University of Michigan Alumni Association

College Admissions FAQ

It is common for parents and students to have a lot of questions on the college admissions process at U-M. The Alumni Association has compiled this list of frequently asked questions and their answers from the U-M Office of Undergraduate Admissions and the Office of Financial Aid.

Students and parents are encouraged to contact these offices for further information.

How many students apply to U-M, and how many are accepted?

The University of Michigan accepts about 50 percent of all applicants. Over 30,000 students applied for undergraduate admission for fall of 2010. (Read more about U-M admissions)

What GPA do I need to be admitted?

The average student admitted to the freshmen class of 2010 had a 3.8 GPA. Please note, however, that we are more focused on your actual grades and grade trends than on the GPA itself. Did the student have more A's than B's? Was there an upward or downward trend to the grades? All grades are also taken in the context of the student's curriculum at their high school.

What standardized tests do I need to take and what scores do I need?

Applicants must submit SAT and/or ACT with writing test scores. Students can take either test multiple times, and U-M will use the best total score from one sitting. Non-native speakers of English and international applicants must submit additional materials to prove English proficiency (TOEFL, IELTS, or MELAB).

For the admitted class of 2010, the middle 50th percentile ranges for the ACT was 28-32 and the SAT was 1960-2200. Please note, however, that no test score or GPA will guarantee admission, and that the student's entire application package is taken into consideration when making admissions decisions.

How are honors and AP courses accounted for in the admissions process?

Honors, AP, and/or IB courses are offered at most high schools throughout the country, and U-M expects that students will enroll in these more challenging courses in subjects they feel they can be successful in. When reviewing an application, the curriculum is looked at in the context of the offerings at the high school. In order to be competitive for admission, students are expected to enroll—and subsequently be very successful—in these courses.

How much does class rank count?

Many high schools no longer use class rank for their students. If it is offered, it helps to consider the student in the context of their high school. However, the lack of a class rank does not negatively impact chances for admission.

How much do the essays count?

The University of Michigan exclusively uses The Common Application and also requires the U-M supplement to be completed. Between these two documents, there are 3 essay questions. The essays help give the Office of Undergraduate Admissions a better picture of who the student is and why they're interested in studying in a particular area as well as why they want to enroll at the University of Michigan. They help assess the applicant's written communication skills such as writing quality, content, style and originality/risk-taking, as well as any other evidence of academic potential.

How much does parents' alumni status count?

The University of Michigan values the relationship it has with current and former students. These students and alumni are part of the Michigan community; they provide service and support to the larger University community. As such, application reviewers take into consideration applicants who have a direct relationship, or stepfamily relationship, with someone who has attended the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor as a degree-seeking student.

How much do recommendations count?

The University of Michigan requires one high school counselor recommendation and one teacher recommendation for all freshman applicants. You may submit more letters if there are additional people who know your academic skills very well. Application reviewers use the recommendations to note academic awards or recognition received, evidence of intellectual curiosity, and in-depth commitment to particular academic areas of interest.

How much does the admissions office know about my high school?

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions has a large staff that divides the country into territories that staff members are responsible for. The admissions professionals get to know their schools well, particularly those schools that regularly send a large volume of applications to U-M. They know the counselors, the academic programs and the quality of the students.

To further their understanding of a high school, U-M admissions professionals will rely on high school profiles and high school counselor input. If there are questions about the high school, U-M will contact the high school counselors.

How much do extracurricular activities count? Should I be a little involved in lots of activities or very active in a few activities?

Extracurricular activities are very important and reveal a lot to admissions professionals. They are looking for activities that you've been involved with on more than just a superficial level. Focus and duration are the key words when it comes to extracurriculars.

Being involved in a few clubs continually and taking leadership roles or reaching certain levels of accomplishment are much more impressive than being a member in 10 clubs or groups.

Activities that cluster around a specific interest also are a plus. For example, a student in the drama club, who also works with a community group that does outreach theater programs for kids and is involved every year with the class play, is someone who has demonstrated a definite interest and dedication.

Students who can't take part in extracurricular activities because of family financial situations aren't out of the running. Some students are working close to full-time schedules as high school students, and those situations are taken into consideration. Work experience is valued.

Are some extracurricular activities rated higher than others?

Specific activities don't count more than others. In other words, the marching band doesn't get more weight than the soccer team. However, activities that lead to recognition and awards might get special consideration, particularly those that lead to recognition on the state and national level. Being a state champ in debate or becoming an Eagle Scout, for example, represent a special level of achievement and are considerable accomplishments. Also, many of our programs like to see that at least some of a student's activities are aligned with their academic area of interest.

Is it better to apply early in the admissions process? Does it hurt my chances if I'm applying to lots of schools?

Applications are accepted from August through February 1; however, applying early is strongly advised. U-M offers an Early Action option to students applying to LSA, Engineering, Nursing, or Kinesiology, but otherwise operates a modified rolling admissions process. Early Action is an excellent option for students who want to apply early and receive a decision quickly – if a student's application is completed by November 1, their admissions decision will be released by December 23. For all other applicants, decisions are released on a rolling basis, with no guarantee of a final decision until mid-April.

Regardless of when you're admitted to U-M, you have until the national enrollment deposit deadline of May 1 to accept your offer. That gives you time to consider your other options and your financial aid package, if applicable.

Are there other factors that are considered in the admissions process?

Certain schools and colleges within U-M have specific criteria. For example, the School of Music, Theatre & Dance requires an audition, the School of Art & Design requires a portfolio and the College of Engineering requires higher-level math classes. Learn more about how applications are reviewed.

What if there's one bad semester (or year) on my transcript? Will that put me out of the running?

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions likes to see steady improvement in academics or maintenance of good grades. However, if there is a blip during the four years, there can be a logical explanation (the death of a family member, severe illness, etc.) that should be included with the application. If the explanation is not sound, then the decline will have a negative impact on the review.

What if I get a case of “senioritis” once I get accepted?

A case of senioritis can have serious repercussions. All students are required to send the Office of Undergraduate Admissions their official final high school transcript with proof of graduation, all of which are reviewed for declining grade trends. If there is a serious, decisive and obvious slump, the office can and will revoke its offer of admission.

What is the cost of tuition and fees?

The Office of Financial Aid provides up-to-date estimates on the cost of attendance, including tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and personal and miscellaneous expenses. For 2010-2011, in-state freshmen and sophomores can expect to pay $24,167; out-of-state freshman and sophomores can expect to pay $48,331.

How do I apply for merit-based scholarships?

Your application to the University of Michigan doubles as your merit-based scholarship application for all university scholarships.

How do I apply for need-based aid?

In order to qualify for any federal programs, you must fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE.

The University of Michigan attaches a high priority to need-based financial aid to fulfill its commitment to meeting the demonstrated financial need of Michigan resident undergraduates. Need-based grants are the cornerstone of the U-M aid programs to ensure that an economically diverse student population from the State of Michigan can enroll at the University. For the 2011-2012 academic year, 19,213 of U-M undergraduates were awarded more than $322 million in financial aid – $67 million of that to incoming freshmen.

What percentage of students receives need-based financial aid?

Seventy percent of undergraduate and graduate students receive some form of aid at U-M.

Additional Resources

See what else U-M recommends for college admissions, or review these additional college applications tips.