Why is the University of Michigan So Popular?

Nearly every student we work with either wants to apply to the University of Michigan or asks if they should, and about 50% end up applying. This includes kids looking to be in urban areas, or totally ok with going rural. It includes kids who want a liberal arts education and those who are certain that they want to specialize. It includes athletes and artists, bookworms and filmmakers, and city kids and suburbanites. So, it begs the question, “Why is Michigan so popular?”

There are 5 main reasons that Michigan is hot right now:


Michigan must have a stellar marketing department because everyone knows them, everyone knows someone who went there, and rarely does anyone have a bad word to say about the place. There are thousands of colleges accessible to US students, but most people can only name a dozen. You need to know a school exists to even consider it, and you go where you know. Michigan is both very well-known and very good at presenting a positive image that makes it a place tens of thousands of people consider a possibility.

Consider this:

37,389 people applied to Columbia for the class of 2021.

59,861 people applied to Michigan.


After receiving almost 60,000 applications for the class of 2021, Michigan accepted 15,874, or 26%. One-quarter of applicants isn’t a high acceptance rate, but it’s isn’t prohibitive either. It’s an acceptance rate that is accessible for students with good grades, strong scores, and an excellent essay.

Amazing Undergraduate Programs

Michigan is a BIG school. There are more than 40,000 students, and almost 30,000 of them are undergrads. And yet, somehow, 93% of undergraduate classes have less than 100 students. Michigan is ranked as a Top 5 U.S. Public University by U.S. News & World Report, offers more than 200 study abroad programs, and there are more than 275 degree programs. If you want to do an undergraduate business degree, #1 is Wharton (Penn), and #2 is Ross (Michigan). Yes, rankings are BS, but the fact that a state school is nipping at the heels an Ivy League university is astounding.

Michigan has all of the resources of a huge school, but their many focused programs promise that they don’t lose the intimacy of a smaller environment. And then they deliver. More than 97% of first-year students return for their sophomore year.

A Strong Alumni Network

Because Michigan basically is the city of Ann Arbor, they’ve formed a profoundly tight-knit community for such a big school. This continues post-graduation and, while you may not be thinking about alumni networks, your parents probably are. Alumni Networks are crucial for job hunting and career development.


Michigan is fun. FUN. FUN. FUN! Seriously. They offer the ra ra big school experience but with the brains to match. Schools that can deliver on both of these are few and far between (UVA and USC are a few others). When you think of a college stadium, you see ‘The Big House’ packed with 100,000+ people on game day. Being a student at Michigan isn’t all a party, but it is a hoot.

So those are the 5 reasons people are drawn to Michigan, but Michigan isn’t the only school that delivers on these points. If you’re drawn to Michigan, some other schools you should look at include the University of California, Davis, UT Austin, and the others on this list of comparable schools we’ve compiled.

Set on applying? We wrote about how to write their 2017-2018 supplement, but will have an updated 2018-2019 supplement how-to out later this summer!

Think you may need some help? Tap us in.