The Ivy Coach Daily

September 11, 2023

2023-2024 University of Michigan Supplemental Essays Prompts

A building with several columns is featured beyond a lawn at the University of Michigan.
The University of Michigan hasn’t changed its supplemental essays for the latest admissions cycle (photo credit: AndrewHorne).

The University of Michigan has published its 2023-2024 admissions essays for applicants to the Class of 2028. And unlike many highly selective schools, the highly-ranked public university has not changed this year’s essay prompts in the wake of the United States Supreme Court ruling outlawing Affirmative Action. So, what are this year’s essay prompts, and how should applicants approach them? Let’s dive in!

2023-2024 UMichigan Essay Topics and Questions

Applicants to the University of Michigan are required to respond to both supplemental essays. For the first essay, the response should be a minimum of 100 words and a maximum of 300 words. For the second essay, the response should be a minimum of 100 words and a maximum of 550 words. Of course, regular readers of Ivy Coach’s college admissions blog know that applicants should use all the real estate students given to tell their stories by going to the maximum word count in all essays!

The two prompts are as follows:

1. Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it. 

When the Supreme Court outlawed Affirmative Action, Chief Justice John Roberts penned a loophole in the majority opinion. In that opinion, he wrote, “Nothing in this opinion should be construed as prohibiting universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise.” As such, through essays, schools could continue considering race within the context of its impact on applicants’ lives.

This loophole led many schools to adopt supplemental essays for the 2023-2024 admissions cycle asking about an applicant’s community, background, or experience. While worded differently, these prompts generally offer applicants the chance to write about the impact of their race (or faith, the town where they come from, etc.). But this prompt has long been a staple of the University of Michigan supplement. As such, Michigan didn’t need to change it one bit.

And remember, students need not be underrepresented minorities to answer this question powerfully. A community can mean many different things to many different students. It could be a community of mathematicians! The question is intentionally open-ended.

2. Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests?

This essay prompt is a straight-up-the-middle Why College essay prompt, and it too has long been a staple of the Michigan application. Michigan wants to know that an applicant loves them and that they love them for the right reasons. Why? Because so many students who apply to Ivy League schools or Ivy League peer institutions also apply by November 1st to Michigan. And why? Because students are allowed to apply to any public school no matter their Early Decision/Early Action choice. So Michigan — fairly we might add — wants to know they’re not being used as a backup.

Thus, how can applicants make Michigan’s admissions committee believe the school is their first choice? That’s easy! By demonstrating they’ve done their homework on the school. The essay should be filled with specifics that only apply to Michigan on how a student will contribute their singular hook — rather than well-roundedness — to Michigan’s vibrant community.

Just about every sentence of the essay should be tailored to Michigan. If a sentence can apply to another university, it should be deleted. And, no, name-dropping professors or listing classes do not count as genuine specifics. Michigan’s admissions officers weren’t born yesterday. If a student approaches the Why Michigan essay like a game of Mad Libs in which they replace a specific from one school for a Michigan specific, they’ll see right through it.

Instead, students must capture the genuine, enduring specifics of the school — the programs, institutes, culture, traditions, activities, and so much more!

Ivy Coach’s Assistance with the University of Michigan Essays

If you’d like to optimize your case for admission to the University of Michigan, fill out Ivy Coach’s free consultation form, and we’ll be in touch to delineate our college admissions counseling services for applicants to the Class of 2028.

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