If footage leaked showing Ohio State University’s admission committee burning transfer applications from the University of Michigan (or vise versa), I, for one, would not be surprised. So let me give anyone deciding between these two schools some advice: choose wisely and never look back! The rivalry is profound; the competition is treacherous; the price for betrayal is steep. But when the smoke clears and the facts are laid bare, who is, truthfully and indisputably, the king of the Big Ten?
As your correspondent on these matters, I encourage you to refer to the accompanying infographic and to thoroughly brace yourself: one of these sovereigns will be gracelessly dethroned. Prepare yourself for the inevitable with this prep course on how to choose the perfect college or university.
Live By The Sword, Drop-Out By The Sword
With the fifth largest undergraduate population in the country, an Earth-shaking 43,058 students, Ohio State is definitely the bigger of the two. But with a 4-year graduation rate of just 53%, they seem to be about 47% over capacity.
Michigan, on the other hand, has a more respectable 76% 4-year graduation rate, a better student-faculty ratio of 16:1, a more historic campus (founded in 1817), three times the endowment ($7.586 billion), stricter admissions (36.5% acceptance) and an almost perfectly balanced student body (51% male).
Wait – this was supposed to be a competition, right?
The Party Never Stops
Everyone knows the annual “Best Party School” awards are a complete farce, even when your school tops the list, but there’s something to be said about living in a pleasant part of the world. Ann Arbor takes the cake here, as it was featured in the Huffington Post’s “Favorite Things” series, was ranked the 4th most livable city in the nation and was highlighted as the number one college sports town by Forbes.
Meanwhile, the article Forbes decided to publish on Columbus, OH is titled: “Columbus, OH: Don’t You Dare Call Us A College Town.” I happen to know from personal experience that Columbus is a heck of a town, chock full of fantastic human beings and completely underrated, but Ann Arbor is almost worthy of its own Classics department.
You Get What You Pay For
Ohio State is a splendid academic institution, frequently ranked in the Top 50 in National Universities. It has leading programs in Marketing, Finance and Biological Engineering. Accounting and, oddly, Supply Chain Management also rank highly. The problem is . . . well, the problem is the University of Michigan.
UM is one of the best public universities in the country: a top-5 undergraduate business school, a top-10 engineering program and possessor of no less than 18 majors ranking in the top-10 in the nation (18, for chrisake!). And we aren’t talking about underwater basket weaving: Marketing (#2), Finance (#4), Management (#1), Computer Science (#7), Biomedical Engineering, (#7), Aerospace Engineering (#3), Environmental Health (#4) and Industrial and Mechanical Engineering (both #2), to name less than half of them. Michigan’s expertise is not only powerful; it’s a goddamn clinic in diversity.
In-state students have to shell out an extra $4,000 a year to attend Michigan, and out-of-staters will need to win the lottery to come up with the extra 15k (in which case you’ll want to invest in this guide to making college more affordable). I’m not saying it’s worth it, but make no mistake: you get what you pay for.
But, as they say, the best things in life are free, like this awesome blog post that offers free college prep advice for freshman.
Twitter user and die-hard Michigan fan @x_sanchez53 posted this comment at 6:38 PM on April 14, 2014, exactly one minute before I started writing this section: “Watching the Michigan-Ohio State game gets me so pumped still. Even though Michigan lost.” He is referring, of course, to the 41-42 heart-wrenching football loss Michigan sustained vs. Ohio State on November 30, 2013. He is watching the replay 135 days after his team lost and is “so pumped.” Need I say more?
No. But the rivalry between the Buckeyes and Wolverines is larger than our friend Mr. Sanchez. Dating back to the first game in 1897, in which Michigan blew out OSU 36-0, The Game is an American staple. In 1905 it attracted more than 8,000 fans, and in 1926 it drew a crowd I am still struggling to believe: 90,411. Even if you loathe both teams, you probably tune in against your will just to watch the epitome of amateur football excellence.
At once, sports are a trivial way to pick a college or university, but when you matriculate to OSU or UM, you join a family of alumni that roots with fervor until they breathe their last. Every football season, every basketball season, every season for whatever sport you love will be exciting, competitive and terrible for your blood pressure.
Life After Death
So what happens when that dreaded day, GRADUATION, finally arrives? According to history, you’re sittin’ pretty either way. Ohio State produced such notable alumni as Bob Knight, Jack Nicklaus, James Thurber, Jesse Owens (legendary track star), Charles Kettering, Robert Lawrence, Jr. (the first African American astronaut) and beloved yet weird children’s author, R. L. Stine.
But Michigan kicks off its own list with pop-diva Madonna, Iggy Pop, James Earl Jones (the voice of Darth Vader and Mufasa from The Lion King), poet Jane Kenyon, Tom Brady, Michael Phelps, U.S. President Gerald Ford and the impossible-to-dislike Lucy Liu.
Personally, as long as I get famous, I don’t care who claims me as an alumnus.
Today is a rough day in Ohio State history. They fell to Michigan in quality of life, academic rigor and even an analysis by numbers; put another way, they came up short where it matters most (avoid coming up short yourself with this five-star college admissions success course). But in a world where experience is superseding education – just look to the tech industry for proof – there is no doubt that personal ambition will take you infinitely further than the colors of your alma mater. Still, only a fool denies the inevitable: four years from now, I’ll be vogue-ing across the stage to accept my degree from a fellow Wolverine.