Attending the University of Michigan was a Mistake

There are many reasons why I’m thankful that I’m a student and soon-to-be graduate of the University of Michigan, which I’ll expand on later. Although I’m never going to forget this experience, there are many more reasons why choosing Michigan as my undergraduate school was a mistake.

1. Financially, it sets you up for failure 

Unless you’re parents are extremely wealthy—like many of the students’ parents here—, you have received a significant amount of scholarship, or you know for sure that you will land a highly-lucrative job upon graduating, you should not consider the University at all. Whatever you do, do not take out loans. 

Loans are the bane of my existence. Loans will mess with your head. Once you’ve taken them, there’s no going back. Whatever you consider now, whatever on-sale $5 scarf you find, you will have to factor in how more-than-POOR you will be upon graduation.

I know a lot of students here who take out massive loans in order to attend; however, many of them are in the Ross Business school. What does this mean? Ross is one of the leading BBA programs in the nation and promises a high percentage of GOOD job placement after graduation. It’s fine to take out loans in this scenario as a gamble (leaning more towards a win) for your future.

As an English major or any other liberal arts/humanities major, though, which I’ll write about in future posts, it is absolutely unnecessary to splurge for a brand name school. With these majors and the assumed following professions, what matters most is experience. You’ll graduate already in debt, maybe land a semi-lucrative job, but because it’s one of those jobs that start with low wages, you will be struggling for the first 10 years of your Real Life just to make ends meet. Add on a heavy burden of debt, and you’ll find yourself in your parents’ basement for those 10 years.

2. It’s bad for your Inferiority Complex 

The University of Michigan an institution known for its athletics, network, and academic rigor. If you think you can handle it, given your high school academic record, think again. Many people here came in with ACT scores 33+, 4.25+ GPAs, and stellar extracurriculars. I know a lot of students who already own businesses, helped raise one million dollars for a non-profit organization, etc. Standing out here is almost impossible.

So, if you’re going to apply to grad school or professional school after undergrad, you would be burned out after competing so vigorously with your fellow 20,000+ classmates.

3. The harsh winter 

You would think that temperature would have little to know impact on choosing a college, but it does. And remember that on a campus with lack of transportation, you may find yourself exposed to the extreme winter longer than usual. I came into Michigan from Chicago, which I thought wouldn’t affect me much since I’d be used to it. Wrong. I forgot that in Chicago, I drove everywhere and was general kept at a comfortable temperature.

Another effect the winter can have is Seasonal Affective Disorder. Many people don’t notice before that they have SAD, but once you’re in an environment of mental, physical and emotional stress, you’ll start to notice that you do, in fact, have SAD. The amount of sunlight received during the winter here is almost laughable. The past few winters consist of no sun. I don’t remember ever seeing the sun during the winter, which says something.

4. The people 

Of course, I’m not saying everyone here is bad, because there are 40,000 on this campus. But there is a general stereotype of  the undergraduates at the University of Michigan. These kids are generally spoiled. In fact, once I was working on a project with this one tri-delt, who spent 30 minutes on the phone with her mom telling her she needed the newest Michael Kors boots ASAP so she could wear them on her New York trip. A lot of students, regardless of having clear access to coin laundry in the dorms, order weekly laundry service. I looked up how much it cost: $160 for 7 pounds of laundry a week for a semester. Ain’t nobody got money for that.

 [edit]: Don’t get me wrong. I go crazy for Maize and Blue as hard as the next person and give my all to my boys on game day. I definitely appreciate all the experiences that have made me during these past few years, but because of the above, it was not the best fit for the me that came in here. It added additional stress and I had to adapt more so than other people. But I’ve made it through (posts coming later), and I wouldn’t redo anything for a minute. Everyone has their own experiences, and I’m sharing mine. 

Do you regret anything about your approach to your education? Is there any advice you’d like to give? 

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  • Gina

    I think every experience is truly what each individual makes of it, and if you regret your years spent here, that’s kind of sad. Take control of your happiness! I have had many friends who were unhappy at UM, and they transferred–you could have too. :P

    • mtwang13

      Thanks for the comment! I definitely don’t regret it; I meant mistake as in there were better fits, of course. But now it’s my home :)

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  • Wesley Culbertson

    Thank you for the sensible critique. Me & my cousin were just preparing to do some research on this. We got a book from our local library but I think I learned better from this post. I’m very glad to see such great info being shared freely out there…

  • Zach

    Fair critiques, but Michigan still looks better on a resume than a large number of schools.

    Every University is more or less a money suck. Western, another school in our state, cost almost as much as U of M with a significantly smaller endowment and aid opportunity.

    The winters are cold, but if you bundle up or take the bus, you’re fine.

    Finally, you can stand out in a classroom fairly easily here if you want to. It’s all about knowing your field better than others and having confidence in your arguments while also accepting that you can be wrong. A great deal of students here are so fearful of being seen as wrong that they will never express an idea, and thus miss out on the ability to stand out.

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  • Guestguy

    Just read this, I’m considering attending UM but I would accumulate more debt than where I’m at right now. Like, a total of $60,000 instead of $22,000 although I will have at least a minor from Ross (I hope). Your thoughts on if it would be worth it? I’m leaning towards it because education is an investment after all.

    • Mishfish13

      I really can’t help you decide this. It’s a personal choice and the weight of each pro and con would be your own.

      I can only tell you that it would all depend on what your career plans would be, the people you meet along the way, if you fully utilize all the resources UM offers, if that amount of debt is worth it, and how easily you can find something to start repaying those loans back.

      On one hand, a minor in Ross is something, but not as much weight as a BBA from Ross due to the support from its alumni and the recruiting system they have in place for student success. But also know that UM is crazy competitive and a very good school, which means you have to work that much harder to stand out. However, you MAY make the friendships that help out in the long run; I’ve been told that contacting alumni have been one way that graduates receive jobs.

      Ultimately, this is up to you and how important you think UM as a name brand college is.