How to Write the University of Michigan Supplemental Essays: Examples + Guide 2023/2024

how to write the umich essay


  • What are the University of Michigan Supplemental Essay Prompts?
  • How to Write Each Supplemental Essay Prompt for the University of Michigan
  • How to Write the University of Michigan Supplemental Essay Prompt #2

The University of Michigan essays are kind of like the Pyramid of Giza if you turned it upside down and cut it into thirds. 

Maybe I should elaborate.

The tip of a pyramid is pretty small, so you can’t fit a ton of stuff into that space. As move toward the base (which is up, if it’s upside down), each third is bigger than the one that came before it. In much the same way, each University of Michigan essay prompt gets progressively broader in scope and larger in terms of word count. As the questions become less specific, the application gives you more room to answer and vice versa.

Think of writing the University of Michigan essays as constructing a literary upside-down Pyramid of Giza. Every part is different, but each one connects to the others. And, every third of it has to be strong to keep the overall structure from crumbling. 

But before you dive right into the prompts, get an extensive, by-the-numbers look at UMich’s offerings in its Common Data Set , and for deeper insights into how the university wants to grow and evolve, read its strategic plan .

What are the University of Michigan supplemental essay prompts?

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)
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? (550 words)

How to Write Each Supplemental Essay Prompt for University of Michigan

How to write the university of michigan supplemental essay #1.

General Tips:

Don’t repeat things that the reader can find in other parts of your application. Use this essay to show another side of a previously-mentioned community or to discuss a community you haven’t mentioned. The second option is more likely the better choice. Additionally, consider including values you haven’t already demonstrated.

Try to think outside the box. Which of your communities might help you stand out among other “community” essays? Being part of a “community” can take a lot of different forms. Don’t limit yourself to a narrow definition. An essay on a strange talent (like juggling while jogging) or an obscure interest (like historically accurate baking, for example) might be more apt to catch the reader’s attention. And, yes, those are real examples from past students.

Details! Be specific. The more visceral details you can give about yourself and the community you’re discussing, the more you distinguish yourself from all the other applicants. Use memorable language and evoke unique images that will stick with the admissions officers.

Here’s a great sample essay written for Colgate that would work well for this prompt: 

Aside from my inherent love for bagels, my Jewish background has led me to become more embedded in my community, joining Jewish activists and building a website on Holocaust education. In the 1930s, 36 members of my family were lost to the Holocaust, and that fact has led me to carry on the memory of my ancestors through tradition—with my Bar Mitzvah—as well as with an educational lens—teaching others about the Holocaust and about specific stories of survivors. Feeling disconnected from Jewish activism, I decided to become an educator on the Student Leadership Board of the Seattle-based Holocaust Center for Humanity last year. Each week, we met to discuss present-day instances of oppression and discrimination across the world, and finished the year by building a website to share the story of a Holocaust survivor.  Being on the board connected me to a network of other passionate Jewish activists, and helped me to channel the pride for my culture and ancestors into visual media that reaches many viewers. At Colgate, I hope to find myself surrounded not only by like-minded Jewish students, but by a diverse group of people with whom I can learn and make connections. (196 words) — — —

Tips + Analysis

Highlight a core identity. In the example essay, the applicant highlights their Jewish heritage and the profound impact it has had on their life choices and commitments. This is a great way to approach this prompt—think of communities/identities that you claim, pick one that Michigan isn’t seeing elsewhere, and show how that aspect of you + your experiences will allow you to contribute to the Michigan community. Also, ensure you shed light on the aspects of your background that have shaped your identity. This could be cultural, familial, or personal attributes that have molded you into the individual you are today.

Provide concrete examples of impact. Just as the sample essay vividly narrates the applicant's journey in Jewish activism, so you’ll want to offer specific instances that exemplify the impact your background has had on your decisions and pursuits. Whether through personal experiences, engagements, or projects, share specific moments where your background has led you to initiate meaningful actions. In short, show us .

Connect to Michigan’s community. At the end of your essay, consider addressing how your background, values, and commitments align with Michigan’s vision and how you intend to extend these connections on campus to foster learning and shared growth. For example, perhaps you plan on joining (or creating?) relevant student clubs, volunteering at a local museum, or finding innovative ways to connect with students who share a similar background.

Here’s one more that does a great job of answering the prompt:

I belong to a community of conversation cravers. Every conversation I have makes me a better person. Learning new languages enables me to have more conversations with more kinds of people, expanding my understanding of the world. Although I was born in Long Island, my first language was Romanian. I learned how to walk in Romanian, how to laugh to Romanian, and how to play in Romanian. I began to learn English in preschool. In English I learned to talk about more complex topics and began striving for deeper discussions. At the age of seven, I started to learn French. I went to Canoe Island French Camp, where I met kids from around the world. With French, my community expanded like a fishing net cast over water, as I learned about foreign cultures. Last year, I took a trip to Peru to backpack to Machu Picchu. In Spanish, I listened to my guide tell stories about the Incan gods of puma, condor, and snake, and gained a more intense respect for indigenous cultures.  Today I speak four languages, and as a result I am better able to embrace nuanced and multifaceted issues. I hope to bring my love for intimate conversation into my studies of Political Science at the University of Michigan, where there is a clear emphasis on connection, whether is be through conversation-based LSA classes like,“The Political Economy of African Development” or through opportunities to live with a host family through the study abroad programs offered by the CGIS. In my career, as I address the issue of climate change on a political level, I will continue to use conversation as a driving force. After all, the drastic social revolution needed to reverse climate change will only happen one person at a time. 

Try to find a great hook. “I belong to a community of cravers.” That’s it. Super simple. Super mysterious. Alliterative. It just totally draws you in. Don’t feel like you have to answer the question in a straightforward way. Start with something that raises more questions than answers and see where it takes you.

Make it easy to follow. This essay is essentially structured in chronological order. In each paragraph, the author gets progressively older and brings some new insight to the table about what she’s learned. This is a great way to structure your essays. Try bolding the first sentence of each paragraph after you write your first draft and see if you still get a sense of the basic timeline/story. That way, you’ll know if you’re providing a clear roadmap for your readers. (Just make sure to unbold it for other versions or at least before you paste it into the application.)

Choose a common thread and stick with it. From the very beginning, the author introduces the theme of “conversation” and the value she gets from listening to the people around her. This ties nicely into her love of language and environmental policy. Rather than confusing the reader with lots of different ideas and themes, she sets one up at the beginning and expands on it as the essay progresses. Try to keep things simple. You only have 300 words. Rather than introducing five different half-baked ideas, stick to one and serve it piping hot.

how to write the umich essay

How to Write the University of Michigan Supplemental Essay #2

For this one, rather than general tips, check out our complete guide on the “Why us?” essay . Want the TL;DR version? Here it is:

Don’t talk about things the University of Michigan already knows about and hears from tons of other applicants. These are things like weather, location, ranking, or reputation. Also try to avoid taking language directly from the website or brochures. Articulate things in your own words.

Talk about yourself too! Don’t just talk about why you like the University of Michigan. Also explain why you are a good fit for the school. Remember it’s a two-way street.

Do lots of research. Find specific resources, programs, or classes that appeal to you. This includes reading student reviews and doing tours (online, in-person, or both). You might even want to talk to a local representative in your area.

Connect back to your core values. For each part of UMich you like and want to explore, explain how that relates to one of your guiding values.

How you get started:

Spend 1 hr+ researching 10+ reasons why the University of Michigan might be a great fit for you (ideally 3-5 of the reasons will be unique to UMich and connect back to you).

Use this chart to map out your research.

Create an outline. Here’s an example of how you could structure yours:

Thought-provoking or interesting hook

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

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

A second really specific academic offering that’s 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 (these interests can also be sprinkled throughout to bolster or counterbalance your academic interest paragraphs)

Closing (this can be short)

Write a first draft.

Here’s a great sample essay for this prompt: 

University of Michigan Supplemental Essay Example: Prompt #3

J.R.R. Tolkien introduced us to Middle Earth. George R.R. Martin invited us to King’s Landing. J.K. Rowling enrolled us in Hogwarts. In order to craft fantasy worlds that resonate with the widest audiences, the best writers combine their formal education with personal experience and distinct interests. Creatives must draw inspiration by integrating the depths of their psyche with their environment and, by studying creative writing and Asian studies, I believe the University of Michigan will provide me with opportunities to develop a strong minority voice in the predominantly Caucasian world of young adult fiction.  Through the Residential Colleges, I hope to be a part of a living-learning community that emphasizes critical thinking and creative expression while immersing myself in the development process. The ability to work one-on-one with an RC Professor and receive personalized instruction is invaluable, as it will give me the unique opportunity to address my weaknesses and improve my strengths. And a fiction writer cannot mold young minds to connect deeply and read critically complex works of art without having done so herself, so I am looking forward to First-Year Seminars such as “Topics in the Science of Creativity” and “Saving the World with a Story: Writers’ Voices of Conscience in Fiction,” as these will help me to analyze my writing on both a microscopic and macroscopic level. The Center of Japanese Studies and the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures will enable me to deepen my understanding of Japanese culture in the classroom and apply my knowledge by studying abroad in Japan. The Residential College intensive language program will help me develop Japanese proficiency, allowing me to take full advantage of overseas study in Kyoto. Courses like Early East Asian Transformations, First-Year Japanese through Anime and Manga, and Spirits of Contemporary Japan will teach me to analyze spirituality, existentialism, and society in the context of classical and contemporary Japan. This can ultimately serve as a thematic basis for my writing. I can see myself attending live action and anime screenings on campus with club Animania and participating in cultural initiatives by the Japan Students Association. Although writing and Asian Studies are my passions, I look forward to attending a large school with diverse opportunities and want to remain open to post-graduate careers in either business or law. As my sister and I have started a nonprofit, I may want to explore organizational studies. I  also want to contribute to the UM community by becoming a Sweetland writing consultant and a creative writing intern at Ypsilanti District Libraries with 826Michigan. Over the course of my interactions with Brittany Simmons and Logan Corey and after much research, I have come to see that what UM has to offer aligns with so many of my interests and core values. (No other school I know of offered courses in 2015 exploring my literary heroes Miyazaki and Murakami.) In short, Michigan has become a top choice for me and, if I am able to afford it financially, I would love to attend. (505 words)

Spend some time setting the scene. Right off the bat, the author shows us how we are all implicated in the fantasy stories we know and love. He then talks about how his academic interests would help him understand both the real world and creatively envision alternate universes. That’s just so cool. He’s already done so much in  the first paragraph. We’ve got a sense of his intellectual interests. And, we’ve got a good sense of his values (creativity and cultural sensitivity/awareness). It’s important that he included these core values upfront and then elaborates on them later in the essay. We know his direct answer to the question, but have to keep reading to get a better sense of why. 

Make your structure clear and logical. After the first paragraph, we know the author is predominantly interested in creative writing and asian studies. In the next two paragraphs, he breaks down each interest and goes into great, specific detail about how he could explore those interests further at the University of Michigan. The arc of this essay makes sense and doesn’t leave the reader confused about what they’re reading or why they’re reading it.

Demonstrate specific interests, but don’t shut out other possibilities. While it’s clear the author has a passion for a couple of specific academic disciplines, he also mentions that he might want to explore community engagement opportunities or alternate post-graduate career options. He ties those other interests to previous experiences he’s had and would like to build on. This is great because a) it shows he’s multi-dimensional, b) has a diverse set of skills, and c) is open to new experiences. If you’re someone who’s not totally sure what you want to major in, this is a great example to follow. Just choose one or two fields of study to answer the question, then later you can add on other interests you might want to explore down the line.

Make good use of the connections you already have with the university. This applicant has already done research with some professors at UMich and knows some of the classes it taught years before he was applying. In the essay, he makes sure the admissions officers know that. Don’t be afraid to flaunt connections you have because it shows your commitment to UMich and demonstrates that you already have a foundation to build off if you were to be accepted.

Here’s another strong essay:

A PhD student at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology once told me something that changed my life. “I can spend my entire career studying the effects that greenhouse gases have on our coral reefs and larger ecosystems, but if my work stays in the lab, it’s worthless.” Mariela’s right. If scientists aren’t advocating for policy and politicians aren’t embracing scientific evidence, then our world will move further into complacency and ignorance. I want to combat the issue of climate change from both a scientific and legislative front, and I believe a major in Political Science, Economics, and Philosophy and a minor in Environment at the University of Michigan can help me achieve this goal. Last year, as a volunteer with Dr. Kim Schrier’s congressional campaign, I gained hands-on experience in local government. At the University of Michigan, I would jump at the opportunity to participate in the Public Service Internship program in order to gain a better understanding of climate change legislation at the local level. I would also love to take classes such as “Environmental Public Opinion Analysis” and “Energy Politics,” in order to help me understand climate change from both a biologist’s and political scientist’s point of view. I recently took a Political Science and Economy course at Carleton College, and by far found comparative politics the most complex and nuanced material. I would be honored to explore this topic further with Professor Bednar in classes like “Comparative Constitutional Design,” which would give me insight into how the history and structure of our government is driving unsustainable policies. I also find Professor Bednar’s work on the relationship between state and federal governments fascinating, and would love to learn to design national policies so they have powerful local effects, which will be key in creating effective legislation to combat today’s climate crisis.  As an Environment minor, I hope to continue to further investigate climate change as a scientific issue. Through classes like “Conservation of Biological Diversity” I will learn more about the effects of global warming through the lens of a biologist.  My time at UMich won’t be all work, of course.  Nature has long been a source of creative inspiration for me, and I plan to spend most of my free time outdoors. I felt an immediate connection with the extracurriculars offered by the University of Michigan’s Outdoor Education Program, through which I plan to go hiking, rock climbing, and skiing. While researching the Outdoor Adventure Internship, I saw hiking trips to the Sleeping Bear Dunes, Climbing Weeks, and overnight camping trips.  I would also love to participate in the University of Michigan Central Student Government, as I have enjoyed participating in high school student government, and hope to continue to cultivate my collaborative approach to leadership.  Climate change is the most urgent issue facing my generation. I can think of no better way to spend the next four years than at the University of Michigan gaining the tools I need to get straight to work. 

Start with a quote, but not the bad kind. Quotes can be a sticky situation. A lot of applicants think starting with a quote from Albert Einstein or Abraham Lincoln will set them apart from everyone else. We hate to break it to you, but that’s what everyone else thinks too. More often than not, quotes come off as overly cliche or as the author using someone else’s words when they can’t articulate something themselves. That being said, sometimes quotes can work to your advantage. This essay does a great job of introducing the interests/personality of the applicant through a very specific, relevant quote. The quote is from one of her friends, meaning that it’s not something anyone else could have included in their essay (except for maybe the friend?). The author also doesn’t just let the quote stand by itself. She explains it and expands on what it means within the context of her own life. Instead of letting the quote stand in for her own thoughts, she uses it as a launching point. 

Use specifics. We get the names of professors this applicant has worked with. Classes she wants to take at UMich. Professors she wants to form relationships with. Majors she wants to pursue. Those details show she cares and how she’ll maximize the university’s resources should she be accepted.

Demonstrate nice work-life balance. It’s so important to remember that college is more than just reading books, solving problem sets, and studying all the time. It’s as much a social experience as it is an intellectual one. Much of UMich’s energy goes into developing dynamic, innovative, and fun extracurricular opportunities for its students. Do research on those things just as much as books, classes, and professors. This author talks about her love of nature, camping, and student government outside the classroom. This is yet another great way of showing that you are a multi-dimensional person with lots of different interests.

With all these tips in mind, you can now focus on the most important tip of all. The tip of your upside down pyramid. Time to get building.

Special thanks to Luci Jones for her contributions to this post.


Luci is an audiophile and storyteller with a love of all things radio and writing. In the wild, you might catch her struggling through a NY Times crossword puzzle, snuggling her abnormally fluffy dog Oreo, or saying her favorite expression “cool beans.” Crosswords, cute dogs, cool beans. What more could you ask for?

Top values: Interpersonal connections | humor | openness to new experience


Create amazing supplemental essays for the most selective schools, polish your activities list, and complete everything else with ease and joy. Learn more here.



Watch the lessons on your own or via the live option. 

how to write the umich essay


The Admissions Strategist

How to write the university of michigan essays 2020-2021: the incomparable guide (examples included).

Located in Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan is a college with a long-standing history of rigorous academic programs and successful alumni.

There are over 40,000 students that attend UM, pursuing degrees in one of 250 programs.

  • The University of Michigan has an acceptance rate of 28%.

If academic prestige is at the top of your criteria for a school, look no further.

According to the “Rankings, Facts & Figures” page of the UM website , the college has some astounding achievements under its belt:

  • #1 Public University For Your Money
  • 97%+ students return after freshman year
  • Top 25 University Worldwide

If you’re not convinced yet, check out the Ann Arbor arts scene and sprawling University of Michigan campus.

Take a tour to see what life would be like at Michigan. You might be ready to pack your bags, but you’ll have to apply to get it in first!

The University of Michigan Supplemental Essay Requirements

The University of Michigan does not host its own application but gives prospective students the option to apply via the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success Application or Common App .

  • Both of these application options require standard essays in addition to Michigan-specific essays.

You can check out our thorough guides to the standard Coalition essays here and those for the Common App essays here .

For the Michigan supplemental, you will be required to answer two relatively lengthier questions that are labeled as “Essay #1” and “Essay #2.”

They should have more structure than a short answer question.  You’ll also notice that the word count limit is significantly larger than other supplemental essays.

Essay #1 (Required for all applicants. 100-300 words.) Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it. Essay #2 (Required for all applicants. 100-550 words.) 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?

Michigan Supplemental Essays: How to Write Them!

Click above to watch a video on how to write Michigan Supplemental Essays.

Brainstorming the University of Michigan Supplemental Essays

You’ve finished listing your activities in the application? Great. Now it’s time to play pretend. We need to exercise your brainstorming muscles.

Think about all of the activities in which you participate and then to choose the only one you could not give up.

  • For example, if you are a musician, then pick one instrument and one associated activity you can describe.

Furthermore, if you are a classical pianist, you could describe how long you have been playing, why you intend to keep playing, and a major competition you have won or recital you have performed.

But it’s so hard to choose! While that’s true, remember this is a hypothetical scenario.

In a real situation, you might never give up soccer because it’s your ticket to a free ride to college.

You might not be financially stable enough to give up this opportunity.

  • However, in a hypothetical situation, you might give up soccer because you feel more passionately about your work with the Future Business Leaders of America and would like to one day own and operate your own design-a-sneaker store.

To narrow down your options, first ask yourself these questions:

  • How long have I been participating in this activity?
  • Am I still an active participant?
  • Do I hold a leadership role in any of these activities?
  • Do I have a role model or mentor who has influenced my life through my participation in this activity?
  • Have I grown (as a person, player, musician, etc.) over time while participating in this activity?
  • Do I feel passionate about this activity?

To narrow the list down further, ask yourself why you would or would not keep specific options.

  • This means that you will need to be precise in your description and use descriptive language to highlight your experience.

The questions above point you in the direction you need to go when writing your essays.

  • An activity in which you have participated in for several years, have established yourself as a leader, worked with mentors, and have grown in some fashion could make a powerful essay.

When thinking through this brainstorming exercise, provide only enough context about your activity so that a reader will understand what it is.

  • You would have to provide more information about competitive bottle flipping than for a well-known activity like marching band.
  • Also, you want to save the majority of your words for describing why you would choose this activity above the others.

Use emotional language and specific examples when describing what the activity means to you.

  • For example, you might explain how far you’ve come from having been a shy student who was interested in politics to becoming outgoing with your peers and well-versed in national political discourse.
  • Allow your writing to tell your story.

The purpose of this essay is for you to begin thinking about your story. Clarity will lead to better writing, so take the time to figure out your storyboard.

Michigan Supplemental Essay #1: You and Your Community

Essay #1 (Required for all applicants. 100-300 words.) Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it.

As outlined in the prompt above, a community can be defined in many different ways.

In this essay, you are tasked with writing about one of the communities or groups you belong to “and your place within it.”

Since you are undoubtedly a part of many different communities, first brainstorm every community/group that you belong to. The prompt offers these ideas as a start:

  • Intellectual Heritage

Your community can be large (the United States of America) or it could be small (residents living on Pomegranate Street).

  • What you have been able to contribute to your community is just as important if not more important than what the community has done for you.

Perhaps you mentored younger students, helped coordinate meetups, or aided in putting together a makerspace.

Whatever it is you did for your community, make sure you highlight how it made a difference from the status quo.

Get personalized advice!

What’s important here is to write, write, write.

You may find that while trying to come up with these examples, one may not have initially occurred to you on first reading.

Here are some additional examples of communities:

  • Military families
  • Teen court volunteers
  • High school community
  • Geocaching community
  • African-American community
  • Second-generation American community

Once you know what community you want to write about, it’s time to start thinking about how you fit into that community.

  • If you feel like you’re more of an outsider than a participant, you may need to choose another option.
  • The essay itself should find a good balance between describing the community and your role.

The idea of community is incredibly close to our sense of identity and purpose in life.

  • Therefore, it’s okay for this essay to be personal and emotionally descriptive .
  • It should not read like a textbook.
  • It is a real and rich experience you are sharing with your readers and should be treated that way.

When describing your community, you might talk about the members, the place where you get together (be it a physical place, online, or more spiritually abstract), the goals or ideals of your group, and so on.

  • For example, if you are writing about the bird-watching community in your town, you would highlight that it is made up of both expert professors and interested average citizens.
  • You might meet up at the bird sanctuary and go on hikes all over the county in smaller groups.
  • The goals of your community are to enjoy these beautiful creatures while also working together to protect them and create ideal conditions in which they can prosper.
  • Then, you would describe your role in the community and, perhaps, what being a part of that community means to you.
  • To continue our example, you might write about how you were introduced to the group because your mother is an ornithologist and you would tag along as a kid.
  • Now you participate in the community through your own volition by organizing fundraising events and managing the group’s social media account.
  • It doesn’t matter that you have no interest in ornithology as a career. You grew to love the community and will be a lifelong participant.

For this essay, you have a limit of 300 words.

Remember to balance describing your community and your role in order to create a compelling story.

If you briefly describe your role and focus only on the community at large, your readers will miss out on the opportunity to learn more about you as a person (and, by extension, you as a potential student).

Michigan Community Essay Examples

Michigan community essay example 1:

I have always known that soldiers and veterans are the people who have sacrificed for our country. Yet, I have undervalued them since they were of no consequence in my life. After my dad signed me up (read: forcibly volunteered) to assist a night game of bingo at the NY VA, I did not know I would be joining a new family. While distributing snacks, the patients constantly asked me about my well-being and personal stories. As I volunteered more, I met new family members. I cleaned wheelchairs and gathered them from the parking lot to ensure the wheelchair supply was always sufficient for visitors. Through this, I gained an appreciation for the precise care it took to transport family members and ensure they felt at home after surgery. Admittedly, I grow impatient when tasks are not moving at my desired pace, but if I was taking care of sick family members, I knew I had to change. Seeing the struggle it took for a family member to get into a wheelchair and retrieve his oxygen tank helped me realize that I had to develop patience and composure. At the VA, I became a grandson, who learned how to take accountability for his actions. I discovered communication skills that will help me become closer with those of different backgrounds. My VA family has molded me to connect with and lend a helping hand to new families. The Edward Ginsberg Center at your school is a platform that will allow me to leverage and expand my skills in community engagement. I can see myself taking on a leadership role, engaging in service, and continuing to contribute to the VA and other communities through the Community Leadership fellows program.

Michigan community essay example #2:

Generation Z  is my community. The teens and young adults of the world, stereotyped as the generation that can’t do anything other than look at a phone. The laziest generation. The most self-centered generation. I see another side of this generation, though.  Generation Z is a   community with  the power to change the world by noticing problems in the world and raising awareness. Gen Z is filled with ambitious dreamers who aren’t afraid to stand up and speak out. My community consists of young people globally speaking truths of power. Greta Thunberg is only seventeen, but has raised global awareness about the dangers of climate change. My place in this community is as someone who has noticed a global crisis regarding blindness and how easily it can be prevented. In 2018, I flew to Honduras to volunteer in a hospital and travel  to rural villages across the country to set up clinics to screen for cataracts and distribute reading glasses. I observed the cataract surgeries that I had funded by fundraising in the U.S. Each surgery only costs $50, but the villagers cannot afford it.  As someone in danger of going blind someday, it broke my heart to know that so many people were suffering and couldn’t afford the care that they needed. Though I was only sixteen, I took on the mentality of many other determined Gen Zers: I can fix this. My work with Unite for Sight didn’t end with my trip to Honduras. I hope to continue to fix this issue  by figuring out how to bring the price of the surgery down and make it more available to the public. I hope to make other Gen Z kids proud by taking initiative on a project that I am passionate about that will create lasting change. 

Michigan community essay example #3:

As my entrepreneurial fervor grew during my first three years of high school, I found myself feeling disjointed from my peers and looking for a community that would nurture my startup fever. When she noticed my budding interest, the head of a local incubator invited me to apply for their accelerator program. I initially felt unsure, but I gave it a shot, and as time went on, I felt as if I were transported to Ancient Athens during every Monday session. As a program meant to help individuals jumpstart and accelerate their businesses, the incubator prompted participants to think Socratically. We questioned and debated every preconceived notion regarding startups: how to conduct proper market research, when and why to shut down, and even whether a humanitarian venture could also be a profitable one. Our oratories were not dull, 10-minute long PowerPoints followed by the occasional golf clap; they were action-packed, 60-second elevator pitches accompanied by a barrage of inquiries and suggestions about statistical logos and story-telling pathos. Through numerous congregations within the polis, I gave a fellow participant the conviction to pursue his business of educating students on the college recruiting process, emphasizing how all of my friends loved athletics and wanted to go D1. In return, he helped me see that the biggest problem with teens wasn’t always finding opportunities; it was being ready and professional enough to capture it. Despite channeling Alexander the Great’s cutthroat competitiveness at the beginning, our group personified Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates in the end, as we considered each other’s ventures and employed our own ethos to help one another. We didn’t all have to be our own Homers — our Iliad and Odyssey were the cumulative success of all of our companies, forged by the collaborative intertwining of our stories.

Michigan community essay example #4:

Months of endless preparation have culminated in this very moment. Standing on the bema, I look down at my Star of David necklace, smiling. Today, I will become a Bat Mitzvah. Today, I will officially become an adult in the eyes of my community.    The global Jewish community is diverse, yet connected through our heritage and values. Integral to Jewish teachings is the responsibility to perform tikkun olam , which are acts of kindness performed to improve the world. This principle has been a driving force in my life, influencing my actions, shaping my decisions, and connecting me with my heritage.  I have found my niche within the Jewish community through the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization. BBYO connects Jewish teens locally and globally, providing them with a platform to engage in social action in the spirit of tikkun olam. As the leader of my local BBYO chapter, it is my goal to create programming that highlights charity, where all who join leave feeling enriched and inspired to do good on their own.  BBYO has ingrained in me an important aspect of tikkun olam: giving back is not equivalent to donating material items. Rather, it can be in the form of guidance, demonstrating care, or providing others with new perspectives that enhance their life. Thus, my chapter promotes a variety of programs such as creating Mother’s Day baskets for domestically abused women in shelters, but also spending time with the elderly in our neighborhoods and encouraging others in random acts of kindness.  The Jewish community will always be my home. Within it, I have found young, Jewish leaders empowered to create a difference through tikkun olam . Together with my peers, my community has the ability to create positive change in our neighborhoods, countries, and throughout the world. 

Michigan Supplemental Essay #2:

Essay #2 (Required for all applicants. 100-550 words.) 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?

The University of Michigan not only offers a wide array of degree programs but also strongly believes in the power of education to create informed and influential citizens.

Before writing this essay, you should perform significant research on the programs for which you are applying.

  • It will be apparent to the admissions committee whether or not you took the time to learn about these programs.
  • A potential student who has invested time in searching for the program that is perfect for her interests will be much more likely to write an authentic and convincing essay.

You may already know what degree programs you are interested in, but you might also be a part of a large group of students going to college that has no idea.

  • If this is the case, determine which fields you are most interested in that you would also feel comfortable writing about.

The easy part of writing this essay is describing the university’s degree programs.

What’s more challenging is linking your interests to the curriculum.

  • Perhaps you are interested in the University of Michigan’s nursing program. You have always been interested in science and medicine and participated in HOSA (a group for future health professionals) all four years of high school.
  • You also studied abroad one summer and have become even more interested in global health as a potential career path.
  • In this essay, you want to talk about your experience with HOSA and your dream of becoming a nurse.
  • You also want to discuss that study abroad experience and how you would be interested in applying for a minor in “Population Health in a Global Context” offered by the nursing department.
  • You also intend to participate in study abroad in college.

The key to this essay is specificity.

As much as possible, you should provide concrete examples of your experiences, interests, and career/college goals.

Perhaps you are interested in studying computer science and engineering because, after all, the University of Michigan has the co-founder of Google as a notable alumnus.

  • Do the background research into the department of interest and look at the course description as well, and the capstone project expected of students.
  • You should have demonstrated interest from high school, perhaps a science fair project, advanced classes, or a summer research internship.
  • Let that set the foundation for the reason you want to pursue, say, in this case, computer science, and then highlight which classes will help you further your career aspirations.
  • This will not be set in stone, but you need to demonstrate that you have some coherent plan.

Allow your excitement and passion to shine through your writing. The admissions committee wants to understand more about you and why UM is the perfect fit for you (and vice versa).

Why Michigan Essay Example

I was 5 when I sat in the stands of the Crisler Center, watching my dad receive his MBA from the University of Michigan. The person my dad has become, as a father and manager at Chrysler Motors, has inspired me to pursue computer science at U-M. As my passion developed, I joined the Cars Club (CC), in which we build fuel-efficient cars. A major experience included wiring trailer lights so that we could transport our newly built vehicles. As a newcomer to wiring, I measured and drilled holes, connected lighting, and combined wiring with hardware. The first step to wiring was running the length of the wire throughout the trailer. In order to feed the wire, I used a dipstick to pull and stretch the correct colored wires to corresponding locations of the trailer. Although my back ached with pain after lying under the trailer for an hour, I enjoyed drilling holes and connecting the wires to the lights. Eventually, the finished trailer was used to transport the team’s fuel-efficient car.    CC is very similar to your Supermileage team, a club I got to see at the Wilson center and one I will join thanks to my interest in engaging in hands-on experiences with prototypical vehicles and technologies. Using my experience in CC, I aim to collaborate with highly capable students to develop the solution to fuel economy issues. Another student organization that I will join is Code M, which will help me spread knowledge about computer science and engineering while learning through a collaborative environment and corporate events. I witnessed the culture and diversity of U-M at the MMSS camp, where I took the course Math and the Internet. During this course, I learned about cryptography, error correction code, and wiring logic gates by creating truth tables. A major class project required the creation of logic diagrams and wiring of logic gates to make a part of a “computer” that sends messages to Twitter. This was an arduous process, as I had exposure to neither making logic diagrams nor wiring in this context. However, the hands-on and interactive experiences that Professor Mark Conger provided, such as drawing and explaining logic diagrams, helped me grasp the concepts. In addition, I worked on public and private key encryption and sent messages to decode using ASCII, the modulo operation, and the Euclidean algorithm. The interactive style of the classroom encouraged me to ask Professor Conger for help on how to find the mod of numbers with large exponents. Professor Conger’s creative “magic” card game taught me binary, which helped me absorb challenging material. The environment at U-M gave me the tools to thrive. I envision myself at U-M College of Engineering computer science classes, considering my experience with programming websites that automate Pythagorean theorem calculations. Computer Architecture, Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, and Advanced Embedded Systems are courses I will take in order to learn more about the applications of computer science. Using the knowledge from these classes, I will contribute to Mcity’s research and undergraduate research programs like SURE and SROP projects. Likewise, my goal is to contribute to the research on autonomous vehicles conducted by Ford and U-M in tandem. Seeing all of U-M’s initiatives, I know I can advance the automation of sustainable technologies at your school.

Conclusion: University of Michigan Supplemental Essays

It’s a good idea to type your answers in a word processor instead of directly into the application box.

This way, you can see all of your text at once and use a built-in spell check tool before copy and pasting your essays into the application.

Once you have a solid draft, read your work aloud and make revisions as you go. Finally, have a peer or adult read your writing for clarity and any grammar errors.

Essays are never perfect in the first draft. These strategies will help you polish your application until it shines.

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College Essays


The University of Michigan is one of the highest-ranked universities in the nation and is therefore a popular choice for many students, especially those in Michigan and the Midwest. At present, U-M's got a relatively low acceptance rate of just 20% .

If you're planning to apply to this coveted university, then you'll need to know how to write your best University of Michigan supplemental essay possible . Read on to learn what the University of Michigan supplemental essays entail and to get some advice on answering the various prompts. We also give you real University of Michigan essay examples and general tips for producing a great college essay.

Feature Image: Ken Lund /Flickr

What Are the University of Michigan Supplemental Essays?

All applicants to the University of Michigan are required to submit two supplemental essays  in addition to a personal statement written in response to a prompt in the Common Application. 

So in total — and regardless of your major — you'll have to write three University of Michigan essays.

Although you'll have several prompts to choose from for your Common App/Coalition App essay, you'll only get one prompt for each University of Michigan supplemental essay (meaning you don't get to choose a prompt).

Here are the University of Michigan essay prompts you must answer for the 2022-2023 supplement:

Essay 1: Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it. (Required for all applicants; minimum 100 words/maximum 300 words)

Essay 2: Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests? (Required for all applicants; minimum 100 words/maximum 300 words)

Each University of Michigan supplemental essay has its own maximum word limit, with Essay 2's limit (550 words) being a bit longer than Essay 1's (300 words). For both essays, you must write at least 100 words.

The University of Michigan Essay Prompts, Analyzed

Now that we've gone over the basic essay requirements, let's take a closer look at each University of Michigan supplemental essay and how you can answer the prompt effectively.


University of Michigan Supplemental Essay 1

Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it. (Required for all applicants; minimum 100 words/maximum 300 words)

This essay prompt wants to know what makes you unique and what community you see yourself as belonging to. In other words, you're being asked to write a diversity essay , which focuses on you as an individual and what you have contributed to and gained from your specific community.

Through this essay, the University of Michigan admissions committee hopes to learn more about your values, goals, hardships, and achievements. This is why it's important to be your authentic self . Admissions officers will definitely be able to tell if you are exaggerating or making things up. Avoid trying to sound like someone else — write about what's important to you personally.

The prompt gives some examples of possible communities, but here are some more:

  • Your gender identity
  • Your sexual orientation
  • Your school
  • Your neighborhood
  • Your disability
  • A rare or strange talent you have
  • A particular club or organization you are a member of
  • Do you have any distinct characteristic that has defined you for much of your life? (This could be your ethnicity, race, or religion, for example.)
  • How would other people describe you? Ask your family and friends.
  • Do you have an uncommon or unique skill, interest, or experience?

Once you know what community you've chosen to write about, think about how this community has influenced you and your goals .

For example, maybe you grew up in a military family and had to move to new states and countries a lot as a child. You could discuss how this experience was isolating at first but how you eventually came to know other kids in military families, developing a sort of support network. Now you credit your experiences with moving with helping you learn to adapt quickly to new environments.

One compelling way you can let readers learn about your experience with your community is by telling your story through a specific anecdote , conversation you had, challenge you faced, etc.

You should also mention how you see your role in this community now . Has this role changed over time, or not? Why do you suppose so? For instance, maybe you used to be ashamed of your Navajo heritage but since having met other Navajo people your age, you now consider yourself a proud advocate for Native Americans and other indigenous groups around the world.

Finally, show, don't tell . Use imagery and realism to grab your readers and make them feel what you felt, see what you saw. Literary devices can help you more clearly describe your experience(s) with your community.


University of Michigan Supplemental Essay 2

Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests? (Required for all applicants; minimum 100 words/maximum 300 words)

You've got a higher word limit for this second University of Michigan supplemental essay than you do for the first one, so be prepared to dig deeper into your topic.

With this essay prompt, you're being asked, "Why U-M?" In other words, you need to write a "why this college" essay , with a focus on how the University of Michigan will be a fantastic fit for you and your academic goals.

Here, you're told directly what to write about: the "unique qualities" of the specific school/college at U-M to which you're applying. This means you could focus on traits such as these in your essay:

  • Specific classes U-M offers that you're interested in taking
  • A required curriculum that appeals to you in some way
  • A particular professor you're excited to work with
  • A lecture series or other program your school/college/department puts on
  • A certain building, lab, or campus facility you can't wait to use
  • Extracurricular activities or clubs related to your major or academic interests
  • Career advice and internship opportunities (e.g., what's offered via the LSA Opportunity Hub )

With this essay, you'll need to be extremely specific to be effective . The admissions committee wants to see that you know what distinguishes U-M from other equally renowned universities and that you have a clear idea of how you'll take advantage of the benefits offered here to further your own intellectual and professional pursuits.

You should also talk about what you hope to do and accomplish at the University of Michigan . For example, perhaps you're planning to major in Korean and are eager to attend the Nam Center for Korean Studies' Colloquium Series so you can get a better grasp of the kinds of topics currently being addressed by academics in the field of Korean studies.

If you're not sure what to write about, browse your college/school's official U-M web pages to get a feel for what types of amenities, events, activities, classes, and support it offers undergrads.

You can also try asking current students or recent graduates about their experiences at Michigan and what resources, classes, and/or professors they recommend. Reddit and College Confidential are two good places to look for student opinions.

As you write, take care to avoid overly general descriptions— focus instead on what makes U-M stand apart from other schools you're applying to .


2 Real University of Michigan Essay Examples + Analysis

Sometimes seeing a real essay can give you a better idea of how you can approach and work on your own statement. Below we give you two University of Michigan essay examples written by a real admitted student , along with analysis as to what makes them work.

University of Michigan Essay Example 1

This first essay example is from a student on Reddit who was admitted to U-M in early 2018 (for the academic year starting in fall 2018). It is in response to prompt #1 above.

"Alice, I'm-I'm trans," he stammered.

My school's theatre group is an ever-expanding Ohana; to quote Disney's Lilo and Stitch , "Ohana means family, and family means no one gets left behind."

While this movie had over-prepared me for laser-beaming alien invasions, there was nothing about helping someone come out. Nevertheless, this was the person with whom I laughed, cried, and held hands through curtain calls; this was no alien, but a sibling. He was family.

Although theatre kids love performing for an audience, more importantly, we share an unconditional love for one another. Arriving in Pennsylvania as an international transfer student, I found myself twice removed from Hill's popular social scene, and it was the theatre company who welcomed me without ever questioning my self-worth. They became the anchor of my tempest-tossed first year; in them I found a home.

Thus, when my friend came out to me, I could only give him the love that I once received. When our cast misused his pronouns and name, I corrected them. Together, we transformed gender-specific roles into gender-neutral ones so everyone could partake in our productions. Off-stage, I held him as he grappled with his family's reaction. I grew into an advocate for queer students, both within the theatre company and at school as the co-president of Hill's gay-straight alliance, a position that I have held for two years. I look out for the "othered", lost, and lonely; I welcome them to a family that will never leave them behind.

Here's what makes this University of Michigan supplemental essay work:

  • It's got an interesting hook. Starting the essay with a real quotation from someone close to the applicant gives us a real, unfiltered look into this student's life and how she interacts with those in her identified community.
  • It's unapologetically honest. The student explains how she, too, has struggled with making friends and how the theatre company—her newfound community—ultimately helped her to feel welcome. In return, she actively supports her friend and goes out of her way to advocate for gay and transgender rights through her school's gay-straight alliance. She clearly cares very deeply about others.

University of Michigan Essay Example 2

This next essay example is from the same student on Reddit who got into U-M in early 2018. It is in response to prompt #2 above.

"Could Freud's theory of Eros and Thanatos apply to civilizations, especially with regard to their domination and subservience?" I asked, Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince in my hand. Having spent the first two months of senior year reading political treatises, poems, psychological and anthropological works in a History course, this was the first time these texts intersected in my mind. Suddenly, history assumed a completely new form. No more was it only a series of discrete events, but it had blossomed into all the knowledge that this world had to offer, and my desire to explore humanity in multiple ways, instead of restricting myself to only one avenue, would similarly flourish at Michigan's College of Life, Science, and the Arts due to its emphasis on interdisciplinary learning.

As a child of a trilingual mother, I have grown to appreciate integrative learning: to explain how the world worked, my mother employed English and Russian, languages that she knew of, where Vietnamese failed. My initial hunger to overcome these linguistic boundaries has risen since to social and humanitarian ones as well, for as there are words without equivalents, there are communities whose disenfranchisement are unparalleled and cannot be resolved without understanding the history of civil rights worldwide. I will attain such a global outlook in LSA's Residential College program. With its smaller class size and emphasis on communal learning, the program and the varied experience of my fellow RC students will open my eyes to issues I have yet to undergo.

As a future activist, I will harness my education to benefit marginalized groups in underdeveloped, post-colonial countries. As a Social Theory and Practice (STP) and International Studies double major with a specialization in Comparative Culture and Identity (CCI), I will critique and analyze the role of institutions in the global context of behavioral expressions. These skills facilitate the execution of policies that will empower disenfranchised citizens to overcome their legal and economic struggles. Courses such as "Intergroup Conflict and Coexistence: Religion, Ethnicity and Culture" will equip me with important tools with which I can drive social change. Moreover, STP offerings, particularly "History and Theory of Punishment," allow me to craft an education aimed at creating legislations and organizations that will address the social inequality of ethnic and religious minorities in former colonies in Southeast Asia. Finally, I will tie this knowledge to reality by pursuing an STP Honors thesis.

Outside of the classroom, I can pursue the optiMize challenge and devise practical solutions to the issues that impoverished communities face in Vietnam; with my intersectional perspective, I can provide a fresh outlook and facilitate our work with various demographics. I will also lend my voice to the Tab Michigan as an opinion writer, borrowing from my own experiences, having grown up at the twilight of cultures and languages. Furthermore, given my love for performing arts, I will take part in 58 Greene, specifically for its multicultural focus, and MUSKET/UAC. In regard to affinity groups, I plan to join BiLateral, since I want to network with other bisexual members of the community, as well as raise awareness on Michigan's campus about ourselves. As a Wolverine sibling, I will employ my interdisciplinary lessons and hands-on work to make a difference on the Ann Arbor campus and in the world.

  • It's extremely specific. The student not only makes telling connections between her love of interdisciplinary learning and desired major, but also name-drops specific classes she wants to take, explains how she'll take advantage of the optiMize challenge, and talks about specific groups she'd like to join. There's absolutely no doubt this student has done her research and is truly passionate about attending Michigan.
  • It flows well. The entire essay follows a clear arc, starting with an anecdote of the applicant's first time she managed to make connections between different topics she was studying, and moving on toward her interest in the interdisciplinary offerings at U-M and how they can help her become a future activist.


How to Write a University of Michigan Supplemental Essay

Tip 1: use specific details and examples.

The key to writing an amazing University of Michigan supplemental essay is to write clearly and specifically so that the admissions committee can really feel your passion and understand what makes you the person you are today. After all, your ultimate goal is to tell a compelling story that will leave a mark on your readers.

So don't write vaguely —litter your essay with names, places, dialogue, and images. At the same time, try to stay focused by presenting an easy-to-follow story and logical structure.

For essay 1, for instance, you'll be way more successful if you home in on a specific community you're part of and what it's done for you, rather than trying to cram in tons of details about other communities you relate to. Pick one central topic for each essay, and stick with it.

Tip 2: Be Your Authentic Self

Another tip is to be completely and unapologetically honest in your University of Michigan essays. Write in a voice that's completely and utterly yours and concentrate on a story, person, event, or moment that means a lot to you personally—not what somebody told you to write about, even if that topic sounds more "impressive." So if you want to throw in a joke, go ahead and do it!

Just be sure to avoid the following in your essay , as doing any of these can make you seem lazy, inappropriate, arrogant, or plain unlikable:

  • Typos or errors in spelling, grammar, and/or punctuation
  • Overused quotations or clichéd analogies —writing something such as "It was raining cats and dogs" will make your essay come across unoriginal and bland
  • Inappropriate events or stories —your U-M essay is not the time to write about something illegal or highly immoral you did!
  • Anything outright rude or impolite —for example, don't attack the U-M admissions officers or write something mean about someone at school

Tip 3: Don't Repeat Anything You've Written in Other Essays

One of the tricky problems with writing your University of Michigan supplemental essays is that you need to ensure you're not having too much overlap in your essays , especially between your supplemental essays and your Common App/Coalition App personal essay.

While it's OK to have a little bit of overlap in general content, try to select essay prompts so that you're focusing on different (but still equally important) parts of yourself.

For example, because U-M requires a diversity essay as part of its supplement, you'd probably be better off not choosing the first Common App prompt (which is also about communities and your background).

Remember that the admissions committee wants to get a complete, holistic picture of who you are , so take care to incorporate all major (but different) aspects of yourself in your University of Michigan essays.

Tip 4: Edit and Proofread Before You Submit

Lastly, make sure to edit and proofread each University of Michigan supplemental essay you write before you submit your application.

Once you have a rough draft written, put it away for a few days. Then, take it out again and look it over with a fresh set of eyes. Check for any areas that are unclear, out of place, or irrelevant, and edit as needed.

Keep doing this process until you have a fairly clean rough draft and then give it to somebody you trust, such as a parent or teacher. Have them give you feedback on the content and structure of your essay; they should also look for technical errors.

Once your essay is almost ready to go, give it one last proofread. You should now have a fantastic University of Michigan supplemental essay!


What's Next?

Want to learn more about the University of Michigan? Then check out our Michigan admission requirements page , where we give you everything you need to know to get into this famed school.

Though the University of Michigan is not an Ivy League school , it's considered to be a Public Ivy. Learn what this means and why Michigan qualifies for this honor in our guide to Public Ivies .

Applying to other schools in Michigan or the Midwest? Then check out our essay-writing guides for Michigan State University , the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign , and Notre Dame .

how to write the umich essay

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Hannah received her MA in Japanese Studies from the University of Michigan and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California. From 2013 to 2015, she taught English in Japan via the JET Program. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel.

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How to Write UMich Supplemental Essays - Examples & Tips

Michigan Stadium, University of Michigan

Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 11/6/23

Ready to learn how to write the UMich supplemental essays? This guide has all the information you need.  

The college admissions process can be pretty lengthy. If you’re applying to the University of Michigan , you need your transcripts, SAT or ACT scores, and letters of recommendation. You’ll also be required to write essays .

The Michigan University supplemental essays make up the meatiest part of the application. Here, you show the admissions committee different sides of yourself than your grades and test scores reveal. The essays can add tremendous value to your application and highlight your candidacy. 

This comprehensive guide will teach you all about the University of Michigan supplemental essays . We’ll discuss their purpose, offer tips to create your own masterfully, and give some examples of University of Michigan supplemental essays. If you want to boost your chances of acceptance to the University of Michigan, read on! 

UMichigan Supplemental Essay Prompts 2023-2024

The University of Michigan requires that all applicants write two supplemental essays regardless of what program they want to enter. Remember that you still need to complete an essay as part of the Common Application or the Coalition Application. 

Any school’s supplemental essay prompts can vary from year to year, but most will revolve around similar themes. Below are the 2023-2024 UMichigan supplemental essay prompts : 

UMich Supplemental Essay 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."

UMich Supplemental Essay 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?"

female student studying from book

How to Write Each Essay Prompt for the University of Michigan

While the rest of your application components are essential, your grades and test scores don’t show the admissions committee the person behind the numbers and accolades. The UMichigan supplemental essays are a way to humanize your application. You get to show the admissions committee how your experiences have shaped you.

While you should make sure that you’re adequately answering the prompt, you still have a lot of freedom in your essays. You may choose to focus on a variety of themes and topics, including: 

  • Your background and community
  • Instances that you’ve overcome adversity
  • How going to this school will help you realize your aspirations
  • How your acceptance would improve the school’s culture and community

The supplemental essay prompts can feel tricky because of their broadness. However, these top tips will help you flawlessly execute essays that captivate the reader. You’ll be able to demonstrate why you should be accepted into any program at the University of Michigan.  

female student writing on paper

How to Write UMich Supplemental Essay #1 + Analysis and Tips

As a refresher, UMich’s essay prompt #1 is: “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.” 

The purpose of this prompt is for the admissions committee to evaluate your character and individuality. You want to show the UMichigan who you are beyond numbers and scores. This a great opportunity to portray yourself authentically.

"who are you" written in scrabble letters

This prompt has a minimum word count of 100 words and a maximum of 300 words. Here are some tips to help you tackle this essay: 

  • Tip #1: Demonstrate Curiosity : UMich seeks to admit students “who will lend educational and cultural diversity to campus and who are curious about new ideas, people, and experiences.” Reflect on what you’ve learned from the others in your community and how that has increased your curiosity about others. 
  • Tip #2: Brainstorm Your Narrative : UMich advises starting with a brain dump and then narrowing your ideas down to organize your thoughts. Compile a list of communities you belong to and consider meaningful aspects of each one. Then, identify which community could make the most compelling narrative.
  • Tip #3: Tell Your Unique Story : Prioritize authenticity; don’t just avoid cliches for the sake of it. What matters most is that it’s your story. Your essay shouldn’t be able to apply to anyone else. 

How to Write UMich Supplemental Essay #2 + Analysis and Tips

The second UMich essay prompt is: “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?” 

This essay prompt asks you to discuss your reasons for choosing UMichigan and your future aspirations. It also allows you to share more about your interests and passions through your discussion of your intended area of study. 

"why?" written on post-it note with greenery in background

You’ll need to answer this prompt in a minimum of 100 words and a maximum of 550 words. Here are some things to keep in mind as you answer this prompt:

  • Tip #1: Don’t Overlook Your Intro + Conclusion : It’s easy to just focus on the body of the essay, but make sure you still start and end well. You need to make a good impression with your introduction , and you should go out with a bang at the end by getting specific about how you see your future at UMich. 
  • Tip #2: Stay on Topic : UMich also encourages applicants to make sure they’re actually answering the prompt . Some writers can lose sight of the prompt as they write. If you feel that you’re shifting off track of the story you want to tell, use an outline to organize your thoughts.
  • Tip #3: Edit, Edit, & Edit More : Your first draft won’t be perfect, so a second pair of eyes, like a parent, friend, or even an admissions consultant , can be a valuable asset. It’s also helpful to leave it for a few days after finishing your first draft so that you can look it over with fresh eyes and catch errors more easily. 

Examples of University of Michigan Supplemental Essays That Worked

Excellent essays can help you stand out in the admissions process and show why you’re a fantastic candidate. Below, you will find UMich supplemental essay examples written by real students who were admitted to UMichigan, to give you an idea of how to create meaningful essays. 

UMich Essay Example #1

The University of Michigan essay excerpt below addresses the first prompt, asking you to describe your place within one of the communities you belong to.

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

People jumping on beach during sunset

Why Essay #1 Worked

This essay immediately immerses the reader in the writer’s narrative. The writer demonstrates how they integrated into a community and forged meaningful relationships with the children at the camp. 

This essay shows the writer’s initiative to contribute to their community. It also demonstrates their impact on a group while in a leadership position. The writer’s story is short but impactful and shows that they have a strong spirit capable of contributing to their community and, hopefully, the University of Michigan’s. 

UMich Essay Example #2

The following essay excerpt addresses the University of Michigan’s second supplemental essay prompt, which asks students to describe why they’re drawn to their specific program at UMich. 

“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…
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…
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 my 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…
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…
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.”

tablet with graph on it

Why Essay #2 Worked

This essay wastes no time getting to a vital issue that the writer wants to address. The writer explains in detail what classes and causes motivate them. They explain what they aspire to do in the future and how their extracurricular activities align with their goals. 

This essay demonstrates that the writer has done their research and knows what path to take to achieve their goals. Best of all, the writer illuminates how admission to the University of Michigan can help them work toward their goals of a brighter future. 

The University of Michigan is looking for leaders who want to impact the world and their community through positive change. This essay’s conclusion perfectly outlines what the applicant wants to do.

Get More Sample Essays Here!

If you feel stuck and don’t know how to begin your essays, you can find inspiration in the work of others. To discover more sample essays, take a look at our college essay database down below!

UMich Supplemental Essay FAQs

Still have questions about how to write the University of Michigan essays? We’ve got you covered. 

1. Besides the Supplemental Essays, Are There Other Essays I Need to Write? 

Yes, you will need to write another essay in addition to the supplemental essays. When you apply with the Common Application or the Coalition Application, you’ll need to select one prompt to respond to from a list.

2. How Important Are the UMich Supplemental Essays? 

The University of Michigan essay section is a crucial part of your application. Remember that “Unlike test scores and transcripts, the college admissions essay[s] offers students a chance to showcase their personality.”

The admissions committee reviews college applications holistically, meaning that every part you submit counts toward their decision. Your essays are a way to inject life into your application and show the human behind the scores and grades. Don’t be afraid to show who you are; it can help you rightfully claim your seat at UMich. 

3. How Long Should the Essays Be?

The first UMichigan essay prompt should be a minimum of 100 and a maximum of 300. Prompt #2 has a 100-word minimum and a 550-word maximum. 

4. What Tone Should My Essays Convey? 

You don't want to sound too stiff and formal, nor do you want to fill your essay with slang —you want to shoot for conversational yet friendly and professional. Make sure that your voice shines through unedited! 

5. What’s the Best Thing I Can Do in My Essay? 

In your essay, be honest, concise, and coherent, and make sure that your reader can easily digest and follow your narrative. While you still want to sound like you, don’t be afraid to flash your intellect and be sure to include vibrant details and anecdotes that bring your essay to life! 

Write Your Future with the UMich Supplemental Essays

The University of Michigan is a great school to complete your undergraduate degree. Now that you know a lot more about what you should write in the supplemental essays, you can feel empowered knowing that you have the knowledge to deliver stellar pieces of writing. 

Don’t forget the purpose of the University of Michigan’s supplemental essays and the top tips to ensure your writing is polished. With this information, you can undoubtedly capture the admissions committee’s attention. Go forth knowing that you have the tools to submit the best supplemental essays and give yourself the best chance of acceptance!

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How to write the university of michigan essays, updated for 2023-2024, essay #1 (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. (300 words max)


This prompt provides an opportunity to highlight who you are as a person to the admissions officers by showing your engagement with a community. Given the wide scope of the prompt, you can choose any community that is important to you or has been formative for your growth. How does your community shape you, and what is your place in it? What makes your worldview unique? What values do you care about and how do they shape your actions and beliefs? There are many ways to answer this question, but the key is to demonstrate to the admissions committee your self-awareness, as well as belief in yourself and what matters most to you.

Upon seeing the swirls of pink and purple displayed on the projector during my seventh grade biology class, I was transported back to when I was four years old, when my dad brought me to work where he diagnosed cancer patients. With a picture of those cancer cells from class in hand, I raced home, excited to tell my dad that I remembered peering through a microscope that day, arranging the slides with my tiny hands. Ever since I could speak, medicine and science have been a part of my life through dinner table conversations, schoolwork, and my own interest. As an innately curious person, I’m fortunate to have a family that celebrates knowledge; coming home to discuss the intricacies of a day’s learning is only natural. In such an environment, my desire for knowledge has only grown.

At the same time, my family doesn’t just value curiosity for curiosity’s sake. We’re not too far removed from tragedy to forget that it’s a privilege to revel in intellectual pursuits. During World War II, my mother’s family was held in Japanese internment camps and my father’s family barely escaped Nazi-torn Europe. Though I’m two generations removed from this hardship, I’ve never taken my education for granted, and I recognize how privileged I am to be where I am.

So, while those swirls of pink and purple cells alone are fascinating, it’s more than just curiosity that drives my interest. My family’s story inspires me to use my inquisitiveness for a greater purpose—to benefit the lives of those around me. Wherever it takes me, I know my family will cheer me on, mirroring my childlike thrill.

Essay #2 (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? (550 words max)

The key to this prompt is research, as the goal is to demonstrate specific knowledge of the University of Michigan’s academics. The admissions committee won’t be looking for interest in any academic area in particular, but rather are looking for a genuine expression of your interest in a field and how the University’s resources can support that. What programs, professors, and courses do they have related to what you are interested in? This essay should be specific enough so that it could not be used as a response for another college—before writing, do some research on the university’s website and name the particular clubs, classes, or faculty members that would enrich your study in your area of interest.

I want my college education to look like my ideal plate of food: full of variety and unusual combinations. Just like tasting unique blends of flavors, I find that learning different academic subjects in tandem informs how I approach and see each one in isolation, which is why I find Michigan’s dual degree program through the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) and the College of Engineering incredibly appealing. This unique program allows me to combine my diverse passions in biomedical engineering and philosophy with a broader liberal arts education, fostering a unique skill set and perspective.

Last summer, I had the incredible opportunity to do research in a computational biology lab, working on a project that employed mathematical and computational modeling to understand genetic data. This opportunity only increased my interest in pursuing research, and I am excited to dive further into research in college. The robust research environment at Michigan presents unmatched opportunities to engage in groundbreaking research. The chance to collaborate with esteemed faculty members on cutting-edge projects—like Professor Kelly Arnold’s bioengineering projects which seek to apply systems engineering approaches to understand disease—aligns perfectly with my passion for scientific inquiry. The university’s state-of-the-art facilities and commitment to innovation would enable me to explore my interests more deeply. Such experiences would foster intellectual growth, develop my analytical skills, and prepare me for a career in research.

At the same time, my interests extend far beyond biomedical engineering; I’ve relished learning about subjects such as history, art, and especially philosophy. Since freshman year, I’ve established and led my school’s Philosophy club, in which students discuss a variety of philosophical questions over lunch period. We have had fruitful conversations about topics ranging from self-driving cars to genetic modification via CRISPR technology. I am seeking an education that will satisfy and inspire my interests spanning engineering and the liberal arts, and the dual degree program presents the unique chance to do so. By integrating coursework across both colleges, I will gain a comprehensive understanding of the technical aspects of engineering as well as the societal implications of technology. This multidisciplinary approach would equip me to address complex challenges at the intersection of technology, ethics, and society. I would be thrilled to pick from the more than 3,000 courses offered by the LSA. From “Urban Inequality” to “Data Science Ethics” to “Programs, Information, and People,” I am eager to take courses like these, as I know that they will shape and be shaped by my education in engineering.

Finally, Michigan’s vibrant and inclusive community is renowned for its collaborative spirit. The opportunity to engage with a diverse group of individuals from various backgrounds across its colleges would enhance my educational experience and broaden my perspective. The university’s emphasis on teamwork and interdisciplinary collaboration aligns with my values, as I believe that diverse perspectives foster creativity and lead to innovative solutions.

The broad and diverse curriculum, research opportunities, and collaborative community offered by the University of Michigan’s dual degree program suit my interests and ambitions, offering an exciting plate full of variety—and I can’t wait to take the first bite.

how to write the umich essay

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UMich Supplemental Essays 2023-24 – Prompts and Tips

July 25, 2023

how to write the umich essay

In forming the Class of 2027, the University of Michigan received over 87,000 applications, an all-time high. For historical comparison, there were under 24,000 applicants at the turn of the millennium. Therefore, it is safe to say that more students desire to become Wolverines in 2023 than ever before in the school’s 200+ year history. This greatly impacts the importance of the UMich supplemental essays.

The acceptance rate at UMich has fallen all the way down to 18%. However, this figure is typically twice as high for applicants who reside in the state of Michigan. If you are an out-of-stater or international student, you’ll need to bring even more impressive credentials than your in-state peers. Speaking of credentials, overall, the median SAT for current Wolverine undergrads is 1450, 77% placed in the top decile of their high school class, and the average unweighted GPA is 3.9+. If you possess statistics above those marks, you have a great shot of one day donning the maize and blue. However, you’ll still want to find ways to stand out against the intense competition.

(Want to learn more about How to Get Into UMich? Visit our blog entitled: How to Get Into the University of Michigan: Admissions Data and Strategies for all of the most recent admissions data as well as tips for gaining acceptance.)

Through its two essay prompts, the University of Michigan supplemental section still affords applicants an opportunity to showcase what makes them uniquely qualified for admission. Below are the University of Michigan supplemental prompts for the 2023-24 admissions cycle. The College Transitions team also offers tips about how to address each one:

2023-2024 University of Michigan Supplemental Essay Questions

1) Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it. (Required for all applicants)

This can be done well whether you are talking about an ethnic, religious, or neighborhood community. It could even be a group of individuals who gather for a club, sport, or service project. Most applicants to the University of Michigan are involved in at least one “community”. You are the captain of a team, the editor-in-chief of your school paper, the president of a club… but don’t just rest on those laurels—instead, bring your involvement to life. Use your writing ability to show what type of community member you are rather than merely telling .

UMich Supplemental Essays (Continued)

You can also discuss how you have engaged with your high school local/community.  Further, you can share have learned from interacting with people of a different ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual identity, etc. Draw on past evidence of your commitment to being a positive force in your community and speculate how that is likely to manifest on the University of Michigan’s campus. You should research and cite UMich student-run organizations and/or local nonprofit groups. The Michigan admissions committee now desires to understand precisely how you will contribute to their campus community of 31,000+ undergrads. Drawing the link between your past efforts and future aims is critical here.

For example, if you dedicated many hours working with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout high school, it will be most impactful if you express your commitment to joining UMich’s chapter of Best Buddies in the future.

2) Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests? (Required for all applicants)

In some ways, this is your quintessential “Why Us?” essay, but UMich is particularly interested in hearing about why the curriculum in your desired academic department is attractive to you—not so much about your love for the football team or the beautiful campus. Below are some quick tips for writing an essay that will help your admissions cause:

  • Cite specific academic programs, professors, research opportunities , internship/externship programs, study abroad programs , student-run organizations , etc.
  • State why your chosen program is the perfect fit for you and why you are the perfect fit for it.
  • Show evidence of how your past/current academic endeavors/achievements will carry over onto UMich’s campus.
  • What special academically-related talents and passions will you bring to the University of Michigan? What contributions will you make?

You’ll want to dedicate time to researching more about your prospective college/department and what makes it truly world-class. The more specific you can get here, the better your UMich essays will be!

How important are they to the admissions committee?

Michigan deems two factors as “very important” in evaluating a candidate. These are the rigor of your secondary school record and GPA. The UMich essays—both the general Common App essay and the Michigan supplements—are rated as “important”. They sit alongside standardized test scores, recommendations, character/personal qualities, and first-generation college student status.

UMich Supplemental Essays – Want Personalized Essay Assistance?

If you are interested in working with one of College Transitions’ experienced and knowledgeable essay coaches as you craft your University of Michigan supplemental essays, we encourage you to get a quote today.

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University of Michigan Essay Examples (And Why They Worked)

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The following University of Michigan essay examples were written by authors who were admitted to University of Michigan (UMich). All names have been redacted for anonymity. Please note that has shared these essays with admissions officers at University of Michigan in order to deter potential plagiarism.

For more help with your University of Michigan essays, check out our 2020-2021 University of Michigan Essay Guide ! For more guidance on personal essays and the college application process in general, sign up for a monthly plan to work with an admissions coach 1-on-1.

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?

Given the excellent academic program, the University of Michigan provides a wonderful opportunity for me to learn and grow both as a student and person. During my recent tour of campus, I was excited about the idea that I had the potential to make a mark on this large university. Furthermore, I got the sense that there were many opportunities for me to create a community, excel in a variety of academic and leadership areas, and prepare myself for an exciting and fulfilling career.

I am most interested in the Program in Biology within the College of Literature, Science and the Arts. As an avid life science student with a keen interest in environmental science and biodiversity, I am most interested in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology major. In my AP biology course, for instance, the lab I found most interesting involved animal behavior with response to wet and dry environments. As a student within the Department of EEB, I would be able to learn more about biodiversity and the history of life on earth. The depth and breadth of the curriculum, including classes such as Animals Functioning in Environments and Animal Diversity, would be particularly interesting to me. Another exciting unique opportunity is the University of Michigan’s Biological Station in the Great Lakes region. As a member of a research team, I would be able to examine natural habitats and do lab experiments in the field. I am more than excited to be part of such a scientific community. I am also interested in exploring forest succession and ecosystem processes through the Forest Ecosystem Study. Furthermore, I would be interested in studying abroad during my time at Michigan. One program that interested me was the CGIS trip to the London School of Economics and Political Sciences where I could further my study of biology, but in a new setting. Michigan’s strength of curricular and hands-on opportunities would certainly offer me ways to continue and develop my interest in biology.

Outside of the classroom and field, I would like to share my enthusiasm about biology with like-minded students by joining the Biology Student Alliance and Society of Biology Students. And, while not directly related to biology and ecology, as a Michigan student, I look forward to joining the Michigan Academics Competition. As captain of my school’s Academic team, a Quiz Bowl style trivia competition, I enjoy researching and recalling science (and history) facts. As a biology student, I am confident that I would become one of the biology specialists on the Michigan Academics Competition and Quiz Bowl Team.

Michigan’s incredible opportunities within the Program of Biology would enable me to have access to a world class education. Furthermore, the unique field experience and research opportunities would enable me to make my mark on the University.

Why this University of Michigan essay worked, according to an ex-admissions officer

In this essay, the author begins by praising the University’s academics and then expresses how much of an opportunity it would be to get to matriculate at UMich. They uses energetic words and direct verbs. The sentences exude intention. In the first paragraph alone, this student tells us that they will hold dear an opportunity to attend UMich. They inform us that they will benefit as a person and a scholar and will also give back to the community while on campus.

The author then goes on to tell us what programs they would like to join at UMich. Yet while doing so, the author interjects their own interests, talents and experiences. By doing this, we can clearly see that the author has the curiosity and ability to effectively join these classes and programs. The author renders their own experiences in three dimensions, making it clear that they would be an excellent candidate.

The writer walks us through exactly what they plan to study and how they hope to integrate into the community. This inspires confidence in us as readers.

This student would be an avid contributor to UMich. Though the essay is direct, it has complexity and ends by reiterating that this student intends to make an impact. If you’re interested in attending UMich, don’t forget to use our College Search Feature! You’ll find all kinds of interesting information on everything from academics to financial aid along with helpful school-specific admissions resources.

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I always had a keen interest in numbers, probability, and finance. Early on, I could run numbers quickly: calculating sales tax, analyzing probabilities, and visualizing complex mathematical models in my head. After taking two AP classes in economics and one in statistics, I became increasingly intrigued with the mathematical representations of the different product and labor markets of the economy and modeling statistical outcomes, sparking my desire to pursue a career in that field through preferred action admission to Ross. Thus, I have set my sights on becoming an actuary since risk management is highly intriguing and allows me to use my talents in mathematical and statistical analysis as well as in written and verbal communication. The curriculum at Ross, coupled with the liberal arts requirements, will provide me with the necessary background to pursue my career goals.

At Ross, I will have the privilege of pursuing a Bachelor in Business Administration, providing me with a well-rounded background in management and economic analysis. I am particularly looking forward to the TO 301: Business Analytics and Statistics course taught by Dr. Shimi Nassiri, as it develops the skills of proper statistical and economic analysis and subsequent decision making. As well, it provides in-class experience of analyzing and modelling real data sets. I am also invested in Dr. Nassiri research of more efficient and effective healthcare solutions. As a Hispanic teenager, I feel very strongly about Dr. Shima Nassiri research on health care as it greatly impacts both the Hispanic and other minority communities. I am also eager for the 360° Thinking portion of the Ross curriculum. Particularly, the junior year course MO 300: Behavioral Theory in Management greatly intrigues me. It entails an in depth analysis of societal trends and how to develop creative and efficient responses as a manager. This class would provide a strong foundation for me in the analysis of social sciences and how they intertwine with economics. Additionally, what draws me to Ross is the emphasis on teambuilding and leadership skills which play a crucial role in molding successful business leaders in today’s rapidly changing world economy. My experience as a faculty-selected “Peer Leader” at Manalapan High School has provided a gateway into the fundamentals of leadership, and I look forward to expanding my skills through the unique leadership portion of the Ross curriculum as well as various leadership programs, such as the Leadership Experience Program (LDRx). The opportunity to develop both the tangible and intangible skills, which separate the accomplished leaders from the rest of the pack, will help me to create meaningful relationships both in the business world and the greater world community.

While I expect to learn a great deal at Ross, I feel my upbringing will permit me to contribute to Ross. I grew up surrounded by Latin salsa, spices, sights, and sounds, but that was not all. Since my parents immigrated from Cuba, I grew up with stories of the political and economic struggles my family faced. It is through these stories that I have gained an understanding of the influence of leadership and the importance of economical and statistical analysis to grow an economy. I hope to share my cultural background and perspective as a Hispanic man at Ross.

This essay leaves me with absolutely no doubt that this student belongs on the Ross campus at UMich. He begins very directly by telling us about himself and his skill set. He gives us a brief evolution of his mathematical interests — how they started and where he will direct them.

He has researched Ross, knows one of their leading professors, knows her academic body of work, knows the specific classes, and has made himself a 4 year plan regarding what he will take and to which programs he will add. He very articulately describes this progression. The reader can clearly imagine him as an enthusiastic participant.

Intermittently, this student references how his education will be applied in healthcare and leadership capacities. He also shares his Cuban culture with us, reminding us that he is more than just academics. Finally, he finishes with a proud determination he will be a Hispanic Ross Man. How could we question that?

These University of Michigan essay examples were compiled by the advising team at . If you want to get help writing your University of Michigan application essays from Admissions Experts , register with today.

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how to write the umich essay

  • Nov 17, 2023

How to Write the “Why UMich” essay

How to Write Why University of Michigan Essay

For decades, the University of Michigan’s flagship campus in Ann Arbor has been one of our students’ top-choice schools—and every year, admission gets more competitive. Many students start the application process by crafting their Common App personal statement and activity list, which are common across all the colleges and universities you will apply to. UMich’s additional essay supplements are a great way to stand out at UMich and push your application over the line for acceptance. And while you may be able to recycle UMich’s short prompt on community from a similar essay written for a different school, you’ll need to write a bespoke draft for UMich’s longer, 550-word essay.

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?

Here are a few guidelines for this essential part of your application.

1. Write it about the specific school within UMich you’re applying to—not UMich as a whole.

UMich consists of 19 Colleges and Schools, and each offers very different resources and experiences to its students. Admissions officers want to see that you understand this and have chosen the college that best fits you. The single most common mistake we see students make in first drafts is to write the essay about UMich in general, with no mention of their specific College or School within UMich, such as, the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA), the College of Engineering, or the Ross School of Business.

To avoid this, make sure you ground your research in material from your specific target UMich College or School. While it’s okay to briefly mention non-university-specific resources, like Ann Arbor’s location or an exciting club, don’t make these the focal point of the essay.

2. Emphasize academics at your chosen College or School.

As with applications to all universities, the wording of UMich’s prompt can contain hints about what they’re looking for in your answer. In this case, they explicitly mention “curriculum.” Your first step should be to go to your specific College’s website and check out the requirements for your chosen major. How are they different from the fundamental courses for similar majors at other universities? Are UMich’s courses taught in smaller class size than at other universities, or by uniquely experienced professors, or using interesting pedagogic methods? What aspects of the curriculum excite you? You can also discuss individual professors whose research aligns with your own academic interests.

3. Focus on resources that are not available at other universities, and also mention what is available through the many Colleges, Schools, and programs within UMich.

College is a mixed bag—no matter which university you’re at, you’ll have a few experiences you could not have had anywhere else. However, many college experiences are common—for example, a chemistry major can expect to take organic chemistry no matter which university they attend. When you write this essay for UMich, you want to focus on the type of experience you could only have at UMich. “Introduction to Computer Science” may be offered in the College of Engineering, but that doesn’t mean that writing about it is a good idea—unless you can describe unique features of UMich’s Computer Science course.

Fortunately, UMich offers plenty of unique resources. As a large school, it has many unusual programs and classes, including minors , tracks within your major, certificates, and interdisciplinary courses. You can also discuss academic opportunities like UROP, the undergraduate research program.

4. Make it personal—but not too personal.

This essay is not a personal statement, so don’t spend entire paragraphs recapping your résumé. However, you should briefly share your own goals and desires for your college experience, and you can mention past impressive experiences in the context of that. For instance: “My favorite activity in high school was math team, and the mathematics department at UMich provides the perfect opportunity to keep building on that through its sponsorship of student organizations like SUMS (Society of Undergraduate Math Students) and WIM (Women in Mathematics club).” Just make sure to tie it in to a specific offering at the College or School within UMich you’re applying to.

Once you’ve completed this essay for UMich, you may be ready to get started on similar ones for other schools. Check out our advice on writing on other “Why School” prompts here .

At College Choice Counseling®, our counselors and tutors are here to help you with college counseling , college essay and application help , test prep tutoring , and academic subject tutoring . Reach out … we’ll help you succeed!

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Common questions, essay questions.

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University of Michigan Questions

  • Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it.  (Required for all applicants. 1,500 character limit.)
  • Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests?  (Required for all applicants. 2,750 character limit.)
  • An optional essay  related to the impact of COVID-19 on the applicant. We encourage students to share their specific circumstances, and will bring empathy and compassion to our holistic review process.

Additional Question for Transfer Applicants:

  • Please provide a statement that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve.  (1,500 character limit)

Marsal Family School of Education Transfer Applicants Only:

Please review the Educator Preparation Program (EPP) mission and vision statements below:

Mission: Our mission in the EPP at the Marsal Family School of Education is to prepare educators to support the well-being and learning of young people and to advance justice through their practice, advocacy, and activism. All pathways within the EPP leverage both research and the expertise of experienced educators to prepare novices for the complex work of supporting young people's learning and thriving, as well as that of their families and communities. We strive to uphold diversity and inclusion, and to advance justice and equity, in the field of educator preparation.

Vision: The EPP at the Marsal Family School of Education pursues a vision of educating toward justice.

Please address the following in your essay:

  • How does your experience prepare you to engage in a program with these commitments?
  • What goals do you have for your own career in light of these commitments?

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 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.  (1,250-3,250 character limit, approx. 250-650 word limit. The application won't accept a response shorter than 250 words.)

  • Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  • The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  • Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  • Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
  • Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  • Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  • Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

Tips for Writing an Effective Application Essay

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How to Write an Effective Essay

Writing an essay for college admission gives you a chance to use your authentic voice and show your personality. It's an excellent opportunity to personalize your application beyond your academic credentials, and a well-written essay can have a positive influence come decision time.

Want to know how to draft an essay for your college application ? Here are some tips to keep in mind when writing.

Tips for Essay Writing

A typical college application essay, also known as a personal statement, is 400-600 words. Although that may seem short, writing about yourself can be challenging. It's not something you want to rush or put off at the last moment. Think of it as a critical piece of the application process. Follow these tips to write an impactful essay that can work in your favor.

1. Start Early.

Few people write well under pressure. Try to complete your first draft a few weeks before you have to turn it in. Many advisers recommend starting as early as the summer before your senior year in high school. That way, you have ample time to think about the prompt and craft the best personal statement possible.

You don't have to work on your essay every day, but you'll want to give yourself time to revise and edit. You may discover that you want to change your topic or think of a better way to frame it. Either way, the sooner you start, the better.

2. Understand the Prompt and Instructions.

Before you begin the writing process, take time to understand what the college wants from you. The worst thing you can do is skim through the instructions and submit a piece that doesn't even fit the bare minimum requirements or address the essay topic. Look at the prompt, consider the required word count, and note any unique details each school wants.

3. Create a Strong Opener.

Students seeking help for their application essays often have trouble getting things started. It's a challenging writing process. Finding the right words to start can be the hardest part.

Spending more time working on your opener is always a good idea. The opening sentence sets the stage for the rest of your piece. The introductory paragraph is what piques the interest of the reader, and it can immediately set your essay apart from the others.

4. Stay on Topic.

One of the most important things to remember is to keep to the essay topic. If you're applying to 10 or more colleges, it's easy to veer off course with so many application essays.

A common mistake many students make is trying to fit previously written essays into the mold of another college's requirements. This seems like a time-saving way to avoid writing new pieces entirely, but it often backfires. The result is usually a final piece that's generic, unfocused, or confusing. Always write a new essay for every application, no matter how long it takes.

5. Think About Your Response.

Don't try to guess what the admissions officials want to read. Your essay will be easier to write─and more exciting to read─if you’re genuinely enthusiastic about your subject. Here’s an example: If all your friends are writing application essays about covid-19, it may be a good idea to avoid that topic, unless during the pandemic you had a vivid, life-changing experience you're burning to share. Whatever topic you choose, avoid canned responses. Be creative.

6. Focus on You.

Essay prompts typically give you plenty of latitude, but panel members expect you to focus on a subject that is personal (although not overly intimate) and particular to you. Admissions counselors say the best essays help them learn something about the candidate that they would never know from reading the rest of the application.

7. Stay True to Your Voice.

Use your usual vocabulary. Avoid fancy language you wouldn't use in real life. Imagine yourself reading this essay aloud to a classroom full of people who have never met you. Keep a confident tone. Be wary of words and phrases that undercut that tone.

8. Be Specific and Factual.

Capitalize on real-life experiences. Your essay may give you the time and space to explain why a particular achievement meant so much to you. But resist the urge to exaggerate and embellish. Admissions counselors read thousands of essays each year. They can easily spot a fake.

9. Edit and Proofread.

When you finish the final draft, run it through the spell checker on your computer. Then don’t read your essay for a few days. You'll be more apt to spot typos and awkward grammar when you reread it. After that, ask a teacher, parent, or college student (preferably an English or communications major) to give it a quick read. While you're at it, double-check your word count.

Writing essays for college admission can be daunting, but it doesn't have to be. A well-crafted essay could be the deciding factor─in your favor. Keep these tips in mind, and you'll have no problem creating memorable pieces for every application.

What is the format of a college application essay?

Generally, essays for college admission follow a simple format that includes an opening paragraph, a lengthier body section, and a closing paragraph. You don't need to include a title, which will only take up extra space. Keep in mind that the exact format can vary from one college application to the next. Read the instructions and prompt for more guidance.

Most online applications will include a text box for your essay. If you're attaching it as a document, however, be sure to use a standard, 12-point font and use 1.5-spaced or double-spaced lines, unless the application specifies different font and spacing.

How do you start an essay?

The goal here is to use an attention grabber. Think of it as a way to reel the reader in and interest an admissions officer in what you have to say. There's no trick on how to start a college application essay. The best way you can approach this task is to flex your creative muscles and think outside the box.

You can start with openers such as relevant quotes, exciting anecdotes, or questions. Either way, the first sentence should be unique and intrigue the reader.

What should an essay include?

Every application essay you write should include details about yourself and past experiences. It's another opportunity to make yourself look like a fantastic applicant. Leverage your experiences. Tell a riveting story that fulfills the prompt.

What shouldn’t be included in an essay?

When writing a college application essay, it's usually best to avoid overly personal details and controversial topics. Although these topics might make for an intriguing essay, they can be tricky to express well. If you’re unsure if a topic is appropriate for your essay, check with your school counselor. An essay for college admission shouldn't include a list of achievements or academic accolades either. Your essay isn’t meant to be a rehashing of information the admissions panel can find elsewhere in your application.

How can you make your essay personal and interesting?

The best way to make your essay interesting is to write about something genuinely important to you. That could be an experience that changed your life or a valuable lesson that had an enormous impact on you. Whatever the case, speak from the heart, and be honest.

Is it OK to discuss mental health in an essay?

Mental health struggles can create challenges you must overcome during your education and could be an opportunity for you to show how you’ve handled challenges and overcome obstacles. If you’re considering writing your essay for college admission on this topic, consider talking to your school counselor or with an English teacher on how to frame the essay.

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  • 2024 Writing Prizes

I Keep Writing about Fish

  • 2023 Writing Prizes

by Ashley Wang

Nominated by Chris Crowder for LSWA 125

Instructor Introduction

Ashley’s video essay “I Keep Writing About Fish?” hooks the viewer in with brilliant (or should I say gill-iant) questions, immersive drawings, and inventive poetry to investigate why fish are often featured in their writing. While the conversation starts from a point of unease with the creatures, we’re taught that “fish can be a metaphor for everything,” encompassing our fears and the subconscious. The essay’s fantastic pacing, humor, and connections to fish-adjacent texts helps us consider how writing can be like attending to or picking at a wound—does it help our discomfort?

— Chris Crowder


[Typewriter effect]:

I keep writing about fish.

[Some sort of transition]

“Why” is a good question. Why fish? Why write about it? Why keep writing about it?

I’m afraid of fish. I don’t like them very much.

The first memory of fish-fear I have is being a kid at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, terrified in front of the shark exhibit. I have always been a catastrophizer. If the glass were to break—it would be genuine tons of water, pouring down upon me, and one big fish. I can’t swim. The shark is native to water. The math is easy to do.

The fish-fear hovered in my mind after that. I realized that I really hated deep sea fish, and then large fish—as in, any fish that is large. And now it’s just—a general unease around any fish, at all, if it is alive and swimming.

So, okay. I’m afraid of fish.

The next question: why write about it?


I’m certainly not the first person to write about fish. W.G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn , which is a strange and meandering book, has about five and a half pages dedicated to a meditation on the herring. How they migrate, how they are caught, how they glow when they die. How we, as humans, don’t actually know what they feel. We don’t know what fish feel when they are confronted by humans—but I know how I feel when I am confronted with them.

When I say that I keep writing about fish, I mean it.

Here are some of the half-finished poems. All About Fish:

My dad drags me out of bed to go on a walk

fish in the river / freaky in length / raw & infinite fish / raw & infinite fear / big splash when dad drops dinner in / leftovers in / my lunch: in the river / me: lunch in the river / big splash when i drop in & what’s up? god is one freaky fish / god is the snap / god is the bite / god is up next / god is in me & i’m up next / be not afraid fish / i do not believe you to be delicious / i’m only hoping for a good ending & i must specify / good ending: not by fish / be happy: good fish / be not delicious me: good ending / be not sad god: there are freakier fish still be freaky god: i have not yet been consumed

Like the Vitruvian man,

I have a rod spine and fishing line arms. Two hooked thumbs up. I am fishing for myself. My mouth is open. I bite. I get a catch. I dig deep and snag twice. One thumb per fleshy cheek. Holes on each side of the face. It should be easy, and it is—just get into the gap where the jaw connects to itself. Smile. Pull.


Sometimes, it feels as if all of my fish poetry begins to blend into one as I keep revisiting the subject. How much can one person have to say about fish? Maybe all of it is becoming one giant Franken-creature.

I had a nightmare like that once. It was, funnily enough, about Spongebob . A show with a bunch of fish as characters. In this dream, there is a blob that keeps consuming people. Consuming fish. Consuming fish-people. Like a freaky osmosis. The blob grows bigger. It wants me. It wants my mass. It wants my being to become one with it.

I stopped watching Spongebob after that. But maybe that’s what my poetry wants to become. One big, ugly fish.

In Diana Khoi Ngyuen’s Ghost Of , she introduces a series of poems all titled Gyotaku. Gyotaku, a method Japanese fishermen originally used to print their catches, that later evolved into an art form in its own right. These poems play with form, repeatedly pasting text over and over again, often with overlap. My fish poems do not, but perhaps they are a more metaphorical version of gyotaku—every fish poem is me printing and reprinting this strange fear, over and over again. As a way to record them, mark down their size and shape. As a way to say: this is what I have caught.

How much can one person have to say about fish? The answer is a lot. Fish can be a metaphor for everything, I think .

Picture this: it’s summer of 2021, and I’m just starting to write poetry about the things that matter to me, instead of poetry that only imitates what I think poetry should sound like. This is an excerpt from one of my poems from that era, written for a poetry workshop. It’s about being queer.

Fish as a metaphor for everything.

We’re at the bay,

a tethered boat, stink slithering through the air. I’m talking about fish again. The soft, tender underbelly. The bones and spine in the trash and the blood under my nails. I’m talking about the salt and the spray and the sun as well, yes, but mostly the fish. You know what’s the funniest thing about fish? You ask a man to picture a monster and he gives you an animal, a beast, something decidedly- not-human. But to a fish? A monster is just a bigger, freakier fish. One with more teeth. One with sharper teeth. A swooping jaw and a dark, hungry mouth. A really mean bite. The fish probably have it right. It really is far too easy to slip from man to monster.

That work is… old and not my best. But I wrote it before I had my fish epiphany—and yet, even then, I was thinking about fish. And I was thinking about how queer folk are ostracized and othered and depicted as predators and how the most horrifying thing in the world, to some people, is just another person, yes, but I was also thinking about fish.

And I keep stitching together these poems into new ones. When I have nothing else in my head to write, I default to fish. I regurgitate everything I’ve already made to say anew. Here is something I wrote during poetry club one day:

Hey. I’m talking, again, about the fish (from We’re at the bay, ) and how they swarm around my leftovers (from My father drags me out on a walk ) in the river. I’m talking about the fish and how they snap towards my crumbs. I’m talking about myself, leftover in the river. I’m talking. I’m meaning It. I’m not just saying bubbles and splashing. I’m talking about fish scales stench. I’m talking about mouth wire line. I’m fishing. I’m digging. (from Like the Vitruvian man, ) I’m digging in my scales and hooking. I’m a fish floundering against the tug. I’m a fish gaping. I’m open. I’m easy. I’m hooked.

There’s something about how I can’t stop digging into this wound. Leslie Jamison has this personal essay called I Met Fear On The Hill . In it, she describes going through a novel written by her mother’s first husband, describing their relationship and subsequent breakup. Jamison writes:

“The fork in this road is starkly asymmetric: Sheila is determined to end the marriage, and Peter is devastated. His pain is operatic and eager to express itself … During their separation, he finds himself playing guitar at a party one night: ‘I reach into the open wound and bring the pain out like an eel wriggling on the end of a hook, hold it up, glory in it.’”

Fish, right?

I come back to this quote a lot. The imagery, the eel wiggling in the wound. Digging in that wound. I’m the type of person where, when I get a bruise I keep pressing on it even when it hurts. Especially when it hurts. Every scab I’ve ever gotten gets picked open by my ever-anxious hands. Eternal pinprick wounds that never heal because I cannot leave it be. I love fishing in my wounds.

Okay. So, again, that eternal question: why?

This part I’m still not so sure about. I think that maybe there is some part of me that believes writing about my fears will make them lessen, somehow. That, by being able to relate fish with so many poems, scraps, lines, diction, syntax, that it will be easier to deal with. That, if I can outline the shape of my discomfort with my words, then it will be easier to wrangle.

But, is that true?

Well. I don’t know yet. I did model this project after one of those video essays I can waste endless hours with on YouTube—but unlike a lot of them, I don’t have a neat conclusion, or call to action to give you. But I think that’s why I write—to keep on learning about these things, and to keep interrogating them, and to keep questioning them. The way I think about fish now is far different than the way I thought about fish two years ago. I’m sure it’ll be different again in another two years.

I posed the question of how much fish poetry can one person write earlier, and I answered with a lot. But I think that dodged the implied question there: is there such a thing as too much fish poetry? And my answer to that is no, or at least not right now. Not for my purposes.

So yeah. I’m going to keep writing about fish.

And I’m going to keep casting that fishing hook shaped question mark and seeing what I reel up.

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Millions of Suns Writing Contest Winners

Cover of the book Millions of Suns with the text Writing Contest Winners

To celebrate the publication of Millions of Suns: On Writing and Life by M. C. Benner Dixon & Sharon Fagan McDermott, we offered a writing contest where participants were invited to write a fiction, non-fiction, or poetry response to a prompt from the book. Thank you to those of you who submitted your work! The results are in, and we are excited to announce the winners of the contest!

Authors M. C. Benner Dixon & Sharon Fagan McDermott read through each anonymous submission and selected one winner for each category. The winners will receive a copy of the book in the mail so that they can continue to use this collection of fifty engaging writing prompts in their daily writing craft. You can learn more about the contest rules here .

The Writing Prompt

The Forgotten

Select a memorable scene from your childhood (learning archery at camp, the day you met your dog, watching your brother get in a fight). Write down everything you can remember in explicit and meticulous detail—the dog’s one-up-one-down ears, the sound of the first punch, etc.

Now, write down all that you don’t remember. (“I don’t remember the brightness of the summer sun, the way it landed in the canopy of trees above our heads.” “I don’t remember the words he said to my brother, whether he cursed or not, whether he insulted our mother.”) Some of the details will be easy to imagine plausibly; some will not. Write a poem, essay, or story that pulls on both memory and forgetting.

Fiction Winner: "Rituals" by Mike Piero

Judges' comments:.

This story engages a painful and complicated moment in a person's life with an inventive approach to storytelling. The writer straddles past and present, threading them together with the power of ritual. This story speaks to the possibility of reinventing one's identity and healing trauma by letting go of the past.

I remember Brother Marcus’s upstairs bathtub, a corn-yellowed tub surrounded by peeling, dark green wallpaper from the 1970s. Half of my family—Baptists, all of them—attended the event in their Sunday best, inching themselves hesitantly into the crammed bathroom. Those who couldn’t fit into the bi-level production home’s tiny lavatory took turns peering in from the hallway.

“Let us begin,” Brother Marcus said in a sacred voice, followed by a prayer to initiate the newfound ritual. I was their first, a solemn affirmation of their legitimacy, perhaps little more.

I remember the water being comfortably warm, then too-quickly frigid. Because I was anything but quick in my performance.

Poetry Winner: "For Kateri" by Jane Ward

We were impressed with how this poem built towards its conclusion with precise and emotive imagery. The poem places us within the memory while also hurdling "over the patch of dark water" of all that has been forgotten. The poet's command of lyricism and memory leave us breathless by the end.

We didn’t remember the Mohawks or the Lenape so we sang them some dirges with our placenames there was my Leni Lenape Girl Scout Troop and Blessed Kateri church where once I married Tim and Lake Mohawk, where I could jump from the dock over the patch of dark water

all the way to the thick white ice making the big kids say don’t do that, that’s dangerous and I would say stuck the landing for lack of anything better before I spun away to try to scrape out some music with my skates

Non-Fiction Winner: “Crash Bang, a Word Problem” by Molly Bain

“Crash Bang, a Word Problem" is an exciting ride through memory and language. The experimental forms employed by the author heighten the impact of memories lost and found. The relentless chaos of this world drives us into "smart mouths, slapstick noses, open hands and closed fists, backsides and kicks: the collisions of materials or intentions, any or all of it coming loose and going up and then coming down in the sudden pressure drops of conflict in tight quarters under open skies." We were glued to the page. The expert interweaving of story and pointed reflection in this essay generated a riveting crash bang all its own.

“You’ve haven’t forgotten the little girl rushing, like creek waters during spring melt, into the lake. She’s trying to catch turtles but is terrified of leeches. You haven’t forgotten how they dammed Deer Lake for the goldmine and then dammed her again for the iron ore mine. You haven’t forgotten that the goldmine in 15 years of operation released approximately 5,000 lbs of mercury into Deer Lake. . . . You are the woman the little girl in this word problem made, and she wouldn’t have forgotten to tell you, would she?

Say you think of your own body like a watershed. Say Deer Lake taught you that, and you love her for it.

Say you are from lands with more shoreline than Hawaii. Say the official motto is Pure Michigan . Say your eyes are sometimes so dry now that you wonder if you’ve forgotten how to cry.”

Non-Fiction Honorable Mention: “Wisconsin Winter Night” by Eric Schatzman

From the "checkered linoleum flooring" of Aunt Karen's kitchen to her "red American Impala sedan (whose rear doors had the audacity to fly open around turns)," this vivid account of a family story draws us into its world. We were especially moved by the fact that this world exists only in the memory of the author who chooses to share it with us as a gift.

I do have a warehouse of childhood memories that range from moments to hours; so many lie among the heat of New Mexico cactuses and Texas cracked mud and California dry grasses. This Tundra winter one, however, lies at the entrance of that warehouse, a singular, accessible, emotional treasure, a memory I continually access for comfort. Although I am alone with this story, I am okay if I am the keeper of this memory as my own.

Writing Craft News

If you would like to receive news about any University of Michigan Press books, including those in our Writers on Writing and Poets on Poetry series, sign up for our email newsletter on our website and select “Writing Craft” as the subject area. 

Books Mentioned In This Post

how to write the umich essay

Millions of Suns

how to write the umich essay

Q&A with Madison Allums

Writing Center Consultant - TUTOR I (TEMP)

Applications must include a resume and cover letter (in one file) submitted to this job posting.

Additionally, all applicants must submit a writing sample and a letter of recommendation through the Writing Center website . This link will take you to the "Become a Consultant" page, which has further information about the position and instructions to complete your application.

The Writing Center has consultant (tutor) openings for qualified undergraduates studying in all disciplines in the College of Arts, Science, & Letters (CASL); the College of Business (COB); the College of Engineering & Computer Science (CECS); and the College of Education, Health & Human Services (CEHHS). The Writing Center is looking for consultants who are interested in tutoring writing and who work well and collaboratively with peers.

Basic duties:

  • Support student writing and communication
  • Attend biweekly, paid staff meetings
  • Maintain writing session records
  • In compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), ensure confidentiality of student work
  • Perform duties and maintain standards according to college policies, procedures, and values
  • Demonstrate a willingness to collaborate and learn!

Starting pay is $15.00/hr. Students who have attained sophomore status, with at least 4 remaining semesters in their studies, are encouraged to apply. Multilingual students with expertise in English and students with majors in CECS and COB are especially encouraged to apply. Applications from all current undergraduate student's are welcome.

New consultants are expected to enroll in Comp 475: Supporting Literacies concurrent with their first semester in the Writing Center. Comp 475, offered by the Composition & Rhetoric discipline, is a 400-level course designed to help prepare new consultants for their work in the Writing Center. The course also meets several requirements in the DDC (Dearborn Discovery Core): Upper-level Writing Intensive, Critical & Creative Thinking, and Intersections. Comp 475 Supporting Literacies prepares students for success as tutors of writing through focus on the theoretical and practical issues involved in the teaching and tutoring of writing, including special attention to tutoring students for whom English is a second language. If you are committed to applying for the consultant position, but Comp 475 poses a difficulty for your academic plan, please be in touch with the Writing Center Coordinator.

For any further questions, about the job posting or about Comp 475, please e-mail John Taylor, the Writing Center Coordinator, at [email protected].

Background Screening

The University of Michigan conducts background checks on all job candidates upon acceptance of a contingent offer and may use a third party administrator to conduct background checks.  Background checks are performed in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Decision Making Process

Interviews will be conducted on a rolling basis. After all documents are submitted, the Writing Center will reach out to schedule an interview. Please feel free to query or for confirmation of receipt of application materials. Contact on the Writing Center's website or using the information above.

U-M EEO/AA Statement

The University of Michigan is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

Calculate for all schools

Your chance of acceptance, your chancing factors, extracurriculars, any tips for writing the 'why umich' essay.

I'm working on my application for the University of Michigan and I need some advice for the 'Why UMich' essay. Any helpful tips or examples you guys can provide would be great! Thanks!

Certainly! The "Why UMich" essay is an important part of your application, as it shows the admissions officers why you are interested in attending the University of Michigan and how you would fit into the community. Here are some tips to help you craft a compelling and genuine essay:

1. Do your research: Spend some time researching the specific programs, professors, clubs, activities, research opportunities, and campus traditions that you find appealing about UMich. This will help you demonstrate your genuine interest in the school and show that you've put thought into your application.

2. Be specific: Instead of writing generic statements like "UMich has a great engineering program" or "I love the campus atmosphere," give specific examples that will help your essay stand out. Mention the name of a particular professor whose work you admire or a unique course that caught your attention, or discuss a particular club or extracurricular activity that you would like to join.

3. Connect your interests and goals: Explain how UMich's offerings align with your academic and career goals, as well as your personal interests. For example, if you're interested in studying environmental engineering, you could discuss how UMich's strong engineering program, combined with research opportunities and community outreach programs, will help you gain the skills and experience needed to address environmental problems in your future career.

4. Show your fit: Admissions officers want to see that you would be a good fit for the UMich community. Describe any personal qualities, values, or experiences that align with UMich's ethos and culture. For example, if you value community involvement and have a history of volunteering, mention how you would like to contribute to UMich's service initiatives.

5. Be authentic: Your essay should sound like you and reflect your genuine interest in attending UMich. Avoid using cliches or trying to sound overly polished. Write in your own voice and share your personal thoughts and feelings.

Here's a brief example to help you get started:

At the University of Michigan, I am particularly excited to join the XYZ research lab under the guidance of Professor Jane Doe, whose work on sustainable energy systems aligns with my passion for renewable energy solutions. As a member of the lab, I look forward to contributing to the development of new technologies and the pursuit of a cleaner, more sustainable world. Additionally, UMich's Engineers Without Borders chapter offers a unique opportunity for me to blend my engineering skills with my commitment to making a real, lasting impact in underprivileged communities worldwide. Outside of academics, I am excited to embrace UMich's vibrant campus culture by joining the ABC club, where I can continue pursuing my passion for photography while documenting memorable moments for my fellow Wolverines. With its academic excellence, innovative research, and rich campus life, the University of Michigan is the ideal place for me to flourish, both personally and professionally.

About CollegeVine’s Expert FAQ

CollegeVine’s Q&A seeks to offer informed perspectives on commonly asked admissions questions. Every answer is refined and validated by our team of admissions experts to ensure it resonates with trusted knowledge in the field.

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how to write the umich essay

An Overview of 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

  • What Is the “Why University of Michigan” Essay?
  • What Is the Prompt Asking?
  • What to Write about in Your “Why Michigan” Essay
  • How Culture Factors into Your “Why Michigan” Essay
  • How Long Should Your “Why Michigan” Essay Be?

What Is the ‘Why University of Michigan’ Essay?

The University of Michigan requires all applicants to submit supplemental essays . The prompt for the University of Michigan’s first supplemental essay is:  

“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) 

This essay is one of the most common prompt archetypes: the “Why This College ” essay. The goal of this prompt is for admissions officers to gauge your interest in the school, why you want to attend, and how you would contribute to the university as well as ensure you have done your research on the school. 

What Is the Prompt Asking? 

This prompt contains two significant questions that you need to be prepared to answer. At a more general level, the admissions officers want to know why you like this specific program at the University of Michigan. More specifically, they are curious why the program is a good fit for you personally and academically, based on your prior experiences and future goals. 

What To Write about in Your ‘Why Michigan’ Essay

Before writing, spend some time thinking critically about how the college can support your interests and how the curriculum would support both your academic and professional goals. To come up with specific examples, browsing the college or school’s website can be helpful. Finding professors you would be interested in working with and courses that appeal to you is a good place to start, as well. 

You can also research programs within the department that interest you and whether they have any initiatives, events, or workshops that other universities do not. These are good to reference in your essay, particularly if they are unique to the University of Michigan. 

How Culture Should Factor Into Your ‘Why Michigan’ Essay

Although it may not be obvious to write about, department culture should be referenced in your “Why Michigan” essay. You want to make it clear to the admissions reader why you want to be a part of the department’s community. 

From an admissions standpoint, the university wants students who will be engaged and embedded in the campus community. That goes beyond academics, so your essay should too. 

How Long Should Your ‘Why Michigan’ Essay Be? 

The word count for this essay is 100 to 550 words, which is a much larger range than is normally listed for supplemental essays. 

If you submit a 100-word response, readers are going to assume that you are doing the bare minimum and do not have much to say about the school. That would be very detrimental to your application, especially in a “Why This College” essay. Colleges will assume that is the sort of student and community member you are, and there are probably other applicants they would choose to have on their campus instead. 

As such, you need to use the whole word count to go into detail about the program you are applying to and how that can support your goals. You are the main character in all these essays, so you need to remember to center yourself and use the full 550 words to do so in a compelling way.

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  1. Write an Awesome University of Michigan Application Essay Using Our Guide

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  1. How to Write the University of Michigan Essays 2023-2024

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  8. How to Write the University of Michigan Essays

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