Full disclosure: I’m a fan of University of Michigan and I’ve followed Michigan football since I was really young. Why is this relevant? Well, last year I traveled to Michigan on business and for the weekend traveled across the state to visit with admissions, take the tour, and take in a game at “the Big House.”
There are two points you should know about preparing to answer the University of Michigan essay prompts. First, their idea of community is really broad. Many people think of the town that they live in, or religious or cultural communities as defining what they want to know about you. From their presentation, it’s clear that they think much more broadly than that about communities. One example given was that of a student that wrote about her cross country team as a close community of friends, and it worked great for her application. So, think beyond just culture or place and give them an example of a group of people that you are a part of where you feel most at home.
Second, when you apply to Michigan, you should have solid reasons that you want to attend. If you pick Michigan because of some ranking somewhere, you’re likely going to write a less-than-compelling essay. Show your application reader that you have researched the offerings at the University well, and have chosen the school for reasons that make sense given your goals. For example, I once had a student that was really interested in medieval history and wrote about the really cool collection of medieval manuscripts he would love to study that can only be found in original form at Michigan. These are the kind of details that tell the admission reader that you have done your homework and the program they have is right for what you want. Try to use at least one academic example in your essay, but also feel free to use other examples. Maybe it’s the educational philosophy demonstrated by the MERGE program if you study business in the Ross School of Business that allows you to hone your leadership skills. Maybe the Residential College appeals to you or the Sophomore Initiative in their College of Literature, Science and the Arts. It may be the possibility of working on a satellite project for NASA to help better predict hurricanes that you find fascinating. Whatever it is that excites you, find specific examples of it at Michigan and incorporate it into your essay.
No matter what, make your essays show the admissions committee that you are right for them and they are right for you.