The Michigan Difference

The University of Michigan is the dream school for many Seaholm students. According to College and Career counselor Judi Stahl, pressure to get in can be overwhelming for students. PHOTO / CAROLINE SQUATRITO

Senior Kathryn Pelton has been fixated on attending the University of Michigan since her freshman year, filling her schedule with AP classes and studying countless hours to make sure she’d be a top applicant.

“It’s a really great school,” Pelton said. “There are so many ways you can get involved and meet people and it offers so many different clubs. It offers so many opportunities for your future.”

Pelton’s feelings seem to echo that of Seaholm students. Last year, 46 seniors enrolled University of Michigan, according to a May 2012 Highlander.

“Typically we have about 100 students per year apply to U of M,” Romano wrote in an email. “We’ve had as many as 70% get accepted in one year, but the average is about 50-60%.”

Because of this, senior Kim Lakocy will be applying to the University of Michigan this fall even though she has no true interest in attending.

“It’s accepted by most people that you’re going to apply to University of Michigan,” Lakocy said.

College and Career center counselor Judi Stahl has seen the pressure put on students to apply to University of Michigan by the Seaholm community.

“No pressure from within the building (counselors or faculty) but I get the impression there is some pressure from community and parents,” Stahl said in an email. “Also some competition among the student body of the inaccurate account of ‘whoever gets in must be the most intelligent.’”

According to College Is Yours 2.0, a book passed out at junior night of last year, students should choose a college that will work for them, not a college that has a prestigious name.

“Think college qualities, not college names,” the book says.

Mike Oelke, a representative at University of Michigan’s Office of Admissions, believes that the University of Michigan is not the right school for everyone. For example, if a student is looking for a small, liberal arts education, University of Michigan is not the right place for them.

“I think the best way to really determine [what school is right for you] is to set foot on campus,” Oelke said. “And that’s any campus you want to apply to. You need to think to yourself are these people like me, can I thrive in this environment, is this an environment I want to be a part of?”

Last year, graduated senior Kit Kuhne applied to the University of Michigan as her top choice. She didn’t get in.

“I was devastated,” Kuhne said. “Michigan has been my dream to go since I was probably 10 or 11. I put so much effort into trying to get into the school and when I didn’t, I didn’t know what to do with myself. In my head, it was my only option. I was devastated.”

She opted to go to Michigan State University, instead. She was planning to transfer to University of Michigan, but after she spent time at State she learned to love it.

“I am having a great time. It’s a lot better than I thought it would be given I was coming in with a negative attitude after not getting what I wanted,” Kuhne said. “But I’m having fun, I joined a sorority, I’ve made friends, I’m really active…This is my school now.”

Graduated senior Jamie Hinz didn’t apply to University of Michigan last year as she knew she’d only apply to say she got in, not because she actually wanted to go. She doesn’t regret it.

“I love [Southern Methodist University],” Hinz said. “It’s small and it’s personal. I love the fact that I’m doing something new. It’s a totally different culture here and I’m meeting people from all around the country and it’s great. I’m loving it.”

As for those who believe University of Michigan is their only option, Kuhne believes they need to keep their mind open.

“If you apply to Michigan and don’t get in, first of all don’t go in with the mindset that it’s your only option,” Kuhne said. “Look around at other schools, see what you like… University of Michigan is not the only option now; so many other schools are really highly ranked now in Michigan. You can go to a school in state and get a fantastic education.”

For Pelton, though, University of Michigan is still the dream.

“[I’m really excited] to meet new people there,” Pelton said. “And I’m really excited to get involved.”

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