Selection Process

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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 Preparation

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

Extracurricular Preparation

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.

How we Evaluate your Application

How it Works

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.

Application Rating

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.
     

The Decision

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.