University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, MI: As my mom and I landed in Detroit, Michigan, at 1:15 a.m., it didn’t take long for us to realize that we were severely under-dressed. As soon as the airplane doors opened, the other passengers – who had mastered the art of living in Michigan – began pulling on heavy sweaters and thick jackets. It was only mid-October, but the temperature had dropped to 45 degrees with 20 m.p.h. winds. As a high school junior, I have toured a lot of colleges, but as my mom and I shivered walking out the doors of the airport, we knew that these two girls from sunny South Florida were out of their element.

At 2 a.m., it was a mere 20-minute drive from the Detroit airport to the University of Michigan campus, and I watched as the lively and populous city of Detroit quickly became Ann Arbor, an eclectic and unique college town that quickly exceeded my expectations. With what seemed like hundreds of ethnic restaurants, quirky shops, indie boutiques, second-hand bookstores, and even a vintage movie theater, this vibrant and hip town is welcoming and appealing to small children, wide-eyed prospective students, and nostalgic alumni alike.

When we arrived at our hotel, a woman wearing a bright maize “University of Michigan Alumni” shirt checked us in and handed us complimentary U of M shirts. “Go Blue!” she cheered.

The next morning, the college tour began as any tour would: a presentation with statistics, a Q&A session, and a walking tour with a student guide. The presentation revealed the university’s appearance on the Common Application, 26.2 percent acceptance rate, 3.85 average GPA, 2040-2280 accepted SAT range and November 1 deadline for early-action applicants. During the Q&A I learned of the school’s 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio, 36 percent enrollment of out-of-state students, body of living alumni exceeding 564,000, 1,400 student organizations, 31 NCAA Division I teams, and ranking as the number one public research university. The tour revealed that the campus is divided into three areas: Central Campus, with the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, Ross School of Business, and the Law School; North Campus, which includes the College of Engineering, School of Music, Theatre & Dance, and the School of Art & Design; and South Campus, which holds the University of Michigan’s sports facilities. The school boasts four libraries, museums, a nuclear power plant, and a hospital with its medical school that is considered the best in the state.

Even after the information session, I struggled to understand what exactly compels teenagers from 50 states and 114 countries to attend. As my mom and I left to drive around campus, I found my answer. Unbeknown to us, we had planned our visit just one day before students received pledges from sororities and fraternities, so as we left the admissions office, thousands of potential recruits flooded the streets, stopping traffic in a sea of maize and blue. Moments later, we found ourselves in front of one of the most iconic homes to college football: The Big House. This huge stadium can host crowds as large as 115,000, and as the largest stadium in the United States, serves as an icon of the university’s pride, tradition, and excellence. The feeling that one gets from standing near the Big House is indescribable.

Before visiting the University of Michigan, I knew of the great academics, incredible spirit, talented sports teams, and cold weather. Little did I know about the mosaic of cultures that exists there, the Wolverine spirit that thrives in every corner of campus, and the vast alumni base that establishes a sense of family no matter where life takes you.

Even after I returned home wearing my Michigan shirt, I received three “Go Blue!” chants in a half hour at my local Walmart. I had always had an interest in the University of Michigan, but I never would have expected to connect with the school as much as I did. This university embodies everything I want in a college experience, and I can only hope to one day meet the standards necessary to be accepted into the Michigan Wolverine family. Find out more at umich.edu.