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Posted on Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Accepted: Unusual methods by wait-listed University of Michigan student bring success

By Kellie Woodhouse

When Lawrence Yong reprised a Jackson 5 song into a plea to the University of Michigan, he thought a handful of friends and an admissions counselor would see the video and laugh.

He was unsure whether it would actually help his chances of getting plucked off the wait list for U-M's 2012 freshman class.

"In all honesty I only expected it to get maybe 100 or 200 views. Maybe from a couple of my school friends and then some people at church," says Yong, from Los Angeles. "It was really incredible. I am not entirely sure how it spread so quickly but that's exactly what happened."

At current count, the "I Want You Back" Jackson 5 cover has amassed 35,000 views, despite the fact that it's unlisted.

It also achieved Yong's chief objective: He's off the wait list and officially admitted, he says.

Yong's admittance is a feat given that just 42 of the 14,600 students offered a place on U-M's wait list last year got in.

"If I had not done the video there was no way that I’d be able to stand out," Yong said. Yong posted the video in April and U-M began accepting students off its wait list May 1. On June 6, he received his acceptance letter.

"There was a lot of uncertainty," Yong said.

In April, news of the video buzzed through U-M's Central Campus admissions office. Molly Cravens, a campus tour guide and U-M senior, said the video showed determination, and Bernadette Lis, assistant U-M admissions director, said the school takes "demonstrated interest into account" when choosing students from the wait list. Lis said Yong's video is one of the more unique appeals U-M has received from wait-listed students.

Typically, the admissions office suggests wait-listed students send letters detailing new information and accomplishments to increase their chances of getting in. Thinking that a letter might not stand out, Yong made the video.

"I'm a student on your waiting list and I am dying to get in and I was initially planning to write the traditional letter saying like, 'Oh I really want to be a part of your school,' " Yong said in the video. "But I thought, 'You know what, talk is cheap and this is a great opportunity for me to show some of my strengths.' "

So, does he plan to attend?

With a laugh, Yong says he's excited to step foot in Ann Arbor, as a Wolverine.

"Out of all the schools that I looked at, I really liked the campus," he said, adding that he plans on joining an a cappella group.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 10:33 p.m.

It's great to be creative and draw attention because no one else thought to do it. For those of you thinking of doing this next year…..forget about it! They'll be 15,000 other students providing videos instead of using the traditional method of writing letters. The admission office will be flooded with videos next year with others trying to use the same method to gain attention to get accepted.


Wed, Jun 13, 2012 : 3:36 a.m.

Although the video is creative, its content lacks depth and really doesn't give much support for how a degree from UM would help his career objectives. So, I hope he also wrote an essay that provided more depth. Also, anyone notice how he is from out-of-state and perhaps that was a factor in the decision-making process? $$$$

Evan Smith

Tue, Jun 19, 2012 : 5:11 p.m.

Oh I'm sure it was all about the out of state dollars. That's exactly why they didn't accept him outright. I'm sure it makes sense to you.

Thinkin' it Over

Thu, Jun 14, 2012 : 8:21 p.m.

I'm SURE the out-of-state dollar$SS were a factor in his acceptance. Lots of other kids must have done similar things.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 8:44 p.m.

Good for you, young Mr. Yong! Keep us posted on the which a cappella group you'll be joining so we can come see/hear you perform.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 2:36 p.m.

Kudos to the young Mr. Yong! Creativity and a sense of humor will serve him well in life -- and hopefully his Michigan education will as well!


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.

UM should pay him to use the video for recruitment.

Lac Court Orilles

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

I just don't get it. Why is coming to The University of Michigan that much of a draw with 1,500 other places to obtain one's higher education? We all went here because we live here and it's a convenient location.

Ed Kimball

Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 12:26 p.m.

"Yong's video is one of the more unique appeals...." "Unique" means one of a kind -- how can something be "more unique" than that?


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 1:18 p.m.

Thank you. That annoys me too.


Tue, Jun 12, 2012 : 10:57 a.m.

Good stuff!