Over four years, students in the LSA Honors Program (within the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts) take courses in almost every department. They can live together, too—Honors Housing functions as another Learning Community for honors student who opt in. You can also choose to live in one of the other living learning communities!) During their final two years in school, honors students work on a capstone project by writing a thesis under the mentorship of an adviser. The school says, “Current students and alumni, alike, share that this project is a defining moment, preparing them for graduate schools and careers.” Facilities like the Perlman Honors Commons, make for a great place to relax between classes, and a program called “Lunch with Honors” gives student direct contact to the fascinating thinkers that visit campus. Michigan’s College of Engineering has an honors program too, so you don’t have to choose between an honors program in the liberal arts and sciences, and engineering.
Ranging from traditional intensive language study to global health and development projects, more than 3,600 Wolverines are abroad each year. The Center for Global and Intercultural Study (CGIS) is geared toward undergraduates who want to study abroad for a summer or even a year. Through the Global Intercultural Experiences for Undergraduates, CGIS offers learning opportunities that allow a team of students and faculty to travel to field sites as close as Detroit and as far away as Oaxaca, Mexico; Lushoto, Tanzania; and Cusco, Peru. Students learn how to lead in a group, work very closely with a faculty member, and see first-hand some of the “national, political, social, and economic issues” they’ve been studying. International Programs in Engineering offers programs tailored to the needs of their students, with some 500 engineering students engaged each year, and Ross Global Initiatives supports more than 800 business students engaging in action-based projects all over the globe.
First- and second-year students across schools at Michigan can utilize UROP to link with faculty research scientists. (According to the school, the program includes more than 1,300 students and 900 faculty researchers.) Every student working with a researcher is also assigned a peer adviser and attends regular seminar meetings to get the most out of the experience. Students learn how research is conducted in any academic discipline of interest to them; how to work through a problem; and they gain insight into potential career paths. In fact, the university says that studies of this unique research program show that more students who participate in UROP go on to earn law, medical, or doctor of philosophy degrees than their peers who do not.
Budding entrepreneurs take note: Michigan comes in at number eighteen on The Princeton Review’s 2015 ranking list of the Top 25 Undergraduate Programs for Entrepreneurship. The ranking is based on administrator surveys conducted in 2014. Innovate Blue is the UM umbrella for entrepreneurial activities that take place all across the university such as in Ross School of Business, the School of Information in LSA, the College of Engineering and beyond. If you have a great idea, then the Center for Entrepreneurship, with a home base in the College of Engineering, will help you make it a reality. A popular “Ask an Entrepreneur” program puts students in a room, one-on-one, with entrepreneurs who can talk about their path, give advice, and help undergraduates connect with the right people in their area. For students a little further along, the Center offers one-on-one startup advising. The Center also offers what they call “innovation training.” Startup Treks, for instance, take students away from Ann Arbor to get a feel for the entrepreneurial landscape in another community. During a recent trek to Detroit, about an hour from campus, students interacted with startups and tech companies as well as met with Michigan alumni in the area. The school says, “Treks are not for the passive, the tired, or the uninspired: they are intense immersions into the cultures, companies, and communities, that ignite innovation. They are platforms from which students can launch relationships with potential investors, professionals, executives, leaders and peers.” Annual competitions on campus like 1000 Pitches, the Michigan Business Challenge, MHacks, or Entrepalooza Symposium well help get the creative juices flowing.
For students who want that big campus to feel a bit smaller, Learning Communities in the residence halls bring together students and faculty with similar interests. The Health Sciences Scholars bond over their love of medicine and their pre-professional aspirations. Writers and artists unite in the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program, which pulls in students with a creative flair from diverse academic interests. These communities have faculty partnerships as well. Each year the Lloyd Hall Scholars sponsor a Writer-Artist In Residence to lead workshops, readings, and art installations for a term. And every incoming first-year student in the Michigan Research Community is offered a research partnership with a faculty member in a field that appeals to them. Other options include the Michigan Community Scholars, for those interested in service, the Women in Science and Engineering program, for those thinking about majors or careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics or pre-health; an Honors Program; and the Residential College, known as the RC.
The botanical gardens in northeast Ann Arbor and the arboretum, located where the central and medical campuses meet, are more than places to relax and enjoy nature. They both offer volunteer, work-study, and internship experiences for future environmentalists, and scientists—or just casual nature lovers. A docent program trains students to guide school-age children through educational programming. There is a Campus Farm, located at the botanical gardens site, that the university says “is as much laboratory as classroom.” Hands-on experiences like these, they say, “provide invaluable lessons in small-scale food production for students who . . . will play a role in food production and delivery systems in many of their future careers.” Students can also join gardening teams, run campaigns with the marketing department, or run their own project through the Summer Internship program.