University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, MI: As a high school senior, I have toured a lot of prospective colleges. On typical college visits, I attend an informational presentation, complete with slide show and statistics, followed by a walking tour, complete with tour guide and history. And though I did take the “official” college tour at the University of Michigan, my visit didn’t stop there. It ended in the Big House, complete with over 113,000 “tour guides.”

In mid-October, my mom and I flew out to Ann Arbor, Michigan, for my first visit to the University of Michigan. Since U-M is my first-choice school, I wanted to give myself a chance to forge as much of a personal connection to the school as possible before applying, including attending one of its legendary football games. This was the first, and only, college football game I’ve ever attended.

Knowing how iconic U-M’s football games are, I even went so far as to plan my visit around the Michigan vs. Penn State game, since I had applied to both schools.

Saturday, October 11th, at Michigan’s only night game of the year, the Wolverines kicked off against the Nittany Lions. U-M played well throughout all four quarters, highlighting key players such as Jake Ryan. And as a pleasant surprise – considering Michigan’s losing streak this season – they won 18-13.

When you think of the University of Michigan, you probably think of the Big House. Built in 1927, Michigan Stadium quickly became an iconic symbol of both the school and college football. It boasts a legacy of pride, tradition, and excellence. I found it inspiring that even though 2014 was not one of Michigan’s most successful football seasons, the Big House has drawn 100,000-plus attendees every game since Nov. 8, 1975.

As I stood in a sea of Blue and Maize, I wondered what it is about Michigan and the Big House that makes it one of the most iconic homes to college football. Why do so many – from near and far – withstand freezing temperatures and snow to watch Michigan football? When one thinks of college football, why does one automatically think of U-M?

Before visiting, I knew of my interest and love for U-M. However, I didn’t expect to find such an overwhelming number of supporters like me. Since U-M has the largest number of living alumni, it isn’t unusual to come across another Victor anywhere around the world. I found this out first-hand on my way home from Michigan. As I sat – in Michigan apparel – waiting for my connecting flight in the Denver Airport, a passing stranger cheered, “Go Blue!” as he walked by. Even back home, I find people commenting any time I sport the Blue and Maize.

Besides school spirit, it seems to me that almost everyone – alumni or not – seems to know something about U-M. Whenever I mention the school, talk of its Ohio State rivalry, its most famous alumni, and football usually follow.

My visit to U-M reassured me about my first-choice school. My desire to attend was strengthened even further after attending the game. During my visit, I had the opportunity to learn not only from my tour guide, but also first-hand from the 100,000-plus others that gave me a tour into the life of a Wolverine. I realized that U-M embodies everything I want in a college: social connections, academics, pride, and deep commitment to top-level achievement. I want to attend a school that I can be proud of and support long after I graduate.