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 9:29 PM ^

In highschool, and Michigan is my #1 option as well... instate decent grades at a competitive school (3.7 unweighted GPA)

as an older brother of a boy around your sons age too, i reccommend finding something that he really has a passion about, and then finding different activities to line up with those interests. It's been said that colleges really place more importance on doing one or two different things with a passion and deep interest/involvement, than a little bit of involvement with a lot of things. 

Because your son is still 10, and grades aren't an issue, I'd suggest putting him into several parks/rec sports, finding out some other interests, and then once you're in middle school, start attending various camps, and other activities that follow suit in those interests:


1. football! ( :D ) haha but other sports as well such as soccer, hockey, baseball...the list is really endless, but once you find a main sport, make sure you start getting on teams, participating in tournaments, and making a name for yourself (even if you don't plan on playing in college)

2. aside from sports things like: Musical/Fine art talents? Have him try out an instrument, or join a local community play.. if he enjoys himself it may be an area you might consider pursuing further.

3. CHARITY CHARITY CHARITY: volunteering hours are HUGE on applications, and they also build good character as well. If your child has any particular major in mind (for example medicine) try getting him a volunteering opportunity at a local hospital, or something a long the lines of that.


More great tips can be found at websites like

and if you truly love michigan, you're already at an advantage over the competition..

Best of luck, and look forward to hopefully seeing your son on campus one day (hopefully I'll be there to congratulate him)


March 23rd, 2011 at 9:30 PM ^

Encourage him to lead some volunteer program or activity...e.g. Organize or coordinate a literacy program for adults/foreigners, participate in a volunteer event abroad. Apply for National Honor societies. Pick up an instrument (play in the school band.) 


March 23rd, 2011 at 9:31 PM ^

Tell him to ask himself these questions at the end of the day:

1)  Am I a good person?

2)  Am I a great student?

3)  Am I well-rounded?

If he can confidently say 'yes' to those statements and back it up on paper, he'll have no problem.


March 23rd, 2011 at 9:37 PM ^

I was accepted to Michigan but chose to go to the University of Texas because out-of-state tuition is so incredibly high. On my academic tour of the campus the counselor broke down how they look at potential students

Grades and rigor of academic classes: I was enrolled in lots of AP courses and made good grades (top 10% of my class).

Extracurriculars: Lots of volunteering, community service (National Honor Society looks great), and perhaps a job or internship.

Application essays: Make it personal, make it believable, make it something you are knowledgeable about - don't sound like you copied and pasted from somewhere.

Teacher rec letters: Teachers have to be able to write favorably about your child from a classroom and personal perspective. Advise your child to really get to know a few of his high school teachers well, as well as the guidance counselor

Hope this helps!


March 23rd, 2011 at 9:37 PM ^

I'm a currently deferred prospective student and i can tell you that the admissions process is getting much more difficult. They had a 20% increase in applications this year, possibly from their switch to the common app. For extracurriculars, try to specialize in things he likes. If your son likes politics try debate team or mock trial, if he likes science try looking for some kind of internship at a hospital or something. However with the acceptances i've seen this year I can honestly say that even if he is overqualified there is a chance he may get rejected. Though Michigan takes a holistic approach and a strong body of work is important sometimes it can come down to a little bit of luck. Hope that helped.


March 23rd, 2011 at 10:11 PM ^

make sure he enjoys his time in middle school and high school...I focused way too much on academics and athletics, and while I got into Michigan and have had a little success, I still feel my high school years were more of a chore than they should have been....


March 23rd, 2011 at 9:41 PM ^

My best advice is have your son figure what he wants to do and then determine if going to UM will help him achieve that. I was dead-set on being an engineer, and I tailored my studies, my essays, my extra-curriculars, etc. toward that. Ultimately, most colleges want students to succeed, and having a clear plan and rationale for where UM fits in that plan will go a long way.
<br>Also, if he winds up being 6'4" with 4.5 speed wouldn't hurt either.


March 24th, 2011 at 9:20 AM ^

I don't know if this is terrible advice, but I disagree.

The great thing about Michigan is that you can go to school thinking you really want to do something, get into it and find out that it doesn't fit you, then transfer to another program and it will still be a top-10 program in the World.

I'd say the exact opposite: Michigan is the PERFECT place to go if you're not 100% sure what you want to be when you grow up.

It took me until senior year to decide what I wanted to do.  I got a BS, got into grad school, and am now doing something I love, not something I thought would be a good career.

4 years at UM changes people.  If I could give my 10 year old self a piece of advice, it would be this: work hard and don't worry about what you want to be when you grow up.  When you're in college it will come to you.


March 24th, 2011 at 10:23 AM ^

I'd disagree wtih your disagreement, to a point. Because Michigan is such a huge place with so much variety, it is way too easy to get lost if you don't have some goal in mind. It's a very fine line from the kid who uncovers a true passion he didn't know he had after taking a few classes, to the kid who spends three years "finding himself", taking on a lot of college debt, and ending up a Blockbuster manager with a UofM English BA.

By the time you're 18, you should have at least some idea of what interests you and what you want out of college. That goal may change, but having a goal will at least give you an anchor. My advice would be to have a good idea of what you want to do, and a plan to get there, but to be open minded to other possibilities - take some time to explore as a freshman and maybe sophomore.


March 23rd, 2011 at 9:42 PM ^

as someone waiting to hear back now, i think i might know more than some on the board. I had above average test scores and a what i thought really good gpa..but im deferred right now. Make sure he keeps up with his grades and takes hard classes(APs and honors courses.) make sure he does a decent amount of community service/volunteer work bc that really helps. make sure he is involved with something after school either a sports team or academic team. Student government definitely helps and clubs are never bad. the thing they look at most now is gpa more than test scores. Also, it no longer matters when he applies. U of M is no longer "rolling" and they just release decisions whenever they want. I applied in october and am still waiting :/ anyways, good luck to you and him


March 23rd, 2011 at 10:18 PM ^

If you are a deferred applicant, one of the best things you can do is get in touch with your regional University of Michigan admissions officer.  These guys are busy, but you wouldn't believe how willing they are to provide feedback or answer questions that prospective students have about the university or the application process.  Often, inquiring about your status and updating them on your grades, leadership, and volunteer efforts in a short professional email will go a long ways toward bumping your name from the deferred to the accepted applicant stack.  Just a few years ago, my brother found himself in this position.  The admissions officer basically said to explain the reason why a grade was low, and he was willing to change his status to accepted.  Now my brother instead had his heart set on GVSU and graciously declined the offer to UM, but it just goes to show how understanding and willing admissions officers can be.  Obviously not every case will go this way, but at the least, it can't hurt to send the email.  Good luck!


March 23rd, 2011 at 9:47 PM ^

I'm a senior and will be attending Georgetown next year.  Without the extra curriculars I took, I'm not sure I would have gotten in.

I am on a Varsity sports team (Tennis) - we got 3rd in state

I play an instrument (viola)

I am on my school's debate team - which is really good for college (number 2 after being an Eagle scout?)

4 year emcee of my school's talent show

That along with a 3.5 GPA got and 29 ACT got me into Duke, Stanford, and Georgetown. Hope this helps


March 23rd, 2011 at 10:17 PM ^

while this may not have been a primary focus of yours, it will still be a HUGE side benefit (assuming you're a guy)...the place is a GOLDMINE for women...attractive, smart, independent females everywhere...don't let it be too much of a distraction though haha..


March 24th, 2011 at 12:36 AM ^

Unless you are the son/daughter of someone very famous this is couldn't have applied early to all these schools and there's no way Stanford and Duke would have admitted you early (let alone at all) with 3.5/29.

Congrats if you are telling the truth, but there is a 99.99% chance you are just trolling.  


March 23rd, 2011 at 9:43 PM ^

  1. Get good grades in all your courses, and take the toughest courses you can.
  2. Volunteer - Habitat for Humanity is a fun and easy way to get volunteer hours, take him on a voluntourism vacation.
  3. Join a non-sports extracirricular (National Honor Society, spanish club, whatever)
  4. He should also strive to be a leader in all of his extracirricular activites - Team captain in wrestling and football,  and president or someting of the club he joins

This is a lot, it's time consuming and tough, but it's a sure fire way to get in.


Zone Left

March 23rd, 2011 at 10:00 PM ^

Don't think about what he can do, think about what you can do. Donating $100 million would make up for whatever shortcoming your child might have in eight years.


March 23rd, 2011 at 10:02 PM ^

My advice? Take the top courses, get good grades, stay out of trouble, and stay well rounded. It's generic, but that's pretty much what it takes. Tell your son that they like good people, not just good students. Be a good person, be good to people around you, and get involved in everything your are passionate about.


March 23rd, 2011 at 10:15 PM ^

1. Take tough courses and get good grades

- Have your child take multiple of AP courses as long as it's a reasonable work load and that he can succeed, not struggle. It's fine to take a couple of easy classes just to take breaks from heavy academic course load (whoo to taking 3 gym classes! and a couple of art classes).

2. Extra-cirricular activities

- Doesn't matter what you do as long as you show passion for it whether if it's playing sports, being involved in drama/plays, being part of band/orchestra, any clubs. Just make sure that it's meaningful, not just resume booster.

3. Essay

- This is probably the most important because it's an easy way to stand out from applicants. If you write well and write from the heart, it will shine in the essays.  I didn't have the greatest GPA(bad GPA in freshman year), and wasn't involved as much as most people are(thanks to my commitment with 3 sports), but the essays, IMO, are the one that got me into Michigan.


March 23rd, 2011 at 10:42 PM ^

Plenty of people nailed the basic idea (demonstrate that you have boundless energy and at least 98th-percentile bandwidth).  I'd like to make an additional suggestion.  It would be great if your son *enjoyed* as many of those things as possible.  If not, his relative risk of becoming a high-functioning but soulless corporate automaton (which may be absolutely low) will increase.


March 23rd, 2011 at 10:34 PM ^


Congratulations on having a son with priorities in the right order! : )

I just graduated from Michigan last year as an out-of-stater. I think my experience is useful for extrapolating from because I was something of a tight admit; I absolutely bombed my first year of high school (sub-3.0) and as a result my final HS GPA was only about a 3.5, which is pretty tight for getting into "M." As such, I think the following factors were pivotal in my getting in (because heaven knows it wasn't my GPA):


- Crushed the SAT; 1500/2275 (with writing): Because of the sheer volume of applications that Michigan gets, larger schools like Michigan rely more heavily on SAT/ACT scores than a lot of smaller schools to weigh applicants. Really think it saved me from my 3.5.

- Took as many AP classes as possible, ending up with four 5s my senior year (Most of my friends at Michigan had taken a decent number of APs also)

- Steady improvement from freshman (sub-3.0) to senior (3.8) year

- Solid extra-curricular (High school debater)


I think my essay was pretty mediocre but my letters of rec were solid, FWIW; I don't think either played much of a role in my admission, though that much is guesswork on my part.

Given that your son will hopefully be annihilating high school from Day 1 the improvement issue isn't as important, though it would be wise to not have his grades weaken as HS goes on. Focus on good grades, take CHALLENGING classes rather than easy ones to boost GPA; in my experience Michigan values difficult courseloads more than 4.0 semesters consisting of woodshop and geometry.

With all that said, your son has one advantage I didn't: passion for Michigan. I developed my love for Michigan in my 4 years there, but with his passion (and legacy?)  I'm sure your son will rock it. Best of luck to you both!


Finally, as an aside: One of my roommates flunked a brutal CS class senior year which he needed to finish his major. He had a plum job offer contingent on him graduating, and had fulfilled every other requirement for grad. Panic time. He went to meet with an adviser to see if there was any way to grease the system... and found out that he actually had exactly the right number of credits to graduate. His AP CompSci class from senior year of high school which he had forgotten about actually gave him the last 4 credits. He passed, graduation was a success, much rejoicing, he's now working at a baller Fortune 500 company... and all because he took as many AP classes as possible.



March 24th, 2011 at 12:41 PM ^

High School Debate :)

Econ 2006 - Masters in Accounting 2007

My stats when I got in:

GPA: 3.75, but I have heard that they take out some classes.  Gym and Art may not be included when they recalc your gpa.  When I talked to my councelor at Michigan Freshman year they had my high school gpa as 3.9.  I got a C in gym due to missing a lot of days due to hockey and debate.

ACT: 27 maybe.  I took the ACT twice, no studying.  I got the same overall score each time, but I had also heard that they take the highest score in each section assuming you have not taken it more than 3 times.  I would have had a 29 then since I bombed the reading the first time.  Dont drink the night before the ACT.

AP: Took everything I could except for AP Chem.  This means Calc, Eng, US Gov, World Gov, History, Physics, and I may be missing one.

Work: I worked at a movie theatre 2-3 days a week.

Sports:  I played hockey 4-5 times a week.  Captain of team for most of my life.

School Activities: Varsity Debate Team (5th, 6th, 6th in state), NHS


March 23rd, 2011 at 10:27 PM ^

Boom, exactly. Don't turn your kid into a robot. Try and figure out something he can love and be passionate about. Getting into Michigan isn't everything, it's what he does once he gets there, and once he leaves. BTW I went to the university of Windsor and I would have had no shot at getting into a school like Michigan. I had good grades and some decent extra curriculars, but I spent most of my time drinking, smoking, and chasing girls. It's still my basic routine. So my advice may not be worth much.


March 23rd, 2011 at 10:37 PM ^

Current UM freshman here, so I just went through the whole process.


  • Extracurriculars! National Honor Society is a great one to get involved in. Even better to take an officer position within it. Sports, band, etc are also great to get involved in.
  • Grades(of course). They stressed that taking AP classes if your school offers them was really important. When applying you have to turn in a form filled out by your high school counselor that gives information about your high school. If they find out that your school offered AP's and you didn't take them then they won't be happy. At my school they marked the magic number of AP classes to take at 5. I know people who got in with less, but as many as possible without overloading is best.
  • ACT/SAT. This is also hugely important. Getting a solid score (28+ I'd say for M) really goes a long way to helping your chances. Retaking it as many times as needed is definitely reccommended.
  • Early Decision Date. HAVE to get the application in by then. If not you are risking a lot.
  • Essays.  Essays can make it or break it if you are on the edge. Strong essays are important.

The path I followed that got me in was:

  • NHS Treasurer, marching band, sports all 4 years of high school
  • 4.0 unweighted gpa at the time of applying. I slacked off and got a B+ in AP calc & chem my senior year, but when I applied I was still good. When I applied though they counted A- as an A, and I've heard they don't do that anymore. Either way, high grades are important.
  • I took 5 AP's. Bio(5), Psychology(5), Calculus AB(4), Chemistry(3) and English Comp(3). I didn't end up getting credit for chem and English, but the fact that I still took them looked better on the application. That and they better prepared me for my first year classes. I ended up placing out of gen chem and into orgo even though I didn't get credit for AP exam.
  • 32 ACT
  • And I turned in my application during the summer before my senior year.


And anyone notice how these threads tend to turn into everyone listing their high school achievements?


March 23rd, 2011 at 10:42 PM ^

Haha yes, that's why I think it's healthy to also mention your HS shortcomings: humility + gives a sense of what you overcame to get into M. If you had a 4.0 GPA, amazing test scores, and were captain of 6 clubs, TBH, your advice is basically "be perfect," which, like, okay.

...and congrats on getting into M! You have 3.5 of the best years of your life ahead of you. Enjoy every second, because before you know it you'll be writing a "when I was an undergrad" post on MGoBlog...



March 23rd, 2011 at 10:32 PM ^

If you are not in a hurry, then apply for a January start - there is less competition and people transfer, flunk out, leave, etc... and there are always openings come January.  Take a semester off, go work and earn some money.....No need to be in a hurry anyway..




March 23rd, 2011 at 10:33 PM ^

The Essay is critical, IMO.  Make sure he reads a lot and that his teachers emphasize writing.  When it comes time to actually write the essay, it should be unique and honest.  I wrote mine about how I used to cheat on all my spelling tests in elementary school, 


On another note, don't force him into anything he doesn't like just to boost his resume.  I've see all these posts about how he has to get involved in sports and band.  That;s great, if its actually something he's into, but if not, its just going to end poorly,  His attitude, his grades, and his relationship with you will suffer.  My parents were great because they pushed me hard, but they also allowed me to be a kid and have fun.  I was a bit of a Calvin growing up in that I didn't like being in organizations.  Eventually, in HS, I did some organizations (Student volunteers, track, NHS, Youth Group) so I wouldn't worry about it untill he gets older.    


March 23rd, 2011 at 10:44 PM ^

The admissions process is formulaic to an extent, but I think that my letters of recommendation and essays set me apart. I had the typical stuff people have mentioned, like 3.8+ GPA, 29+ ACT, EC's , etc. A school like Michigan gets a lot of very strong applications, so doing something to set himself apart is key. If he wants to get in at all costs, he might do a lot of activities he might not really like just because he thinks it will make him look well-rounded. This is a mistake that was pointed out on many college visits by admissions counselors. Instead, hopefully your son finds his passion or passions and can concentrate on doing a few interesting things really well. 

Like your son, I was dead set on attending UM since I was young too. I would still advise looking at other schools though. I visited many schools while in high school and before that when my older sister was looking at school, and it really helped to give an idea of what else is out there, and helped me be confident in my choice to attend UM.

If he's already thinking about school at this age and if he appears to be a good student, things will probably work out just fine. The college application process was pretty stressful, and I regret not having more fun in my senior year of high school, so make sure he doesn't think his life depends on someone else's interpretation of whether or not he is a fit student in Ann Arbor or wherever else. 

Good luck to you and your son!

Blue Cheese

March 23rd, 2011 at 10:55 PM ^

"Amazing the amount of students who avoid hitting spell check." Rather than "amount," the correct word should be "number."  This is a common error. If the referenced items are equally divisible, use "number," if not, "amount," is appropriate,  e.g., "...a large amount of money..."


March 23rd, 2011 at 10:55 PM ^

Always nice to have that dream especially at such a young age. If he wants it bad enough he'll find a way to get in. I was put on the waiting list but got a little help from the military. Sports are great to have, but U of M is most interested in leaders. Not just participating in activities but being a captain, or the "orgainizer" always helps. Figuring out what interests/passions he has will be a good place to start. Even if thats not what he ends up doing just building that goal-oriented attitude will breed success.


March 23rd, 2011 at 11:01 PM ^

Definitely have him do a variety of activities (sports, community developement, student government). Also start preping for the SAT early. Take AP classes and do well.


March 23rd, 2011 at 11:09 PM ^

As a current student, I fee like I can lend some valuable advice. I am not trying to show off, but just using myself as an example because I don't know anyone else's personal info.

1) Be involved in activities in and out of school

- By the time I applied, I was involved in 10 extra curricular activitIes. I BELIEVE THIS IS THE I WAS ADMITTED TO U OF M!!

2  a) Apply Early

- I had my application in to U of M by the end of August 


- When your kids application has been sent in, have him call and or email the admissions office once every 2-3 weeks. Make sure they know that it is his dream school and, if admitted, he will attend. Show interest. Develop relationships within the office. (SIDE NOTE: I have heard of kids getting denied and they then called the admissions office and pled saying they would take summer classes or doing whatever it takes to get in... They were eventually accepted)


3) Challenge yourself academically

- Regardless of what has been said on this thread, it's VERY important to take AP and/or Honors/Accelerated classes. 

4) Take leadership positions

- Could be sports team captain or student government. Starting a school club is also a great way to demonstrate leadership (and a great way for a student to also do something they enjoy instead of joining a club just to say you are in it)

5) Get a good GPA and ACT/SAT

- Personally, I was below the average admissions standards. My school was a well regarded public school in state, but I got a 3.7 GPA and a 28 ACT. I believe the school saw here that I took a lot of honors and AP classes balanced with a lot of extra curricular activities.

These aren't necessarily in any order (couldn't decide where to fit the last three points in the mix) but everything included here is very important. I know this was a long post and I apologize, but I hope I helped out a little. I stuck to these things and got into my dream school and I hope your kid does too!