Leaders and Best: Admissions tips from U-M admissions counselors
October 19, 2018
Amanda Blanchette and Melissa Purdy

We know the admissions process can be daunting, time-consuming, and anxiety-ridden. But it doesn’t have to be. U-M admissions counselors put together these tips to help make the freshman application process as stress-free as possible.

Apply on time

  • Be aware of deadlines and processing time. Put them into your calendar -- paper, computer, phone, or all three -- to be reminded of when they’re coming up. If you’re planning to trick-or-treat, avoid a Halloween nightmare by making sure you know when the Early Action application is due (hint: it’s Nov. 1).
  • Within 10 days of our receipt of your application from the Common App or Coalition App, you will receive an email from us with your Friend Account information. You’ll want to check the portal to ensure that we have received all components of your application and, later, check for your admissions decision (by Dec. 24 for Early Action applicants and early April for Regular Decision applicants).

Send your test scores: the earlier, the better

  • Since it takes time for testing agencies to send your test scores our way, make sure to have the agencies send earlier, especially if you are applying Early Action.
  • Please remember - U-M no longer requires writing scores for the SAT or ACT.

Prioritize extracurricular quality

  • There are 10 spots on your application to enter your extracurricular activities, but that does not mean that all 10 spots have to be filled. Make sure you’re prioritizing quality over quantity.
  • Arrange your activities according to which ones were most important, meaning you made the largest contribution in these activities, rather than which activities you were part of most recently. As application readers, it’s disappointing to see strong leadership roles in the middle of your list; make sure these rise to the top.


  • Let your voice come through! See tips on writing a compelling essay here.

Explain yourself

  • If you have an anomalous C (due to an illness around exam time), or a random elective in senior year (because your school couldn’t offer that science class you wanted), let us know about it so we are not left guessing.

One recommendation letter, please!

  • We know you have a lot of people who may be willing to write you incredible letters of recommendation. But please, only pick one. You will not be a more competitive prospective student if you send in extra letters of recommendation. So avoid the extra trouble to you and your busy teachers and just send one.
  • Be strategic regarding who you ask to write your letter, and be sure to give them plenty of time to write a letter on your behalf.

Defer to the experts

Instead of sifting through the many myths online, contact our staff. We’re happy to answer questions, and our counselors know your schools!


Amanda Blanchette and Melissa Purdy

Amanda Blanchette is a senior recruitment coordinator for training and is responsible for the on-boarding and continued training for new recruitment staff, overseeing on-going training and professional development for current staff, and provides supervision for recruitment team interns. She is also responsible for the recruitment and enrollment of prospective freshman and transfer students.

Melissa Purdy is the senior associate director for processes and training and provides leadership and management of all processes, application records, and training efforts. Melissa evaluates department operations, and recommends and implements process changes and policy and procedures revisions.