The University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
The University of Michigan - Ann Arbor - Comments and Student Experiences|
If you want to join a learning community, JOIN! I didn't join one, but I lived in Alice Lloyd and saw how much fun and how close the people in my hall got with their learning community when they did their homework or projects. I really regret not looking more closely at the information about the learning communities here. They definitely are not a burden on your academic life and you will instantly make new friends before you go to your first class!
For the general student:
Work hard (you're not the only one who wants an A in the class). It's a very different life here in U-M. Classes and the way it's graded are totally different from what you've experienced in high school. I had to struggle to fit into the academic scheme of things during my first few months of school even after attending a college prep school. Focusing and hard work don't come easily, especially when the Fall Term is full of Welcome Week activities, Welcome Back frat parties, and football games. Try and head to the libraries to do your studying because the dorms can be very noisy (especially Markley and Bursley). Exams are hard and it is recommended by pretty much everyone to prepare a week or two ahead of time (because most of your mid-terms and finals will fall on the same week, if not the same day--the school won't allow you to reschedule your exams unless 4 fall on the same day).
Clubs and Orgs...
There are currently 1295 clubs here in U-M. In other words, it is very easy for you to find a club that suits you here in Michigan. There is a very active a capella society and a very, very active social Greek community. There are also numerous mutli-cultural groups and Greek communities that one can be a part of here in U-M. It's also very easy to start your own club here and is encouraged. There are also many student governments within the school you are assigned to (LSA, Ross, etc.), dorms (Residence Hall Association and the Multi-cultural Groups in each dorm), Michigan Student Assembly, etc. There are also other ways you can be involved in leadership through positions in clubs. It is rare but definitely not impossible (because I have personally seen it happen) that a freshman gets assigned to a board position in his club after his first semester here. So, don't be discouraged by the fact that you are only a freshman. Make sure you really put yourself out there. Try new things! It's what University of Michigan is all about.
You don't really have a lot of control over where you live. The only way you can be guaranteed a spot in a dorm is if you are 1) trying to get into one of the 3 all-female residence halls (Martha Cook, Helen Newberry, and Betsy Barbor), 2) trying to get into a learning community (i.e. MCSP, LHSP, HSSP, MRC, WISE, RC, etc.), or 3) you're in the Honors College (so, South Quad, unless you are part of a learning community, then you can choose elsewhere).
Nevertheless, I am going to talk about the dorms anyways (since I think people are usually the most excited about this part of the process anyways). Unfortunately, if you get placed in North Campus (Bursley Hall, Baits 1, Baits 2, and the Northwood Apartments), you get to commute every single day to get down to Central Campus where most of your classes are going to be (it's almost a 25 minute bus ride, especially in the winter when you need to account for snow). Life in North Campus is extremely quiet. So, if you enjoy nature and a quieter lifestyle, North Campus is the place to be. Bursley does get rowdy sometimes, especially with drunk freshmen on the weekends, but that just comes as part of the package of living in the third largest dorm in the nation. Only Bursley have the dining hall, so that's where most of my North Campus friends usually eat. They say it's pretty good, and I had brunch there once and found it enjoyable (just not the best--sorry, little biased). Baits 1 and 2 I hear have pretty quiet halls every day of the week. Northwood is just dead silent because they are apartments, so dorm life/social scene is difficult in the first place. However, Northwood residents get a living room and a kitchen.
The next part of campus is the Hill [Neighborhood], which is about 10-15 minutes away from campus. The Hill is composed of Alice Lloyd (rennovated for the 2011-12 school year), Couzens, Mosher-Jordan (aka MoJo), Stockwell, and Markley. Markley is the biggest of the 5 and is the loudest dorm on campus. It is sadly not exaggerating that the ambulance is putting students on stretchers 7 days a week. However, that is the nature of their dorm (especially if you live in the back of the dorm). Alice Lloyd is famous for being the quiet, where-the-heck-is-this-dorm reputation. So, the resident advisors here are usually really laid-back. I'm a little biased since that's where I lived. However, Alice Lloyd is home to the most biggest rooms on campus (so, I was really lucky to be randomly placed here--one of the few that is not part of either learning communities in my dorm lol). MoJo is home to the Hill Dining Center (although Markley does have their own dining hall, but is not open as long as the Hill Dining Center and is not open on weekends). MoJo is famous for their extremely quiet dorm and strict residential advisors. They also don't have as much of a social scene as most dorms. You won't able to be placed in this dorm randomly starting in the Fall 2011 because it will strictly be for MRC and WISE learning communities. It is also currently the only freshman dorm to be air-conditioned (until Couzens is finished with their renovations).
The central campus is home to 4 co-ed dorms (North Quad, East Quad, South Quad, and West Quad) and the 3 all-female dorms. North Quad is reserved for soph, jrs, and srs. East Quad is mostly made up of people in the RC and MCSP learning community and is home to the vegan dining hall. It is also where orientations are held. South Quad and West Quad is where student athletes live (for the small portion of the dorms). South Quad is home to the Honors College and also has a dining hall. West Quad also has a dining hall is connected to the student union (extremely helpful when it comes to finding a place to study or eat). Of the three all-female dorms, Martha Cook is the prettiest and most prestigious. They have guy-hours (so, when guys can go in the dorm to visit). They also have tea-time and dining time as a hall (slightly formal--no jeans). You need to apply to get into Martha Cook, but you can simply request to live in Barbour and Newberry. Newberry residents will need to head over next door to Barbour for dining. Although Barbour and Newberry aren't as nice as Martha Cook, they are still very nice--they look like sorority houses. All central campus dorms are located right next to all the main buildings for your classes (so, no worries about waking up 5 minutes before your class starts).
There is only one dorm in south campus--Fletcher Hall, which houses only about 75 residents (only dorm to have less than 100). It is very small and private. It is about 15 minutes away from central campus but is also the closest dorm to the Big House. It is also facing Elbel Field, so you will definitely be able to clearly hear every single marching band practice. Unfortunately, Fletcher does not have a dining hall, so you will need to head up to South Quad to eat.
There is one dorm that is practically off-campus: Oxford. Unfortunately, Oxford is located near the frat and sorority houses, so you will hear a lot of parties during the weekends. It is also the dorm with the highest crime alert (but for very petty crimes and is usually due to the atmosphere of the Greek community). Oxford residents will also, like North Campus residents, require bus transportation to anywhere on campus. However, luckily, Oxford buses come every 10 minutes, unlike North Campus buses. You will get your very own basketball court and a courtyard space with outdoor grills. It also have its own dining hall that serves breakfast and dinner on the weekdays. Some houses will have kitchens. Oxford is not quite like any other dorms. For one, it's not just one building. It's a complex comprising eight smaller houses, each probably housing about 45 residents. Although U-M Housing Department considers Oxford as part of the Hill Neighborhood, it is actually 20 minutes away from the Hill and is about 10 minutes east of East Quad.
The three big dining hall are Bursley, MoJo, and South Quad, which are the only dorms that are open continuously from 7am to about 9pm and on weekends. All other dining halls are closed on weekends and are only open for a couple hours for each meal (usually inconvenient due to the times of your classes). If you have classes near North Quad and it's open, you should definitely go in and check it out. North Quad is the newest dorm (and is definitely a 5-star hotel in design). The food there is almost as good as MoJo (biased, I know but I personally think MoJo does have the best food on campus). North Quad is very conveniently located across from the MLB (where most of the foreign languages will be taught) so it is quite convenient if you ever need a quick lunch from a dining hall nearby. It is available for freshmen even if you can't live there yet!
You will also need to spend your dining dollars, which come with your meal plan (and that comes along with living in the dorms). Your meals and dining dollars do not roll over from school year to school year. You will need to spend all of these two parts of your meal plan by the end of each school year as they are non-refundable. You can only spend your dining dollars in residential cafes. They will be located in Cafe ConXion and Ciao Down Pizzeria in South Quad; East Quad Cafe, Victors in MoJo, Hideaway in Markley, Oxford Express, Blue Apple in Bursley, North Star in Baits, and Java Blue Cafe in North Quad.
For Business Majors (because I am also a Ross hopeful):Get Malone or Gerson for Econ 101! They will help you be very successful and knowledgeable in Econ. Also, it's recommended that you don't take both Math 115 (Calc I) with Econ 101, especially if you will be seeing calculus for the first time in college. This is so that you can focus on either Econ 101 or Math 115 in each semester. It is also recommended that you don't take Math 115 during the fall, though, because that is when all the engineering students have to take it. If you passed Calculus I (whether by placement exam or AP/IB exam), Ross still recommends (aka expects) that you take another quantitative reasoning class (you will see which courses are approved for quantitative reasoning when you get your course guide in the summer and when you register for classes). Make sure you also maintain a GPA of 3.5 or above with the other classes you take. Ross doesn't care what other classes you take outside their required classes (Math 115, Eng 125--or whatever class you took to fulfill your first-year writing requirement: a list of approved courses will be in the course guide, Econ 101), so take considerably easier ones like Soc 100-102, Psych 111, Ling 111, or Anthrcul 101. Ross will not be happy if you take all quantitative reasoning courses just to try and impress them. They will be looking for individuality. Also, don't worry--they know it's hard to get a leadership position in clubs your freshman year. So, try and get on a committee or something that makes you more than just another member. Make sure for your admission essay that you get it read by a current Ross student (they always know what to look for or the style it should be written). Make sure you go to a Ross Info Session and a Ross Essay Workshop even if you don't feel you need it because they will be taking attendance of the people that registered AND showed up (for obvious reasons). Also, if you are invited, join the Ross Preparation Initiative (PI) program. They will be bonus points on the application (not a guarantee of admission, just bonus points). PI will guide you every step of the way to help make your transition to college easier and to help you in the application process for Ross. PI will also provide you will mentors for Math 115 and Econ 101. They will also give you a peer mentor who are past PI students to talk to throughout the school year about Ross or any other college experiences you want to find out more about from a student who has been in your shoes. You will also be given a Ross professor to be your academic advisor that will be a person you report to on almost any aspect of your college life: academic, social, and family. They will help keep your priorities straight and your life in order.
Additionally, I do think there is a financial divide that separates some students from the majority here at UM. I did come from a privileged background so I cannot speak to that fully on my own behalf, but I employ staff that haven't been so advantaged, and they have expressed a sense of isolation and general lack of comprehension of where the bulk of their peers are coming from. Something of which to be aware and willing to wrangle with.
Lastly, and somewhat adding to the above observation, diversity does exist at UM, if you are merely looking at skin color (although African Americans are underrepresented). However, when you take a closer look at diversity, the upbringing and financial backgrounds of the majority of students closely mirror one another. There is a paucity of "experiential", "economical", diversity. Perhaps this is typical of all Big Ten schools, I don't know. But I feel like exposure to other cultures and ways of life are limited by the average college-track youth being funneled into the same mold. And that mold is finely represented at UM.
Positive points: Ann Arbor is a decent place. There are very good professors that are committed to their work and mentoring roles (as well as bad).
Essentially, I think college is going to have its ups and downs, wherever you attend. Like life itself. Just brace yourself for the realities, read all the reviews you can, and make your leap (hopefully after taking some time off from the academic grind!). Good luck out there!
Faculty accessability gets a B because it really depends on the professor. Some are good, some aren't.
Creativity gets a C because there is a little room for creativity on the class projects, but that's about it, in the classes at least.
Busywork gets a B because it again depends on the Professor and how you chose to do the assignments. Secret: doing 'busywork' type assignments on a computer can save a lot of time thanks to cut and paste.
Scholastic success gets a C because understanding the material of the curriculum alone will not get you a good or even necessarily passing grade. The electrical department was even worse about this. Case in point: at MSU I took circuits and got a 3.5 with little effort. At UofM I retook the class and got a 1.7 despite devoting most of my life to it. The final exam was 28 pages long. The aerospace department is like a milder version of that. Sorry, I know I'm probably scaring prospective students here. But that's how it is. If you are very smart or if you have excellent study habits (as opposed to just 'decent study habits') then you might do better.
Quality of program gets a B- because while UofM college of engineering may be one of the most resourceful engineering colleges in the world (aerospace is ranked #3 in the country and the college as a whole is #6), incredible resources won't erase problems that happen in the classroom--a lot of good students getting bad grades. And while a 50% on an exam won't matter if 50% was the class average (the average usually gets a 2.7-3.3 depending on the professor), it's still not good feeling to get such a low score. MSU is the same way.
Resources gets a B simply because while the administration raises tuition because the 'budget is so tight', they spend lavishly at the same time. We're getting a new drama center right here on North Campus next to the engineering buildings. That's like one example out of many expensive projects that the University is currently engaged in.
Campus aesthetics gets a B+ because here on north campus, the walk-ways don't always provide the best routes between buildings so a lot of grass gets trampled on. With that said, there are some parts of campus (all man made of course) that are truly magnificant to look at, even after you've seen it a hundred times.
Individual value gets a D because no one, other than maybe your closest friends, is going to care or help you if you're failing a class or can't get a job.
Campus safety gets a B because while I always feel safe, there have been several strings of thefts this past year (2005-2006) and the police think that it could be due to organized crime. By keeping my doors/windows locked, I haven't had any problems.
The surrounding city gets a B for several reasons. First of all, Ann Arbor is horribly congested with traffic. People have told me that Chigago is worse, but still, bad is bad. Second, taking busses within campus is time consuming, and taking city busses outside of campus can be VERY time consuming. On the plus side, they are free to UofM students, whereas MSU students had to pay a lot money to use them. Third, while there is a lot that happens on UofM's campus (especially activism stuff), I haven't been as impressed with the school events here as I was at MSU. There, it seemed there ALWAYS something going on. Here, not quite as much. That could just be because I live on North Campus though.Finally, I wouldn't say that the material is that difficult here (though solving the problems can be tedious), but getting a good grade sure is.
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