As an international student my decision to come to U-M did not involve a campus visit, a meeting with a professor or experiencing the opulence of the department which seems defacto in decision making by most students. None of these are feasible for most international students given that procuring a visa to visit the U.S. is a long drawn process and the airfare prices are exorbitant.
In such circumstances I had to resort to other non-tangible means of arriving at a decision to be at U-M. Under the constraints of a tight budget that could fund about eight applications I had to scrutinize universities that matched my research goals of biostatistics in treatment of cancer. This involved checking out the research profiles of professors, their publications in peer reviewed journals and the overall national ratings of the department. Among other reasons for sending out my application to U-M, I had known a friend who was an alum and had created a brand image of the university.
I received a call from Professor Jeremy Taylor one evening at work informing me of my admittance into U-M and that I should expect the admissions packet in a while. Receiving an early acceptance call, about a month after sending my application, tilted my decision in favor of U-M even after I heard from the other schools. Besides getting a call from the very professor whose research profile motivated me to apply to the department was thrilling.
Since my acceptance of the offer from U-M which included full funding into the program with a research assistant position, I have found many more reasons that reaffirmed my decision. Professors invested in bringing out the best in students, excellent quality of instruction aimed at understanding and application of concepts to problems in real life, large and diverse study body providing ample opportunities for exchanging intellectual and cultural ideas, a large network of alumni and not to mention the enormous and vibrant campus with tons of activities all year round are some of the perks of being at U-M.
Interacting with other students in my cohort, some of the reasons offered for joining the department included impressive a recruitment drive in the open house and that U-M has an established department in the midwest offering excellent training in becoming competent academicians and professors with niche research interests. The prestige of being at U-M is amplified by the current rankings which place the biostatistics department at the top in the nation!!