When I Knew U-M Was Right for Me

I reflect on being a senior in high school and determining what college was the right fit for me.

By Ellie Younger January 24, 2022
Blog post - When I Knew U-M Was Right for Me

When I was touring various colleges, trying to narrow down my list of places I wanted to attend, I tried to keep in mind the idea that one can find their people almost anywhere, bringing with them a sense of joy and happiness. I wasn’t sure if I’d find the perfect school, but I knew I’d find somewhere I could make work for the next four years. Then, I visited Ann Arbor.

I was 17, just about to enter my senior year of high school, brimming with excitement for the future, and feeling so blissfully happy to be back in the midwest. My family and I had just driven in from Chicago, where we had toured other colleges, and we were feeling hungry. We drove around the streets of downtown Ann Arbor, my parents trying to spot a place to park, me admiring the cute shops, beautiful street art, and bustling people. I don’t remember where we ate that first day — instead, I just remember the feeling of anticipation. I was in a new town, one that I found interesting and adorable, full of new adventures and new people.

My parents and I took the short walk from downtown to central campus, where my tour was set to start. The first thing I saw was the Diag. In my dreams of college, I’d always wanted a school with a large quad. I’d dreamed of picnics in the grass, walking along the paths and running into friends on my way to class, reading under the shade of the trees — all things I have since done. The Diag was this dream come true. Additionally, I was enamored with the large squirrels that scampered along, unafraid of humans and significantly larger in size than the ones I was familiar with.

photo of building exterior on campus
A photo from my first trip to University of Michigan.

I don’t remember the things that my tour leader mentioned as we walked through campus. I’m quite certain my dad said something embarrassing, but I couldn’t tell you what that was — I was too busy taking in the sights that surrounded me. The large buildings, varying from architecture that was modern to that which looked like Hogwarts. I learned about the school’s reputation, its legacy, the size of the alumni base, but mostly I absorbed the beauty of the campus. I had never expected to feel the way I did at that moment. Surrounded by kind people, the sun reflecting off the buildings that lined the Diag, I felt at home.

At some point, my parents pulled me away from the main tour in order to visit the School of Nursing Building, the subject that I studied for my first two years. We walked in and found a lovely staff member who was willing to give us an impromptu tour. She showed me the state-of-the-art equipment, various high-fidelity mannequins, and technology I had seen on television medical shows and had always dreamed of using. As we walked through the stunning building, I fell more and more in love. I walked out knowing that this was the school for me.

Ellie in front of School of Nursing sign
The photo I took after my tour of the Nursing building. ​​​​​

I attended more college tours during that road trip and compared each one to University of Michigan, with each falling short. Nothing gave me that same feeling of excitement, nothing presented the same number of opportunities and adventures, nothing felt like home the way that U-M did.

In short, I knew that U-M was right for me the second that I stepped foot on campus. You may not feel the same sense of immediate belonging I experienced, but I hope you are able, in your own search, to find the same sense of joy and happiness I found.

Ellie Younger

Ellie Younger is a sophomore in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and plans to study Biopsychology, Cognition and Neuroscience. Ellie volunteers with the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC) and is happy to have found her U-M community in the club Survivor Michigan, for which she is an HR executive. She loves hiking in her home state of Oregon, conversations about social justice, and good poetry.