Do Students At University Of Michigan Call Themselves Wolverines If So Why And What Does Go Blue Mean – Classes haven’t even started in the new year when Lauren Scandewell is studying economics at the University of Michigan.
“My roommate’s orientation is New York,” said Scandewell of Warren. “And the first thing he told me was, ‘I lost my iPhone in a taxi, so when I got here, my mom bought me this crappy phone.’ And it was the right call.”
Do Students At University Of Michigan Call Themselves Wolverines If So Why And What Does Go Blue Mean
The University of Michigan is a world-renowned institution located in a community that is often considered one of the best places to live in America. But despite generous financial aid, the school has struggled for years to increase its percentage of students from low- and moderate-income families.
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A new program offering free tuition to in-state students with annual family incomes below $65,000 is the university’s most ambitious and promising effort to attract high-achieving, low-income students to Ann Arbor.
But what happens to poor students when they enter campus with a median household income of $154,000, among the 27 public US colleges and universities classified as “highly selective”? The place where a famous executive once spent $400,000 to move a tree?
Interviews with students and their advocates shed light on the progress one of the world’s leading universities has made to increase income diversity and the ongoing challenges these students face in making sure they feel at home on campus with affluent kids.
The university is making strides in attracting low-income students, but U-M President Mark Schlissel insists no school can bridge social and cultural divides along class divides.
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For example Manali Desai. Around campus, he was cheerful, his appearance popping out with short green hair and a smile. Academically successful students from a recognized university. But at a school full of elite student apartments, Desai spends just $20 a week on food — the equivalent of 95 cents for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“I’m really frugal,” said Desai, who will be a junior this fall in the U-M School of Information. “It’s hard to eat well here.”
Fellow U-M student Casey Tin has three paying gigs outside of the school’s information classes. Her primary job was at The Michigan Daily, where she was the online managing editor for the daily newspaper and campus website. On Thursday and Friday evenings, he works in the Duderstadt Media Center on campus. He occasionally works as a temp at the Intelligence School.
“If I don’t have a job every semester, I feel like I’m struggling here,” Tin said. “Some people can’t do unrelated things.”
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At Michigan’s 15 public universities, the average share of students eligible for federal Pell Grants awarded to students from low-income families is 38 percent. At the University of Michigan, the rate is less than half, 17.9 percent of the freshman class. It is increasing, but lowest among public universities.
Some of this difference can be explained by the strict academic standards required for U-M admission. The average ACT score for UM freshmen in 2018 was 31-34 out of a possible 36 (the average for all Michigan high school graduates in 2016, the last year the ACT was required, was 20.5). The U-M high school GPA is 3.88.
Here again, money plays a role, as standard scores correlate with family income as well as race. But at the same time, some other elite universities report higher percentages of low-income students. At the University of California-Berkeley, for example, 27 percent of students are Pell recipients. In the Northwest, it is 20 percent.
The university’s Go Blue Guarantee aims to remedy that by attracting more applications from low-income Michigan students, many of whom find U-M too expensive or not for students from rural or more modest backgrounds. In fact, U-M is the cheapest public university in the country for poor students.
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The program guarantees free tuition for in-state students from families with an annual income of less than $65,000. Essentially, half of Michigan families can send their children to U-M tuition-free if accepted.
The program covers tuition only, not room and board and tuition. Although these fees are usually not free, there are many discounts available through other grant schemes for most students with the Go Blue Guarantee.
Currently there is only one year of data, but the program has been successful in increasing the number of middle-class and poor students. In its first full year, the university saw a 24 percent increase in applications from Michigan teenagers from families earning less than $65,000 and a 6 percent increase in new student enrollment.
Students receiving Pell Grants have hovered between 15 percent and 17 percent of the U-M student body. It reached 17.9% in the 2018-19 school year.
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In the university’s 2018 annual report, President Schlissel said U-M’s efforts show that “we strive to welcome students from all communities and backgrounds who have the talent and desire to become a Michigan Wolverine.”
In a recent interview, Schlissel told The Bridge that while he empathizes with low-income students who feel like fish out of water at wealthier schools, his main goal is to give them the best educational opportunities.
“I want them to be happy and feel the same,” Schlissel said. “But that’s not the first goal. The first goal is to get them here and help them succeed academically, have a good life. And that means, you know, they can’t go to a ski weekend in February, it doesn’t matter. . . .”
“It is probably impossible to eliminate the effects of growing inequality on households making $25,000 a year compared to those making half a million dollars a year,” he said.
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Obviously, there are many students who are also at U-M. A similar family income study found that UM’s Ann Arbor campus had the highest share of students from families in the top 1 percent (with a family income of more than $630,000) among elite public colleges, with 9.3 percent of students in that bracket. That far outstrips the next top school, the University of Texas at Austin (5.4 percent).
“What’s important to me,” Schlissel added, “regardless of demographics, especially first-generation students and lower socioeconomic students, everyone benefits from the educational assets here and has the same support. They have to move on every year and I graduate.”
As a study abroad student in Chicago, Desai is not eligible for the Go Blue Guarantee. However, other need-based scholarship programs offset tuition and housing costs similar to in-state grant programs because Desai comes from a modest financial background.
However, he had to give up. Desai said he could not afford restaurants where other students congregated and rarely spent money on entertainment. They try to keep their total monthly out-of-home spending at $250. Her grocery shopping rarely deviates from the basics she can buy cheaply: bread, eggs, onions, hummus, canned beans and Indian food.
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While Tin, a student who works three jobs, doesn’t have the same food problem as Desai, he notices a difference between his social life and his peers. They avoid using Uber to get around, choosing to walk or take the bus during school hours. He avoids eating out with friends except on special occasions and doesn’t frequent fancy stores around campus.
Tin grew up in Queens, New York, where the median household income of $64,000 is close to the state of Michigan ($54,000) but still less than $100,000 less than the average U-M student. Neither of his parents went to college. His father worked as a chef and mother was a night cleaner.
He came to U-M as a student from New York’s Binghamton State University, where the student body is more economically diverse.
His New York upbringing – Fiorello H. A middle-class kid who went to high school with wealthy Manhattan teenagers at LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts — it was good practice for college life in Ann Arbor, he said. Tin.
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“I was used to an upper-class life where everyone around me had money, so it became uncomfortable and I didn’t think about it anymore,” Tin said.
As he works late at the Michigan Deli and his friends order food, Tin dimers. That’s what he does when friends invite him on a weekend trip. Without a car, Tin must live close to campus, where rent for a one-bedroom apartment can exceed $1,000 a month. Because of Michigan’s unpredictable weather, simple things like going to the grocery store—miles from campus—are difficult without a car.
“Ann Arbor itself is great, but people don’t really understand it because they say, ‘It’s a cute little college town, it’s a small place in Michigan,'” Tin said. But “too ready for those who can