though this is not a particularly creative introduction, it outlines what the student hopes to achieve with the essay. If you use a more artsy approach, such as an anecdote or a metaphor, make sure that it still covers what school you want to attend and how it fits into your future. 

“As a psychology major and Spanish minor, I will satisfy my pursuit of academic excellence with LSA’s inexhaustible course offerings. Curious how songwriting helps me remember difficult words, I’ll find the answer from Psych 211-002: Mind, Music, and Community. As I learn what music does to the human mind through this exciting and experiential course, I hope simultaneously to brighten the day of local seniors and children by playing the flute for them.” 

By naming a specific course and how they plan to participate in it, the student is setting a clear vision of what they plan to do at Michigan. Their course selection also corroborates the commitment to community service that they mentioned in the first part of their essay.

This sets a narrative focus that continues throughout their response: the intersection of community service and music. Including examples of their past use of music and community service or a link to their future goals would improve this section. 

“While I will continue to explore Indigenous cultures through the mythology my Latinx friends tell me outside of class, I look forward to examining these communities from an academic standpoint through Spanish 472 – Indigenous Societies. The combination of oral traditions and classical texts will deepen my knowledge of, and appreciation for, Latin American countries’ indigenous roots. Because of the variety of offerings LSA provides, I’ll get to zoom in on my specific topics of interest in psychology and Hispanic cultures.” 

This part of the response is very structured. It is not extremely creative and flowy, but this would be OK if that is your writing style. Keep in mind that this is a chance for you to show colleges who you are and showcase your writing prowess and style. 

If the student is of Latinx heritage, it would be good to explicitly state that and discuss their own experiences, rather than piggybacking off their friends. They could also demonstrate how they plan to use their knowledge of Spanish and Indigenous societies in a career or life goal. 

You are the center of these stories, so you want to focus on yourself and your experiences. Admissions officers are very good at detecting when you’re using the stories of others as a crutch. You can talk about people who are important to you, but you need to be the center of the story.  

“An advocate for pursuing academic excellence, not perfectionism, I hope to join the Chang Lab to investigate how race and culture give rise to perfectionism, applying my knowledge in Psychology to advance the science of well-being. With our common ethnic background, I’m especially intrigued by Dr. Chang’s studies regarding the Asian community. After gaining more research experience, I will write an honors thesis with Professor Nestor Lopez-Duran to research mental illness treatment. I want to develop a new form of psychotherapy combining autonomous sensory meridian response and talk therapy, and I hope that our research contributes to this case.” 

At this point, you want to look for ways to explore your academic interests outside of the classroom. However, this student makes a small error when describing the research. Rather than giving other personal details about their life to explain why this research is so important to them, they only state the connection exists.

They could, for example, discuss their own experiences with perfectionism and mental health. That would make for a much more compelling approach than listing the lab’s research, which makes the section read a bit like a log of accomplishments.

They should also mention their high school extracurriculars, which would show how they could engage at the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. 

5. Conclude with the ‘Cherry On Top’ 

“Joining the Residential College will be the cherry on top of my LSA sundae. Beyond the courses, alumni network, and research opportunities, I’ll get to share my opinions and consider others’ in small classrooms. I can’t wait to take the residential college writing seminar Psychology of Creativity and join the language lunch table to practice speaking Spanish outside the classroom.” 

The phrase “the cherry on top of my LSA sundae,” is a good inclusion, but only if it had been referenced throughout the rest of the essay. Extended metaphors like this should pervade the entire essay and be integrated into the content. 

The main improvement the student could make in this essay is to be more personal and center the narrative on their own experiences and self-reflection.

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University of Michigan Supplemental Essays Guide: 2021-2022

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Not sure how to approach the University of Michigan essays? With tips from an Ivy League graduate,’s guide to the University of Michigan essay prompts will show you exactly how to write engaging UMich supplemental essays. Strong responses to the University of Michigan supplemental essays will maximize your chances of admission. Read on for exclusive tips on the University of Michigan essay prompts!

Want help crafting your UMich supplemental essays? Create your free  account  or  schedule a free advising assessment  by calling (844) 343-6272.

UMich Essay Guide Quick Facts:

Does the University of Michigan have supplemental essays?

Yes, there are supplemental University of Michigan essays. In addition to the  Common App  Personal Statement, all applicants will complete two specific UMich supplemental essays. One of these University of Michigan essays is much longer than the other, with a maximum of 500 words. This is only a bit shorter than the Common App Personal Statement, so you should give yourself plenty of time to complete it.

Need tips on writing your Common App essay? Check out our  blog article .

How many essays are required for the University of Michigan?

There are just two additional University of Michigan essay prompts. One of the UMich supplemental essays is 500 words long, and the other is just 300 words. The longer of the two University of Michigan supplemental essays is the “Why UMich essay.” Though these UMich essays are different lengths, you should spend an equal amount of time on each. Don’t afford less importance to the shorter of the two University of Michigan essay prompts! After all, shorter essays—including the University of Michigan supplemental essays–are not always easier to write.

Usually, admissions officers can tell if you rushed one of the UMich essays and spent all of your time perfecting the other. In order to make the best impression, make sure your University of Michigan supplemental essays are equally strong.

Are the University of Michigan supplemental essays important?

Yes, both of the University of Michigan essays are important in admissions. Both of the University of Michigan essay prompts are also  required  of applicants. This means you must respond to them in order to complete your application.

This guide will walk you through both of the University of Michigan essay prompts. This includes the first prompt, which is about community, and the second prompt, which is the “Why UMich essay.”

Overall, the UMich supplemental essays are a great way to offer details about yourself that complement the rest of your application. At the conclusion of your essays, admissions officers should walk away from your application knowing what kind of student  and  person you are. The UMich essays are the perfect place to do that. Using these tips, you will be able to tailor your responses to the UMich essays to show how you will enrich the UMich community.

What are the University of Michigan supplemental essays?

The University of Michigan supplemental essays are available on the  Common App  site, but you can also visit the main UMich  website  for a full list of application requirements. Let’s check out the UMich supplemental essays—starting with the shorter of the two UMich essays.

University of Michigan Supplemental Essays – Prompt 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. (300 words maximum)

How do I answer a University of Michigan supplemental essay?

First, when responding to the University of Michigan supplemental essays, remember to be specific. As a rule, your responses to the UMich essays should help admissions officers picture how you will contribute to UMich. What role will you play on campus? Let’s explore how you can do this in the first of the University of Michigan essay prompts.

As this first prompt for the UMich essays indicates, there are many ways to define “community.” You should begin your essay by defining what community means to you. For example, are you writing about a club or organization that matters to you? A physical space where you feel at home? A group of people who share your values?

Discuss your connections

Once you have defined your community, you should describe what makes you feel connected to this community— why  it is so meaningful to you. In evaluating University of Michigan essays, admissions officers look for how you will contribute to the UMich community. By detailing how you influence your community, you help your reader understand the role you will likely play at UMich. Strong UMich essays will give the reader a clear sense of how you will enrich the UMich campus.

This essay asks you to describe a group, discuss your role within that group, and then ultimately reflect on why this group is important to you and what you provide for that group. The best University of Michigan essays will follow this template. Your response should show that you are collaborative and empathetic, you know how to engage with others, and you feel comfortable taking initiative within community spaces.

Remember, the University of Michigan essay prompts are an opportunity to show admissions officers something new about yourself. You can use this space to describe a community you only briefly address elsewhere in your application. Or, you can even discuss a community space you have not described anywhere else in your application.

UMich Essay Draft Key Questions:

Does the University of Michigan have a “Why UMich” essay?

Most universities have a “Why us” essay, and the University of Michigan essays are no exception. This is your chance to showcase any research you have done about the University of Michigan while you’ve been writing your UMich essays.

The University of Michigan includes a “Why UMich essay” in the essay prompts. For the “Why UMich essay,” you’ll want to avoid over-generalizing. Stay away from statements like “Ann Arbor and the UMich campus are beautiful in the fall” or “I just feel like I belong there.” Instead, offer concrete examples of  why  you belong there. Maybe there’s a specific professor you really want to learn from or a course you couldn’t find at any other university that perfectly encapsulates your academic interests.

Your University of Michigan essays are the space to show off your expert investigation skills. Use the “Why UMich Essay” to discuss courses, clubs, professors, and research opportunities only available at UMich. Colleges can tell when you swap out their name for another university and submit the same “Why here?” answer. Your application will be stronger if your answer to this Why UMich essay could  not  be swapped interchangeably with any other schools.

University of Michigan Supplemental Essays – Prompt 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? (500 words maximum)

This is the “Why UMich essay” with a little twist. Rather than generally asking what about the University of Michigan attracts you, this “Why UMich essay” specifically asks about your choice of an undergraduate program.

Notice that the prompt asks for “unique qualities” about your chosen program; in order to best answer this question, you will first want to read everything you can about your college or school. Visit the UMich website and read the listings of required courses for your chosen program. You might even consider reaching out to any alumni you know who studied in your chosen college or school.

Know your College or School

For example, if you are applying to the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, you’ll want to read their whole  website . In your essay, you will probably want to mention their EXCEL (Excellence in Entrepreneurship, Career Empowerment & Leadership) program and how you feel you would benefit from it. You will want to do a virtual visit, see if there are any recordings of shows you could watch, or consider reaching out to a professor and asking if they would be willing to speak with you on a 15-minute phone call.

If you’re applying to the School of Education, you should again, read the  website . You don’t want to just recite statistics from their webpage; admissions officers already know about the 1:8 faculty to student ratio. You want to make your response unique to your passion for education so that you can best demonstrate how you will benefit from UMich’s curriculum.

If you’re looking at the School for Environment and Sustainability, UMich’s undergraduate program is called the Program in the Environment (PitE). You already know the first step: read the  website . You should also connect your real-life experience to your interest in this program, and you’ll want to discuss your intended specialization and any ideas you may have for a capstone project.

University of Michigan Supplemental Essays: Final Thoughts

Completing the University of Michigan supplemental essays can seem daunting, but don’t let that discourage you from applying. The UMich supplemental essays are a great opportunity to demonstrate who you are to the admissions team. The University of Michigan essays can also boost your application if you have a lower-than-average GPA or  SAT score .

Use this guide as a step-by-step aid when approaching the University of Michigan supplemental essays. Start writing earlier than you think you should, especially with the Why UMich essay question; don’t underestimate the UMich essays. Because there are only two UMich supplemental essays, you should pay extra attention when responding to the University of Michigan essay prompts. These UMich essays give you two great opportunities to show admissions officers why you belong at their school. Don’t squander those opportunities by rushing your writing or submitting under-researched UMich supplemental essays.

Remember that you can use the UMich essay prompts to engage more deeply with a topic only briefly mentioned elsewhere in your application. If you get stuck, take a break and come back to the University of Michigan essay prompts with fresh eyes. It can also be beneficial to have someone else look over your University of Michigan essays. Don’t be afraid to ask for revisions; it’s helpful to have another set of eyes checking your University of Michigan essays for grammatical errors, tone, and clarity. To read examples of essay topics written by advisors who were accepted to UMich, click  here . Good luck!

why us university of michigan essay

This 2021-2022 essay guide on UMich was written by  Laura Frustaci , Harvard ‘21. For more resources on the University of Michigan, click  here . Want help crafting your University of Michigan supplemental essays? Create your free  account  or  schedule a free consultation  by calling (844) 343-6272.

why us university of michigan essay

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Why Michigan Essay

We have expert writers with degrees from Michigan University who can help you get in.

High school graduates have a hard time picking the best school. It is because they need to be sure that the school in return also wants them. There are many options available to them but they want the best to secure lucrative prospects.

The University of Michigan is one of the top colleges in the US that offers exceptional undergraduate educational facilities to students. But it is not easy to get admission. Aside from academic transcripts and proof of extra-curricular activities, the University of Michigan wants students to write UMich supplemental essays.

Michigan University Logo

The original text of the supplementary essay prompt can be different for each admission year, but it is commonly known as the Michigan supplemental essay prompt.

The “Why UMich” Essay Prompt

Following is one of the current essay prompts that the University of Michigan asks applicants to write and submit with their application forms:

Those students who do not have much experience with college applications or how to write for a specific undergraduate college would find it to be mildly hard. It is about writing 550 words for a school or college that an aspirant is applying to.

In real terms, this is as hard as it can get. The admissions officers have placed this specific question in this place because they want to see how aspirants envision themselves at the University of Michigan.

Many applicants take the easier way and take the question casually. This results in a rejection letter from the University of Michigan.

Are you preparing for your University of Michigan essay? We can certainly help you with that! Our professional writers can help you with a custom-written, well-researched essay. Contact us right away!

What Makes Your “Why UMich” Essay Admission Worthy

Each year, thousands of high school graduates from each corner of the country apply for the University of Michigan. Many of them have stellar academic and extracurricular credentials. Still, they face stiff competition when it comes to getting admission in dual degree programs at UMich because they come short on their “Why UMich” essays.

That’s why it pays to invest some time and effort in researching and learning what should be added to a University of Michigan supplemental essay from applicants.

In this section, we’ll shed plenty of light on both sides of the coin; the things that make your “Why UMich” essay admission worthy and those that don’t.

What Makes It Rejection Worthy

The current acceptance rate at the University of Michigan is about 26%. This is much better than some other schools where acceptance rates are below 10%. Anyways, students need to get into the competition by getting into any dual degree programs.

Most of the time, it comes to whether an application is admission worthy or not based on the why UMich essay example. So, the following are some of the “red flags” that aspirants must avoid in their essays:

What Makes It Admission Worthy

There are countless ways aspirants can improve the Michigan supplemental essays. They can fill them with inspirational discourse or the intellectual heritage connected with the University of Michigan. It all sounds fantastic unless it comes short on the real grounds.

To help students in shaping their narrative better in these “Why UMich” supplemental essays, here is a guide on how they can make it admission worthy in a natural way:

Tips To Compose A Star Why University of Michigan Essay

To better understand the dynamics of the “Why UMich” essay and how to get their message across with rich intellectual heritage, the following tips will help aspirants in composing a star and admission worthy essay:

Set the scene

Deal with specifics, tweak structure logically.

The Michigan supplemental essays, in real terms, are more about a story than an essay. The admissions officers want to see how aspirants paint themselves with the University of Michigan as the background for undergraduate studies. It includes preferred admission curriculum support.

It never hurts to cover specific interests when applicants are writing Michigan essays. But this could come off as one-dimensional or rigid. Instead, they should explore specifics with flexibility for undergraduate and graduate programs, all the way to a professional career, keeping in mind the intellectual heritage of UM.

The structure of the essay should tell a story. In paragraphs where the aspirant details his or her passion, they can be flowery and filled with emotional content. When it comes to the role of the University of Michigan and how a program will help them during curriculum support, the structure should be logical and reasonable. That’s why it pays to learn how to write a why UMichigan essay.

Show interest and concern with example

The University of Michigan is a great place to study and learn. Everyone knows that. If aspirants are too concerned and interested in studying at Michigan, they should elaborate on the necessary examples in Michigan essays. One way of doing that is by naming specific professors, schools, colleges, and workshops that they want to learn from or attend during their course of studies.

An Example of Admission Worthy “Why UMich” Why It Is A Star

To help aspirants in composing a star and admission worthy essay, the following is an example of a Michigan supplemental essay:

Ernest Hemingway was a journalist and a war hero. Agatha Christie was a nurse during the Second World War. The reasons I mentioned were not the ones these two personalities are famous for. Both were amazing writers with a unique style that was formed by their real-life experiences during wars or writing about them. This is what makes an average writer distinguished from a great one. The latter can translate raw emotions and personal history into words of wisdom and joy.

As an undergraduate at Michigan, I want to study Creative Writing. The department is famous for catering to the needs of aspiring writers and equipping them with the necessary tools and outlook to create riveting works of art.

Then I believe my stop will be Residential Colleges. I understand that a rotten base should be demolished before the foundation of something grand can be anchored. The Residential Colleges will provide me with a deep understanding of who I am and what I stand for in terms of my fellow humans. They will help me in creating my distinct voice and honing my skills as a great writer.

College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) is another name I am most fascinated with. The college signifies the amalgamation of sciences, arts, and literature. The place allows young writers to understand the deep complexities of human minds and social structures concerning great works of art. As a young writer, I know that an aspiring writer cannot learn and master the craft of writing without learning and understanding the best writings from the greats of the past.

Seminars at Michigan are a big thing. That’s why I want to actively take part in these during my first year at University. These will hugely help in dissecting my writing and checking its worth at both microscopic and macroscopic levels.

Even though I am fully focused on writing and want to attend LSA and Asian Studies Department, I do not want to miss the opportunity to learn a wide range of subjects and issues at Michigan. That’s why I am also interested in studying law or business at the graduate level. The Law Department at Michigan is very famous, even from pop culture references. But of course, its real strength lies in shaping the lawyers and barristers of tomorrow with the necessary knowledge and tools to fight for justice and integrity.

Apart from this, I also want to change the world by working with non-profits. So, organizational studies are not off the table either. I believe that as a writer with superior storytelling abilities and updated knowledge of organizations and their relationships with states and communities, I can help the communities in necessary uplifting and getting their message to the concerned ears.

After my detailed interaction with the alumni of the University of Michigan, Rodney Bellow, and Stephen Beckett, I am confident that my interests and the faculties at Michigan align perfectly. During my course of research for colleges, I could not find another school that is so concerned about enabling young writers with the necessary knowledge that UM. So, it would be my great honor to turn that dream into reality! (535 words)

Why This Essay Example Is A Star

Following are the merits that make this Why Michigan supplemental essay a star:

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Why This College Essay Guide + Examples

Learn how to write a “Why This College” essay with my guide + examples. Go over the DO’s and DON’Ts so you can write an essay that stands out.  Amazing College essay examples from my own students. How was your college application journey? Let us kno…

The purpose of the “Why us?” or “Why this college” essay is to demonstrate—through specific details and examples—why you’re a great match for a particular school. In some cases, the “Why us?” essay is an important way to demonstrate interest in a particular college.

The “Why this college?” essay, and variations of this prompt, also happens to be one of the most popular supplemental essay questions asked of students on the college application. 

Here are just a few schools that have (or recently required) this prompt:

Bowdoin College

Brown University

Colorado College

Columbia University

Cornell University

Duke University

New York University (NYU)

Northwestern University

Oberlin College

Swarthmore College

Tufts University

University of Michigan

University of Pennsylvania

University of Southern California

And there are dozens of other colleges that ask this question as well.

This guide will provide a step-by-step strategy and tons of “Why this college?” (sometimes called “Why us?”)  essay examples to help you stand out on your essay and even help you decide what kind of school you want to go to . 

We'll start by covering what NOT to do, what kinds of details you SHOULD include in your essay, and where to find the best resources for researching your “Why this college?” essay.


The Top Secret Three-Word Trick to Finding Specific Info for Your “Why this College” Essay

Six Common Mistakes Students Make on the “Why this College” Essay

Mistake #1: Writing about the school's size, location, reputation, weather, or ranking.

Why shouldn’t you do this? Because that's what many other students are writing about and you don’t want to blend in. Take a hint from Emory University, whose “Why us?” prompt used to read:

Many students decide to apply to Emory University based on our size, location, reputation, and yes, the weather. Besides these valid reasons as a possible college choice, why is Emory University a particularly good match for you?

Or check out Georgia Tech’s old prompt:

Beyond rankings, location, and athletics, why are you interested in attending Georgia Tech? 

Clearly their admissions readers are tired of reading about those things.

Mistake #2: Simply using emotional language to demonstrate fit.

Telling the school that you walked onto campus and “it just felt right” is a) something else a lot of students say and b) doesn’t the reader understand how are a good match for the school. And, for that matter, neither does the statement, “I can see myself rooting for the Wildcats at MetLife Stadium on Sundays.”

Mistake #3: Screwing up the mascot, stadium, team colors or names of any important people or places on campus

Why avoid this? It's the quickest way to show you're a sloppy researcher. In the example above, the Wildcats play neither at MetLife Stadium nor on Sundays. Also, the “I can see myself in [insert school colors here]” is a cliché of the "Why this College" essay. Avoid it too.

Mistake #4: Parroting the brochures or website language . 

It could be that the person reading your essay and evaluating your application actually wrote the words you’re copying and pasting.

“On the one hand, it shows that a student has actually researched us and I appreciate that,” says Brian Liechti of Warren Wilson College. “On the other, as one of those people who wrote the words you’re copying, I’d rather see evidence of how what I wrote resonated with you—do we share values? What stood out or spoke to you in that brochure or on that web page? That's what I really want to see.”

Mistake #5: Describing traditions the school is well-known for.

In fact, find out the school's common traditions (like throwing toast on the field at Penn, for example, or painting the rock at Northwestern) and then don't write about those things. Why? Everyone and their brother already has. How do you learn these? Google the name of the school and the word “traditions.” 

Mistake #6: Thinking of this as only a "Why them" essay.

The school knows it’s awesome. “You probably don’t need to tell us about the beautiful Nott Memorial,” says Nicole Buenzli of Union College. “I pass the Nott every day, it's on every brochure we create, and we all know it has 16 sides!”

Instead, think of this as a "Why we are perfect for each other" essay. 

In fact, imagine you're on a date and the person sitting across from you leans in to ask, "So, why do you like me?" Don’t just say, "Because you're hot," or “My auntie says a relationship with you will improve my job prospects.” When it comes to the “us” in “Why us?” think of it this way:

“Us” ≠ the college you’re applying to

“Us” = the school + you

In order to prove you and the school are destined to be together, make connections between the two of you.

How to Write A “Why this College” Essay: A Step-by-Step Guide

Step #1: Do your research. 

How? Like this:

How to Find All the Resources You Need to Learn about a Particular School

“Click deep” on the school’s website. Spend serious time on the school’s online catalogue/course schedule and look for not only majors and minors , but also specific programs, courses, activities, and opportunities that set this school apart from all the others you’re applying to. 

Read reviews from experts. Here are some good ones:

The Fiske Guide to Colleges (Edward B. Fiske)

Colleges That Change Lives (Loren Pope)

The Best 376 Colleges (Princeton Review)

Read student reviews . Students sometimes say things that experts don’t or won’t say. Both and have real student reviews. Read a bunch so you can get a sense of the campus vibe and aren’t skewed by just 1-2 opinions.

I particularly like the Unigo question, “What’s the stereotype of the students at your school?” and “Is the stereotype true?” Note that if the “stereotype” comments contradict one another (one student says “hippie school,” another says “nerdy,” and another says “jocks and frat boys,” that could be a sign it’s actually a pretty diverse school).

Take real and virtual tours. It’s hard to really know a campus without seeing it. And if you can, do it. But if you can’t visit in person, check out:

Tours on individual school websites

TIP: Take at least five online tours so you can compare schools. 

Contact the admissions office and, if possible, talk to your local rep.

Most colleges have particular representatives for particular regions of the country (and the world). You can talk to them. And they're really nice! A few reasons why this is a good idea:

It’s a fantastic way to find out about a school . In fact, there are people who get paid to answer your questions. (My best friend was one of them.) Don’t be afraid. They won’t be mad at you; they’ll be happy you asked.

Your conversation may help you write your essay . If you learn something meaningful on the call, you may be able to write in your essay, “When I spoke to so-and-so in the Admissions Office, she told me…” 

At some schools, the person you speak to on the phone may be the one who reads your application. And how cool will it be when they’re reading your app and they think, “Oh, I remember this student! They were so nice.”

Pro Tip: Definitely have a few specific questions in mind before you call and try not to ask about anything you could Google in five minutes.

Don't ask, for example, if the school has a Biology major (spoiler: it does!) Ask instead how easy it is for non-majors to take advanced musical theater classes or what sets their Engineering program apart from other schools’ (assuming you've already Googled these things and can’t find the answers).

Don't be afraid to make a connection and simply be a curious human. It’s a great way to engage with the world. Even if you’re doing something as specific as researching an essay about why you chose this college.

Get in touch with a current student.

Try putting the word out on social media: “Anyone know a current or former student at Purdue?” Ask that person for 15 minutes of their time. Then ask a short set of questions that you’ve prepared beforehand. Ideally these are questions that will help you write your “Why this College” essay and will be interesting, specific, and open-ended.

Don’t just ask, “So, what’s it like there?” (too general) or “Did you like it?” (close-ended question). Ask open-ended questions that will be fun for them to answer like: “What was the most mind-blowing class you took and why? What surprised you about [this particular] college? What do most people not know about [insert school]?”

The more interesting your questions are, the more interesting the answers will be, and the more you’ll show why you are interested in this college.

Find a syllabus. 

That’s it. Research high and low, search the deepest depths of Google (or better yet: ask someone who attends the school) and find a syllabus for a class you may take at that school. 

Why does this help? Imagine you’re trying to articulate why you’d take a certain class. What better way than to peruse the language the professor is using in the part of the syllabus that says “What I hope you will learn from this class”?

Take this course description, for example, excerpted from a syllabus by (and quoted with permission from) Dr. Frank Anderson at the University of Michigan: 

This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the field of reproductive health, both in the United States and from a global perspective. The course will introduce students to cross-cutting themes including 1) historical discourses on reproductive health; 2) the social ecology of reproductive risks (e.g., gender, race, sexuality); 3) the relevance of physical anatomy to reproductive risks; 4) life course perspectives; 5) human rights frameworks; and 6) application to health behavior and health education assessments and interventions. Additional (more specific) topics in reproductive health will be addressed including maternal morbidity, contraceptive use, pregnancy, STI care, HIV, abortion care, and violence against women. Through a comparative look at reproductive health needs in a range of diverse social settings, we will critically examine the logic and impact of current domestic and international standards for reproductive health policy and practice.

You can show off your research skills by mentioning in your essay you found a syllabus:

“When I read Professor [X]’s syllabus for her Class in [Y], I was intrigued by the possibility of exploring [Z], in particular…” 

College Essay Guy’s “Why us?” Essay Research Chart 2.0

"Why us?" Essay Research Chart 2.0

Here’s a viewable version of this chart for you to copy/download and edit on your own.

What you’re looking for as you research: Specific reasons that connect the school (i.e. “them”) AND your own interests and needs (i.e. “you”). Here’s a simple formula: 

A (school-related detail) + B (how this connects back to you) = a great “Why us?” sentence

Pro Tip: Remember the “Why this College” essay is another opportunity to share a few more of your skills/talents/interests/passions. So look back at your “ Everything I Want Colleges to Know About Me” List and ask yourself: are all these values/qualities somewhere else in my application? If not, where could I weave them into my “Why this College” essay?

Step #3: Decide on your approach to the essay.

Important: There is no “best” approach and students are accepted to wonderful schools each year with each of these strategies.

Here are a few options:

Approach #1: The Basic, Solid ‘Why this College’ Essay That Includes a Bunch of Reasons

How it works: Research a bunch of opportunities at the school and connect each one back to you in an organized way.

How many is “a bunch?” Try to find 10-15 reasons. While you may not ultimately name all the reasons in your final version, research this many will give you plenty to choose from when you start your draft.

What do I mean by “organized” way?

Here’s an outline for a basic, solid “Why this College” essay:

Clear thesis that names the academic area(s) you want to pursue and maybe charts the path of the essay

Main reason #1 and 3-4 specific details

Main reason #2 and 3-4 specific details

Main reason #3 and 3-4 specific details

An ending that maybe discusses what you’ll give back

Here’s an example of a basic, solid “Why this College” Essay that includes a bunch of reasons:

The Why Michigan “Why this College” Essay Example

Prompt: 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? (500 word limit)

Mark Twain was a steamboat pilot. Agatha Christie was a nurse. Robert Frost was a light bulb filament changer. The best writers do not only write beautifully, but also integrate their personal experiences and knowledge outside the world of literature. By combining the study of literature , media and perhaps law , I believe the University of Michigan will provide the education necessary for me to evolve as a journalist. A journalist cannot reach the peak of his craft if his knowledge of literature and critical thinking skills are weak, which is why I’m excited to explore what the Department of English has to offer. I look forward to courses such as Academic Argumentation and Professional Writing, as I believe these will provide me with a firm basis in journalistic writing technique and improve my abilities to write analytically and develop well-supported arguments. Furthermore, the Professional Writing course will teach me how to write in a concise, straightforward style, a skill vital to a journalist. At The College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, I will be able to apply the skills learned in class with media studies in and beyond the classroom. The Honors Program provides an opportunity for independent research into the field of mass media, which will allow for intensive group studies and in-depth research opportunities, and the superb networking opportunity provides the chance to meet and engage with prominent figures in media-related studies, which will provide a deeper insight and knowledge into the field. Outside the classroom, I can see myself writing scripts for the student-run television station WOLV-TV, or composing headlines for The Michigan Daily. And although journalism is the path I’m currently on, I want to remain open to other opportunities I may encounter at UM. The Pre-Law Advising Program is interesting because I want to explore the intricacies of law and policies that govern this world. I believe that the judicial role of a lawyer is closely related to the expository skills of a writer, and I look forward to exploring this new field of study that wasn’t offered in my high school education. But all these are what UM has to offer me. I realize that, as a member of the UM community, I’ll want to give back as well . The various volunteer programs offered by Volunteers Involved Every Week appeals to me, as does the possibility of volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Michigan, as I have previous experience with elementary school teaching. And as an international student, I know the pains of learning English as a second language. I believe I can contribute to the ESL teaching program either at UM or abroad, and see this as an opportunity to have an impact not only at UM, but in Washtenaw County and beyond. (466 words)

Four Things I Love About the “Why Michigan” Essay

The short hook. Many students spend way too long on their  opening when a short one will do. This essay’s hook is just 40 words long and works well. Does your “Why this College” essay even need a hook? Nope. If you use this first approach, get to the main argument as fast as you can.

The clear thesis that provides a path for the essay . This will probably take you back to AP English class essays where you’re asked to make your argument explicit at the start and then provide evidence to support it. That’s what you’re doing in a “Why this College” essay and your argument is that you and the school are a perfect match. 

Three main reasons and 3-4 bits of supporting evidence per paragraph . I recommend identifying three main reasons because a) it keeps your essay organized, b) it’s easy to adapt for different length “Why this College” essays, and c) it provides “buckets” for your research. (“Buckets” = the themed paragraphs you need to “fill” with research.)

The way he sprinkles “salt” into his essay. Remember above where the author notes that he “look[s] forward to exploring [law at Michigan, as it] wasn’t offered in [his] high school education”? I call this sprinkling “salt” into your “Why us?” essay. Why? Consider this analogy: salt makes one thirsty and, by mentioning opportunities you haven’t had access to, you let the reader know that you’re thirsty for something the school has to offer. And the reader may know of opportunities for quenching that thirst that you don’t—including the “salt” may inspire them to think of those ways. 

A Slightly More Advanced Example of This Approach 

Here’s another example that follows the basic structure of the “Why Michigan” essay, but it’s a bit more advanced because  the details are a bit more specific. As a result, we learn a bit more about both the school and the author. Read it first, then take a look at the outline below to see how it’s constructed.

The Why Penn “Why this College” Essay Example

Note: I’m bolding the school-specific reasons in his essay so you can spot them more easily, but you shouldn’t do this in your final draft.

Prompt: How will you explore your intellectual and academic interests at the University of Pennsylvania? Please answer this question given the specific undergraduate school to which you are applying. (Word limit: 650)

I want to be a catalyst when I grow up, someone who sparks growth while also trying to sustain the environment through improved efficiency. At UPenn, I look forward to pursuing a major in Mechanical Engineering and exploring interdisciplinary programs, as I believe that sustainability can be a viable solution to preserve earth’s resources. At the GRASP laboratory , I hope to work at the Haptics Lab under Professor Katherine Kuchenbecker to devise an integrated haptic-responsive camera trap. I believe that the use of teleoperation (in camera traps) in wildlife censuses and studies can be a potential gamechanger in a geologically diverse country like India. I also feel that haptics interfaces can catalyze the process of discovering and studying unexplored biodiversity hotspots like the Western Ghats and the high-rising Himalayas. Besides this, I would also really get a chance to perfect my butterfly stroke through stroke rehabilitation at the Haptics Lab! In addition, hands-on project courses like Machine Design and Manufacturing and Product Design will help me in developing, testing and prototyping product permutations, and through ISAC Program 2018, I would love to advocate for a course called Environmentally Sustainable Product Design, as I feel that a product’s longevity in a market is directly related to its environmental sustainability. I believe that little sparks of innovation can turn into developed businesses if given the right acceleration and, having already negotiated a deal with the software company Everlution Software Ltd. for my eco-friendly innovation ‘Water Wave’, I look forward to using the opportunities at IGEL to turn my innovations into sustainable technological ventures. After accompanying my father to joint-venture meetings across Europe, I have picked upon certain technical aspects of negotiations such as the influence of ‘EBITDA’, the use of inter-cultural body language to change mindsets and the long-drawn-out process of Due Diligence. Courses like Engineering Negotiations will advance my skills in the subtle art of negotiation and develop my thinking in high-pressure situations. I look forward to contributing in unconventional ways: through Penn’s policy of Climate Action 2.0 , I’d love to help increase the efficiency of alternative energy machinery through responsive auto-sensors and I would also contribute to the establishing of wildlife corridors at UPenn by conducting case studies at the Morris Arboretum with the help of the Penn Green Fund . I also look forward to engaging in bird photography and ornithology by being an active member of the Penn Birding Club and potentially conducting fall bird censuses to illuminate for students the birdlife that nestles in the university. I hope to photograph and document each and every one of the 104 species ( Morris Arboretum Checklist ) of birds at UPenn. Furthermore, courses like Documentary Strategies and Photographic Thinking will help me better integrate critical thought into my photos and construct out-of-the-box documentaries to put into perspective environmental sustainability at UPenn. Also, contributing photo essays to the Penn Sustainability Review will allow me to depict the need for a change, beyond words. UPenn will also help me pursue a multitude of activities at its various clubs such as Penn Cricket Club , PennNaatak , where I hope to spark my flair for Marathi Drama , and men’s club basketball (I was all state for three years!). As I move with a redefined pace towards the goal of global sustainability, I am reminded of the UPenn ideology of addressing the most challenging questions and problems of our time by integrating and combining different disciplines and perspectives. Through my stay at UPenn, I hope to do just that.

Here’s the outline for the “Why UPenn” essay (which you can adapt for your own essay): 

Intro/Thesis (say what you want to study and why)

Really specific academic offering at the school that is in your intended major/concentration (this should connect to you in a really specific way)

A second really specific academic offering that is also in your intended major/concentration (and that also connects back to you) 

Something academic that’s not in your intended major/concentration (this keeps the focus on academics, but also brings in some variety)

Best/most important extracurricular offering (that connects to you in a really specific way)

Miscellaneous extracurriculars paragraph (2-3 things to demonstrate social/non-academic fit) 

Closing (this can be short and, in shorter “Why this College” essays, is unnecessary)

Note that the content in the two essays above are roughly 50% about the school and 50% about the student, which is a nice balance. Below is an example essay that uses a similar structure (thesis followed by main reasons), but is more like 75% about the school and 25% about the student. This isn’t not “wrong,” it’s just a slightly different approach.

The Why Tufts “Why this College” Essay Example

Prompt: Which aspects of Tufts’ curriculum or undergraduate experience prompt your application? In short: “Why Tufts?” (200 word limit) 

In addition to providing a strong foundation in economics, Tufts provides me the opportunity to further explore global health care policy through an International Relations Program that leverages the strengths of 18 related departments and programs. I’m also keen to continue my study of the Chinese language through Tufts’ Chinese Department, studying with Professor Mingquan Wang and perhaps study abroad at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, to receive the full immersion experience. Tufts’ Experimental College intrigues me as I can take unconventional courses such as Game Strategy (EXP-0029-S) and Rising Tide: Climate Change, Vulnerability, and Adaptation (EXP-0021-F). Further, Tufts’ urban backdrop provides me the opportunity to play league cricket year round to train for my bid to become the first Jumbo on the US National Cricket Team, while studying abroad at Oxford would provide me with not only global economic perspectives, but also the opportunity to continue my pursuit of cricket in its birthplace. Visiting Tufts, my mother’s alma mater, I felt I was at home in Singapore. Its strengths in Chinese, Econ and International Relations, combined with its beautiful suburban campus, academic rigor, and global reach have confirmed that Tufts is the place for me. (196 words) 

I call this the “firehose” approach because it packs 14 reasons into 196 words. The author offers the reader a sense that he has clearly done his research and knows how he might make use of the school’s offerings, which is the goal of the solid, basic “Why this College” essay. 

Did you notice how easy it would be to adapt the “Why Tufts” essay for another school? Switch out “18” in “18 related departments and programs,” change the names of the Chinese professor and University, name two different interesting courses and cut the “mother’s alma mater” line and voila—suddenly this is an essay for another school.

But how do you make the school feel really special? Like this:

Approach #2: The “3-5 Unique Reasons” Strategy

How it works: find 3-5 opportunities that are particular to the school (i.e. available at no other school or no other school you’re applying to) and connect each one back to you.

This is my favorite approach, as focusing on fewer reasons allows you the chance to share more about yourself and your interests (i.e., “why you”). But it can be more difficult to write because, frankly, it can be hard to find specifics that truly set a school apart from other schools. It is possible to find these unique offerings, however, and I believe it’s worth trying, especially for your top-choice school(s).

Pro Tip: Ask admission reps what sets their school (or the department you’re applying to) apart from other schools.

As an example, notice how the author below names four unique offerings that connect him to Cornell (I’ve labeled them below). Plus, we learn a little more about the author’s interests than we do from the essays above.

The Why Cornell “Why this College” Essay Example

Prompt: Students in Arts and Sciences embrace the opportunity to delve into their academic interests, discover new realms of intellectual inquiry, and chart their own path through the College. Tell us why the depth, breadth, and flexibility of our curriculum are ideally suited to exploring the areas of study that excite you. (Word limit: 650)

Whenever I have time on my hands, I hook myself up to my EEG and analyze my brain waves. Or if I am feeling slightly less adventurous, I am reading about the latest neuroscience trends in ScienceDirect or NCBI PubMed. I want to spend my life studying, understanding, and helping to fix the human brain. I bought my EEG online two years ago for about $150 and have used it to compare the beneficial effects of both circadian and non-circadian sleep on the brain by analyzing the number of clear peaks in a 3-minute interval of a theta wave. But just counting the peaks is not the best way to measure the benefits. I look forward to gaining a deeper understanding of the fundamentals of neurophysiology (as well as working with better equipment) in courses like Principles of Neurophysiology. As someone who has long been passionate about neurotechnology, the fact that Cornell is unique in offering classes devoted specifically to the field is very important to me. I would also like to be able to contribute my experiences with neurotechnology to support the cutting edge research in Cornell’s brand new NeuroNex Hub. I would love to work with Dr. Chris Xu in expanding the current three-photon microscope to be applied on various animal models. I also look forward to helping Dr. Chris Schaffer, whose research on deep neural activity is not being done anywhere else in the world. I freak out at the possibility of helping him develop a tool to look at multiple brain areas at the same time.  Though I have long aspired to study at Cornell, when I visited and sat in on Neurobiology and Behavior II, it made me all the more determined. I found Professor Christiane Linster’s presentation on synaptic plasticity absolutely riveting. Her animations of neurotransmitters crossing a synapse and new synapses forming in neuron clusters kept her students engaged in a way I have not seen in any other classrooms. I want to go to Cornell because of teachers like her.   During my visit I also enjoyed talking with Kacey about her experiences in the college scholars program. I loved that she had studied the effects of circus and gymnastic performances, like Cirque Du Soleil, on therapy for children with neurological disabilities. I am very excited by the idea of combining neuroscience with something like the effects of learning a classical language on developing brains. Many studies have shown the plethora of positive effects of being bilingual, but not much research has been done on classical languages. I have been studying Latin for over seven years, and I have experienced firsthand the positive effects. I spend hours every day breaking down complex sentences such as those in Vergil’s Aeneid, and so have extended this approach to problem-solving to other aspects of my life, like my neuroscience research. This is the program I would create for my college scholars project.  Cornell is also the only university I am interested in that offers a speaking course in Latin: Conversational Latin. For the past six years, I have rarely had to translate more than a few sentences at a time from English to Latin, never truly experiencing the unique grammatical features of Latin, such as intricate word play by Catullus in his Odes, that drew me so much to this language. I would love to supplement my knowledge by being able to formulate my thoughts in Latin and actively immerse myself in the language. I am really excited about learning the language as it was meant to be learned, as well as the new perspective it will provide me on Latin rhetorical artifacts.  As a kid who loves inventing, enjoys interactive learning, and wants to speak a dead language, I know Cornell is where I want to be. I wonder if my roommate will mind if I bring my EEG?

How this essay is similar to the first approach:

He begins with a short intro and solid thesis; both work well.

He weaves back and forth between what he wants and what the school offers.

What sets this essay apart: The four examples that name how the school is unique give us a really clear sense of how Cornell is a great fit for this student. Also, we know this essay was written specifically for the school because it would be much more difficult (than the “Why Tufts” essay, for example) to switch out the variables and use this for another school. Finally, while the “Why Michigan” and “Why UPenn” examples go for breadth, discussing many different reasons; the “Why Cornell” example discusses fewer reasons but with more depth.


Approach #3: the “one value” strategy.

How it works: identify one core value that links you to the school and tell a story.

This approach might be good for: 

Schools that a) have shorter “Why this College” essays and b) seem to be asking for this type of response

Students who feel approaches #1 and #2 might blend in too much, and are willing to take a risk

Why is this a risky approach?

You’re foregoing listing 5-15 reasons that connect you to the school (and, frankly, that some admission officers like to see)

This approach hinges on a particular story, value, or insight. And if:

your reader is skimming (as many are), or 

your story isn’t well-told, or 

the central theme or value isn’t clear, or

the insight doesn’t make the reader feel something… the essay may not work. 

That’s a lot of ifs! Having said that, here’s an example essay that, I think, does work:

The Why Bowdoin “Why this College” Essay Example

Prompt: Bowdoin students and alumni often cite world-class faculty and opportunities for intellectual engagement, the College’s commitment to the Common Good, and the special quality of life on the coast of Maine as important aspects of the Bowdoin experience. (Word limit: 250)

Reflecting on your own interests and experiences, please comment on one of the following:

1. Intellectual engagement

2. The Common Good

3. Connection to place

On the first dawn of the summer, I found myself in a familiar place: sitting awkwardly in the back of a crowded bus full of rowdy twelve year olds. But this time around, I wasn’t the shy, new kid at school, a position I knew all too well. I was the teacher, implementing a middle school aquatic ecology curriculum I’d developed the year before. As New Jersey’s Passaic River appeared on the horizon, I tightened the red laces on my Merrell hiking boots and checked my bag: clipboards, lesson plans, and a new water testing kit. For the entire day, I watched as twenty-five young minds tested the Passaic River’s water. Using the river as a natural learning laboratory, I taught them about pollution and industrialization, urban design and remediation strategies. That summer, through my work in environmental education, I discovered the power of place. I realized that in a changing world, places really are the best storytellers. By tracking the Passaic’s pollution levels, we toured the tales of its waters, beginning with its use by the Lenape Native Americans, to its unjust usurpation by European hegemons, to the Vietnam War, during which tons of Agent Orange were dumped recklessly. At Bowdoin, I’ll encounter this again. I find myself doing the very thing I was teaching: investigating the rich stories behind a place. As part of my major in Earth and Oceanographic Science, I blissfully get lost on Orr’s Island, researching everything from the historical ecology to the changing geography of the Maine coastline. And I can’t wait.

Why does this essay work?

This author checks a few “Why us?” boxes by focusing on specifics, showing us he’s done his research, and clearly answering the prompt. But want to know the main thing that sets this essay apart?

The author found a deep connection between one of the school’s core values and one of his own. 

I know this flies in the face of the “provide a whole bunch of specific reasons” for your essay that I mentioned in Approach #1. Instead, the author found one really good reason: Both he and Bowdoin are deeply committed to investigating place . This focus was particularly apropos for this student, as he planned to major in Environmental Science. And, as you read this essay you sense that it couldn’t have been written for another prompt.

Because he used a value as the central theme, this essay is primarily about the author. Check out that word count: the essay is 258 words long, but he doesn’t even mention the school until word 202.

This works because he stays connected to the central themes, which are nature and storytelling. In fact, if in your essay we don’t get a sense of the central themes in the first 200 words, we might wonder, “Where is this going?”

Instead, though, we feel as we read this essay that the author is taking us somewhere. He’s a guide we trust. So we relax.

How can you write an essay like this?

1. Find a way in which you and the school are deeply aligned.

Hint: It’s probably a value. 

It’ll take some research. And it may be easier to do this with a smaller liberal arts school (like Bowdoin) that has a particular character. Reed College, for example, is proud to call its students “Reedies”—even going so far as to call them a particular species—so, for Reed, you might figure out what being a “Reedie” means to you, then demonstrate why you are without a doubt one of them.

2. Take your time crafting the essay.

What do I mean? I believe a great “Why this College” essay is similar to a great personal statement in that it should demonstrate:

Core values (which this essay does)

Insight (aka important and interesting connections, aka “so what” moments)

Craft (it should be obvious, in other words, that the author has revised the essay over several drafts and knows the purpose of each paragraph, sentence, and word)

And because the Bowdoin essay above essentially focuses on just one important and interesting connection (connection to place), I believe that craft becomes a LOT more important. In other words: this essay would be much less awesome if it were much less beautiful. 

What do I mean by beautiful? Read it aloud. Note phrases like, “Using the river as a natural learning laboratory” and “places really are the best storytellers.” The writer even makes water testing kits sound like exciting tools of a real-life adventurer, as essential to the author as an explorer’s compass (and when I read this essay I’m convinced they are)! 

How do you get to this point? I think you have to really love the thing you’re writing about. I also think (if I’m being honest) that you have to love to write, or at least to convince yourself you do.

This approach takes time. But it’s worth it. Why? I believe this is the type of essay that, particularly at a small liberal arts college, can truly make a difference. I have only anecdotal evidence—stories from a few admissions officers—to prove it, but in some cases I believe essays like this have tipped the scales in favor of a particular student.

3. Find a way to be vulnerable.

This part is perhaps the most difficult, but most crucial. Let me explain: 

I mentioned above that a great “Why us?” essay should demonstrate a) important and interesting questions and b) craft. But there’s a third quality that I think a great personal statement should have, and that a “Why us?” essay can, in rare instances, demonstrate. That quality is vulnerability.

How does the Bowdoin essay above show vulnerability? He lets his geekiness show. (My definition of “geek,” by the way, is someone with a lot of knowledge in a particular area, particularly an area that is not conventionally popular.) He does this by writing about what he loves without apology. 

Why is this vulnerable? Because, in doing so, he risks public ridicule. (I mean, water testing? Come on ...) But he pulls it off because he doesn’t go too far or include too much jargon. Why is this important? He draws us in rather than push us away. And we’ve all met both kinds of geeks: the kind that draw us in and the kind that alienate us. Be the draw-us-in kind.

Another thing that makes this essay vulnerable: he lists very few (almost no) Bowdoin specifics. And that’s a risk! Did it work? You decide.

Could I create a hybrid approach by focusing on a central theme, but still listing a few reasons?

Yup. Here’s...

The Hybrid Approach: Use a Central Theme + Include Several Specific Reasons That Connect Back to You

The Why Swarthmore “Why this College Essay Example

The human body’s greatest asset is its ears. They come pimpled, freckled, mushed, bent, rounded, and pointed. But, despite their differences, they share a single purpose: to listen. Swarthmore is all about ears. It not only understands the importance of empathetic and open dialogue, but also the ways in which listening can be the first step towards bridging deeply entrenched ideological divides. Whether I’m learning from guest lecturers at the Center for Innovation and Leadership, engaging in dialogue at the Global Health Forum, or exploring my sexuality through the Intercultural Center, I know I’d be at a place that values collaboration, honest discourse, ethical leadership, and creativity invested in the public good. Everything at Swarthmore is about putting those cartilage appendages on the sides of your head to good use.  As a person drawn to audio and visual storytelling, my life has been defined by listening. At Swarthmore, I would continue to foster the quality relationships I’ve created and the love I’ve spread by inviting people to share their stories on my podcasts. Majoring in Film & Media Studies or English Literature, broadcasting at WSRN, and writing for The Review is the next chapter in my life of listening. I would creatively explore how narratives have been told in the past and can be redefined digitally for a new generation of ears. Swarthmore knows that global change starts with an honest conversation. I want to be pioneering new networks of connection. I want to be starting those conversations. (247 words)

Ethan’s note: If you go with this approach, ideally you would find offerings unique to the school (as in the “Why Cornell” essay). But if you can’t, just find reasons that are as specific as possible and connect them back to you (as in the “Why Michigan” and “Why UPenn” essays).

How to Write a “Why this College” Essay If You Don’t Know What You Want to Study

Good news: you can still write a great “Why this College” even if you have no idea what you want to be when you grow up. Some tips:

1. Consider including a thesis that either names your 2-3 areas of interest or states that you’re unsure what you want to study. In that thesis, consider saying what you do want, and including the name of the school (Example: “I’m interested in X, Y, and Z, and I believe there’s no other place for me to explore these areas than the University of Wisconsin-Madison.”) 

2. You can also begin with a nice hook to not only show your creativity but also perhaps distract from the fact that you have no idea what you want to be when you grow up (and oh by the way it’s totally fine to not know).

Here’s a great example to illustrate these points:

The Why Johns Hopkins “Why this College” Essay Example

Prompt: Johns Hopkins University was founded in 1876 on a spirit of exploration and discovery. As a result, students can pursue a multi-dimensional undergraduate experience both in and outside of the classroom. Given the opportunities at Hopkins, please discuss your current interests (academic, extracurricular, personal passions, summer experiences, etc.) and how you will build upon them here. (500 words)

Dear 2016 Ariana, It’s 2026. I have just returned from the G20 summit after delivering the annual-report on demographic transition and population stability. Throughout your seventeen years of life, you have been barraged with choices: Which airline seat to choose? Is the answer B or C? Is “the dress” blue/black or white/gold? But, you will soon make a choice that will allow you to harness your knowledge and apply it to reality. The choice to go to Johns Hopkins. By now, you have lived in India, the UK, and the USA: multicultural exposure that shaped your worldview. You are confused as to what you want exactly, but deep down you strive for a synergy of ideas and fields. That can and will be found at Hopkins. Particularly, the JHU Humanities Center will provide you with a flexible approach toward interdisciplinary study: important, as you value the need to explore before settling on a choice. You will find this at Homewood , but also globally; through study at the Sciences Po campus , Paris , which outlines the interconnectedness between areas such as law, finance, and urban policy. In Model United Nations, you built skills in collaboration, working with students across the country to embody pluralism and reach consensus. At Hopkins, you will enhance these skills and your knowledge of international relations in Professors Moss and Hanchards’s class, Diaspora, Nation, Race, & Politics . The discussions, which range from political sociology and human rights to the fall of late nineteenth century empires, will give you greater insight into how history determines our understanding of today’s geopolitical challenges. And although you stuck your toe in the ocean of government and politics through your internship in Senator Glazer’s office, JHU provides an immersive dive into this field through their International Studies Program , with opportunities at the Nanjing Center, China and the Nitze School in Washington D.C . On a local level, you will be able to extend your political service when you run for JHU Student Government Association , where you will continue to represent diverse viewpoints and provide a forum for recognition and discussion. You will also have the opportunity to continue your work with the Red Cross , giving back to the Baltimore community by joining the JHU and the Chesapeake Regional chapters . And by joining the Public Health Student Forum , you will gain access to speakers who have worked in these fields all their life, like Former Director of the Peace Corps, Dr. Jody Olsen, and Dr. Richard Benjamin, Chief Medical Officer of the Red Cross . All your life experiences, from building community to understanding behavior in order to enact decisions, have stemmed from One. Single. Choice. Without Johns Hopkins, you would not have become an expert on global policy change, speaking at events like the G20 emporium. Yes, the world has changed dramatically in the past 10 years. But Hopkins recognizes this fluidity, and paired with you, Ariana, will propel the importance of integrative study. Love, Future Ariana PS: The dress is white/gold.

Final note from me: Do you notice how in the end this approach isn’t all that different from Approaches 1 and 2? The main difference is her thesis, which, instead of naming a major, simply states that she’s unsure what she wants to study. We’re cool with it, though, especially because she still includes lots of reasons and connects each back to herself.

Three Ways to Make Sure Your “Why this College” Essay Is Doing Its Job

1. Scan your essay for capital letters. Why? Because, chances are, capital letters means you’ve included something specific that the school offers. In fact...

2. Highlight in bold your reasons for wanting to attend. I’ve done this in the “Why Johns Hopkins” essay above. Notice after doing this if you have just 1-3 items highlighted in bold. If so, you can probably trim in some places to make room for more reasons. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but if you’re going for the first or second approach I’ve described, then 1-3 reasons per paragraph is a good rule of thumb, whereas if you’re going for the third approach you can kind of do whatever: you might choose to go in-depth on one really great reason. But either way…

3. Make sure that each time you mention something about the school you connect it back to yourself. How do you know? Simply check each mention of the school and see if you’ve explained why this is important—not just in general, but to you.

Finally, just so you can see how a personal statement and “Why this College” essay can work together, here is: 

The Laptop Sticker “Why this College” Essay Example

If I could pursue only one goal for the rest of my life, it would be taking measurable action towards gender equality. Since the age of six, I have observed the difference in how I am treated because of my gender—when playing sports, during mealtimes, or at social gatherings. I have tried to counter the effects of gender bias through social entrepreneurship, and now I would like to gain insight into the societal constructs that underlie these issues. At UPenn, I hope to study Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies with a concentration in Feminist Studies and Global Gender and Sexuality Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences. Through Professor Kathleen Brown’s “Gender & Society” class, I will learn how complex social identities such as race and gender impact economic exchange and demarcate opportunities available to minorities. I hope to further explore the consequences of electoral quotas and their effect on women’s mobilization transnationally with Dawn Teele in her class, “Sex and Power.” Such classes will help me ensure that I am not working for one cause at the expense of another, and will arm me with the skills necessary to analyze social, economic and political dynamics in the real world. Last summer, I spent a month at UPenn, living in Harnwell College House and incubating my social impact startup, Straw’d, through the LaunchX program held at the Pennovation Center. At the program, MEAM Professor Jenna Shanis spoke about her work designing soda machines with Coca Cola. Presenting us with a simple task (“design a way for humans to enjoy flowers”), she showed us that the first solution is usually never the best solution, and that innovation is most effective when it is iteratively brainstormed and cross-fertilized. Material Science and Engineering Professor Vanessa Chan, inventor of the tangle-free headphones ‘Loopit,’ inspired me to take on the challenge of creating a consumer good instead of a company in the service industry. These two professors, along with others who spoke, have given me a new perspective on integrating theory into practice, critical thinking into activism. Given my interest in building new social enterprises, I would like to join the Penn Social Entrepreneurship Movement to learn more about empowering women economically in different countries. Through events like ‘Social Impact Talk Series’ held by PennSEM, I will learn about the multi-faceted industry of social entrepreneurship and gain exposure to issues such as food innovation and food policymaking. Additionally, planning [email protected] events has been an integral part of my four years of high school, and I will continue this passion through TEDxPenn by finding women speakers from underrepresented industries and helping to elevate their voices.   I’ve been an artist longer than I have been an activist. Through classes such as “Photographic Thinking- a Benjamin Franklin Seminar” and “Art, Design, and Digital Culture”, I will learn to use design as a vehicle to fight for gender equality in the future, as digital art is currently heavily influencing the way social movements develop momentum through media. While at UPenn, I noticed that many youth from surrounding neighborhoods grow up with difficult socioeconomic circumstances, and I hope to empower women of color from these neighborhoods as I study how race and gender impact economic opportunity. I will join the Community School Student Partnerships to lead social impact and entrepreneurship workshops at the after-school programs in high schools. I've experienced firsthand how entrepreneurship training can empower individuals, and by training girls from underrepresented communities, I hope to help them solve the problems they experience. Joining CSSP would give me the opportunity to give back to the Philadelphia and Penn communities while continuing my passion for empowering young females. The GSWS program at UPenn is a perfect fit for me. Its interdisciplinary training and intersectional approach would provide me with the knowledge, mentorship, and resources I need to continue growing as a social justice advocate and champion of equality.

And there you have it. Three approaches to tackle your ‘Why this college” essay, and some important context before you dive in. Hopefully these tips have you off and running.

Have a tip or question? Have a totally different approach to this essay? Let me know in the comments.

Happy “Why us?”-ing.

more “why us?” essay writing resources:

“ Why this College” Essay Example #1: annotated essay for the University of Michigan.

“ Why this College” Essay Example #2: annotated essay for Tufts.

Guide: Writing a "Why us?" Essay for a Safety School

More DOs and DON'Ts for Your "Why Us?" Statement

Personal Statement Examples

Extracurricular Activity Examples

why us university of michigan essay

26 University of Michigan Supplemental Essay Examples (2023)

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Essay Examples

To get into the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2023, you have to write strong supplemental essays.

In this article, I've gathered 26 of the best supplemental and Common App essay examples for Michigan.

University of Michigan Admissions FAQ

Here are some answers to common questions regarding applying to UMich.

As one of the highest ranked public universities in the U.S., Michigan has a reputation that makes for a competitive admissions process.

University of Michigan's Acceptance Rate

This past year, a record 79,743 students applied to Michigan and only 16,071 were offered admission.

That gives Michigan an overall admit rate of just 20.15% for the Class of 2026.

University of Michigan Acceptance Scattergram

Here's a scattergram that shows admitted and rejected applicants for Michigan in recent years.

In order to stand out from other applicants, you'll need to write your best supplemental essays. Here you can find 26 examples of Michigan essays that worked.

Since many of Michigan's prompts have stayed the same year after year, these examples answer this year's prompts.

What is Michigan's application deadline for this year?

The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor offers two admissions deadlines for Fall 2023: early action and regular decision.

For this year, Michigan's deadlines are:

Some students like transfer students may apply in Winter 2023 or Summer 2023, for which there are two deadlines:

What are the University of Michigan supplemental prompts for 2022-23?

This year, the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor requires applicants to write two supplemental essays. The first essay is limited to 300 words while the second essay is longer, with a maximum of 550 words.

The Michigan supplemental prompts are:

1. Community Essay (Required for all applicants.)

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. (100-300 words)

2. Why Michigan Essay (Required for all applicants.)

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? (100-550 words)

26 University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Essays That Worked

Check out these 26 Michigan essays that worked.

Below you can read example supplemental essays for Michigan, as well as Common App essays from admitted students.

Get inspired and start writing your own successful Michigan essays.

Prompt: Communities and Groups

Prompt: Area of Study / Why Michigan?

Prompt: Extracurricular Activity

1. Michigan Community Essay: "Christian Faith"

Prompt: 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. (100-300 words)

I am a member of the Grosse Pointe chapter of YoungLife, a non-denominational Christian youth group. However, I wouldn't necessarily consider myself a "Christian."

My relationship with God is exactly that—mine. I sometimes question certain Christian teachings and beliefs, and I'm not 100 percent sure that I am officially any one religion.

This is not only OK, but encouraged at YoungLife; the motto of the organization is "Come as you are." The differences between myself and the person sitting next to me at Sunday Club don't matter there.

Our diverging ideas and opinions, some of which may be about religion itself, become white noise as we sing along with the leaders to start each Club at the YoungLife House. My understanding of Christianity can be polar opposite of that person—my friend—next to me, but we are connected in the Club's universal idea of being yourself and accepting others for doing the same.

I am still figuring out my individual ideologies, and I expect it to take time before I fully understand my feelings. My views may will fall within those of a Christian church, they partially could, or they might not at all. I haven't solved my religious puzzle yet, but I don't feel like an outsider because of it. The people at YoungLife respect my internal journey. They understand that I don't fully understand my religion yet.

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2. Michigan Community Essay: "Horseback Riding"

As the first horse walked in for the HJAM hunter derby in May, I sat on the grassy hill overlooking the show grounds with my friends and the “big girls” for the first time. In just a few years, I would be one of the “big girls” that the younger kids would look up to. Brought together by long horse show days highlighted by donkey races in Kentucky, boat days in Traverse City, and “Ride and Drives” in Ohio, the group of riders that compete at the horse shows have become my friends for life.

Starting in the early 2010’s, when all of us rode ponies, everyone began to come out of their shell as we bonded over our love for this sport. Jumping the “kid jumps” until it was too dark, our group became inseparable, and Sundays, the last day of a horse show, became increasingly dreaded as it meant we had to say goodbye until the next show.

Trading in ponies for horses and bows for hair nets, we became engaged in much more mature activities- like water fights and golf cart races. Beginning to conquer bigger divisions and national finals, riding became more serious, however, being surrounded by this community kept it light hearted as we cheered each other on ringside.

Entering into my final junior year as a rider, I have trouble believing that I have become one of the “big girls” as it seems just yesterday I gazed up at my mentors on the hill almost a decade ago. Knowing that the friendships I have made will last a lifetime, I am forever grateful to the early mornings and long nights that brought us together and cannot wait to watch where each of us end up: both inside and outside of the ring.

23 College Essay Tips To Help You Stand Out

3. Michigan Community Essay: "Youth Court"

A defining factor of my interests and character is membership to Ontario County Youth Court. Not only have I enjoyed the career exploration, new opportunities, and service aspects of the program, but also the people within it. Youth court provides as alternative path legal path for youth offenders. But also serves the community of members who conduct the trials. This has allowed me to gain an understanding of other people’s situations and circumstances.

After four years of dedicated membership, I have assumed leadership positions within the program. This includes acting as lead prosecutor, along with the elected chair of the Ontario County Youth Court Steering Committee. As chair, I have planned successful member outreach events such as a Halloween party and a career exploration event. By acting as a mentor and providing guidance towards my fellow members, I have encouraged others to develop a passion for youth court and law. Without this community, I would have never discovered my true passion for law, or broadened my understanding of others.

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4. Michigan Community Essay: "Two Sides"

I grew up with big glass doors in my living room, bold doors that opened to a garden on one side and a living room on the other. When you walked outside, you entered an untamed mosaic of bamboo, peonies, lavender, hummingbirds, bees and the occasional free-spirited cat. Grey stepping stones guided you through the mystical garden in a seemingly random fashion. The other side of the doors open up to a different type of community, a community where shoes and dirt weren’t allowed, corners were sharp, and the main odor was all-purpose cleaning spray.

These two worlds were separated by a mere panel of transparent doors. I believe that I am the product of both of them. These two spaces, along with my mother, formed the person that I am today. From the garden community, I learned to be pure and kind, while the indoor community warned me to also stay guarded. I’m reserved, but with a touch of confidence; forgiving but not ignorant; and perseverent yet flexible.

Things used to seem binary; I was either the garden or the room. However, I now believe that I am the living, breathing evidence that maybe life isn’t so one-sided. Maybe some us will realize that one side calls to us, while others will become the glass doors and, instead of standing on either side, experience multiple worlds.

5. Michigan Community Essay: "Marching Band Family"

As I prepared for my freshman year of high school, I was terrified I would never find my place at Grosse Pointe South. But when I started my first marching band camp a month before school began, I found the friends that would form my tightest-knit community for the next four years.

No matter how busy my schedule has become, the six hours I spend each week at marching band have remained a constant throughout high school. These friends have been the most unfailingly kind people I have met at South, and have provided me a place where I feel confident presenting myself authentically to the people around me.

As a section leader this year, I have gained experience as a supporter and motivator. My goal has been to help the underclassmen find the same community in marching band that I did.

This role has taught me a lot about collaboration. My fellow section leaders and I have shared responsibility for the quality of every performance we give and held meetings to discuss ways to improve rehearsal productivity. It has been incredible to see our hard work result in such enjoyable performances for our school and surrounding community.

The Grosse Pointe South Marching Band has become my second family throughout the last four years. I am incredibly grateful for the friends I will miss so much next year, and for the opportunity to provide underclassmen with the same kind and accepting environment that I was welcomed into four years ago.

6. Michigan Community Essay: "Chinese Christian Church"

As you walk onto my church grounds, you would be a little befuddled. What used to be a small one-story home now houses the Chinese Christian Church of Columbia--the former garage/carport is now the sanctuary, the swimming pool has been replaced with the education building, and the old house is now the kitchen and fellowship building. But the most glaring aspect is the separate services, divided by language not time. Our church walks between traditional Chinese culture and contemporary American beliefs. Many of the ABCs (American-born Chinese) and the few Americans join together for the English service, centered around more contemporary worship and disciple-building. The older immigrant population and the Chinese students from the surrounding universities gather for the Chinese service, featuring more conservative worship with hymns and focused on outreach.

Though we are divided by language and cultural barriers, we are joined together with a shared faith. While I call the English congregation home, I occasionally serve on the worship team for the Chinese service and as an interpreter for joint adult and youth events (when the Chinese and English service join together). While I serve in both congregations, my main focus is the children’s ministry where I am a Sunday school teacher and an activities coordinator. Every week, I love walking into the classroom, seeing the happy faces of curious children ready to learn new Bible stories despite their occasional rowdy and disobedient behavior. While the students learn, I share the same search for answers in my faith. With my church being a melting pot of cultures and language, we work to push aside those barriers to be joined together under one faith. Despite the challenges, the tight-knit community that has sprung up from our tiny house church has won my heart.

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7. Michigan Community Essay: "Whitman Navigators"

I quit keeping track of how many times I've said "Hi, welcome to Whitman!" after my first Back-to-School-Night. As a member of the Whitman Navigator team for three years, I've greeted a few hundred parents, oriented three classes of freshmen, and built lasting friendships with fellow Navigators and staff. Navigators are Whitman students who lead Freshman Orientation and Back-to-School-Night, as well as give tours to transfer students.

In this capacity, I've worked with our two principals, Dr. Goodwin (now retired) and Dr. Dodd, on building a more welcoming Whitman. The community I love best is that of my high school, Walt Whitman. My place is similar to that of a Walmart Greeter, in that I am the first person freshmen see when they enter the front door. Using my school spirit and three years' experience, I enthusiastically guide these freshmen through their first encounter with this large, and often intimidating, new community.

Last year, I received my first question that I couldn't answer. As a chorus student, my knowledge of the Fine Arts at Whitman is limited; when a freshman asked me about ceramics courses, I paused and pondered. Rather than providing her with false information, I said, "I actually couldn't tell you.

At the end of orientation, I'll refer you to Gianni, a Navigator who took ceramics last year." The closeness of the Navigator community meant that I knew the right person to answer her question. Here I was, answering the freshman's question in a position of authority, when only four years ago I was in her shoes. Navigators granted me the opportunity to help others acclimate to the school, and I developed leadership traits through which I could guide people successfully.

8. Michigan Community Essay: "Diverse Community"

In my hometown, you can hear the cows moo and the tractors hum. The smell of manure might only be overtaken by the fumes of a Ford F-150. Farms line the sides of the roads I take to school. I have lived in rural Carroll County, Maryland my whole life. I have grown to love it. The people are friendly, neighborhoods are safe, and schools are good. However, there is one main issue. Everyone here is white.

While visiting the University of Michigan, I noticed the treelined campus. I pictured myself meeting peers in the dorms and classrooms. I was overwhelmed when I stepped into the Big House. But the thing that stood out the most was the diversity of Ann Arbor. Being in a place where a variety of ethnicities is so prevalent was a wake-up call to what I have been missing my whole life.

The diverse community of the University of Michigan is a place where I could see myself thrive. Being around and learning from people with unique backgrounds has been a rare commodity in my life. Around the age of thirteen, I realized what I had been missing within Carroll County, so I joined a soccer team in a more diverse neighboring county. This team gave me a taste of what life is like away from my rural hometown.

In college I want to belong to a society of people all different from each other. I would be able to learn so many valuable life lessons. University of Michigan is a place where I could share my story, as well as take in the stories of many different people. In college, I want to join a community filled with variety and open mindedness, rather than remaining in my ethnically homogenous past.

9. Michigan Community Essay: "The Nabe"

The bus took ten minutes to get home this time, not the usual thirty. This wasn’t my home, but it would essentially become just that.

The Morristown Neighborhood House is a center that provides a free and safe after-school environment for local children. While I had previously participated in various service programs, something was different about NH. Whether it was teaching long division or playing a game of chess, the bonds I established with the kids were real, human connections.

It was a privilege to be appointed service coordinator at the end of my junior year. But, I wanted to further immerse myself into “the Nabe.” While there were various summer options, I felt that there couldn’t be a better choice than signing up to be a camp counselor at the Nabe.

The kids became family; through sarcophagus art projects, writing practice, Xbox tournaments, implicit bias discussions, and trips to the park, they became the little siblings I never had. When I brought in ice cream for all of them on my birthday, I was showered with hugs. No foreign exchange trip could outdo that.

I am a member of many communities based on my geography, ethnicity, interests, and talents, but the most meaningful community is the one that I never thought I would be a part of. Bryan, Genesis, Justin, John, Christian, Jason, Jazarah, Jaeden, Steven, Angelique, Isabella... and Yajur.

On that first bus ride to the Nabe, I never saw it coming.

10. Why Michigan: "Education Program"

Prompt: 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? (100-550 words)

Growing up, I always pictured myself as a great teacher as an adult. With the second best secondary education program in the country and an emphasis on the liberal arts and undergraduate education, I am confident that U-M will shape me into the great educator I’ve dreamed of becoming since I was a kid.

Hallmarks of a liberal arts education include teamwork, problem-solving, clear writing, and effective communication. These are also skills that any exceptional teacher needs. U-M offers an unparalleled curriculum that prepares students to successfully run classrooms and obtain Provisional Teacher Certifications upon graduation, exposing students to diverse classes and people in Ann Arbor, and providing them with an invaluable liberal arts education along the way.

Being an effective teacher means connecting with and stimulating all students at its core. The liberal arts foundation I will receive in the College of Literature, Sciences, and the Arts (LSA), married with the experiential education and training the School of Education (SoE) will provide, will mold me into that great teacher—a mentor and role model for any student, regardless of creed—I’ve always aspired to become.

The Teacher Education Preferred Admission (TEPA) for incoming freshmen piqued my interest because the program is the crossroad between the liberal arts and teacher education; two components I was looking for in a college. TEPA will allow me to build a strong liberal arts base in LSA my first two years on campus before entering SoE, while also gaining beneficial experiences in the education field early on.

The education-oriented programs WE READ and Students Empowering Education specifically appealed to me because they will bridge my liberal arts education with my anticipated career as a high school English teacher. Similarly, my Spanish classes will have a practical application in the Ann Arbor Language Partnership, a program that immediately interested me as a potential Spanish minor.

During my first two years as a pre-admit, I'll be supported by my TEPA peers and staff, specifically from my SoE personal adviser. TEPA will take the large campus and make it feel smaller, allowing me to form organic connections with like-minded people and groups that can cultivate my interest in education before entering SoE junior year.

I need a meaningful education to be a meaningful educator. Truthfully, I could go to almost any college to become a teacher, but only schools that synthesize in- and out-of-classroom learning like SoE produce great ones. U-M ranking sixth in the country for undergraduate teaching bolstered my interest in the university and confirmed what I already knew: I will receive an education in LSA and SoE that will change who I am as a person and not just a student, and prepare me to provide the same for others as a teacher.

The great educator I’ve always envisioned myself becoming is one that can inspire without bounds. From my time as a student, I’ve come to realize that a truly influential teacher can work with students who have little in common with themselves and still be impactful. LSA's purposeful and broad curriculum, paired with SoE's hands-on courses and fieldwork, and the additional opportunities available through TEPA, will shape me into that life-changing teacher, for any student who walks through my classroom door.

11. Why Michigan: "Business Opportunities"

Growing up in a community that bleeds maize and blue, the community represented by the University of Michigan has always been one that I could see myself representing as both a student and alumni. From football games at the big house to classes at Ross, each and every opportunity available at U of M represents a piece of my life that I hope to continue to incorporate into my life for the rest of my life.

The opportunity to take courses that allow for enriched experiences in developing a real business is one that I intend to be involved in as soon as possible. I will use this type of class as a way to test my skills and learn where I need to become stronger as a leader and student. Watching others equally driven as me, their tactics that are successful and not successful will imprint on how I attack problems in the future and shape my overall leadership style.

By being involved in the Multidisciplinary Action Projects down the road as a graduate student, I hope to learn firsthand what it takes to run and be involved with real businesses. Firsthand exposure is the best way to learn how to solve problems- especially surrounded by peers who are equally as driven and dedicated as I am.

Filled with students striving for nothing but the best they are capable of is a community that I am certain I will enrich and fit into. By sharing ideas and collaborating together instead of against each other, each and every one of us will contribute to the business world as leaders and innovators.

The University of Michigan is a place I can see myself learning and growing as a leader for the next four years as I intend to use all of the tools at my disposal to become a top business person. The opportunities within the school I will be involved in and the peers that I will work beside only enrich the values of what being a Wolverine mean to me.

12. Why Michigan: "Engineering at Michigan"

The University of Michigan’s College of Engineering has a proactive approach to career path discovery and job search. While I do hope to aspire to a corporate attorney, an engineering degree from the University of Michigan would provide me the advantage of readiness.

U.S News and World Report published an article about challenges law school applicants with STEM degrees face. Number one was the lack of research skills. Michigan Undergraduate Engineering has research opportunities for all undergraduate students. I hope to even take advantage of The College of Engineering (CoE) International Internship Program. The chance to see the world and contribute to the world-class studies conducted by Michigan Engineering students is a unique quality. The article also reported that STEM applicants often lack job experience. Michigan Engineering hosts internship fairs, which even freshman can participate in. By utilizing the opportunity to work in a professional setting, I will be more adapt to presenting myself in a mature and respectable manor in a corporate setting.

Many people are puzzled by my aspirations to become a corporate lawyer with an engineering degree. While I enjoy learning about many areas of study, math and science have always peaked my interest. Like my attraction to law, I am drawn to the definitiveness of engineering specifically. While there is a right and wrong in methods and procedures, there is a chance to be creative; for the end goal is functionality. Law requires critical thinking, problem solving, and the questioning of presented facts and figures. These skills are also encompassed in Michigan Engineering. With a technical understanding of industry and engineering, I will be able to more accurately represent a corporation. Like the professors at Michigan Engineering, I hope to be an expert in my field. At Michigan Engineering, I will be educated by the best of the best. Professors that have been exposed to their fields in every aspect; allowing them to provide the best guidance to students. Instead of just presenting facts and figures in a courtroom, I will be able to understand and explain them.

13. Why Michigan: "Economics and Political Science"

In my junior year microeconomics class, my teacher extensively explored the ways in which people from different socioeconomic classes were affected by our economic system. I was frustrated by the ways our country forces those living in poverty to spend the little money they have on taxable goods. I began to empathize with them. How can people pull themselves out of poverty if their government seems to be working against them? More than anything, I was frustrated that I felt powerless to help them in any way.

Those lessons inspired and motivated me. I had always looked at economics as nothing more than an analysis of business models and resource allocation. I began to see it as a way to fix fundamental problems in our society, from examining the effects of healthcare expansion on crime and poverty rates to studying how shifts in our political climate affect how our country’s financial process will change. I now see economics as a way to help those in need in my country and throughout the world.

I volunteered after school for Representative Dingell and had the opportunity to attend numerous events hosted by the Ford School. Again and again, I was impressed by the extent of the Ford School’s student involvement in critical issues. Through my work with the Congresswoman, I was able to gain a greater understanding of how different groups of people were affected by shifts in political and economic priorities. My goal is to become a civil rights attorney or study economics as a way to promote sustainable growth in developing nations.

I want to begin my studies at the University of Michigan in LSA to gain a foundation in economics and political science-related courses. After my first year, I hope to gain admission to the Ford School. The connections that LSA and Ford have to Poverty Solutions solidified by interest in the University of Michigan. If I attended these schools as an undergraduate student, I would be able to assist with research on the causes and ramifications of poverty. Professor Michael Barr’s research on policy initiatives and our financial system is fascinating from the perspective of a prospective economics major. At the University of Michigan, I would be able to join teams of renowned researchers working toward the betterment of our society and our world.

The range of schools working in connection with Poverty Solutions is evidence of the University’s devotion to civic engagement. I would be able to participate in groundbreaking research regarding issues I am interested in; I would have the ability to study poverty and ways to stunt or alleviate its effects in other countries. As someone hoping to pursue a career in public service, it is truly incredible to have the opportunity to join a research community specifically geared toward solving problems I am passionate about solving.

I want to join the University of Michigan’s legacy of innovators. I want to be part of the LSA community, studying economics and political science. I want to attend the Ford School and understand how policy in America and abroad has an effect on global poverty. I want to be involved with the Poverty Solutions Initiative, conducting groundbreaking research on the ways we can reform our financial system to better serve the lower and middle classes.

14. Why Michigan: "Michigan Faculty"

Riding the elevator to the seventh floor of Haven Hall, my heart was practically leaping out of my chest. I was meeting with Dr. Jenna Bednar of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts Department of Political Science, and as I recalled her credentials- B.A. in Political Science from Michigan, M.A. and PhD in Political Science from Stanford- I felt increasingly out of place. As a junior in high school with limited political experience, I am grateful that she agreed to take time out of her day to meet with me and answer my numerous questions about LSA, Michigan, and political theory.

Upon entering her office, my eyes were drawn to bookshelves full of political literature, from the classics like De Tocqueville and Locke (which I read in a summer college program in 2017), to her own recently published work, The Robust Federation. Encouraged by her broad smile and having just completed an official campus tour, I launched into my questions. Dr. Bednar described the connections she and her students have made at Michigan, through LSA and in general.

This revealed to me that the faculty would take a personal interest in my academic career. We discussed the average class size in LSA and the Department of Political Science, her academic background, and how to survive Michigan winters. Dr. Bednar then brought my attention to the benefits that LSA Political Science gives its students.

For example, as head of the Michigan in Washington program, Dr. Bednar's passion for both political science and education was evident as she introduced me to one of Michigan's most influential academic programs. Although I hail from two miles outside the D.C. border, I aspire to participate in the Michigan in Washington program, to build on my internship of the past year with my delegate to the Maryland General Assembly.

Under his guidance, I conducted nationwide policy research, attended civic association meetings and development forums, and traveled to our state capitol to watch the legislative process unfold. Consequently, an internship at the federal level is my logical next step toward building the foundations of a political career.

Dr. Bednar, upon hearing about my internship with my delegate, suggested that I think about the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program. I believe that this research program offers a unique means of building my understanding of political science. I am eager to apply to the UROP program in hopes of furthering my research skills within the complex political landscape of today. Furthermore, the variety of courses that I can explore as a political science major is remarkable: from "Sports, Politics, and Society", to "Nations and Nationalism," the scope of topics will keep me engaged.

When I sat down with Dr. Bednar, I expected a five-minute chat; I received forty-five minutes of helpful advice, political theorizing, and well wishes. Leaving her office, I felt energized and ready to dive into LSA Political Science right there. Her demeanor helped to build my confidence to boldly seek connections in my search for knowledge. I saw the Michigan difference firsthand, from various undergraduate opportunities for political science, to a universal love for the school from students and faculty alike.

Hundreds of the Best College Essay Examples

15. Why Michigan: "Interdisciplinary Learning"

My favorite class in high school was also my hardest. It was World Culture/World Literature, an hour and a half each day of seeing history, art, and literature not as separate entities but as intricately connected, one incomplete without the other. I learned to see humanism in Greek sculpture, religious propaganda in the chiaroscuro of Baroque paintings, disillusionment in modern art. Although seemingly unrelated to my STEM-leaning interests, the analytical skills I learned there would prove invaluable in neuroscience research. Connecting electroencephalography results to mechanisms for chronic pain relief wasn’t all too different from drawing links between historical movements and paintings; both required an intimate knowledge of background information and a willingness to take risks, to see new relationships and forge unprecedented connections.

LSA embodies precisely this mentality, fostering interdisciplinary learning and problem-solving. With classes like “Health, Biology, and Society: What is Cancer?”, bridging humanistic and biological approaches to disease, and graduation requirements ranging from Natural Sciences to Race and Ethnicity, LSA prepares students for the real world, where problems necessitate not just single-minded expertise but also a diverse understanding of other factors involved. My internship experience only confirmed the practicality of this perspective; we used mindfulness meditation alongside spinal cord stimulation technologies to treat chronic pain.

This mindset is not confined to learning inside the classroom. The LSA Opportunity Hub is robust, connecting students to internships at Nike, Forbes, and the US Department of Education, among other places. To intern as a research assistant at Mayo Clinic, to use mathematical models to predict brain tumor growth like current Michigan junior Tatum Doyle would be an unequalled opportunity. Her work in incorporating mathematical concepts in medical research personifies the LSA culture, where problems are best solved holistically. LSA’s interdisciplinary approach does not detract from fostering specialization and excellence in specific fields, but adds; its Biochemistry program promotes innovation and independence in its students and is ranked top in the nation.

I remember boiling down cabbage with my dad to make acid/base indicators. In elementary school, my teacher wrote that I had been spending too much time reading animal books and too little time playing with other kids. I loved (and still love) all things living, often marvelling at the complexity of the animal kingdom, the human body, the organs, and the cells that were the foundation for everything else. The first time I read about the process of translation, of rendering mRNA into proteins, my eyes filled with tears; this is what I wanted to do, to apply the chemistry that had defined my childhood to my love of biology.

LSA shares that passion, dedicating a plethora of resources, both intellectual and material, to its Biochemistry department. With equipment like atomic absorption spectrophotometers, classes in Endocrinology, and distinguished professors, the University of Michigan has everything any biochemistry undergraduate student would need, and much more. To research under a PI like Dr. Kopelman, winner of the J. William Fulbright Research Award, would be a dream fulfilled. His work in employing 5-dimensional chemical imaging to visualize and treat tumors does what LSA does best; it uses an interdisciplinary approach to make academic discoveries both relevant and essential in the real world. It is a culture I would be honored to take part in, should I be accepted.

16. Why Michigan: "Michigan Opportunities"

Sweat drips down my face onto homework in front of me.

I just got home from a soccer game; I’m not stressed. This is until I realize I still have a plethora of edits to make on my lab report as well as emails to write for an upcoming NHS event. AND I have three tests the next day.

Although stressful, I enjoy every minute of juggling a variety of academics and extracurriculars. I appreciate all the opportunities my high school offers to me and I take advantage of as many as I can handle. Thanks to my involved years of high school, I have received a great education as well as many experiences I would never trade away.

Entering my senior year and researching universities I may want to attend, there is one question which continuously presents itself. What do I want to major in when I get to college? It is a scary question and I have never known the answer. Despite participating in many extracurriculars such as National Honor Society, Science Olympiad, Math Honor Society, and Future Business Leaders of America, I still have no idea what I want to do with my life.

As a student at LSA, I would be able to use the abundance of resources to explore possibilities for life after college. Since I am one of the many college applicants who has not decided upon a major, a large, liberal arts college like LSA is the perfect place for me to discover more about myself, pursue interests, and find my purpose. I have considered medicine, business, economics, and law. The two courses I have enjoyed the most are biomedical sciences and US History. I am truly all over the map!

With so much variety at LSA, I would be able to change majors or take a diverse group of classes so that I could find what I want to study. LSA is unique from its University of Michigan counterparts because it offers a broader range of departments, majors, and courses. The flexibility at LSA would help me discover what I want my life to be like while supporting me through my journey.

Additionally, LSA provides students with multiple opportunities not found anywhere else at University of Michigan. One program that caught my eye was Michigan Learning Communities. This program appeals to me because having the resources of this large university, yet finding a niche in the community to challenge myself and others, can help me grow as a student and a person. Similarly, the Opportunity Hub at LSA jumped out at me as I researched the University and toured the school. I would take full advantage of the great connections the Opportunity Hub provides, as it could help me find an internship or job offer when the perfect time comes. MLCs, the Opportunity Hub, and the many other programs which LSA offers are the main reasons why LSA would be the best college fit for me.

I was initially drawn to the University of Michigan by the beautiful campus, great athletics programs, unmatched prestige, and massive alumni network. However, as I dove deeper, I discovered LSA, a school that can help me realize my purpose and passions while providing a focused learning environment to lead me to a bright future.

17. Why Michigan: "School of Kinesiology"

Throughout my college search, I had yet to come across the perfect undergraduate school for my interests. The safe pick was always the standard “College of Arts and Sciences” or its equivalent, with the most varied options for me to craft my experience. Something was different about Michigan. I didn’t need to craft my own academic experience at another university when the perfect one was already designed here: The School of Kinesiology’s Movement Science program.

In my house, we never eat scrambled eggs. We eat denatured albumin and yolk proteins served with a sprinkling of sodium chloride; cooking was chemistry, not just a chore. From a young age, my parents have cultivated a sense of curiosity in me. So when I injured my left wrist in the summer before freshman year, it was so much more than just an injury. I researched more into my growth plate dislocation and radial fracture. I got to see the details of the procedure, the recovery process, and the gradual reversion of my X-rays to a normal wrist image. This fascinating journey got me through an otherwise disappointing summer: no basketball and no french horn.

While the seeds were planted during my injury, they didn’t start blooming until I spent a week shadowing Dr. Kesavan Ramanujan in the Royal United Hospital, Bath, England. I realized that the field of orthopedics was a field where I could visually identify a problem, come up with a solution, implement the solution through operation, and help someone progress to full recovery. The gratification on the doctor’s faces when their recovered patients came back to visit them was infectious. While this trip was my first time staying abroad without my family, the biggest takeaway for me was that I had found a career I was truly interested in.

My volunteer work at the Robert Wood Johnson Hospital Physiotherapy Clinic has only strengthened this notion. While my work as a volunteer may be the more routine tasks: making schedules, doing paperwork, cleaning the beds and the gym, setting up hot packs, cold packs, and stimulation pads, I have learned so much about the subtle details of patient interaction through what I absorb from the physical therapists. Even if a PT is having a bad day, they have taught me how important it is to have a smile on your face for the next patient coming through the doors. They have also taught me how much of an intersection there is between teaching and medicine/therapy.

These experiences draw me to the School of Kinesiology, and specifically the Movement Science program. The opportunity to actively engage with skeletomuscular system studies as opposed to solely classroom learning appeals to me, as do the extensive research opportunities. The specialized IONM Intraoperative Neuromonitoring Program-- the only accredited IONM program in the world-- would give me the chance to engage in an exciting, interdisciplinary curriculum that cannot be found anywhere else.

From scrambled eggs to broken bones; from British adventures to lessons learned in the RWJ clinic. Discovering my passion for orthopedics and movement science has already been an exhilarating ride; yet, these have all been just the beginning steps of my journey. I cannot think of a better place to continue than the University of Michigan.

18. Michigan Extracurricular Activity: "Summer in the City"

Prompt: 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? (150 words max)

I would chose to continue my involvement with Summer in the City, a nonprofit that empowers young citizens to revitalize Detroit through beautification and youth engagement, because I believe heavily in the power and potential of two things: Detroit and young people.

At SITC, I can see the difference I’m making through the murals I paint and the kids I play with. With each brush stroke, I am moving the city one step in a positive direction. And with each high five from my “buddy” at the camp, I feel like I am part of the grassroots, youth-driven movement the city needs.

19. Michigan Extracurricular Activity: "Riding Horses"

For as long as I can remember, riding horses has played an integral part of my day to day life. It has taught me more than I could learn anywhere else and truly morphed my character forever. Riding has become a key part of my identity. Spending 30+ hours a week at the barn in addition to nearly 20 weekends of the year at horse shows, it has shown me the impact that long term effort has on success. This time commitment has also allowed me to make close friends that I hope to stay connected with for the rest of my lifetime. Riding has ultimately become more than a sport to me, but rather part of my life: a part of my life that I will treasure for as long as I am alive.

20. Michigan Extracurricular Activity: "Restorative Justice"

With my aspirations to pursue a career in law, I would continue with youth court. Restorative justice is a concept that repairs damages and restores harmony. Instead of merely correcting illegal actions, an offender is integrated back into the community as a productive member of society. As a member, this is the greatest sense of satisfaction. Allowing someone the chance to change truly displays why I have remained devoted to the program for years.

At the University of Michigan, I would continue my restorative justice journey by involving myself in the Office of Student Conflict Resolution. I understand people have faults, which lead to disputes. With my vast experience with a variety of cases, I can assist others in making amends. Therefore, I am hopeful that I would be selected as a Student Resolution Panelist to be further educated on methods and approaches using restorative justice.

21. Michigan Extracurricular Activity: "Nanny"

Working as a nanny has taught me much more than any club or organization could. Growing up with a single mom, I wasn’t always the primary focus: I had to learn how to take care of myself and carve my own path. Now, being a nanny enables me to be a role model and guide for kids whose parents might not have the time or ability to do so. And as the child of a working parent, I’m also aware of the constant stress parents are under.

Not only does being a nanny teach me how to handle the responsibilities of caring for a child, it also allows me to reminisce on my childhood. Whether I’m helping David with his Spanish homework, teaching Edward how to say hi, or finding Leprechaun footprints with William, I can feel the unique impact I’m making on their lives, an impact which is irreplaceable.

22. Michigan Extracurricular Activity: "DECA"

Throughout middle school and my freshman year of high school, I was a mouse. I was terrified of making a spectacle of myself. The first time I walked into a DECA meeting -- one of only five girls in a group of 50, and the only freshman -- I nearly turned around and left.

Since that day, I have earned three medals and been named a state finalist. That mousey freshman would never believe I could receive statewide recognition for a competition that required me to communicate my ideas to strangers. Walking into my first meeting was a huge step outside my comfort zone. Since then, my experiences in competitions have given me a breakthrough in self-confidence, and for that I am especially grateful. Not only has DECA enhanced my high school career, but it has helped me learn to take pride in myself and my ideas.

23. Michigan Extracurricular Activity: "Speech and Debate"

Since September of sophomore year, I have been attempting to persuade everyone and everything, from walls, to friends, to rearview mirrors, to agree with me. Through competitive topics in Speech & Debate, I'm learning how today’s issues affect American teens. From analyzing drug culture and its impact on youth, to assessing politics' role plays in dating, I'm granted the opportunity to broaden my perspective.

In the process, I'm meeting some of the most intelligent and fascinating students at tournaments. The Speech community is a creative outlet where I'm comfortable having my ideas challenged and challenging others. I plan to join the Michigan Debate team, and help coach high school Speech teams in Ann Arbor (my coaches are college students), because I believe that every teenager should be encouraged to critically explore current events, while getting comfortable speaking to inanimate objects, judges, and competitors in the process.

24. Michigan Extracurricular Activity: "EMT"

I love being an EMT. I love the urgency of working in an ambulance, the way my heart quickens and my mind focuses when providing emergency patient care. But most of all, I love helping individuals in my community in a way most other people can’t. As EMT's, we’re endowed with the opportunity to intervene at the most critical points in a person's life, to provide calm and stability in life-or-death situations.

These are moments cemented in their memories, ones that define their conception of hardship and struggle. Every call I run presents a chance to make a permanent difference, from a classmate’s suicide attempt to a stranger’s car accident. By being there and providing compassion within chaos, I cherish the opportunity to positively influence each of my patient's lives. I wouldn’t give it up for anything.

25. Michigan Extracurricular Activity: "Soccer Lessons"

The activity which I am most passionate about and plan to continue is soccer. Soccer has taught me multiple skills applicable to all aspects of life. These include leadership, teamwork, and work ethic. As captain of the soccer team, I have taken away various lessons I can apply in life. For instance, I have improved not only giving constructive criticism, but also receiving it- something which I am still working toward. Similarly, I have learned to be a better teammate, as soccer is reliant on playing together. Most significantly, soccer has brought me a desire to work hard, as being great requires so much more than pure talent. The impact of soccer on my life has created a new challenge for my future. I would like to continue playing because I want to take what I have learned and expand on it, and ultimately teach these lessons to others.

26. Michigan Extracurricular Activity: "Playing Horn"

It started from scratch, in 4th grade band Just me, my horn, and a small music stand Not knowing where, one day, this horn would take me Not knowing it would all be so grand.

I practiced for years, my range did expand I kept working and listening to teacher’s commands I’d keep on improving, as long as I practiced Whenever I got some time on my hands.

Failures have been tough to fully withstand. Each judge’s musical taste is hard to understand. But under the bright lights of Juilliard and Lincoln Center My journey could not have been better planned.

Looking back to where I began I couldn’t have imagined where I would land Only one activity? I’d keep playing my horn You have to play it to truly understand.

If you want to get into the University of Michigan in 2022, you'll need to write great supplemental essays.

Here are 26 Michigan essays that worked for the 2022 supplemental prompts so you can improve your essays.

If you enjoyed reading these Michigan essays, check out essays for other top public universities like UCLA and UC Berkeley

Are you applying to Michigan? Let me know: what did you think of these U of M essays?

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