Before we begin…
The University of Michigan supplement is one of the more comprehensive sets of essay questions out there; so if you’re applying to a wide swathe of schools, it’s an excellent place to start. The supplement asks you for a “why,” “community,” and “activity” essay — three assignments that are fairly common on applications at schools of all sizes and academic levels. Use this as an opportunity to think through the full package you want to present to admissions and highlight your diverse areas of interest.
Supplemental Essay Types:Community, Why, Activity
University of Michigan 2017-2018 Application Essay Question Explanations
1. Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it.
Required for all applicants. Approximately 250 words.
This is a pretty standard community essay and admissions is giving you very specific instructions and launch points, both expected and unexpected, to draw from. You could be a part of an Italian Culture Club or a schnitzel appreciation association, either way, University of Michigan wants to hear about it. So try your best, despite the small space you are given, to answer all parts of this question. Describe the community and then detail how you contribute to that community. The point of this question is to show admission you will add value and diversity to campus, and that you are a proactive and involved student who will help to build their community.
2. Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests?
Required for freshman applicants. 500 words maximum.
Here is your “why” essay, and it’s a nice, hefty one at 500 words. Your answer should be mostly focused on the academic offerings: what you want to study, what subjects interest you, and how you will use the resources at your disposal to pursue your professional goals. This is where you prove to University of Michigan that they are a good fit for you and vice versa, and getting this essay right requires a lot of research. You’re going to want to dig deep into the programs that you’re interested in: find classes, professors, even extracurricular activities related to your desired major that interest you. The more specific you can get, the better. Show admissions that you know what differentiates U-M from other colleges and, in turn, you’ll distinguish yourself from other applicants. Finally, don’t forget to connect your own past experiences and accomplishments to the resources you choose to highlight. Paint the picture of where you’ll be found on campus (whether that be the bio lab, math building, or theatre) and what you hope to accomplish.
2. (For transfer students only) Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests?
Required for all transfer applicants. 500 words maximum.
This is also a “why” essay, but the supporting information that connects you to the school will be drawn from your current undergraduate experience. Be specific about why you think Michigan is a better fit for you then your current stomping grounds. Of course, be careful not to smack talk the institution in which you’ve spent the last year or two years. Be considerate, while still being specific about your desire to change environments and asserting your Michigan-aligned goals for the future.
3. If you could only do one of the activities you have listed in the Activities section of your Common Application, which one would you keep doing? Why?
Required for all applicants. Approximately 150 words.
In this essay prompt, admissions wants to know about your ride or die. What is your all-time favorite activity? The one that gets you through finals week and heartbreak and sock-soaking rain? Talk about this activity or experience in a way that lets University of Michigan know that you’re a passionate and motivated person. Your essay should also say something about your priorities and outlook on the world. Do your weekly church bake sales give you the opportunity to get creative in the kitchen after a long week of crunching numbers? Do you take care of your neighbor’s kids in the afternoons to practice the skills you hope to use as an elementary teacher later in life? Use your favorite activity to tell admissions something new about yourself.
Of all the supplemental college essays out there, the “Why Us?” essay is the most difficult to master, especially when you have to write one for each school on your college list. So, how do you convince admissions officers at each college you belong there, while staying true to yourself?
With AdmitSee’s database of successful application files we will show you essay examples that address key elements every “Why Us” supplemental essay should include.
1. Example with a UMich Essay Excerpt
It’s essential to talk about the school you’re applying to. After all, you are answering the question “Why Us”? What makes this specific school you’re applying to stand out from others?
- Talk about your academic interests and how the school you’re applying can help you explore that
- Be specific about the academic programs at the university
- Are these academic programs unique? Are they the best? If there’s other schools have this program, why theirs?
“Throughout high school, I discovered that I enjoy a variety of subjects; therefore, I am entering Michigan with an undeclared major. However, I am not exactly undecided; rather, I am multi-interested. I love the areas of mathematics and statistics, yet the economy and government fascinates me as well. Still, the field of art history beckons me, and luckily the University of Michigan has enough museums to pursue endless hours of thorough art appreciation. Thankfully, LSA allows me to explore a plethora of majors found in the various colleges of the University of Michigan. With forty top ten programs, no matter what major I ultimately chose, I can feel assured that I will be working with the most talented and experienced faculty. In addition, University of Michigan’s research program, one of the best in the United States, will allow me to make discoveries and contributions as an undergraduate student. The University of Michigan is the ideal school for me, and has been my number one since I first saw the maize and blue uniforms take Michigan Stadium by storm.” – MichiganMath, ‘19
In this excerpt, the author starts by talking her interests in a number of fields, thereby leading her to show off her knowledge about UMich’s academic programs. She is concise about how each of her interest can be furthered by the opportunities that University of Michigan can offer her if she’s accepted. In a paragraph, she demonstrated how her interests and resources at UMich are an ideal match without simply regurgitating informative facts about UMich.
2. Example with a Barnard Essay Excerpt
Don’t forget this is a part of your college application! Every supplement you send in should provide another perspective of who you are.
- This is another opportunity for you to highlight something about yourself that you weren’t able to in our common app personal statement
- What other information about yourself will help paint a full picture of who you are in your application?
“Not only is NYC an incredibly diverse place, but Barnard is as well. The unique backgrounds of its community members create a compelling dynamic in and out of the classroom. I grew up in a half French and half Chinese household, which gave me a very different perspective than a lot of my peers. My father grew up in France, then immigrated to San Francisco after living in the Congo. My mother grew up in China, then immigrated to Wisconsin after living in Nigeria. Throughout my childhood, I was lucky enough to be able to learn multiple points of views from my parents because of their unique backgrounds, leading to a fascinating upbringing which I believe Barnard students possess as well.” –ccg32, ‘19
The author of this excerpt draws a parallel between the diverse background of NYC and her own. She uses this opportunity to share how incredibly diverse her family background is and what that has done for her. In fact, she’s able to share this intimate detail to connect to the community of Barnard students, again pointing out she’s an ideal prospective student.
3. Examples with NYU Excerpt
Finally, think about this supplemental essay as a way to express how compatible you are with the college you are applying to.
- You can talk about university programs in relation to your interests, but you can also connect it to something about you.
- This is how you connect point 1 + 2
“Never have I encountered an atmosphere so invigorating and so impassioned as I found during my visit to NYU. It is this passion that unites the urban campus and forms a profound sense of unity within its diversity. I could want nothing more than to one day call myself a part of this motivational community, building relationships with people who share my passion for helping others and who will both value my talents as well as challenge me to grow. As a student at NYU, I could continue my tutoring and mentoring work through the university’s America Reads program or explore my love for travelling while providing invaluable aid as a part of the unique option for alternative breaks. Regardless of what path I find myself taking as NYU opens my eyes to growth and change, I know that an education and an experience spent in such a special community is one that has the potential to change my life and make an everlasting impact.” – Katiedolci ‘19
Here you see the author use the university’s programs and unique offerings to demonstrate the author’s own interests and passion. She explicitly mentions programs that NYU offers to highlight the extracurriculars she’s been involved with. By doing so, she has also subtly emphasized her compassionate nature and desire to help others not only in the area she studies, but in her free time as well.
Want to see more successful examples? AdmitSee has the largest database of successful college application files to help you through the admission season. View full college essays in the context of the rest of their application to better understand how to craft the best version of yours.
About Frances Wong
A math major turned growth hacker, Frances has worked in PR and marketing in Hong Kong, New York and San Francisco. AdmitSee is her third edtech startup, coming from Course Hero and Purpella. Frances was born in Hong Kong and received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. Fun Fact: Frances was a certified and licensed EMT during her time at Georgetown.
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