OT: Getting into UofM

Submitted by go16blue on October 7th, 2010 at 3:04 PM

I am currently a junior in high school, and am beginning my college selection process. Since I was a kid, Michigan has been one of my dream schools. My question was: to all of the MGoBloggers who have recently attended and are attending michigan, what do you think helped you get in? While this is by no means the only research I am doing on the topic, I think it would be very useful for me and anyone else in a similar situation. Any info would be appreciated.


PS: i say recently because i know standards have changed over the years. My dad got into michigan with a 3.5, and i know that wouldnt get him in in 2010


Edit: thanks to everybody. The one highlight i am taking from this (and will tell my friends) is to enroll early. I didnt know to do this before i started this thread.



October 7th, 2010 at 3:18 PM ^

UofM uses a rolling admission, meaning they accept, deny or wait list as applicants come in instead of waiting untiil they have all applications and judging them against each other.  This means that applying early when there are more slots available is better than applying late when they have more limited openings.  The same stats could get you in early and denied late.


October 7th, 2010 at 3:08 PM ^

Besides the obvious grades & ACT scores, it's the extra stuff that shows you're a leader that will make the difference.  I was our class co-president and did a ton of volunteer work in high school, that's what made the difference for me.  Good luck!!


October 7th, 2010 at 3:41 PM ^

Ace the ACT and/or SAT and you're in for sure.  Study like hell before you take the SAT - take a prep class, spend a little time every day studying.  Its worth it.  That's what I did for the LSAT and my score was enought to get me a scholarship in law school!

Write a thoughtful and unique essay, something to distinguish you from the other applicants.  Think hard about it before you write and be creative.

I was in your same shoes in high school - Michigan was the only place for me.  I got waitlisted and it crushed me.  But I held out and finally made it.  Don't get disheartened if you don't get in right away, don't give up.  GOOD LUCK!!! 

Michigan Shirt

October 8th, 2010 at 11:42 AM ^

I meant in H.S. as college is not the only sport with Varsity athletics, it shows you bring more to the table than just academics, but thanks for thinking that I would seriously think it would be that easy to just develop Div-1 athletics in one year.

Michigan Shirt

October 12th, 2010 at 11:34 AM ^

Probably not, but for most schools/sports you can only be on a Varsity team when you are a Junior/Senior so it would look favorable that you can stick with a sport for 4 years and go through rigorous athletics during your final two years in H.S.


October 7th, 2010 at 3:08 PM ^


That was a key for me.  Being involved in athletics, bands, clubs, NHS, etc etc.  Good scores and grades definitely helped.  I knew of a couple kids from my HS that got turned away because of a lack of diverse participation, even though they were top 5% in my class.

Hard Gay

October 7th, 2010 at 3:09 PM ^

Apply as early as you can. Get a good gpa, do well on you ACT/SAT and have extra curriculars. I would say anything less than a 3.8 in high school is not good.


October 7th, 2010 at 3:28 PM ^

i hear a lot of it has to do with what high school you went to and what classes you took.  A student like me (hopefully) who takes AP classes and goes to pioneer (a large, high ranking high school) should be able to get in with below a 3.8. still gunnin for that 4.0, though


October 7th, 2010 at 3:31 PM ^

That's true. My high school had 10% of it's class go to Michigan, which is a lot all things considered.  AP classes are great, do well in those.  I can't stress enough the importance of being "well-rounded".  There are a ton of people with the stats, but can you achieve that while giving back to your community or being a leader for your classmates?  That's what separates a probable admit from a lock admit.


October 7th, 2010 at 3:37 PM ^

If you go to Pioneer, you will be fine.  Top 20 public high schools in Michigan have great track records getting students in (Troy, Novi, Northville, Rochester Adams, Ann Arbor Huron/Pioneer, Forest Hills Central, East Grand Rapids, Okemos, Midland Dow, Saline, Bloomfield Hills schools, West Bloomfield, etc [sorry if I left off your top public high school in Michigan]).


October 7th, 2010 at 5:01 PM ^

Michigan admissions actually was rather upset at how many Ann Arbor-based students they've enrolled recently, as there's been a very large increase in the number of Ann Arbor students who've enrolled here over the past couple years. They want to have more geographic diversity in-state and are therefore aim to admit fewer kids who are borderline from Ann Arbor. Of course, if you're near a 4.0, you're fine.

For the record, this comes from a friend who knows a Michigan Admissions Councillor. So take it for what it's worth.


October 7th, 2010 at 3:12 PM ^

Apply RIGHT NOW!  I know a kid who waited until January, and had basically the exact same application (GPA, ACT, and extra curriculurs) who didn't even get a sniff of interest.  Do it now, while you can, even though they say "it doesn't matter when you apply".  No reason to risk it.


October 7th, 2010 at 3:15 PM ^

I don't know how much this will help, but to give you an idea of myself as a candidate, I got in with a 3.7GPA and a 30 ACT score in 2005.  I think what really helped, though, was the fact that I spent a lot of my time volunteering, I had a job during high school, played sports, and was involved in class leadership (treasurer and then president).  I think that many schools, Michigan included, are looking for well rounded individuals that can provide different experiences and backgrounds to the university.  With how competitive the process is, grades are ultimately just one of the factors (albeit a large one).  Get involved, volunteer in the community, and meet some great people that can write you recommendations as a testament to your personality and work ethic.  Best of luck to you.

EDIT: Write your essay on something you're truly passionate about, not what you think they want to hear.  It will be evident in your writing.  Also, as mentioned above, apply ASAP.

el segundo

October 7th, 2010 at 4:33 PM ^

During the UM affirmative action lawsuit, some details about the undergrad admission process were made public.  Although UM had to change part of its admissions process for undergrads as a result of the suit, some of the information revealed in that suit is still relevant and might still be useful to you.

With respect to test scores and GPA, the University has used -- and I believe it still uses -- a formula to create an index score for GPAs and test scores.  Of course, I don't know the formula, but the thing to know is that grades and test scores are weighted according to various criteria and a single number is generated to use as a basis for analyzing test scores and grades together.

Because of this, your good test score should play a direct role in compensating for your "mediocre (by U of M standards) GPA."  The admissions office will still look at test scores and GPA separately, but the admissions process does "automatically" correct for disparties between grades and test scores by using this index.

From what I understand about standard admissions office practice, the index score is the instrument by which the first cut of applications is made.  If your index score is below a certain level, it's unlikely that your application will get much close attention.  If it's above a certain level, things like your essay and your high school activities will get more scrutiny.


October 7th, 2010 at 5:39 PM ^

I'm also applying in about a week. I did take quite a few AP classes in HS and did well, so I think my GPA is good enough, and I'm in the top five percent of my class. My ACT is a 30 so I am kind of in the middle for Michigan. One thing I can give advice on is VOLUNTEER. I have worked at the local Hospice for the past three years and whenever I talk to people from admissions, they really like that. The only thing is I'm out of state, so even if I do get accepted, I might not be able to attend...


October 8th, 2010 at 8:58 AM ^

My ACT is a 30 so I am kind of in the middle for Michigan

Has the ACT changed in the last 5 years?  I got a 25 and am now working on my Masters from UM after getting a Bachelor's here.  Granted I went to UM-F for a year and transfered, which may mean my ACT wasn't even looked at, but a 25 got me into State about 2 weeks after I sent in my App.  Didn't apply to UM for what I thought at the time were financial reasons (completely not worth it!  Go where you want and let money sort itself out later!).

But my main point is if you wanna go here, you can.  You may not get in immediately, but you can always transfer.  Hell, you can transfer after 1 semester!  You just have to be willing to work hard - it has very little to do with "how smart" you are.


October 7th, 2010 at 3:14 PM ^

I got into engineering with a 3.7 in highschool and not even top quarter in my high school class so I dont have a clue how they judge people. I do know for ACT/SAT for engineering they don't look at writing scores.


October 7th, 2010 at 3:14 PM ^

AP classes pull a lot of weight in the application process. Don't be afraid to list things that seem irrelevant to you on your extra-curricular section. Avoid talking about relationships in your essays. I got in with relatively little volunteer/extracurricular experience, mostly because I smoked my APs and wrote a good essay, and played some one-time volunteer sessions up a little on the application. Most of the time your application gets a cursory look before the first cut-down, this is when it's much more valuable to have 5 3-hour activities than 1 15-hour activity.

Good luck and Go Blue!


October 7th, 2010 at 3:19 PM ^

The university will look at multiple things. Obviously your GPA & ACT/SAT scores. If you take AP classes those will help you as well, because they re-weight those into your GPA if your high school did not. My high school didn't count that in our GPAs and it increased mine by .4 Also, being involved with athletics or any other extra curricular activities. Volunteering in your community will help as well. Find your high school advisor(s) and they will really help you also with what you are going to need. Write yourself a letter of recommendation of what you think will be your strong points, have your advisor look it over. This will also give you a template for you to give your teachers that you ask for letters. If you have any other questions just ask!


October 7th, 2010 at 3:19 PM ^

As everyone else has said, highish GPA, strong ACT score (if not in one area, show some clear balance), and reach out to some extracurriculars.  Join up with something today so you can put it on your application tomorrow.


October 7th, 2010 at 3:19 PM ^

I think I got into UofM because I took advanced math classes in high school (Differential Equations, Calculus III). My gpa was a shade under 3.5 and my SAT was a 1200 something. Well below average for the College of Engineering but few kids take Differential Equations in high school.

I don't mean to brag I was blessed with great teachers and the opportunity to take those classes. It was nice though because retaking them at Michigan made my first year easier.

Definately take the hardest classes your school has to offer.


October 7th, 2010 at 3:20 PM ^

I used to work for undergrad admissions until I graduated recently (not as a counselor, though). Without knowing your situation, here are two bits of advice (not exhaustive):

1) APPLY EARLY.  UM has rolling admissions, so the earlier you can get your application, the better your chances.  In fact, I would talk to potential teachers who could write rec letters for you at the end of this year, so they can start thinking.  You want to be that first student into the counselor's office to have your application ready to go ASAP.

2)  Challenge yourself.  UM will see how well you challenge yourself in the context of the opportunities offered at your high school.  A common question that comes up is, "Should I take the honors/AP class and get the B, or a regular class and get the A?"  Go for the challenge.

Also, if you have specific questions about the application process that cannot be answered by the general call center, write them out.  If you are able to come to Ann Arbor and visit the admissions office, you can ask the person at hte front desk for some help.  If your questions are really specific and cannot be answered by an assistant, the office has walk-in advising with an admissions counselor most of the time during the week.  You can call in ahead of time to check.


Hope this helps!


October 7th, 2010 at 3:38 PM ^

Thanks. could you help me a little bit more? I maintained a 3.9 through sophmore year, am taking 2 AP and 1 AC class, am president of Latin club, am taking a hebrew class outside of school for credit, and do a little bit of voulenteering. Having worked in admissions, do you think you could give me a GPA that would probably get me in? (of course i'm always aiming for a 4.0) Just a guess would be greatly appreciated.


October 7th, 2010 at 4:08 PM ^

There is no GPA that guarantees to get you in.  For example, I personally know people with 4.0's that have gotten in, and I know people with 3.5's that have gotten in.  The GPA is just part of the holistic interpretation of the applicant.  That being said, the average GPA of the freshman class is 3.8, and the middle 50th percentile of ACT composite scores is 28-32.


Even if you've visisted before, I strongly encourage taking an official visit.  There's a one-hour long information session by a counselor followed by a 1.5 hour official tour with a current student. admissions.umich.edu/visiting


October 7th, 2010 at 5:28 PM ^

Score over 30 on your ACT, take your time on your essays, and apply early and you're probably in. Frankly you're probably in anyway but if you do that and don't get in I'll personally write them an email linking them to a "you got rick roll'd" clip.

Just saw you're in-state. Yeah. Keep doing well in school and try on your ACT and you're in.


*EDIT* I was thinking about it and actually I'd really like to stress that if you can get 32+ on the ACT and are applying to LS&A, you should have a great shot at Honors. If you can get into that, do it. The built-in community of people you have through that, living in South Quad (one of the best dorms in terms of room size, location, etc. etc.) and the nice treatment from the univeristy (better advisors who can get you into the classes you need, etc) make it a very, very good decision. The cutoff as far as I can tell is pretty much a good GPA and 32 on the ACT.


October 8th, 2010 at 3:28 AM ^

Def. try to go honors. Some people get automatically excepted based on their admission's essays, but even if you don't you should still apply. Living in south quad is totally bitchin, and despite what you might think, the honors kids throw some pretty good parties.


October 7th, 2010 at 3:26 PM ^

I got into Michigan twice (HS and transfer), but I didn't have any extracurriculars in high school. My essay was "KinesiologyNerd breaks leg, KinesiologyNerd learns lesson about setbacks/adversity" so nothing exceptional there. So, for me I'm guessing it was my HS GPA and ACT score. Good luck.


Oh yeah I'm also out of state.


October 7th, 2010 at 3:22 PM ^

I mean, you have to do well. But if you're at or above a 3.5 (unweighted) and took a ton of AP classes then you won't get booted for your GPA (I didn't).


But with that GPA you have to kill the SAT (or ACT) -- have a well rounded resume (clubs, sports, science fairs, etc) -- great references -- great essay -- and  apply early.



October 7th, 2010 at 3:22 PM ^

Most important advice: apply as early as possible.  

If you're in-state, GPA and ACT are basically all that matters if you apply early (by early, I mean breaking down the door to your counselor's office September 6th, 2011).  Obviously, don't write a terrible essays, but mediocre essays can get you in if you apply early.  Your essays and your extra-curriculars become increasingly important the later you apply.

If you're out-of-state, everything matters. Make sure you are concise, yet powerful with your essays. Try not to go over the word limit by too much. And have at least one strong leadership post in high school if possible (pres/vp of a club or a team captain).

Also, UofM moved to the Common App this year. I don't know how that will influence the admissions department, so I would keep up with any people that you know who are applying this year to gauge the change due the Common App.


October 7th, 2010 at 3:23 PM ^

Good luck man. I wish I would have been more driven in high school to get into Michigan as people like yourself are. Do everything you can and wether you get in or not, you will not have any regrets because you did your best.



October 7th, 2010 at 4:01 PM ^


It's not that I didn't try in high school or didn't have good grades, I had a 3.7 GPA, I just didn't work to bolster my resume with the little things like AP classes and volunteering. My ACT was a bit low as well, I scored a 23, so I was leery on applying. I ended up at CMU and while I like CMU, it's not the same.

I don't have many regrets in my life, but not going to UofM is definitely one of them. I am already well too far into my college career to transfer, but it's ok there's always grad school for me.

All this to say, you are in prime position. Work hard and do what these fine people say and if you get in, awesome. If you don't, then at least you tried. Better than what I can say I've done.