Selection Process

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UNIVERSITY WORLDWIDE

What kind of student will succeed at the University of Michigan?

We look at each student as a whole package, a combination of talents, interests, passions, and skills. In this way, we can look beyond grades and test scores to recruit the most dynamic group of students possible. A wide variety of backgrounds, intellectual passions, and interests make up the typical applicant. What they share is a drive to pursue academic excellence in a challenging and rewarding academic environment.

We know that there is great variation among our applicants’ personal circumstances, home communities, and high schools, including those schools’ course offerings and grading practices. As a result, our admissions process considers all aspects of your record and experience — we do not admit applicants solely on the basis of any single criterion. We value the whole record — excellent grades in rigorous courses, top ACT/SAT scores, participation in extracurricular activities, professional arts training, and evidence of leadership, awards, and service.

Now is the time to think about who you are and how you will define yourself at every stage of this process. What are the basics?

Academic strength, certainly as an indicator of how thoroughly you’ve been prepared to succeed in a dynamic interdisciplinary environment, is key. To that end, the amount of intellectual challenge you’ve taken on based on what is offered in your educational environment will be highly important. It will be important to take a rigorous curriculum in which you succeed and can demonstrate your intellectual skills.

Key criteria we take into consideration, include:

  • Your cumulative GPA
  • Your test scores (SAT, ACT with Writing)
  • The quality of your curriculum (its solid college preparation, strength of courses, what courses you’ve taken based on what is available in your high school, such as AP, IB, or honors, etc.)
  • Your class rank, if available
  • Your specific academic interests

Your extracurricular preparation speaks to what you’ve done beyond the classroom. How have you become a leader at your school and in your community? To what heights have you taken your training in music, art, or dance? What is your life like beyond your course of studies and how do you connect them?

Show us how the combination of course work and related activities inspired original thinking on your part. What you’ve done beyond simply taking AP courses is a very important consideration for admission. It speaks to what kind of person you are and how well you might do in a dynamic, multifaceted campus community.

We also look for students who will lend educational and cultural diversity to campus and who are curious about new ideas, people, and experiences. If success means more than material accomplishment, if you’re someone who pushes boundaries and is not content with status-quo answers, then U-M could be your next home.

We review each application for admission three times:

The First Review

An Application Reader performs the first review. The Application Reader is someone who works for the Office of Admissions part-time whose professional experience brings value and insight to the task of helping us make admissions decisions. Made up of former educators and admissions professionals, this is a talented and diverse group. This review is considered a blind read in that the Application Reader will not share his or her recommendation for admissions status with the next reviewer so that it will not influence their assessment of the student's file.

The Second Review

A Territory Counselor performs the second review. Each counselor is responsible for applications from a specific geographic region; this allows each counselor to develop a deeper knowledge of schools and school systems in his/her region. This staff member knows the applicant’s high school — in particular, the strength of the curriculum, how grades are earned and distributed, and what students can accomplish there. The counselor makes a recommendation for admissions status based in on this specialized level of knowledge.

The Third Review

The application is then sent on to be validated by a third reviewer. This is someone who holds a position of leadership in the Office of Admissions, who will read the application package, review the recommendations by the reader and territory counselor, and who then validates the admissions decision, or, if necessary, refers the file to the admissions review committee for a final review.


No matter which review they cover, each application reader gives it a broad perspective drawn from his or her professional experience and knowledge of student applicants from across the country and around the world. Each also strives to look at the whole person.

The U-M application reviewers rate each applicant with respect to the following criteria:

  • Secondary School Academic Performance
  • Educational Environment
  • Counselor and Teacher Recommendation

Reviewers will then balance the different ratings and decide which best fits the applicant’s achievements and potential. They then provide an overall rating for the application based on the following scale:

  • Outstanding
    All of the applicant’s materials exemplify superior and/or exceptional characteristics that contribute to the specific evaluation categories.

  • Excellent
    The applicant’s materials illustrate extremely strong, but not exceptional, characteristics. The reviewer may have a reservation, but there are enough redeeming features to compensate for, or outweigh, the reservation.

  • Good
    The applicant’s materials demonstrate competitive average characteristics in most of the criteria, but may be particularly strong in one or more areas. The reviewer may have reservations about the applicant’s academic competitiveness.

  • Average/Fair
    While the applicant’s materials are competitive in each of the criteria, the reviewer has substantial concerns about the overall strength of the application and may have reservations about the applicant’s academic competitiveness.

  • Below Average/Poor
    In the applicant’s materials, the reviewer detects serious deficiencies in most of the evaluation criteria in comparison to other applicants. In addition, several of the evaluation criteria may or may not be met or may not have been addressed in applicant’s materials.

After conducting a comprehensive, holistic and individualized review of an application including academic preparation and extracurricular preparation, reviewers make an admissions decision recommendation based on the composite evaluation rating and comments. In the end, each final decision is influenced by a number of factors, each carefully weighed and considered to make the best possible decision for the applicant and the University of Michigan.

What does it mean to be deferred?

The decision to defer your application simply means that we need additional time to review your credentials and determine how your strengths and academic achievements would fit with the composition and quality of this year’s freshman applicant pool.

Why was I deferred?

Michigan is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the world and, as such, admission is extremely competitive. Applications to the University of Michigan are surging this year, but the available space in our freshman class has not changed. With a limited number of spaces, we are unable to admit all qualified students.

How do you decide who to admit from the deferred list?

Basically, we need to get a complete look at this year’s applications before we make any decisions. We give each application multiple comprehensive reviews, focusing on quality of the academic preparation in high school, grades, scores on the ACT with writing and/or SAT, personal characteristics and attributes, responses to the short answer and essay questions, and recommendations from high school counselors and teachers. For more information on how we review applications, please review our How We Evaluate Your Application.

When will I know if I’ve been admitted?

You’ll get a final decision by early April. That decision will be: admit, deny, or waitlist. If you are offered and accept our waitlist—which means there could be a place for you in our next entering class if spots open up—you’ll get a decision by mid-summer at the latest. (See Information for Waitlisted Students, below.)

What should I do next?

We know being deferred isn’t the response you were hoping for. And we truly appreciate your interest in Michigan. Right now, you simply need to be patient, keep striving to do your best in school, and make sure to have other options figured out if you’re not ultimately admitted to Michigan. And keep in mind that if you’re not admitted, you can always apply as a transfer student from another institution.

What does it mean to be waitlisted?

Students are offered our waitlist in the spring when, after several thorough reviews of their application, we aren’t able to offer them a place in the incoming class. However, typically some spaces become available after the May 1 enrollment deposit deadline. By agreeing to be placed on our waitlist, these students may be offered admission when and if that happens.

Why was I placed on the waitlist?

Michigan is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the world and, as such, admission is extremely competitive. In fact, this year we expect to receive more than 50,000 applications for an enrolling freshman class of about 5,700 students. With a limited number of spaces in our freshman class, we are unable to admit all qualified students.

How do you decide which waitlist students you’ll admit?

Keep in mind that since we invited you to be on our waitlist, we strongly believe you have the capability to be successful in college and, if space were available, you could succeed at Michigan. Once we get a clear picture of how many admitted students fail to meet the enrollment deposit deadline, we’ll know how many waitlist students to whom we’ll offer admission. From there, we give each application multiple comprehensive reviews, focusing on quality of the academic preparation in high school, grades, scores on the ACT with writing and/or SAT, personal characteristics and attributes, responses to the short answer and essay questions, and recommendations from high school counselors and teachers. For more information on how we review applications, please review How We Evaluate Your Application.

How many students are on the waitlist?

Each year that number varies, based on the number of applications we receive and the individual credentials each applicant brings to the table.

When will I know if I’ve been admitted?

If you accept our waitlist option, you’ll get an email in late June which will indicate whether space has become available in our incoming class.

What can I do to improve my chances?

If there’s any new information or accomplishments you think we should know about you, we encourage you to send that to us. Also, make sure to keep your grades up and have your counselor send us your fall semester grades as soon as they’re available.

What should I do next?

We know this wasn’t the decision you were hoping for. And we truly appreciate your interest in Michigan. The first thing you’ll need to do is decide whether you wish to accept the waitlist option. Please respond online at Wolverine Access (New & Prospective Student Business, Application Status), where you’ll confirm your decision on two separate pages. Also, keep striving to do your best in school, and make sure to have other options figured out if you’re not ultimately admitted to Michigan. And keep in mind that if you’re not admitted, you can always apply as a transfer student from another institution.