MGoAcceptance: Another MGoAnecdote

Submitted by LSAClassOf2000 on May 9th, 2013 at 10:20 AM

I know that there have been several threads through the years on what those of us who attended the University Of Michigan did the moment we received the letter saying that we were in, but I thought I might devote a diary to the details of my own experience.

I began collecting applications and starting applications for colleges towards the end of my junior year of high school in 1995. I had my ACT and SAT results by then which, in combination with my GPA, was well above the published minimums for acceptance into Michigan at the time, but that was no guarantee in itself. There was an essay as well, not to mention the thousands of other kids doing and thinking the same thing that I was, wanting to be at the same school that I did.

During the summer of 1995, I was very explicit with my parents about my wishes – I would go to Michigan if accepted.  Living 15 minutes from the campus of a world-class institution is a distinct advantage that not everyone has, and it would also allow me to feed my addiction to Michigan athletics uninterrupted for the most part. I grew up watching Michigan teams on TV and in person, and now the opportunity to attend Michigan was real and near to me.

My parents were afraid that I was limiting myself, and even though I applied to 20 different schools simply to hedge my bets (this is what happens when you grow up with statistics too), they would bring home more applications. They would bring home recommendations from co-workers.  At one point, I had the application materials from perhaps three-quarters of the Division I football schools at the time, as well as Ivy League and even some European schools.

Nearly all of these applications required an essay of some sort (I steered away from a lot of schools that simply require the application and test results – I wanted to show them who I was), and here’s where I did something that probably no one should do – the essay I wrote was intended for my Michigan application. With minor alterations, I made it fit for the other schools to which I mailed applications (I still have many of them on disks actually), but everything about the application adventure was betting on my chances at getting into Michigan. In essence, if it was not Michigan, the essay was in effect a canned reply and by far the most personal form letter ever written by me.

After a flurry of application activity in August and September of 1995, there was little to do but wait. There were no electronic facilities that would have made this easier sadly, save for the essay, written on my trusty Mac Quadra. In the middle of September, replies began to roll in – I was accepted at NYU, USC, Vanderbilt, Penn State, Columbia and quite a few schools of note. Of course, my parents would not have been able to even hope to help me with the expenses if I went to the West Coast or to a place like Columbia. In reality, about 15 of the 20 applications were non-starters for financial reasons even if I had been accepted. 

I waited for Michigan’s reply anxiously. A few more came in the first half of October, including one from Illinois. By the week of the 23rdof October, I was starting to think that this was not happening, and on a very cold and very damp Tuesday, I opened the mailbox as I always did on the way into the house after school, and lo and behold, there was a very large envelope from the University Of Michigan.

At that point, it was one of two things in my admittedly cynical mind – either a letter of acceptance and some welcome-type materials, or the single most detailed rejection in the history of rejections. Either way, I ran up the driveway and into the house, leaving my car idling at the end of the driveway with the driver door open in the middle of a fall shower.

Nervously, I searched for the letter opener in my dad’s desk. Failing in this search, I opened the packet with the only thing I could find – the pizza cutter. A few good, hard rolls and I was in – quite literally, as I read the letter. I was going to Michigan.

I stacked the other items in the packet on the kitchen counter, as for now, I knew what I needed to know. I ran back outside, past my car – still sitting there, blocking the driveway – and did a short celebratory run to the end of the street. I had worked hard to keep good grades and I had numerous AP classes to my credit, but I was going to a place I wanted to go. Indeed, I still have the letter as it meant that much.

By this time, my father was coming up the street, greeted by his son running around and a car blocking his driveway. I managed to get back to my car as he pulled in behind it. I still remember the exchange clearly.

“What the hell is going on?”, he said as he rolled down the window.

“I got into Michigan, dad!”, I said.

Unannounced, he gets out of the car, proceeded to hug me, and then gets right back in the car.

“So, what’s next for you?”, he asked.

“I don’t know. I have so many people I want to tell!”

“Are you going to be driving to their houses to tell them?”, he asked.

A strange question, I thought. Then it dawned on me. I got back in my now soaked car and pulled up into my normal spot in the driveway as my father wheeled into the garage.

It was a day that affected the course of my life, and even though it has now been nearly eighteen years since that day, I still remember the day I was officially told that I was accepted at Michigan as one of the happiest of my life.



May 9th, 2013 at 10:41 AM ^

They had a phone number you could call and find out, and every day after school I'd come home and call (on a house phone--remember those things?) the admissions office and it would say in the CRISP lady's voice "You have applied for ... L-S-A. Your application is being reviewed."

After several weeks of that I rushed home from school on a Friday because I was going up to East Lansing for the weekend. I used to hit up extracurricular journalism programs the way recruits hit the camp circuit, and MSU's journalism school had a (very easy on the eyes) mentor girl recruiting me, and she invited me to the Michigan-Michigan State game, so the plan was to drive up to East Lansing immediately after school, stay at a friend's house, go to the football game, then I was gonna get a tour of the campus and stuff.

I was already packed, but I got home and my parents were both home in their bedroom so I went in to say goodbye and while up there I figured what the hell and did a quick call to the CRISP lady. We put it on speaker, entered all the stuff, and got..

"You have applied for ... L-S-A. You have been accepted to ... L-S-A."

Whoopin. Jumpin on the bed. More whoopin. We sang "The Victors" -- doing the Champions of the West verse a second time because CHAMPIONS!!!

Then I drove up to East Lansing (with five friends piled in the Honda because in high school that's how we do) and sat in the student section and tried to act like a good Sparty recruit until Woodson leapt what had to be 35 feet in the air and one-hand-intercepted a ball Sparty was trying to throw away, and that gave me away. I ended up trying pot for the first time at my friend's house instead of taking the tour afterwards. Go Blue!

The letter itself finally came the week before the Penn State game. I was on campus visiting Ann Arbor that Saturday, and watched the game in basement of the Union--in that big room I can never remember the name of--and I had my acceptance letter in the pocket of my varsity jacket. 

1989 UM GRAD

May 9th, 2013 at 11:40 AM ^

...of your stories.  Much like my story re:  getting engaged, my "getting in to Michigan" story is pretty lame.

I applied only to Michigan, knowing I'd get in.  Sometime in the fall of my senior year in high school, the large envelope arrived.

In retrospect, applying to only one school was - of course - a naive and over-confident choice.  Almost thirty years later, I'm still surprised that my parents never forced me to develop a back-up plan.

There was, however, no way this Michigan Man would've attended school in East Lansing.  Maybe Wayne State?  Fortunately, I never had to think about it.


May 9th, 2013 at 1:06 PM ^

My back up plan was I had an application for Hawaii. I figured if I couldn't go where I wanted I'd hit the beach, pull a 4.0, all while hanging on with beautiful island girls. Luckily my acceptance came early in September so I never had to fill it out.

I had some school counselor (stupidly) tell me "your grades will get you into anywhere you want" so I didn't bother.  Plus they were expensive even then.  (LSA, you filled out 20?  What did that set you back??)  But thinking back on the lame essay I wrote quoting Bo and probably using the term "Michigan Man" I cringe a bit. But it all worked out.


May 9th, 2013 at 12:46 PM ^

I actually don't remember my undergrad acceptance, probably because I wasn't that set on one school or another. But Law School acceptance was interesting.

I was a senior at UM, and had the LSAT score and GPA to be pretty selective myself. I wanted to stay in Ann Arbor, because obviously.And I had a grlfriend (now my wife of 32 years) here.

In the fall of 1977 I paid my money, wroe my essys, and applied to UM, Northwestern, and U of C. Winter of 78 rolled around, and I was accepted first at U of C and then at Northwestern. Classmates of mine had heard from UM and had gotten in, but I still had heard nothing.Then it was March, and it was time to make some plans, but I still hadn't heard.

So, I stopped into the Law School admissions office in office in Hutchins Hall. There was a counter and a nice lady at the counter. Behind the counter were several long tables with boxes and boxes of applications. Everything was, of course, on paper, and the boxes were alphabetized. I approached the counter and explained to the lady that I had applied months ago and was still waiting, and that I had to make a decision soon. She said to hang on, and she would check my application (apparently, the applications were considered, marked accepted, waitlist, or declined, and returned to the boxes). She checked the box where my application should have been and it was not there. She checked another box that could have made sense given my last name, and it was not there. I was not too happy, because I knew it had gotten there because I had dropped it off.

Finally, she actually got down on the floor and looked under and behind the tables. She then crawled under the table and got back up holding my application, which apparently had slid behind and fallen to the floor. We were both relieved, but I wondered how long I would have to wait to hear. She told me to hang on for a minute, and walked across the hall to ask the Director of Admissions how long it would be. When she came back after just a minute or 2, she said "You're in.".

So, keep your email recepits.

oriental andrew

May 9th, 2013 at 1:06 PM ^

TL;DR version: I grew up in Atlanta and applied to MIT, Columbia, Cornell, Michigan and GT (in order of preference).  I was accepted to all except MIT.  Somehow, I ended up choosing Michigan over the more prestigious Ivies.  

Really long version:

I grew up in Atlanta, but knew I wanted to get out of state.  I fancied myself a reasonably smart guy and just assumed I'd be getting into good schools, so I only applied to 5 schools.  In order, from top to bottom choices - MIT, Columbia, Cornell, Michigan/Georgia Tech.  

I actually received a scholarship offer from GT if I applied to and was accepted into their Textile Engineering program.  Needless to say, I filled out the application one afternoon lying in front of the TV and was accepted within weeks.  Tuition paid for, but still on the hook for books, room and board.   Not that tuition was particularly expensive for in-staters at GT back in the mid-90s (it was once voted the top bang for the buck school or something).  So that was one in the bag.  If nothing else, I knew I was going to college SOMEWHERE.

My older sister ended up at Michigan in a journey not unlike mine, so that is where the motivation to apply there came from.  She recommended that I send in my application as soon as rolling admissions opened, so I did.  I believe I submitted the application in early September and found out I was accepted by mid-October.  I know this because I scheduled a trip to visit my sister in AA after my acceptance, and it was the week of the 1993 Purdue game.  Michigan was only 4-4 at that point, but pulled out the game in the 2nd half (first half was a bit of a snoozer, ending in a 10-10 tie, I believe).  Anyway, I had a good time, but still didn't seriously consider it  

My top choice was MIT.  I thought I wanted to be an engineer (I'm not now), because it was either that, or lawyer or doctor.  What else was an Asian kid to do, right?  Anyway, I applied early entry and heard back in December that my application had been deferred.  It was a long wait until April to hear I had finally been rejected. 

Columbia was my clear #2, mainly because it was an Ivy and I really wanted to live in NY.  I heard back in the spring that I had been accepted.  However, my mom really put the kibosh on it.  She was dead set against me moving to NYC, especially with all the outlandish horror stories she had heard about Harlem and crime and all that.  No amount of arguing could change her mind, so that fell off my list and Michigan moved up another notch.  

Cornell was my clear #3, so I visited my friend's older brother there in the spring.  Of course, he was studying for MCATs and pretty much ignored me the entire time I was there.  Thanks.  Anyway, I was waitlisted in March or so, and I had to wait until last April - literally days before the deadline to confirm my enrollment somewhere - to hear that I was finally accepted.  Of course, by that time, I was a bit soured on the Cornell experience.  The campus was fine and school obviously great, but I had a horrible time there.  There was nothing to do or see.  It was also a GIANT pain getting there, as my PHL-ITH flight was cancelled and I had to fly into Elmyra and then get bussed to Ithica.  Based on those experiences, I dropped them from consideration.  

So now it was down to Michigan and GT.  

The complicating factor - my mother had been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease the year before.  When it came down to it, I was having a crisis about whether to leave home for myself, or stay home for my mom.  I knew she'd be ok with me at Michigan b/c my sister was already there, but I also know she wanted me close by.  She did try to bribe me with a NEW CAR!  Ultimately, I felt I had to do what was best for me and selected Michigan.  There was a lot of angst, prayer, and discussion over the decision to Go Blue, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.  


May 9th, 2013 at 1:13 PM ^

That you'd be so connected to your 4th choice that you'd be deeply involved in a blog about them later.

Assuming you just didn't look at someone like they were crazy when they tried to explain a "blog" to you in 1993.

oriental andrew

May 10th, 2013 at 5:49 PM ^

So true.  And did I mention that I typed my applications and essays on a Brother electric typewriter?  I changed a few ribbons, for sure.  I don't think youngsters these days truly appreciate what a pain it was to get theapplications aligned to the ribbon so they'd type above the lines and not ON the lines!

Mr. Robot

May 9th, 2013 at 10:11 PM ^

I was pretty confident I'd get in, although I was a little insecure about my ACT score and decided to take it again just to be safe. I got accepted two days before my new score was released. Talk about a waste of $50 and a Saturday.

Applied to MSU and MTU as backups but frankly never figured it'd be a problem anyway. I guess I thought of MSU as the backup, but in reality I likely would have gone to Tech in that case.

Also, thanks to the internet, I knew before I got the letter I had gotten in. IIRC, they milked that pretty hard though. They just e-mailed me saying they had decided, then made you go to the website, go to a page, and then click on "View Decision" to find out...

Also, totally jealous of your age. You were here at a rediculously good time on the athletics side of things. Hockey team coming off a national title coming in, and them and football getting one a piece while you were in school. HAVE PITY ON THE CLASS OF 2012, but have more on 2011 because that's actually probably worse (assuming 4 years)


May 10th, 2013 at 6:59 AM ^

My acceptance at UM was non-descript but my path to seeing the Michigan difference was great.  I grew up in Southern Ohio a child of 2 UM grads.  Deep in the belly of the OSU beast I never really understood the Michigan thing that my parents had going on.  My only visit to UM was to see the UM-OSU 10 -10 tie in 1973.  The subseent rape that robbed them of the Rose Bowl birth did not make any sense to this 16 yo.  I applied to 2 schools - UM being one.  OSU was not permitted.  I must have been fairly bright because acceeptance came in October (I promptly flagged my English final in December and got an earful about going to college in Southern Ohio if I did not shape up).  I did not get into my other choice and somewaht half-heartedly headed to Ann Arbor in 1976 (I was 18 - what did I know?).  Anyway, I arrived at Alice Lloyd (home of the Pilot programm for old-timers in the crowd) and my parents were greated by the wafting aroma of burning rope.  At that time I knew that UM football was rated #1 in the country.  The epiphany came when I noteced that on the same ting was pasted on every single dorm room door.  Not some silly block M or inspiring welcome message, but Rick Leach's smiling face on the cover of Sports Illustrated!!  This is how we roll! Not bad.


May 10th, 2013 at 10:27 AM ^

I applied to six schools after whittling down from a list of 20 potentials. Michigan, Georgetown, Northwestern, Washington University St Louis, University of Pennsylvania, and Illinois as my safety school (I grew up in the Chicago Burbs).  I got my U of I acceptance two weeks after I applied so I knew I had at least somewhere to go, but I waited nervously for the remaining schools.  For the other four than Michigan, I knew it was going to be a very long wait as they didn't announce their admissions until April.  Coming home in December, on my 18th birthday, I opened the mailbox to see the big envelope from Michigan, which was my top choice, I had only applied to the other 5 schools to make my parents happy.  I immediately belted out The Victors at the top of my lungs. It was still the best birthday present I've ever gotten. I didn't even care what the results were from the other schools in April (2 nos and 2 waitlists) because I wanted to go to Ann Arbor and Ann Arbor alone.

My dad made a last-ditch attempt to get me to go to U of I instead of U of M, because it would save him approximately 90 grand in tuition costs for in state to IL vs out of state to M. (I'm fortunate that my parents were willing and able to 100% foot the bill for my undergrad tuition).  He offered to buy me a new car: a 2000 Saturn. I was already driving a gently used Camry at that point with less than 40,000 on the odometer, so I shot him down, because my thought process was why would I want a smaller and less reliable car than the one I was already driving? I told him if I got a nicer car (his choices were a Honda S2000, a BMW 3 series, or a Jeep Cherokee) then he'd have a deal because he'd still save over 60 grand, but he chose to pass. So, I was off to Ann Arbor with my used Camry, instead of down to Champaign with a new ride. I've never been more happy not to get a car than I was that day.


May 10th, 2013 at 11:44 AM ^

When I was in high school, I had my heart set on being in a dance company.  My parents were terrified I would skip college altogether, so tried to get me to audition for dance programs instead.

I thought about places like Barnard, USC, NYU... but application fees and whatnot (apathy?) kept me from really pursuing it.

I got dance auditions at Michigan and Western, and also applied to the corresponding LS&A program.  I think I also auditioned for theater at Michigan just because.  College art school auditions are really fun.  Even if you don't think you'll get in, or aren't 100% serious about it, I'd encourage anyone to try it if they can.  Time with the instructors, in the facilities, and seeing all the promo work is really something.  James Earl Jones narration, ftw.

After I got accepted to Michigan's dance program (and LS&A honors), I skipped the Western audition and called it a day.  Less than two years later I transferred out of both to Engineering, and that's really the day I remember.  Having to do exit interviews from the LS&A honors office AND the dance office on the same day was... awful.  It felt like breaking up with someone, "it's not you, it's me - I swear!"  I felt guilty for maybe taking someone else's spot who would have finished those programs, and my dance advisor stopped talking to me once I joined dance team.  It was very strange and melodramatic.



May 10th, 2013 at 1:53 PM ^

Well, I was pretty dumb about my application plan.  Unlike the OP, I limited myself to only applications that had a single one-page essay or less.  My family is from Michigan, but I grew up all over the US and spent most of my time in high school in Texas.

I ended up applying to, and getting accepted to, Michigan, MSU, Texas, and Texas A&M.  Back then, if you sent your SAT scores to UT and TAMU, that qualified as your application; admission was determined by a sliding scale that included HS GPA and SAT score.

Considering the curriculum and grades I had in HS, maybe I should have applied other places.  But I had toured Michigan with a family friend the summer before my senior year of HS.  There really was no other school I wanted to attend. 

By the time I received my accptance letter the only decision was M or MSU.  My dad went to MSU and my best friend applied there.  If he had gotten in, we probably both would have went, but he didn't.  The decision was finalized well before Thanksgiving. 

Knowing I was going to Michigan and watching the teams go to a Rose Bowl and then win the national championship in basketball just capped off what was a great end to my high school graduation year of 1989.

The only other decision I had to make was whether or not to try out for the Michigan Marching Band.  Long story long: I did.  After 3 Rose Bowls in 4 years with a Gator Bowl in the middle, I think I made the right choice!  Interestingly enough, it wasn't until the fall of 1993, after I graduated, that I entered Michigan stadium for the first time NOT via the Tunnel.


May 10th, 2013 at 5:19 PM ^

I was most likely to succeed in my high school class (albeit a class of 62), and had really solid test scores.  My grades, for the most part, were underwhelming.


I applied early to Holy Cross.  Growing up in Central Mass I'd always had a great deal of respect for that school.  I also applied to Villanova, BC, Lehigh, and Fairfield.  I was deferred to regular admission at Holy Cross and ultimately rejected.  Villanova and Lehigh placed me on waitlists that I never got off.  BC flat out rejected me.  The last school that I heard from was the school I wanted to attend the least, Fairfield University.  Thankfully they accepted me.  I always think that if my late father wasn't an alum I might not have been headed to any college in the Fall of 2001.


I'd like to say I learned my lesson and got really good grades at Fairfield but I basically mirrored my high school career of underperformance.  I'm ok with that, I guess.  Some people just aren't good at being students and I was one of them.  Either that or I was lazy.  I started out as a math major because calulus came easily to me.  Eventually I realized that the more abstract courses were going over my often hungover head.  I switched to Econ because it left more room for bullshit.


Things went pretty well for me in Southwestern CT.  I'm glad that I got to share a common experience with my father.  We had a lot of fun rooting for Fairfield hoops together and Fairfield football before they cut the program when I was a sophomore.  When I started following Michigan Football religiously I had a moment of regret for not applying to UM.  Then, I did some research and realized I likely wouldn't have been admitted there either.


I wish 18 year old MAgoBLUE could have read this post and seen that things worked out ok.  Despite my lack of preparation the college search was important to me and I took myself pretty serious back then.


May 14th, 2013 at 7:34 PM ^

I applied 1993. I always wanted to be an aerospace engineer. Not because I wanted to become an astronaut, I wanted to be one of those guys in the control center. At that point, Michigan was #3 aerospace in the country, so I applied early and got in early. I was planning to apply to about 12 different schools, but after I got in Michigan early, I just applied to MIT. I thought I had a good chance there, and would have gone there if I got in, but I didn't get in.

Best 4 years of my life followed...