When LSA junior Joseph Sussman was applying to college, he had to choose between Tufts University and the University of Michigan. He said he chose the University of Michigan because its reputation would be more likely to command the attention of premier medical schools.

Sarah Royce
University of Michigan Law School assistant dean of admissions Sarah Zearfoss says applications from Michigan undergrads compare to those from Harvard and Yale. (Photo Credit/Daily)

“(The University’s) got a great name,” Sussman said. “When you apply from the University of Michigan, it’s going to mean something to a lot of people.”

It turns out he was right.

In a 2003 study conducted by The Wall Street Journal, the University ranked 30th nationwide on a list of top feeder schools for prestigious graduate institutions. Tufts trailed behind, coming in at 45th. The survey ranked the schools by the percentage of their graduating classes that enrolled at 15 top graduate institutions.

In 2003, the University sent 156 students to the 15 graduate schools selected by the Journal as the best in the country, a higher number than any other public school and the fifth-highest total nationwide.

Sarah Zearfoss, assistant dean of admissions for the University’s Law School – one of the Journal’s top 15 graduate schools – said she was surprised by the University’s ranking.

“It really should be even higher, but 30th is good, especially considering how big a school it is,” she said.

She added that as dean of admissions, she spends much of her time dispelling rumors that it is harder for applicants to get into the University’s law school if they received their bachelor’s degree from the University. According to her data, University students are actually more likely to get in than applicants from other schools.

“We really like getting Michigan people,” Zearfoss said. “(Each year), we admit on average 18 to 19 percent of total applicants but 24 to 25 percent of the applicants from (the University). That seems like a small difference, but it’s huge when you take into account the amount of people that apply.”

The University’s MBA program, law school and medical school all have more students from the University than from any other undergraduate institution. Nearly 30 percent of last year’s entering medical school class were University graduates. The second most represented school was Harvard University, accounting for 4.5 percent of entering students. In the MBA program – in which University students are nearly 10 percent more likely to be accepted than other applicants – 12 percent of all students are University graduates.

“(University students) are incredibly well prepared, monumentally well prepared,” said Daniel Remick, assistant dean for admissions at the Medical School. “(It’s) what the numbers show – we really want students from this university, we know we’re getting a high -quality product from U of M.”

Zearfoss said the quality of Law School applicants from the University is comparable to that of Harvard and Yale graduates. She added that compared to Ivy League schools, the University doesn’t coddle its students and has relatively little grade inflation.

Jim Hayes, the director of admissions for the University’s business school, said that when high school students are considering which college to attend, they should think ahead to graduate school.

“If I were talking about my own kids, I’d clearly steer them to a school where the MBA program is reputable and they also have a decent shot at admission (to the MBA program),” Hayes said, adding that he has sent three of his four children to the University.

But Chris Lucier, senior associate director of undergraduate admissions, said he advises high school students not to place too much weight on their prospects for graduate school when they apply for college.

“(At the University), I can be in a frat(ernity) or go to a football game or be in any type of club imaginable,” Lucier said. “That’s what really draws students to Michigan.”

Remick said that although it is impossible to quantify how important a student’s undergraduate school is for admission to the Medical School, it ranks as one of his top considerations.

“When high school students ask me what they can do to get into medical school, I tell them, ‘Get into Michigan,'” he said.

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