As my mom and I landed in Detroit, Michigan at 1:15 am, it didn’t take long for us to realize that we were severely underdressed, being that as soon as the airplane doors opened, those who had seemed to master the exotic art of living in Michigan began packing on their heavy sweaters and thick North Face coats. It was only mid-October, but the outside temperature had dropped to 45 degrees with 20 mph winds. As a high school junior, I have toured a lot of prospective colleges, but as my mom and I shivered just moments after walking out of the doors of the Detroit airport; we shared a glance and knew that the two girls from sunny-South Florida were clearly out of their element.
At 2 am, 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 incredibly eclectic and unique college town that exceeded my expectations within seconds. Complete with what seemed like hundreds of ethnic restaurants, quirky shops, indie boutiques, second-hand bookstores, and even a vintage movie theater, the vibrant and hip town is utterly welcoming and appealing to inattentive small children, wide-eyed students, and nostalgic University of Michigan alumni alike.
When we finally arrived at our hotel, a middle-aged woman donning a big toothy grin and a bright maize “University of Michigan Alumni” shirt greeted us. She checked us in and handed us two room keys alongside with a bright blue bag overflowing with maize wrapping paper- in it, a University of Michigan shirt complementary of the hotel. “Go Blue!” the woman cheered.
The next morning, the college tour commenced as any other tour would: a presentation with statistics, a question and answer session, and a walking tour with a student tour guide. The presentation revealed the university’s appearance on the Common Application, 32.2 percent acceptance rate, 3.85 average GPA, 2040-2280 accepted SAT range and November 1 deadline for early action applicants. The question and answer part of the tour revealed the school’s 15:1 student to faculty ratio, 36 percent enrollment of students from out-of-state, body of living alumni exceeding 564,000, 1,400 student organizations, 31 NCAA Division 1 teams, and ranking as the #1 public research university in the US. Lastly, the tour of the campus revealed that the campus is divided into three main areas: Central Campus, which includes the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, Ross School of Business, and the Law School, North Campus, which includes the school’s largest residence hall, Bursley Hall, as well as the College of Engineering, School of Music, Theatre & Dance, and the School of Art & Design, and lastly, South Campus, which holds the University of Michigan’s sports facilities, such as the Michigan “Big House” Stadium, the Crisler Center for the basketball team, and the Yost Ice Arena. The school boasts four libraries, museums, a nuclear power plant and an 11-story hospital with a connected medical school that is considered the best in the state of Michigan.
Even after the information session, I struggled to understand what exactly it was about the University of Michigan that compels teenagers from 50 states and 114 countries around the world to attend the school. As my mom and I left to aimlessly drive around campus, I found my answer. Unbeknownst 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 out into the streets, completely stopping traffic in a sea of maize and blue. In a desperate attempt to get anywhere, my mom made a sharp right turn and moments later, we found ourselves in front of one of the most iconic homes to college football: The Big House. Even without a home game, it was incredibly evident as to why the stadium is one of the most widely recognized sporting facilities in the country. The Big House can host crowds as large as 115,000, and as the largest stadium in the United States, serves as an icon completely reflective of the university’s pride, tradition and excellence. The feeling that one gets from standing in the presence of the Big House is an utterly indescribable feeling like no other.
Before visiting the University of Michigan, I knew just of the school’s great academics, incredible spirit, talented sports teams, and cold weather. Little did I know about the mosaic of different cultures that exists at the university, 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 may take you. Even after I had arrived home from Michigan, I received three “Go Blue!” chants in the thirty short minutes that I spent in my local Walmart. I had always acknowledged an interest for the University of Michigan, but I never would have expected to connect to the school as much as I did. My visit to the university completely reassured me about my choice to apply to this school. The University of Michigan embodies everything that I would want from a college experience, and I can only hope to one day meet the standards necessary to fulfill my goal of being accepted into the Michigan Wolverine family.