In the pursuit to find and apply to the nation’s preeminent universities, many students will opt for private colleges, on grounds of prestige, diversity, and smaller class sizes that typically warrant greater personal attention for each student. Oftentimes, however, looking at colleges on this smaller scope will exclude several exceptional options from consideration.
The University of Michigan (UM) is one such school. Located in the heart of the midsized college town Ann Arbor, UM is a relatively large public school, accommodating nearly 30,000 undergraduate students. Many see such a class size as a disadvantage that translates into an undesirable student to faculty ratio, greater distance between professors and students, and substandard facilities. However, this university, sometimes referred to as a “Public Ivy”, proves otherwise.
The perquisites of attending a large public school are most apparent in the academic opportunities that they can provide. The University of Michigan has high levels of research activity, and students have an ample opportunity to engage in research opportunities. A certain emphasis is placed on the sciences and the arts at the college, although underclassmen have the opportunity to enroll in one of twelve schools, including the College of Engineering, the Ross School of Business, the College of Literature, Science and the Arts and the School of Music, Theater and Dance.
The University of Michigan offers students a wide, diverse range of majors and programs, with their engineering, business, and medical schools maintaining nationwide repute. Large class sizes, a typical drawback of public universities, is a negligible concern at Michigan. 80% of the university’s classes have 50 students or less, with only 6% of all classes over 100. In the case of large class sizes, however, each lecture is paired with a smaller, more intimate discussion session. For those in search of a more vigorous workload, the college’s Honors Program or Residential College, a living-learning community within the school, offer a challenge to all participating students.
As an institution searching for well-rounded students, the University of Michigan does not fail to deliver as a well-rounded school. The University of Michigan boasts 27 Division I varsity sports teams and participates in the Big Ten Conference in nearly all of their sports. One standout in the athletics program is the football program, a leading program in the NCAA and notable for their eleven national championships.
An additional merit to such large universities lies in the range of extracurricular opportunities available for each student. The University of Michigan boasts nearly 1,500 student organizations, the number of students for some small universities. Offerings range from the more typical a capella groups and student publications to other quirkier groups, including a Quidditch team and their Michigan Squirrel Feeding Club.
No assessment of a school can be made without an appraisal of its surroundings. Ann Arbor has been ranked as one of the most livable and walk-able cities in the United States. A city with a relatively young population, Ann Arbor has a median age of 27 and a local atmosphere that exemplifies such a statistic. With a plentitude of restaurants, stores, cafes, museums, and movie theaters surrounding the university, the college town caters to all.
Ultimately, it’s up to the applicant to decide whether a school is suitable. To avoid passing on favorable opportunities, refrain from ruling out any prospective universities based on generalizations or preconceptions,
You might just find that robust squirrels suit you.
This article originally appeared in the August/September 2013 issue of UNIT-E. It was written by Kathleen Ma, a student at the International School of Beijing.
UNIT-E was founded in the spring of 2010 with the aim of establishing a non-profit, student-run magazine for international students in Beijing. Staffed by current students from a range of international schools, the magazine provides an amalgam of cultural tidbits, fragments of Beijing student life, and a broad spectrum of unique perspectives from a diverse group of young adults.
Photo courtesy of UNIT-E