Prompt: 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? (500-word limit)
Mark Twain was a steamboat pilot. Agatha Christie was a nurse. Robert Frost was a light bulb filament changer. The best writers do not only write beautifully, but also integrate their personal experiences and knowledge outside the world of literature. By combining the study of literature, media and perhaps law, I believe the University of Michigan will provide the education necessary for me to evolve as a journalist.
A journalist cannot reach the peak of his craft if his knowledge of literature and critical thinking skills are weak, which is why I’m excited to explore what the Department of English has to offer. I look forward to courses such as Academic Argumentation and Professional Writing, as I believe these will provide me with a firm basis in journalistic writing technique and improve my abilities to write analytically and develop well-supported arguments. Furthermore, the Professional Writing course will teach me how to write in a concise, straightforward style, a skill vital to a journalist.
At The College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, I will be able to apply the skills learned in class with media studies in and beyond the classroom. The Honors Program provides an opportunity for independent research into the field of mass media, which will allow for intensive group studies and in-depth research opportunities, and the superb networking opportunity provides the chance to meet and engage with prominent figures in media-related studies, which will provide a deeper insight and knowledge into the field. Outside the classroom, I can see myself writing scripts for the student-run television station WOLV-TV, or composing headlines for The Michigan Daily.
And although journalism is the path I’m currently on, I want to remain open to other opportunities I may encounter at UM. The Pre-Law Advising Program is interesting because I want to explore the intricacies of law and policies that govern this world. I believe that the judicial role of a lawyer is closely related to the expository skills of a writer, and I look forward to exploring this new field of study that wasn’t offered in my high school education.
But all these are what UM has to offer me. I realize that, as a member of the UM community, I’ll want to give back as well. The various volunteer programs offered by Volunteers Involved Every Week appeals to me, as does the possibility of volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Michigan, as I have previous experience with elementary school teaching. And as an international student, I know the pains of learning English as a second language. I believe I can contribute to the ESL teaching program either at UM or abroad, and see this as an opportunity to have an impact not only at UM, but in Washtenaw County and beyond. (466 words)
Four Things I Love About the “Why Michigan” Essay
- The short hook. Many students spend way too long on their opening when a short one will do. This essay’s hook is just 40 words long and works well. Does your “Why This College” essay even need a hook? Nope. If you use this first approach, get to the main argument as fast as you can.
- The clear thesis provides a path for the essay. This will probably take you back to AP English class essays where you’re asked to make your argument explicit at the start and then provide evidence to support it. That’s what you’re doing in a “Why This College” essay and your argument is that you and the school are a perfect match.
- Three main reasons and 3-4 bits of supporting evidence per paragraph. I recommend identifying three main reasons a) it keeps your essay organized, b) it’s easy to adapt for different length “Why this College” essays and c) it provides “buckets” for your research. (“Buckets” = the themed paragraphs you need to “fill” with research.)
- The way he sprinkles “salt” into his essay. Remember above where the author notes that he “look[s] forward to exploring [law at Michigan, as it] wasn’t offered in [his] high school education”? I call this sprinkling “salt” into your “Why us?” essay. Why? Consider this analogy: salt makes one thirsty and, by mentioning opportunities you haven’t had access to, you let the reader know that you’re thirsty for something the school has to offer. And the reader may know of opportunities for quenching that thirst that you don’t—including the “salt” may inspire them to think of those ways.