With more than 31,000 undergraduate students at its flagship Ann Arbor campus, and touting the #1 research volume of any public university in the USA, the University of Michigan is a behemoth in American higher education.
This is further evidenced by its vast network of alumni, of whom more than 630,000 are thriving across the country and the globe. The university regularly pulls students from all 50 states and more than 130 countries: it is iconic not only because of its academic excellence, but its athletic prowess and the unparalleled school spirit of the Wolverines.
Remarkably, despite its size and versatility, Michigan maintains extraordinarily high admissions standards for its students. For 2021’s first-year entering class, the university received a whopping 83,029 applications, of which it gave acceptances to just 16,235 students. This acceptance rate of just about 18.2% is particularly impressive when you consider the caliber of student admitted. The median GPA of these admits was no less than 3.90, with middle 50th percentile SAT and ACT scores ranging from 1380-1550 and 32-35 respectively.
Acceptance Statistics: Class of 2024
|Applications||Admitted||Acceptance rate||Median GPA|
|Overall SAT score||1380–1540|
|Reading and Writing||680-760|
|Overall ACT score||32–35|
More College Profiles:
- New York University (NYU)
- University of Texas Austin
- Carnegie Mellon University
- Cornell University
- For more detailed information, see the University of Michigan’s Student Profile for the Class of 2025.
The numbers are daunting to say the least. But they don’t always give the full picture. And they’re representative of macro trends in worldwide education that are outside any single person’s control. That’s why it’s more effective to first understand these numbers in context, then use your time to focus on preparing your own personal application as best you can.
Why was there such a big increase in applications?
The spike in application numbers was a trend across most elite American colleges and universities. The simplest explanation for this phenomenon is the decision for many top schools–including the University of Michigan–to remove the standardized testing requirement for applicants due to COVID. It’s logical that this change led to more students feeling they would be qualified for admittance to the university.
Beyond that, more students than usual who were admitted in the previous cycle deferred their enrollment, leaving fewer seats in the Class of 2025. Some students who’d applied the previous year even decided not to matriculate to any university, given the pandemic. Instead, they chose to take a gap year and reapply to their dream schools. Finally, students are continuing to apply to more and more schools, as evidenced by the 11% increase in applications submitted through the Common App despite an increase of only 2% in the total number of applicants.
All of these factors, among others, contributed to the massive growth in the number of applications to top universities like the University of Michigan.
What do you need to apply to the University of Michigan?
In order to apply to the University of Michigan, you will need to submit a completed Common Application or Coalition Application, in addition to providing the school-specific requirements listed below. The university has also introduced some noteworthy changes for the 2022-23 application cycle, including greater flexibility on recommendation writers, the option not to report standardized test scores, and encouragement to explain how COVID has impacted your academic performance and life.
If you’re applying Early Action to the University of Michigan, you will need to submit your entire application package before the deadline of November 1.
Here is the essential checklist of materials and information you will need to prepare and submit in order to be considered for admission to the University of Michigan:
- Completed Common Application or Coalition Application, including the University of Michigan supplemental essays
- One essay of up to 300 words on a community you belong to
- One essay of up to 550 words on why you want to study at the University of Michigan
- Your official high school transcript
- School Report (Common App) or Counselor Recommendation (Coalition App)
- One Teacher Evaluation
- TOEFL, MET, or IELTS scores for non-native English speakers
- [optional] SAT or ACT score, or other standardized test score, like the PSAT
- For those applying to the Ross School of Business, an Admissions Portfolio
It’s worth noting that there are several other programs, for instance in Architecture and Urban Planning, Art & Design, and Music, Theatre, & Dance that have additional application requirements. If you plan to apply to one of these programs, get the full details using the list at the bottom of the University of Michigan’s Requirements & Deadlines page.
What is the University of Michigan looking for?
Beyond top academic aptitude, the University of Michigan seeks students committed to community impact and influential in their community’s spirit. Though they receive a staggering number of applications, the admissions committee is dedicated to carefully reviewing each student in the context of their circumstances. They also believe an applicant should be outstanding in several areas, not just one. Thus, they gauge academic achievement and extracurricular engagement thoughtfully, seeking to weigh a student’s contributions to their school and the people around them. Each application undergoes evaluation by multiple evaluators, who give the applicant a rating on these five criteria:
- Secondary School Academic Performance
- Educational Environment
- Counselor and Teacher Recommendation
- Awards/honors, involvement, leadership, and service
Each of these five factors are rated on a scale of 1-5, but they are not treated as standalone measures of a student’s potential. Instead, they are weighed one against another carefully until a final decision can be made.
For more information on the University of Michigan’s rating system and the principles underlying their admissions process, see the university’s Selection Process page.
How can you get into the Univeristy of Michigan?
There are a variety of ways an ambitious high school student can approach the University of Michigan application in order to maximize their chances of admission. The specific decisions of what to highlight and how to make it unforgettable boil down to individual life stories and circumstances that have shaped you into who you are today. That crucial piece of the application—the storytelling—can only come from intensive reflection and earnest hard work. However, there are certainly decisions you can make to position yourself to submit a profile that bolsters your personal story and provides you top ratings on several of the University of Michigan’s criteria:
- Plan ahead to take the most challenging courses offered at your school (and beyond).
- Demonstrate your talents or hobbies through pursuing them in new ways and using them to connect with other communities.
- Challenge yourself intellectually, professionally, and socially in demonstrable ways.
- Practice telling adults about who you are and what you care about—make sure to note their confusion or excitement, and use this implicit feedback to improve your storytelling.
- Invest significant time in writing and revising your supplemental essays to be as compelling and memorable as possible—do thorough research and carefully consider which of your communities has shaped you most
- Explore your academic passions beyond your coursework, ideally through research or other projects that show you wrestling with big questions or problems.
- Connect with the University of Michigan admissions officers who visit your school or area and ask them relevant, specific questions about your own profile’s match with the university.
- Seek to understand problems in your community and the world. Be proactive in formulating solutions that are ambitious but achievable. Then, work toward implementing these solutions in a way that integrates modern science and technology.
If you’re able to achieve an outstanding GPA in the hardest classes, engage meaningfully with personal interests and community problems, and demonstrate an ability to take charge of your own goals by acting on your principles, you’ll set yourself up to submit an application that will impress the University of Michigan Admissions Committee. None of this is easy, but if you’re deeply motivated to be at the University of Michigan, use every tactic we’ve listed above in order to show it.
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