What is University of Michigan Known For? Is UMich a Good School?

According to the fight song played at all of their sporting events, the University of Michigan Wolverines are “the victors valiant” and the “leaders and the best.” 

More than just a bit of self-congratulatory hype, U of M can back up that claim with success in the classroom, the football field, and beyond.

A full two decades before Michigan changed from a territory to a state, the University of Michigan was founded in 1817. 

U of M may be a public school, but its research output not only earns it a tier-one ranking but also rivals elite private schools. 

Thanks to an endowment worth over $12.4 billion, Michigan is one of the nation’s wealthier schools, allowing it to pursue numerous research projects and fund world-changing clinics.

One such institution is the Center for Social Media Responsibility, through which students and faculty examine the role of social media platforms in shaping public consciousness. 

At the Learning, Education, and Design Lab, participants investigate the possibilities of digital media and instructional technologies in creating new avenues of learning.

U of M’s main campus in Ann Arbor features 860 acres of beautiful land, housing everything from scenic botanical gardens to an advanced teaching hospital. 

It’s no wonder that the school has been affiliated with 53 MacArthur Geniuses, 26 Nobel Laureates, and even a U.S. President with Gerald Ford.

All of these amazing attributes come from a strong foundation of academic excellence, long-held traditions, and sports dominance.

What Majors & Academics Are UMich Known For?

University of Michigan
Michael Barera, University of Michigan (Ann and Robert H. Lurie Biomedical Engineering Building), CC BY-SA 4.0

For the layperson, the University of Michigan is synonymous with its world-famous athletic program. But the school boasts a commitment to learning rarely found outside of elite private schools.

It should come as no surprise that one of U of M’s best academic majors is related to its sports programs. 

By providing students with access to state-of-the-art equipment and a cadre of first-class competitors to serve, the university’s athletic training program is recognized as one of the best in the nation. 

Like everything else at U of M, research initiatives drive the athletic training program, with labs that increase our understanding of the body’s functions.

Equally impressive are the majors offered through the school’s Department of Music Education, ready to train music teachers for every instructional level. With a curriculum that combines instrument mastery with a foundation in pedagogy, the music education program prepares its students to inspire and equip the next generation. 

When combined with the program’s 100% placement rate, it’s easy to see how the Department of Music Education is improving the world, sending its award-winning graduates to positions in New York, Chicago, and elsewhere.

Thanks to its association with a nationally-recognized teaching hospital, U of M’s medical school is one of the best in the nation. But some would be surprised to learn that the university’s School of Dentistry is often ranked within the top five in the entire world.

This praise comes in part from the outstanding alumni who have gone on to be leaders in the field of dentistry. But it all starts with resources available at the school, including research labs that increase students’ understanding of the human body. 

Focusing on everything from taste receptor cells to the development of the craniofacial skeleton, these labs help create some of the nation’s most well-informed dentists.

Is UMich a Good School?

The University of Michigan may be a state-sponsored public school, but it often ranks among the world’s most respected private schools, including Ivy Leagues such as Harvard and Yale.

According to Niche.com, U of M earns A+ overall grade, with special acknowledgment for its academics, value, and athletics. 

The university stands out even better on Niche’s specialized list, taking the number two spots on the lists for Best Colleges for Kinesiology and Physical Therapy in America and Best Colleges for Sports Management in America, and taking the number one slot as the Best Public University in America.

The highly-respected U.S. News & World Report gives U of M equally high marks, placing it at #23 on its list of national universities, tied with Georgetown University and above such luminaries as Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Virginia. 

U.S. News also puts U of M within the top five on its more focused lists, including those for business programs, nursing, and top public schools.

In short, the University of Michigan is not just a good school. It’s one of the best public schools in the nation.

UMich Traditions

University of Michigan
AndrewHorne, Michigan Union, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons

In addition to its tradition of scholarly excellence, the University of Michigan has also accrued several fun myths and traditions over the decades.

Given the exacting academic standards at U of M, it’s no surprise that students would come up with stories to explain their success or failure. 

One of the most persistent involves a large brass “M” in the Diag, a large open space on campus. Legend has it that if you step on the M, you’ll fail your next bluebook exam.

Fortunately, most professors don’t use bluebooks anymore. Still, students prefer not to take the risk and thus avoid the M.  

Along with its world-famous athletic program, U of M has one of the most recognizable fight songs of all time, “The Victors.” 

While it’s usually up to the band and vocal groups to sing the fight song, the Men’s Glee Club takes time out every year to teach the football team how to sing “The Victors.”

Finally, a tradition that brings together the newest and oldest students involves a wading pool. During their freshmen orientation, the new students signal their preparedness for the future by walking toward the camps. 

After graduation, they wade in the opposite direction, away from campus and into the world.

Prominent Clubs & Extracurricular Activities at UMich

On a big campus with lots of history, it’s easy to feel lost. That’s why it’s so essential that students get involved with the university’s clubs and take part in extracurricular activities.

In addition to every manner of fraternity and sorority, you can find clubs to match any need or interest.

For those who like a physical challenge, there’s Ann Arbor Ninja Warrior. Based on the popular television competition, Ann Arbor puts participants through the wildest obstacle course. Even if combatants don’t end up on tv anymore, you can still get a good workout and have fun with this club.

If you prefer your competitions to be more mental than physical, you can join the Michigan Poker Club. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or a longtime card shark, the Poker Club welcomes all players. It’s a great place to learn the game or test your skills, at any level.

Between these clubs and the many events happening every single day, there’s always something to do on U of M’s campus.

What Sports Are UMich Known For?

It doesn’t matter where you go, every place in the world, you’ll find someone who recognizes the maize and blue of the Michigan Wolverines. 

That brand awareness doesn’t come from just marketing but from a history of excellence in a variety of sports. In fact, the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics has put U of M among the top five programs in eleven of the past twenty years.

As part of the Big Ten Conference, the Wolverines have 29 varsity teams in sports ranging from swimming and gymnastics to baseball and basketball.

The men’s basketball program has won fourteen regular-season titles in the Big Ten and has made the Final Four of the NCAA tournament eight times, winning the national championship once in 1989. 

The women’s basketball program has its own victories, winning the WNIT tournament in 2017 and making it to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament.

But perhaps the most well-known Wolverines compete on the gridiron. Beyond its legendary rivalry with The Ohio State University, the University of Michigan football team has an overall record of 976–352–36, complete with 49 appearances in Bowl Games. 

The football team has claimed eleven national titles and two division titles, most recently in 2021.

Why UMich?

University of Michigan School of Kinesiology
Michael Barera, University of Michigan (Kinesiology Building), CC BY-SA 4.0

In addition to being one of the best-known and well-respected schools in the nation, the University of Michigan is also one of the most popular. 

For the Fall of 2022, the university received almost 80,000 applications. Out of that group, only approximately 16,000 received letters of admission, for an acceptance rate of 20%.

While that rate is much higher than most schools of U of M’s caliber, it does reveal a highly competitive admission process. For every ten students who apply, eight will be rejected. You may be wondering if it’s worth the challenge to apply.

We can’t answer that question for you, but we can put things into perspective. As you’ve seen, the University of Michigan is one of the best public schools in the nation, one with outstanding resources and a commitment to excellence. 

Some of the smartest people in the world have studied at U of M and have gone on to make a real impact in the world.

Even better, U of M offers a lot of fun for their students, from time-honored traditions to numerous clubs and activities. Plus, they have one of the most beloved athletic programs in the nation.

In short, if you value first-class athletics and active social life, then the University of Michigan is the place for you.