Michigan or Wisconsin??

I’m a Michigan resident who is trying to make a final college choice between the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin. I am having a lot of trouble deciding and just want to hear what you guys have to say. Michigan would be cheaper for me but money is not a deciding factor. Wisconsin is where my heart says to go, but I’m just a bit discouraged comparing rankings and all that. Basically, my heart says to go to Wisconsin, but my brain says to go to Michigan. Wondering what you guys think is more important?

IF you were OOS for Michigan I would tell you to follow your heart. But since Michigan will actually cost you less, and is the higher ranked school, and has many of the same things that people love about Wisc, you gotta go to UM. If I am misunderstanding something and the $ won’t be that different, then I have no problem with you choosing UW over UM, and screw the rankings.

Why? What does WI offer that Mich does not?

Wisconsin has the lake(s) and some beautiful places to sit near it. And it’s a state capitol with more of an urban flavor.

I should specify: I live about 5 minutes from Michigan’s campus and quite frankly I am looking for a change of scenery going to college. I feel I wouldn’t be excited to be staying in my hometown, and that overall I can grow more as an individual further away.

Context is important. I can appreciate wanting to go away for undergraduate degree. As others have said, tough to turn down U-M given national reputation and in-state tuition. However, you might think of this choice in terms of whether you expect to get a graduate or professional degree. Wisconsin is a highly regarded public flagship, as you know, with all the educational opportunities at an undergraduate level as Michigan. If you do well there, you will have the chance to get a high prestige grad degree and that is what will define your career. If you think you are not likely to go beyond the bachelor’s degree, then the reputation of Michigan will loom larger for you over the course of your lifetime and may make a difference at least in the early stages of your career. You will never know for sure, but it might. If you are not overly ambitious and want to have fun and get a solid education while going away, I am sure you will enjoy Madison. It is probably a bit more fun than Ann Arbor.

Michigan grad here. Daughter admitted to both schools, but she picked another.

If money is no issue, then I would pick Wisconsin for the change of scenery. Both are great schools. But personally, I prefer the atmosphere at Wisconsin, the lakes, the Union, and the town, although Ann Arbor is great. Michigan to me is a more of an Eastern school, with lots of people from NY, Boston, DC, and Florida, with of course Detroit and Chicago well represented. Wisconsin is more Midwestern. Still lots of people from NY, DC, NJ, etc. But you have a much bigger percentage of people from the Twin Cities and Chicago, besides Milwaukee and small town Wisconsin. I’ve never met anyone who went to Wisconsin who doesn’t speak glowingly of the school. And people love Michigan, but if I had to do it again, I would seriously have considered attending Wisconsin (I was admitted there too, but didn’t go.)

Don’t look at rankings. But even if you do, they’re not that far apart. A Michigan degree is nice, but hasn’t defined who I am by any degree in the workforce. Very few schools, if any, will do this beyond your first job, and maybe not even then.

If money is an issue, then pick Michigan. It’s a good value. But don’t expect your world to change a lot.

Parent of UW grad here and I agree with what @sbdad12 says. Michigan does have, overall, the stronger national reputation and draws students more from the east coast than does Wisconsin, but UW is no academic slouch. Last time I checked, the geographic breakdown at UW is about 50% Wisconsin residents, 15% Minnesota, and the rest everywhere else, including east and west coasts (though Chicago suburbs, especially north shore, are well represented).

UW works for so many different kinds of students – it can be the bustling urban experience, with high rise dorms and capital internships, or it can Lakeshore dorms with nature runs and sailing on Lake Mendota. Academics are terrific, with top departments in Poli Sci, History, Econ, plus all kinds of languages etc.

All that being said, for my family, it would depend just on how big a financial difference there was. A few thousand dollars a year that can be managed easily by the family, ok, pick the school you love. But if its loans, or taking money from retirement, to fund UW over Michigan, then it would sound unwise to my family and I would tell my kid that he has to find a way to make Michigan is own experience, even though it might feel familiar at first.

Wonderful choices to have, good luck to you!

Cost and debt difference?

Intended major?

If your intended major is an engineering major, and you have been admitted to Michigan CoE, choose Michigan to avoid the weed-out process at Wisconsin, where students must meet college GPA progression requirements that could be as high as 3.5 technical and 3.0 overall to continue in some majors.


I can understand needing a change of scenery. My own kids want that too. I have one kid at UMich and another one that’s evaluating colleges as a junior in HS.

I’ve been to the Wisconsin Madison campus twice, but during the summer. My own personal opinion is that I didn’t like the fact that the capital and the campus are squeezed into such a small area. And I also prefer the East Coast flavor to the midwestern.

What I like about Ann Arbor is it’s smaller and Central Campus is essentially a large rectangular block. So my kid shuttles between Weiser, Chem, Angel and sometimes has to go the USB or MLB. Everything is so close.

I like Wisconsin, but from my CA perspective, UMich/A2 does pretty much everything better, academics and sports.

Both are great choices for pre med (and most anything else). Wisconsin is better in Chemistry which is why ours picked UW. His two majors are Chemistry and Biochemistry. UM was also more expensive, we’re OOS for both.

It depends on your major. These are two excellent choices, you won’t go wrong with either. Congratulations!

I have a friend who picked Duke over Harvard because he lived in Boston.
If money isn’t a problem - follow your heart!!!