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How to Respond to the University of Michigan Supplemental Essays

The University of Michigan supplemental essays are a chance to share more of “your story.” Fortunately, the questions touch on common topics. Crafting thoughtful, differentiated responses is the key to success. 

Let’s break down each prompt and give you tips on how to reference the best examples. With proper planning, your responses will be sure to make a splash among the applicant pool! 

Also see: How to write an essay about yourself

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. Required for all applicants. 300 words maximum.”

This prompt invites you to interpret the idea of community any way you’d like. Pick one community that is integral to your identity or passions. Another route is choosing a unique, stand-out community to which you belong. Either way, embrace the freedom of elaborating on any of the categories mentioned! 

For example, you could focus on belonging to the weightlifting club at your high school. This displays one of your interests and allows you to convey qualities like your work ethic and knack for motivating others. Another way to respond might be writing about your Mormon upbringing and the importance of your faith. You could share an anecdote about talking to those who misunderstand your religion; this showcases your empathy and ability to navigate tough conversations. 

In any case, avoid citing communities you have already mentioned in other portions of your application. Take advantage of this space to tell admissions about something new! Your game plan should be to first describe a community you value and what impact it’s had. Next, share a brief story about how you have enriched that community. Finally, to really excel with this response, look forward. Add how you want to continue building that community in college or apply its teachings to other aspects of your life. 

Questions to consider: 

  • Have you found community through a hobby? (bonus points if it is a niche, unconventional interest)
  • What perspectives did you form by growing up in a big city, or a rural small town? 
  • How have you connected with or uplifted others who belong to a marginalized group? 

Don’t miss: How to write a 250 word 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? Required for freshman applicants. 550 words maximum.” 

This prompt allows for almost twice as long a response as the first. A generous word limit signals that the admissions team especially values your answer to this question. Rightfully so, as it aims to understand why you are sincerely interested in the University of Michigan and your chosen field of study. 

First, think about what draws you to your academic track. Have you always been interested in the way things function, which you can explore through computer science? Has the Covid-19 pandemic intensified your interest in public health? Articulate what academically excites you and how you initially formed that curiosity. Sell why your enthusiasm for this subject would be a great addition to the incoming freshman class! 

The most important part of this response is communicating how Michigan is the best place to help further this interest. Research, research, research! You need to go beyond simply complimenting Michigan or coming up with broad and generic reasons for why it is great. Explore the course catalog and find a class that seems right up your alley. Look at student research spotlights and read up on professors’ publications. Browse study abroad offerings and other special educational programs. Making a list of specific examples is crucial. These details bolster your claim that Michigan will enable you to fulfill your academic and career goals. You should spend the bulk of your response discussing Michigan’s resources. Be sure to stay aligned with your desired area of study throughout your essay, as well. 

Questions to consider: 

  • What professional aspirations will your studies help you achieve? 
  • Does Michigan offer a niche major or minor most other schools lack?
  • How will you individually contribute to the academic community at Michigan? 

Final thoughts for students

Overall, the University of Michigan supplemental essays are pretty straightforward. To ace both questions, explain what makes you distinctive and why you believe Michigan is extraordinary in its offerings. Get all your thoughts down first, no matter the length. You can work on conciseness and polishing later. With these tips, you are well prepared to rock these responses. Write on! 

Additional resources

As a student working on college applications, you have a lot of responsibilities to balance and decisions to make. Luckily, we can walk you through these steps. Check out our guide on how many colleges to apply to, how to find safety, reach, and match schools, and whether you should send test scores to test-optional schools. You can also refer to our guides to planning college tours and choosing a college.

Finally, in order to keep your college options open, it’s important to cover yourself financially. That way, if your dream school accepts you, you’ll have a better chance of being able to accept their offer. Check out our scholarship search tool as well as our list of scholarships for high school seniors. You can also explore scholarships by state or by major. Good luck out there!

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