written by
Laura Frustaci

University of Michigan Supplemental Essays Guide: 2021-2022

essay guide Essay Guides Admissions Tips 9 min read
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Not sure how to approach the University of Michigan essays? With tips from an Ivy League graduate, CollegeAdvisor.com’s guide to the University of Michigan essay prompts will show you exactly how to write engaging UMich supplemental essays. Strong responses to the University of Michigan supplemental essays will maximize your chances of admission. Read on for exclusive tips on the University of Michigan essay prompts!

Want help crafting your UMich supplemental essays? Create your free account or schedule a free advising assessment by calling (844) 343-6272.

UMich Essay Guide Quick Facts:

  • The UMich acceptance rate is 26%—U.S. News ranks UMich as a competitive school.
  • We recommend answering all UMich supplemental essays comprehensively and thoughtfully.

Does the University of Michigan have supplemental essays?

Yes, there are supplemental University of Michigan essays. In addition to the Common App Personal Statement, all applicants will complete two specific UMich supplemental essays. One of these University of Michigan essays is much longer than the other, with a maximum of 500 words. This is only a bit shorter than the Common App Personal Statement, so you should give yourself plenty of time to complete it.

Need tips on writing your Common App essay? Check out our blog article.

How many essays are required for the University of Michigan?

There are just two additional University of Michigan essay prompts. One of the UMich supplemental essays is 500 words long, and the other is just 300 words. The longer of the two University of Michigan supplemental essays is the “Why UMich essay.” Though these UMich essays are different lengths, you should spend an equal amount of time on each. Don’t afford less importance to the shorter of the two University of Michigan essay prompts! After all, shorter essays—including the University of Michigan supplemental essays–are not always easier to write.

Usually, admissions officers can tell if you rushed one of the UMich essays and spent all of your time perfecting the other. In order to make the best impression, make sure your University of Michigan supplemental essays are equally strong.

Are the University of Michigan supplemental essays important?

Yes, both of the University of Michigan essays are important in admissions. Both of the University of Michigan essay prompts are also required of applicants. This means you must respond to them in order to complete your application.

This guide will walk you through both of the University of Michigan essay prompts. This includes the first prompt, which is about community, and the second prompt, which is the “Why UMich essay.”

Overall, the UMich supplemental essays are a great way to offer details about yourself that complement the rest of your application. At the conclusion of your essays, admissions officers should walk away from your application knowing what kind of student and person you are. The UMich essays are the perfect place to do that. Using these tips, you will be able to tailor your responses to the UMich essays to show how you will enrich the UMich community.

What are the University of Michigan supplemental essays?

The University of Michigan supplemental essays are available on the Common App site, but you can also visit the main UMich website for a full list of application requirements. Let’s check out the UMich supplemental essays—starting with the shorter of the two UMich essays.

University of Michigan Supplemental Essays - 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. (300 words maximum)

How do I answer a University of Michigan supplemental essay?

First, when responding to the University of Michigan supplemental essays, remember to be specific. As a rule, your responses to the UMich essays should help admissions officers picture how you will contribute to UMich. What role will you play on campus? Let’s explore how you can do this in the first of the University of Michigan essay prompts.

As this first prompt for the UMich essays indicates, there are many ways to define “community.” You should begin your essay by defining what community means to you. For example, are you writing about a club or organization that matters to you? A physical space where you feel at home? A group of people who share your values?

Discuss your connections

Once you have defined your community, you should describe what makes you feel connected to this community—why it is so meaningful to you. In evaluating University of Michigan essays, admissions officers look for how you will contribute to the UMich community. By detailing how you influence your community, you help your reader understand the role you will likely play at UMich. Strong UMich essays will give the reader a clear sense of how you will enrich the UMich campus.

This essay asks you to describe a group, discuss your role within that group, and then ultimately reflect on why this group is important to you and what you provide for that group. The best University of Michigan essays will follow this template. Your response should show that you are collaborative and empathetic, you know how to engage with others, and you feel comfortable taking initiative within community spaces.

Remember, the University of Michigan essay prompts are an opportunity to show admissions officers something new about yourself. You can use this space to describe a community you only briefly address elsewhere in your application. Or, you can even discuss a community space you have not described anywhere else in your application.

UMich Essay Draft Key Questions:

  • Do you clearly define the community you are writing about?
  • Does your response focus on both yourself and your external impact on your community?
  • Do you use your UMich essay to teach the reader something new about you?

Does the University of Michigan have a “Why UMich” essay?

Most universities have a “Why us” essay, and the University of Michigan essays are no exception. This is your chance to showcase any research you have done about the University of Michigan while you’ve been writing your UMich essays.

The University of Michigan includes a “Why UMich essay” in the essay prompts. For the “Why UMich essay,” you’ll want to avoid over-generalizing. Stay away from statements like “Ann Arbor and the UMich campus are beautiful in the fall” or “I just feel like I belong there.” Instead, offer concrete examples of why you belong there. Maybe there’s a specific professor you really want to learn from or a course you couldn’t find at any other university that perfectly encapsulates your academic interests.

Your University of Michigan essays are the space to show off your expert investigation skills. Use the “Why UMich Essay” to discuss courses, clubs, professors, and research opportunities only available at UMich. Colleges can tell when you swap out their name for another university and submit the same “Why here?” answer. Your application will be stronger if your answer to this Why UMich essay could not be swapped interchangeably with any other schools.

University of Michigan Supplemental Essays - 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? (500 words maximum)

This is the “Why UMich essay” with a little twist. Rather than generally asking what about the University of Michigan attracts you, this “Why UMich essay” specifically asks about your choice of an undergraduate program.

Notice that the prompt asks for “unique qualities” about your chosen program; in order to best answer this question, you will first want to read everything you can about your college or school. Visit the UMich website and read the listings of required courses for your chosen program. You might even consider reaching out to any alumni you know who studied in your chosen college or school.

Know your College or School

For example, if you are applying to the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, you’ll want to read their whole website. In your essay, you will probably want to mention their EXCEL (Excellence in Entrepreneurship, Career Empowerment & Leadership) program and how you feel you would benefit from it. You will want to do a virtual visit, see if there are any recordings of shows you could watch, or consider reaching out to a professor and asking if they would be willing to speak with you on a 15-minute phone call.

If you’re applying to the School of Education, you should again, read the website. You don’t want to just recite statistics from their webpage; admissions officers already know about the 1:8 faculty to student ratio. You want to make your response unique to your passion for education so that you can best demonstrate how you will benefit from UMich’s curriculum.

If you’re looking at the School for Environment and Sustainability, UMich's undergraduate program is called the Program in the Environment (PitE). You already know the first step: read the website. You should also connect your real-life experience to your interest in this program, and you’ll want to discuss your intended specialization and any ideas you may have for a capstone project.

UMich Essay Draft Key Questions:

  • Do you prove that you’ve done research on the school?
  • Do you explain what unique opportunities the University of Michigan would provide you that you could not get anywhere else?
  • Does your draft offer specific details about what you hope to do while on the University of Michigan’s campus?

University of Michigan Supplemental Essays: Final Thoughts

Completing the University of Michigan supplemental essays can seem daunting, but don’t let that discourage you from applying. The UMich supplemental essays are a great opportunity to demonstrate who you are to the admissions team. The University of Michigan essays can also boost your application if you have a lower-than-average GPA or SAT score.

Use this guide as a step-by-step aid when approaching the University of Michigan supplemental essays. Start writing earlier than you think you should, especially with the Why UMich essay question; don’t underestimate the UMich essays. Because there are only two UMich supplemental essays, you should pay extra attention when responding to the University of Michigan essay prompts. These UMich essays give you two great opportunities to show admissions officers why you belong at their school. Don’t squander those opportunities by rushing your writing or submitting under-researched UMich supplemental essays.

Remember that you can use the UMich essay prompts to engage more deeply with a topic only briefly mentioned elsewhere in your application. If you get stuck, take a break and come back to the University of Michigan essay prompts with fresh eyes. It can also be beneficial to have someone else look over your University of Michigan essays. Don’t be afraid to ask for revisions; it’s helpful to have another set of eyes checking your University of Michigan essays for grammatical errors, tone, and clarity. To read examples of essay topics written by advisors who were accepted to UMich, click here. Good luck!


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This 2021-2022 essay guide on UMich was written by Laura Frustaci, Harvard ‘21. For more CollegeAdvisor.com resources on the University of Michigan, click here. Want help crafting your University of Michigan supplemental essays? Create your free account or schedule a free consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.

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