U.S. Public University
Times Higher Education

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 if provided, participation in extracurricular activities, professional arts training, and evidence of leadership, awards, and service. Because variety in life experience and challenges contributes to the diversity on campus that enriches the learning environment for all students, the admissions process also gives consideration to applicants with particular indicators such as coming from a low socioeconomic status school or household by considering whether the applicant is from a geographic area, socio economic profile, neighborhood, or high school that is currently underrepresented in our student community.

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
  • 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 standardized test scores, if able to provide them 

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.

Legacy Applicants

Legacy status is not considered as part of U-M’s undergraduate admissions holistic review process.

How We Evaluate Your Application

The admissions process is designed to consider all aspects of an applicant’s record and experience and is not intended to admit applicants solely on the basis of grade point averages, test scores, or any other single criterion.

We recognize that there is great variation among applicants’ personal circumstances, home communities, and high schools, including those schools’ course offerings and grading practices. Therefore, reviewers have the opportunity and responsibility to consider a comprehensive range of factors in evaluating applications and to admit applicants who are both academically qualified and have demonstrated their potential to contribute to, and be successful students at, the University of Michigan.

To ensure an accurate, comprehensive, and unbiased review process, each application is assessed by multiple evaluators in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions before a final admissions decision is rendered.

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
  • Essays
  • Awards/honors, involvement, leadership, and service

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.

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