The University of Michigan is a large public research university with over 46,000 students and is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. UMich is Michigan state's oldest university and was founded in 1817. Since then, Michigan has grown to be considered one of the premier research universities in the country. Along with its reputation and academic rigor, Michigan also has competitive athletics.
As a top public school in the country, admission to Michigan is increasingly difficult. In 2018, over 65,000 students applied to Michigan and only about 15,000 were admitted, giving Michigan an acceptance rate of 23.5%. As acceptance rates continue to lower, it is vital that your essays help you stand out among the tens of thousands of other applicants.
Below are some accepted Common App essays and Michigan-specific supplements that were written by real students who were accepted by the University of Michigan. Without any further introduction, let's get to the essays!
Essays and Supplements
Please note: all names, cities, and other personal information in essays and supplements are replaced so as to keep the author's privacy.
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University of Michigan Common App Personal Statement #1
Written by Anonymous Student
Verified Real Acceptance
Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. (250-650 words)
First impressions are everything—even in kindergarten.
I was born with Nonsyndromic Aplasia Cutis Congenita. Basically, I have had a scar on my head since birth, and hair couldn't always grow over it. Up until fourth grade, when I underwent two hair transplants that would allow me to slowly grow hair over my scar, it was definitely noticeable.
What I remember vividly about kindergarten is my new peers glaring at my shiny head with a puzzled look. I learned about my classmates through their lunchbox covers and backpack designs; they saw me as the boy with the scar.
It had a nice ring to it, but I wasn’t a fan. Unfortunately, that’s what I imagined everyone saw first, and first impressions stick. In elementary school, it was still my defining characteristic—what separated me from a sea of collared t-shirts and cargo shorts. As I began first grade, the questions started. In retrospect, they were harmless, but they made me feel alienated. I would try to shrug them off, but the benign inquisitions furthered the self-created idea that I was different than my classmates because of something I couldn’t fix.
The idea of my peers seeing only my bare scalp when they looked at me, whether true or not, was a nightmare I couldn’t shake. It was my most distinct feature, but I didn’t want it to be defining. So, I applied myself to my activities. No matter what it was, I always tried to stand out so I wouldn’t be seen as the boy with the scar anymore. My hair wasn’t something I could control, but my personality was. I wanted to build an identity on my interests and attributes, not have one automatically assigned because of a birth mark.
From art to sports to being one of the only first graders on elementary student council, my desire to distract my peers from my scar was the reason I pushed myself to try new things and work at them, even if it wasn’t for the best reason.
As I grew up with it and found hobbies that I genuinely enjoyed doing and talking about, I slowly became more comfortable with the attention that I once shied away from. I found a way, through my activities and interests, to feel comfortable in my skin, whether there was hair on it or not.
I remember walking out of the operating room after my second surgery with a new sense of self, ready to be a different person with a re-created identity and a full head of hair. That didn’t happen. I went back to school as the same person I was before, and that was exactly what I wanted—I just didn’t know it then. For so long I felt restricted by my scar. It wasn’t until hair started growing when I realized I never really was.
I didn’t have a sudden epiphany about my scar after the surgery, nor did I feel like a new person. By that point in my life, I had figuratively grown into my scar just as I grew into my brother’s hand-me-downs. I found and focused on my interests, and from them I developed an identity that I was proud of, well before I went under the knife.
A caveat of my surgery was that the hair would grow, then one-third would fall off. My scar will never be completely gone, but I no longer feel defined by it like I did in elementary school.
Neither the surgeries or my search for a more redeeming quality completely changed my life, but both experiences made me more confident in my self-perception. I can be whatever I want to be; a scar can’t change that. It just took two surgeries and years of nail biting and pushing myself at my activities, some of which I still partake in and am passionate about today, to realize it.
University of Michigan Supplements and Short Answers #1
Written by Anonymous Student
Verified Real Acceptance
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? (approximately 100 words)
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.
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. (approximately 250 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.
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 max)
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.