University of Michigan Supplemental Essay Questions: Tips and Tricks

Welcome back to the second round of University of Michigan supplement essay brainstorming tips and tricks. Today we cover the community and activity essays. The aim with these essays is to facilitate in filling out a diverse class of incoming students. They ask the questions they do because they want to understand what makes you stand out from the pack. They want to know what you will bring to campus that will make you a key member of the community. Show them what you’ve got!

Part B. Community Essay

Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it. (Approximately 250 words)

The main purpose of this question is to get at what the applicant believes to be central to their perception of self. Michigan wants to know something special about you and your background and how that will contribute to their diverse campus. No two people have the same exact story, and this is your opportunity to show how yours is different.

Often, when students read the list of possible communities in this prompt, they immediately know which of their many communities they will write about.

Others have a hard time identifying a community in their life that has shaped them. For those of you who feel that way, the most helpful path to discovering this impactful community is to write out a list of the communities you belong to or have belonged to at some point in your life. It could include your hometown, grade school, in-school club, apartment society or something that will require more explanation like a gadget that you love or your favorite food.

For those who are truly stumped, the latter approach can be a good way to spin something that most people would not see as a community into one.

Let’s take the “favorite food” community for example. You could write an essay about being part of the community that loves traditional Indian Mithais. You could talk about how your grandma always made you her famous ladoos and taught you a life lesson that changed your perspective while mixing the ingredients. This essay would discuss how you became a part of this community and why it is important to you in a very creative way. Almost anything is possible with this prompt.

No matter what approach you choose, make sure to develop your place within the community with an anecdote or deep personal reflection. Don’t forget to showcase your voice as a writer and keep this prompt personal! The communities we are a part of impact us all in very different ways. There is no right answer.

Part C. Activity Essay

If you could only do one of the activities you have listed in the Activities section of your Common Application, which one would you keep doing? Why? (Approximately 100 words)

The most important part of writing this essay is deciding which of your activities you will write about. Note that the prompt does not ask which of your activities takes up most of your time or which you have engaged in the longest. It asks which one you would keep doing if you could only choose one. For this reason, you should write about the activity to which you feel the greatest personal connection.

Ask yourself: “If I had to choose one descriptive word to describe me, what would I want it to be?”

Then, “Which of my activities showcases that?”

Use this essay to tell Michigan about one of the most important aspects of who you are.

An important thing to keep in mind is that the prompt only calls for approximately 100 words. You need to be short and sweet in your response. Do not spend too much time discussing the specifics of what the activity is. If the activity is widely known (e.g., Model UN, Speech and Debate) you may jump right into your personal involvement and connection. If the activity is not well known by outsiders, you may want to spend a short sentence discussing the activity before transitioning to its significance.

Because of the personal nature of this prompt, it is nearly impossible to list exemplary activities. If five different people participated in the same five activities, they could very well all have different responses to this prompt. The one thing that should not differ in their responses is the development, or the level of detail of the “why.”

If you were to write an essay about being on the varsity soccer team, you would want to talk about the leadership skills you gained as captain, how you learned to be a team player, and other formative experiences. You could talk about technical aspects of the game if they have a personal meaning for you or if they contain a metaphor for your life. Maybe you discuss how being a goalie helps you think differently because you need to anticipate the next move and developing these skills helps you on and off the field.

No matter what, always go one step further in your analysis.

This brings us to the end of another essay series. Come chat with us for more questions and meeting our expert team of writing mentors!