Tips for Getting into M

Submitted by natesezgoblue on March 23rd, 2011 at 9:13 PM

I have a ten year old son who gets near perfect grades that is dead set on attending Michigan.   I know that it is not grades alone that will get you in.   He works hard now to make sure he does well and I think/hope his ethic will continue as he gets older.  I was hoping to get some suggestions on extra curriculars that can help him become more of the well rounded student that they are looking for.

We would also be out of state.



March 23rd, 2011 at 9:19 PM ^

It was always the top goal in my mind to be able to attend Michigan and thankfully I've been blessed with that opportunity. If it's always the number one priority, and if your kid is smart, he'll find a way to get in.


March 23rd, 2011 at 9:21 PM ^

Have him grow to about 6'8 290lbs and that should be no problem at all. Seriously though you should be proud you have raised a kid who is so focused in his goals at a young age. Something tells me you don't have anything to worry about, cream always rises to the top.


March 23rd, 2011 at 10:21 PM ^

Applying early not only improves a students chances of getting in, but also improves the number and quality of scholarships available.  Plan to submit the application by the first week of september.  That's not a joke.  As soon as high school starts, get the transcripts/teacher recs.  Get it done fast.


March 23rd, 2011 at 10:44 PM ^

Yes. Definitely apply early. That happened to me too. Applying earlier is the difference between me getting to go to Michigan and me being at Purdue.


March 23rd, 2011 at 9:53 PM ^

This is less important than it used to be.  M used to do rolling, so the earlier you applied, the better your chances of getting in.  Now it has changed to an Early Action/Standard Action system, where the first round of admits are accepted mid-december, for which the deadline is november 1.

I attended M from out of state, and my brother will be attending next year.  While the follwing info will help, these are general standards on a national level.  The fewer kids that apply to M from your state, the lower the admissions standards will be.

As for your son's chances, Good grades are essential, but make sure he takes high quality classes.  Showing that he took on challenges will certainly help. 

In addition, good test scores (ACT 28+) are important.  As for extracurriculars, a few should be fine, as long as those 3 or so involve significant commitments:  it is better to lead 3 things than to participate in 10.

However, your child isn't going to apply for another 7 years or so, and this info is likely to change.  Currently, it is projected that the number of college age students peaked last year, and is now falling, meaning that admissions should get easier.  

Hope this helps.

BBA 2010 MAcc 2011


March 23rd, 2011 at 9:24 PM ^

His grades need to improve every year. They need to be good to begin with, but must show PROGRESS. And  Don't waste time with the AP courses... its better to have an A in a regular course than a B+ in AP. 



March 23rd, 2011 at 9:26 PM ^

Erm....I'd disagree with that last statement. My niece just went through the whole application process. My brother mentioned several times how college admissions officers wanted to see the AP in lieu of straight A easy courses. I suppose the best course of action is taking APs and getting As in them.


March 23rd, 2011 at 9:53 PM ^

I brought in a gaggle of AP credits to Michigan.  I got 24, count 'em, 24 college semester credits for all the AP scores I brought in (mostly 5s, one 4 in Physics BC).  As a result, I finished all of the required courses, except for my senior recital, my junior year and got to take a year of courses that I truly was more interested in than, say, Advanced Tonal Analysis, which is still the hardest class I've ever taken in my life.

Hardware Sushi

March 24th, 2011 at 9:32 AM ^

This is the third time I've heard about that class being ridiculously difficult. I never saw it in the course guide before I graduated (then again, I wasn't looking for it). 

I found this online for Advanced Anl Tonal Music: "In-depth analysis emphasizing elements of structures evident in various important examples, offering a variety of analytical problems; readings on tonal forms."

Is it a mathematical analysis of music or just recognizing tones by listening? Care to elaborate on why it was so difficult? I'm obviously in the dark so if I'm way off, be gentle.


March 24th, 2011 at 3:36 PM ^

Music theory is a required field of study at all conservatories and schools of music that award reputable music degrees.  At the undergraduate level, there are two components to the class:  Lecture, where the basics of notation, the names of pitches, chord progressions, figured bass (this has to do with reading a single bass line and being able to fill out the whole harmony on the keyboard), analysis of representative compositions (I analyzed at least 6 different Beethoven piano sonatas, in whole or in part), and forms of pieces (how sections repeat, how the piece is organized as a whole, different ways of organizing music from different time periods) are taught to bright-eyed undergrads at 8:30 AM.  The other component of the class is ear-training, which is usually taught by GSIs, and has to do with learning to aurally recognize different tones, chords, and effects when they are played live on a piano or on a recording, and different ways to conceptualize the things we hear in music.  There is some overlap between the subjects, but both parts of music theory are pretty hard in and of themselves, and Michigan's music theory department is one of the best in the country. I ended up taking "Accelerated" music theory, and thus completed my required basic courses in three semesters instead of four, earning A's along the way.  So, I was decent-to-good at music theory.

Advanced Tonal Analysis was taught by Prof. Petty, who is one of our best theory professors, and an outstanding pianist.  He's a very smart man and I have a lot of professional respect for him.  The text we used for the course was the "Beta" version of a book that Prof. Petty was writing called Basic Tonal Analysis, distributed in chapter packets from week to week, and it was less a "textbook" than "100 miles of bad road that will punish you for ever wanting to be a musician."  It was well-organized, insightful material, but I just did not understand what was going on, even with the help of office hours and other people taking the class at the same time.  Aural and written components were taught concurrently, and I didn't understand much in either.  It was music theory taken to a higher plane of existence than the one mere mortals like me live on, and I simply did not understand the material at the same level that Prof. Petty did.

I got a D on the final, which lowered my overall grade to an 83, but I was so happy to a) get a passing grade on the final and b) get a B in the class.  That was the hardest 83 I ever earned in my life.  I hope this all makes sense WRT the perspective of a non-music major.


March 24th, 2011 at 12:07 AM ^

Things are harder now though then when you went here. I know people with 3.7's that had 6 ap's and a 27 on the act that got in and people that had 2.9's with a 29 on the act but only had 1 ap and didn't get in. Not to mention the second person was invovled wayyy more. At least with my experience, ap's are VERY important. 


March 24th, 2011 at 10:13 AM ^

My son has applied and has virtually all honors and AP classes.  His grade point is .3-.4 lower than a kid in his school with the same ACT and no alumni parents.  Kid with the higher gradepoint without honors or AP classes was accepted to Engineering while my son has been deferred (applied early October - I don't think applying early helps anymore).  With the increase in applications due to the move to the Common App I think they don't look as closely at the actual classes taken.  

This year is a bitch to get in, I think it will be better in just a few years.  However I think they are really pushing for out of state students to get more $$'s as the state cuts aid to the U.

First get good grades (in the hardest classes you can get A's in), score high on the standardized test, show leadership/sports/etc.  Don't sacrifice grade point to max out on AP classes unless you can do well in them.

Hardware Sushi

March 24th, 2011 at 9:48 AM ^


I'm guessing the part about not taking them.

And I completely agree with Shoe: Don't shy away from AP courses at all. Worst case scenario, your son will have to work harder to get good grades, but that will pay off when he:

A.) Gets credit for the courses and doesn't have to take them in college OR

B.) Doesn't get credit but knows most of the material, allowing his freshman transition to be easier OR

C.) He has to work hard in high school and learn how to study/do homework to get good grades and then he shows up at Michigan with actual study skills after not coasting through four years of high school AND

D.) I CANNOT stress how much it sucks to have online Physics/Chem/etc. homework due every Thursday night when you've got this cute girl from 3rd Reeves that wants to pregame and then go to a house party with you and she's got her hot friend over that your buddy saw at the cafeteria yesterday and won't stop talking about but you have this damned homework you had planned to do Tuesday but then you ended up playing Halo 2 because it just came out and you hooked up two televisions and two xboxes so you could play 8 friends together...shit, I think I just dated myself. Still, get the crappy annoying classes out of the way with AP credits (or take physics in the Summer).

I see no disadvantages to taking AP courses unless the student simply isn't ready for them and isn't learning. Michigan is a tough school to get into, but if he's doing alright in AP courses then he's on his way.


March 23rd, 2011 at 9:29 PM ^

Sorry makes no sense at all -of his grades are nearly perfect throughout but don't improve, he dominates anyone who started out merely good and BECAME almost perfect.
<br>And definitely not true about the APs either, especially if you come from a school thry aten't confident they can evaluate and you did well on the AP tests themselves

Mi Sooner

March 23rd, 2011 at 10:22 PM ^

they are looking at how you handle the competition of the tougher classes.  at michigan, the courses are taught out of the same books from teh same piss-poor teaching profs as lets same University of Toledo (yes I have degrees from there), but the difference is that everyone is uber smart andor highly driven. 

at UT, i was the big fish in the small pond in grad school; at umich, i was just another fish in the large pond and I worked my ass off for the same gpa in my grad engin degree, msfe, from umish that i got coasting at utoledo, msee.


March 23rd, 2011 at 11:24 PM ^

Michigan is supposedly as hard to get into from out of state as Harvard. If he wants to be in a position where academic matters don't hurt him and it's just a question of how well-rounded he is, he should take AP classes and get As in them. This was, incidentally, the advice of a Yale admissions person who came to my high school a decade ago. The guy put it even more bluntly by saying Bs in AP classes, like As in easy classes, just weren't good enough.

It is true that it doesn't matter very much if your early grades are bad as long as your later ones are perfect, but it's going to be indicative of more talent in the eyes of admissions folks if the grades are there all along.

Anyway, that's just how things are if you want it to be clear that, academically, there are no questions about ability. But it's also possible to get in with more dubious grades by being sufficiently interesting (and managing to convey that on an application).


March 24th, 2011 at 7:58 AM ^

Couldn't disagree more with the advice to ignore AP classes.  Take all that are available.  Not only do they look good on transcripts, but they save you valuable money and time.  Plus, it is going to be easier to get an A in an AP calculus class at school than it will be to get an A your freshman year at Michigan so it will help your college GPA some, too.  What you need to avoid are any duel enrollment type programs where you take classes at a local community college during your senior year.  I took English 101 and 102 at Mott CC during my senior year of H.S. and Michigan laughed when I tried to get credit for them.


March 24th, 2011 at 10:13 AM ^

AP classes are great and look good on your transcript, but the don't necessarily save you money - for me, I came in with a bunch of credits from AP and some community college courses I took in HS. All the credits transferred, but not necessarily to useful categories for my degree. Because of these extra credits, I had to start paying "upper division" tuition in my sophomore year (a big jump in the Engineering college). It still saved money for me, since I was able to graduate in 7 semesters, but it could cost you a few grand if you get enough AP to go upper division early but not enough to graduate early.

That said, smart kids should take them. The most valuable is the "BC" version of the AP calc test, which is worth 6 credits and two classes at UofM - a huge advantage if you have to take calculus for your chosen field, as I hear the initial calculus classes at UofM are known weeder classes and just generally suck.

That also said, THE KID IS TEN - if he's personally driven, fine, but also encourage him to enjoy middle school and build social skills. He should do extracurriculars because he enjoys them, not to build his resume. It is definitely ok to not know what college you want to go to WHEN YOU ARE IN 5th GRADE. I knew a kid who absolutely killed himself taking all sorts of random resume pads to get into an Ivy League school - it worked (he went to Dratmouth) but his high school years were a living hell. There but for the grace of god go I, because I was almost that guy (I knew where I was going and what my major would be in 8th grade). Don't burn him out by sophomore year of high school.

Anyway, remember that getting into Michigan shouldn't be the end goal, it's preparing your son for success throughout his life. And that takes academics, but also balance and a passion for personal growth for its own sake, not just to get into the "right" school.


March 23rd, 2011 at 9:25 PM ^

Take the most difficult and diverse schedule in high school (ie ap classes or participate in the IB program). Take up leadership positions in school clubs and sports. Volunteer a lot.


March 23rd, 2011 at 9:32 PM ^

Yess!!! I see so many kids trying to make their resume longer but not deeper -they dont get very far with elite schools.
<br>Cobtrolling his interests does notvwork as well...let him do what he loves as intensely as possible, end of story.


March 23rd, 2011 at 9:27 PM ^

Some sort of performing arts or visual arts, even if it's for just two years or so, is always helpful.  Team sports are good too; I did cross-country for two years and improved from the second-slowest guy on the squad to the fourth-slowest guy, and had a blast doing it.


March 23rd, 2011 at 9:28 PM ^

I'm currently a student there and based on my friends who had higher scores/grades, lower scores/grades, and also those who had equivalent ones to me and either did or did not get in, I would say put great emphasis on essays.  Theres a guy from my high school graduating class who had a 34 ACT/4.0 GPA and didn't get in and I think that this is due to the fact of the great emphasis based on pieces other than high credentials. So while hopefully your son gets great grades/test scores, I also know a girl who had a 23 ACT (not a bad score, but by no means elite) and got in.  So from what I am saying, good grades are worth alot in the application process, but I think that also extra cirriculars (sports, etc) and well thought out and written essays are very important.  One last benefit that I think helped me, was applying early.  I think the people who apply by the early application deadline are helped greatly through the application process.  P.S. Sorry for all the spelling errors I donated blood earlier/ am running on very low sleep.  Hopefully this is helpful for your son.


March 23rd, 2011 at 10:32 PM ^

I'm a business major and TA for a business class... I dread grading essays. Amazing the amount of students who avoid hitting spell check. The lack of literary skills coming into college is a true disappointment. TEACH YOUR CHILD TO WRITE!


Also, my experience was three fold. I applied to the school on the first day and had 4 individuals review/edit my essays. While I participated in extracurricular activities they were only sports (wrestling, football, and track). Finally, I enrolled in various AP classes and scored 4's on the exams.


March 23rd, 2011 at 9:28 PM ^

Try to make sure he does as many extracurriculars as he can. National Honor Society, volunteering, sports teams (shows teamwork) even if he may not be an allstar, academic competitions all look pretty good. It also isn't a bad idea to try to found a club or become a leader in an existing club in high school. However, getting great grades and having high standardized test scores along with great teacher recommendations is the most important part, along with applying to college early. However, none of this really matters until he enters high school, until then just make sure he does well in school so he's on the right track.