Students move in to South Quad at the beginning of the semester. Dominick Sokotoff/Daily.  Buy this photo.

The University Insider is The Daily’s first faculty and staff-oriented newsletter. This weekly newsletter will give U-M faculty and staff the ability to see the most important issues on campus and in Ann Arbor — particularly those related to administrative decisions — from the perspective of an independent news organization. It will also provide a better understanding of student perspectives.

The Michigan Daily anonymously surveyed nearly 1,800 incoming University of Michigan freshmen to gauge their feelings on everything from schoolwork to social life as they begin college amid a global pandemic and period of social unrest.

The unprecedented nature of 2020 is not the only thing that sets the incoming class apart. The University aimed to enroll approximately 7,200 students for the freshman class this fall, a 20 percent increase from the target class size six years ago.

Out of the 65,899 total applicants for fall 2020, 17,054 were admitted and 7,188 matriculated as of July 26, according to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions student profile. The University admitted 25.88 percent of its applicants, compared to the 23 percent acceptance rate for the fall 2018 applicants reported by U.S. News & World Report.

The fall 2020 incoming class earned a median high school GPA of 3.90, with a middle 50 percent range of 1380 to 1550 for the SAT and 32 to 35 for the ACT.

University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald wrote in an email to The Daily that as of Aug. 19, 69 percent of undergraduate classes will be taught remotely, and 31 percent will be taught in an in-person or hybrid format, not including independent study courses.

The following data was collected from a survey sent to 6,685 freshmen on Aug. 10, which received a total of 1,785 responses over three weeks. Approximately 58 percent of those surveyed identified as female and approximately 41 percent identified as male, with 1 percent identifying as other. Fifty-three percent of respondents are from Michigan, while 44 percent hail from other states and 2 percent are international.


Where will freshmen be in the fall?

Despite close to 70 percent of undergraduate courses being taught remotely, 66 percent of incoming freshmen surveyed said they plan to be on campus in the fall, taking at least one in-person class. Another 18 percent of respondents said they will be living on campus and taking all online classes, and the other six percent reported they will live off-campus and take classes either online or in-person. Only 10 percent of those surveyed, on the other hand, will be completing coursework at home.

How comfortable are incoming freshmen with attending house parties in light of COVID-19?

Results show 68.4 percent of respondents are either very or somewhat uncomfortable with attending house parties amid the pandemic. The other 31.7 percent are either somewhat or very comfortable.

Of the freshmen who said they were somewhat or very comfortable with attending house parties, the majority of students were interested or very interested in Fraternity and Sorority Life.

Concerns about students partying during the pandemic have been central to criticism of the University’s plan for reopening campus. Engineering freshman Catherine Jiang is an in-state student who is living in the dorms this semester. She said those going to parties during this time are neglecting to protect themselves and those around them.

“If it was a normal college semester, going to parties is like whatever, that’s their prerogative — you can do whatever you want,” Jiang said. “But right now, if you’re going out to parties, you’re endangering people living around you, and you don’t know what situations they have at home. So it’s like endangering a much larger population. And I just don’t agree with people who are willing to take that risk at this current state of the world.”

How interested are incoming freshmen in Fraternity and Sorority Life?

The University is home to more than 60 sororities and fraternities, and 17 percent of the undergraduate population is involved in Fraternity and Sorority Life. In recent months, certain FSL chapters have been the subject of increasing scrutiny from college communities for enacting exclusionary practices.

LSA freshman Eliana Kraut said she is hoping to rush a sorority at some point in her college experience. She explained how the campus social life was one of the reasons why she decided to attend the University, but she said she would rather hold off until it is safe before going out.

“That’s part of the reason I came to Michigan, among the really strong academics, really strong art side, the environment, football games — parties were part of it,” Kraut said. “So now, not having that kind of sucks, but at the same time, I’d rather it not happen until it’s safe, because otherwise we just risk being shut down and that would be so much worse.”

Do incoming freshmen plan on practicing religion on campus?

How likely are incoming freshmen to get a part-time job?

How many hours of sleep do incoming freshmen think they will get on a weekday?

A sizable percentage of incoming freshmen surveyed have high hopes for getting a full night’s sleep. Roughly 41 percent of think they will get seven hours of sleep on any given weekday. About 28 percent say they will get six hours of sleep, while precisely 22 percent say they will get 8 hours of sleep.

When did incoming freshmen first drink alcohol? If they haven’t, when do they plan on it, if ever?

Though answers varied, approximately 60 percent of students drank alcohol before entering college. About one in five respondents had not had alcohol yet but plan to either when they start college or after turning 21. About 20 percent do not plan to drink alcohol at all.

How likely are incoming freshmen to vote in the 2020 election?

A resounding 78 percent of respondents said they are very likely to vote in the 2020 election, far surpassing the 44.7 percent of the student body that voted in 2016. The University planned to host a presidential debate in October before withdrawing in an effort to keep community members safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The majority of respondents said they were very or somewhat liberal, totaling approximately 64 percent of those surveyed. Another 13 percent identified as somewhat conservative to very conservative, while nearly a quarter of respondents identified as moderate.

Do incoming freshmen have Wolverines in their family?

Are incoming freshmen currently interested in U-M sports culture?

While the Big Ten conference is postponing fall sports, most students surveyed planned on keeping up with the University’s sports teams this fall. On the other hand, about one in 10 said they are not interested in frequently engaging with University sports teams.

How nervous are incoming freshmen for Michigan winters?

While incoming freshmen may not necessarily be excited for months on end of cold and slush, they are prepared for it. Michigan winters are often a point of contention for those moving to the state for the first time, but a majority of respondents said they are ready for the upcoming winter season.


What financial aid are incoming freshmen receiving?

About 44 percent of freshmen surveyed are coming to the University on scholarships. Thirty-two percent will be taking out loans, and 28 percent of respondents were offered grants. Approximately 37 percent of respondents will not be receiving any aid. Results obtained from this question overlap due to participants being able to select multiple options.

How concerned are incoming freshmen about paying for college?

More than half of respondents are either somewhat or very concerned about paying for college. The other 46 percent of respondents reported feeling either somewhat or very unconcerned about footing the bill for classes.

Which other colleges did incoming freshmen apply to?

The incoming freshmen class applied to a number of additional colleges before deciding to attend the University of Michigan. About 50 percent of respondents applied to other Big Ten schools, and 47 percent also applied to other schools in the state of Michigan. Forty-five percent of the incoming freshmen also applied to the Ivy League colleges and other elite institutions, including Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Acceptance rates for these applicants varied: only 7 percent of those who applied to Ivy League schools were accepted while about 97 percent of those who applied to other Michigan schools got in.

Was the University of Michigan the top choice college of freshmen?

How many hours do incoming freshmen think they’ll spend studying?

Answers to this question varied, however, 23 percent of respondents said they will study for 16-20 hours a week. The next two most popular answers, with 20 percent and 18 percent of respondents selecting them, were 11-15 hours and 21-25 hours, respectively. The other 39 percent selected either studying less than 11 hours or more than 25 hours.

How likely are incoming freshmen to change their major at least once?

What do incoming freshmen think their first semester GPA will be?

Incoming freshmen have high hopes for their grade point averages in college. Roughly 39 percent of incoming freshmen surveyed said they think their first semester GPA will be between 3.8 and 4.0 and 37 percent said they think their GPA will be between 3.6 and 3.79. Another 16 percent of respondents said they think they will earn a GPA between 3.4 and 3.59, and the other 8 percent predicted they will earn a GPA below 3.4.

Daily Staff Reporter Kristina Zheng can be reached at

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