Leaders and Best: Admissions Tips from U-M Admissions Counselors

By Admissions Office October 19, 2018

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 first-year 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. 
  • Within 10 days of successful submission, you will receive an email with your U-M ID and login credentials for Enrollment Connect, an online portal for all your application needs. 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 late January for Early Action applicants and early April for Regular Decision applicants).

Send your test scores if you have them

  • We will allow for self reported test scores for the 2020-2021 season; the scores do not need to come from the testing agency.
  • Send your SAT or ACT score if available and you wish them to be considered, or other test results like PSAT, if available. 

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.
  • Given the disruptions of COVID, the teacher recommendation may come from someone other than a teacher (not a parent/guardian, grandparent, sibling or other relative) who can speak directly to your academic aptitude, potential, and performance in the classroom. This might include a community based organization educator or academic support program professional.

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!


Admissions Office

Since 1817, we’ve been encouraging students to explore all possibilities, to ask questions, and to challenge the present to create a better future. With access to top-ranked programs and distinguished faculty, you have the resources and support you need to challenge yourself, to find your true voice, and to make a positive impact on this world.