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Posted on Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 12:48 p.m.

Princeton Review survey finds University of Michigan is a top 'dream school' for applicants

By Kellie Woodhouse

Thumbnail image for UofMCampus_JT_04_walking_student.jpg

University of Michigan is considered a top 'dream school' by the Princeton Review.

The University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus is one of the top 10 "dream colleges" in the country, according to a Princeton Review survey.

The Princeton Review asked nearly 10,000 college applicants, spread throughout all 50 states, what dream college they'd attend if cost didn't matter and acceptance was guaranteed.

U-M is on the minds of many of those surveyed.

The college is the ninth-most referenced dream school among students. Of the nearly 4,200 parents surveyed, U-M is the No. 10 dream school.

Stanford University and Harvard University were ranked first and second, respectively, by both applicants and parents. Other public universities considered among the top 10 dream schools by students are the University of California's Berkley and Los Angeles campuses.

Seventy percent of students surveyed by the Princeton Review said they were highly stressed by the college application process, 81 percent said the economy was affecting where they applied to school and 89 percent said scholarships and financial aid is very necessary for their families to pay for college.

The survey results were released in late March.

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



Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 3:43 p.m.

How can Michigan be considered a "dream school", really, if it is generally considered only the second best school in the Big Ten (to Northwestern), and is rated give or take as an equivalent school to others in the Big Ten for the most desirable majors (e.g. Illinois or Wisconsin, for Engineering or Business)? Of course the poll will result in an overwhelming response of "yes - U of M is a dream school"... but that is more of a function of the audience here on than reality. My take, is the reason it is on the list is it is a much cheaper, fall-back option for kids aiming for Ivy. Given the cost of Northwestern, it makes Michigan look like a bargain. And Michigan has a slightly better cache' nationwide than Wisconsin or Illinois. But make no mistake - serious nationwide recruiters don't value Michigan engineering or business grads over those other top-tier Big Ten schools.


Sat, Apr 6, 2013 : 5:26 a.m.

rob Your argument makes absolutely no sense. The question is: "what dream college they'd attend if cost didn't matter and acceptance was guaranteed". Your response: "My take, is the reason it is on the list is it is a much cheaper, fall-back option for kids aiming for Ivy." Why do you assume anyone would list their fall-back option as their dream school?


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 7:19 p.m.

"How can Michigan be considered a "dream school", really, if it is generally considered only the second best school in the Big Ten (to Northwestern), and is rated give or take as an equivalent school to others in the Big Ten for the most desirable majors (e.g. Illinois or Wisconsin, for Engineering or Business)? " The schools with the most top 10 ranked programs in the country, in rough order: Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard, Michigan. So the problem with your post is that it is completely contrary to fact. At UM, all of the 19 graduate programs are ranked in the top ten nationally. If USN&WR is your benchmark, the undergraduate division is ranked in 25-30th. If you look at WORLD/GLOBAL reputation from the London times, the reputational rank is 12th globally. On other global rankings the school is ranked top 20. Those rankings are out of from somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 national schools, or somewhere in the top 1% nationally and higher than 99th percentile when considered globally. The IVY inter-quartile range for ACT scores is 30 to 34. Michigan has a number of weaker students, but more than 15,500 students (something like 58% out of 27,000 total) students score as high or higher than the comparable pool of 6,600 students at Northwestern. In other words, for every IVY level student at Northwestern, there are 2.5 such students on the Michigan campus. UM students who go into elite schools or win Fulbrights is much higher than Northwestern. Before you start a normalization argument about Fulbrights or other statistics, note that you can't normalize by undergraduate population: Michigan has roughly the same number of applicants for Fulbrights as NU; for other programs such as law or medicine, you also can't normalize by undergraduate population because many kids don't apply to such programs, you have to normalize by actual applicants. As to your contentions about engineering and business, they are simply laughably incorrect.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 6:25 p.m.

Sorry, no, Michigan's engineering school is consistently ranked as high as (if not higher than) Ivy League schools. Additionally, it has one of the best recruiting programs in the country. The Big Ten in general is a great set of schools for all disciplines; it's hard to go wrong at any of them. But Michigan IS known as one of the best schools for these subjects you mention.

Steve Davis

Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 2:42 a.m.

While the University of Michigan has much to recommend it academically and some of the best sports teams to watch, it has become way too full of itself. It long forgot its public roots and finds its accountability to the people of the state an onerous and unnecessary distraction. It sees itself much akin to a prestigious private institution. Given that, if I had a child looking to attend the University of Michigan, I would not in good conscience be able to fund that. If I am funding an expensive college education I would much prefer to spend even more and have them attend Hillsdale which provides a superior education and a better perspective on life without the elite smugness so common in UM students these days. Not to say that Hillsdale is not elite, it just seems to do a great job in grounding its fortunate students with purpose and heart.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 10:44 p.m.

@masticate - outstanding. That is exactly why I am proud to send my kids to UM. Good Luck to you.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 6:31 p.m.

As a conservative Michigan student, I have greatly valued the discussion with my peers and professors. Taught me more than any book could, and I'm definitely more prepared to exit into the world ready to compromise and collaborate with all kind of people. It's easy to get caught up in your own opinions and beliefs when you purposefully surround yourself with like-minded people. Exposing yourself to all kinds of people and experiences is the best way to grow.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 4:14 p.m.

@D - sorry for the "down" vote - inadvertent mouse click. I completely agree with you. Thumbs up!


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 4:10 p.m.

@southyoop, I definitely agree with you that one of the great values in Michigan's liberal arts education is the opportunity for students to learn how to think for themselves and "learn the power of considering different viewpoints and drawing their own conclusions." As an alumni of the U, I can say that this is my most valued asset I earned during my time as a student at Michigan.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 4 a.m.

Indoctrination, whether liberal or conservative, is harmful. I, for one, prefer to have kids be able to think independently and not have a professor or GSI force their beliefs upon any student. I had one child graduate from UM. I have another soon to enter. I hope each has/will learn the power of considering different viewpoints and drawing their own conclusions. I am confident that UM provides that opportunity.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 3:49 a.m.

It is interesting that the only "measurable" in your comment is that you would find it tough to afford. Most/all of the other comments are your opinions, which you shouldn't confuse with facts. How do you support any of those opinions: 1) how are you measuring the lost sense of direction? 2) How does an entity become full of itself? How did you measure that; 3) UM probably outranks Hillsdale on nearly every single academic dimension; 4) How are you measuring smugness. You've insulted a lot of people with, as far as I can see, zero support for contentions which are measuring dimensions which are almost inherently unmeasurable. How many of the 40,000 students and 40,000 staff did you survey to reach your conclusions. There is one measurable way in which Hillsdale differs from UM: it explicitly prides itself on being conservative and accepting little to no Federal money in order to remain a repository of conservative values; conversely, UM prides itself on being very liberal. If you want to pay a lot of money to inculcate conservative values in your children, that is clearly your privilege; if having an open mind is inherently threatening to your child, it is possible that the fit would not be ideal for your children at UM. Fit is probably THE most important factor for selecting a university. If your children believe as you do, then Michigan would undoubtedly be a poor fit.

Retiree Newcomer

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 9:50 p.m.

For how many will UMich be JUST a "dream school" -- just as other colleges in the top tier of this list will also? Can UMich be competitive and continue to offer minimal financial aid to out of state students who "dream" to attend and have the credentials to be top students? Too many colleges and universities, including UMich, have been in a race to provide luxury amenities to students whom they see as demanding them. As the middle class shrinks and family net worth fails to recover from the great recession, how long can this go on?


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 3:41 a.m.

from the annual report: 1) The Ann Arbor campus budget also includes $145 million in centrally awarded financial aid, the largest investment in financial aid in the university's history. Within that, centrally awarded financial aid for undergraduates is increasing by 10 percent...." 2) "For the fourth year in a row, there will be no increase in the cost to attend U-M for the typical Ann Arbor campus undergraduate resident student who has financial need. The FY 2013 financial aid investment is sufficient to cover the full increase in the cost of attendance (tuition and fees, housing, textbooks and incidentals) with grant aid for these students, resulting in no increase in packaged loan burden. In addition, the loan burden in the 2013 financial aid package for these students is less than in 2009." Elsewhere, the university notes: 1) roughly 25% of the endowment has been earmarked by donors to support aid to students; 2) the next capital campaign will have a heavy focus on reducing the costs to students. Clearly, cost and access are not ideal at this point, but the university is making a concerted effort to reduce cost and increase access. Given reductions in state aid and a soft economy, they are doing a pretty good job. Admittedly, this may be little solace to current students, but every year the situation improves a little bit.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 8:42 p.m.

Everyone talking about the cost of U-M ought to first consider the cost of all the other schools it matches up with. For a MI resident UM in-state tuition for this public school is roughly $20-$25K for Top tier university. All of the other schools on the list of dream schools would cost you approximately $60K per year to send your kid either because their private or you'd be paying out-of-state tuition. I should know, I have a high-school senior who's been admitted to UM as well as U of Chicago (US News ranked #4), Wash U. STL (US News ranked #14), Boston College (#31) and Boston U. (#51). UofM (US New ranked #29) is a steal. Sending your kid to a highly ranked school is just going to cost more, but as I see it. $20 - $20K vs. $60K PER YEAR is almost a no-brainer.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 8:14 p.m.

The survey question asked was: "What "dream" college do you wish you (your child) could attend if acceptance and/or cost were not issues?" So, one could see this as UM being a dream college AND UM being a difficult to afford college. Not surprised that showed its bias by failing to discuss the latter.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 7:22 p.m.

@masticate I heard this numerous times first-hand from Michigan natives. I think they may have been considering financial aid packages, too. I applied to both schools for undergrad and immediately knew that Michigan was out of reach because they didn't offer much financial aid, but OSU offered A LOT. Or things may have changed since I was a student. That's very possible, especially given the recent downturn in the economy.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 7:16 p.m.

@aggatt I think you missed the point. My original post was expressing my disappointment that didn't mention that UM is a "dream" college for a lot of kids because its a good academic school but financially out of reach.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 6:34 p.m.

@OhioStater: Michigan tuition in-state is still cheaper than Ohio State out-of-state tuition. 5 seconds on Google.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 4:27 p.m.

but you can't really compare OSU and UM academically... OSU is generally peoples back up school. That or MSU.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 4:20 p.m.

After meeting so many Michigan kids at Ohio State, I realized how high the price of tuition was at UM. They all told me that they and their parents chose OSU because the price there as an out-of-state student was lower than the price here as an in-state student.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 10:54 p.m.

After seeing so many Ohio parents sending their kids to UM instead of OSU, I think UM is really "cheap" for MI kids to get high quality college education.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 8:09 p.m.

My comments have all been deleted today. Apparently it is fine for some members of this forum to share their disdain for the University of Michigan and Ann Arbor's relationship with it, but I cannot express my own civic pride in Ann Arbor and collegiate pride in the University of Michigan equally. U of M is a dream school. It was my own dream school that I attended from out of state and paid for myself. I loved Ann Arbor so much that I stayed, settled, and contribute to it and the local community.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 7:40 p.m.

I'm proud of our University and all that it does for the kids who attend. I'm proud of how it has shaped our town. It is deservedly a dream school.

Elaine F. Owsley

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 7:36 p.m.

When our granddaughter entered Medical School at UM, the Dean said at the White Coat Ceremony, "There were 5,386 applicants for the class of 2012. These are the 170 that made the cut". If over 5,000 students were looking to attend med school at UM, what must the annual application numbers be for the whole university. Amazing number and very proud grandparents.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 7:21 p.m.

It's a "dream school" in that I can only dream about paying for an education there.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 5:58 p.m.

So what if it is or isn't? Depending on your level of intelligence, high school performance and (especially these days) financial means, Michigan could be either a dream school or a fallback one.

Jack Gladney

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 5:56 p.m.

Love the poll question and your target audience. Someone at has a future at MSNBC with the Ed Show. (Which do you hate more? Chocolate cake or Mitt Romney? Vote now!)


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 5:47 p.m.

U-M is a club for rich kids. As for actually getting a proper education, forget it. If you want to suck up to future socialites, frat boys and start-up wannabes with daddy's money, you've come to the right place. Everything else about the place, even sports, is overrated.

Mike Tucker

Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 12:16 a.m.

100% disagree with you Jay. No one in our family fits your biased description of the typical family of UMich students. Thanks to the Michigan economy we are decidedly on the lower side of the middle class and we are very proud of our daughter for earning her way into the university. She got there with hard work, brains and determination and we are gaining a full appreciation of "The Michigan Difference ." Go Blue!!


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 10:35 p.m.

You know, I wanted to thumbs-down this, but it's actually kind of correct. I'll contest the idea that UM doesn't offer a great education, but everything else you mentioned also exists in conjunction with the good academics. "club for rich kids" - Yeah, kinda "suck up to future socialites" - Yup "frat boys" - Double-dudebro yup "start-up wannabes with daddy's money" - We've got those in spades! But yeah, still also good academics.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 7:09 p.m.

Get your facts straight Jay. All of my kids went to U-M and received a top notch education. We have lawyers and doctors in our family now. As far as sports...well you must be an Ohio State fan.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 5:30 p.m.

Stupid is as stupid does


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 4:15 p.m.

and stupid doesn't get you in to the University of Michigan :)

Lou Perry

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 5:30 p.m.

If it wasn't for the University of Michigan Ann Arbor would be a rest stop on 94.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 5:18 p.m.

Unfortunately, U-M is a nightmare for many of Ann Arbor's residents,for example, freeloading many of Ann Arbor's essential services at no cost to the U.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 5:56 p.m.

From the annual report: Public service 87,945 41,659... The above indicates that UM spends roughly $128,000,000 on what amounts to community service in both Ann Arbor and around the state. A good chunk of that is medical care that is provided without reimbursement. You can find a figure totaling around $100,000,000+ for student grants and non-reimbursable aid to students, the lion's share of which goes to Michigan residents. The U also provides tens of thousands of full year FTEs/jobs and hundreds/thousands of construction jobs in any given year and makes Ann Arbor largely recession proof with its payroll and expenditures of around $6,000,000,000/year. Why don't you document for us the loss that you see versus the above contributions? Here's what I think you'll find: probably around $10,000,000/year in property tax exemptions and maybe another $2,000,000 in other relief. Those figures probably equate to around 1/5 of 1% of the total budget and probably less than 5% of the directly measurable benefits provided. Like a lot of posters, you seem to be myopically focused on a few issues like fire truck support which are negligible and manage to ignore or remain willfully ignorant of the other 99.5% of the UM budget and how it benefits the local area.

Joshua Ames

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 5:22 p.m.

Oh Ken, stop being so dramatic. Your life is not a nightmare. Visit Flint or Detroit and get some perspective, please.