A tried and true piece of advice offered to many high school seniors eager to get off a college admissions waitlist is to write a formal letter to the school specifically detailing why it's the perfect fit for you—and you for it. But when Lawrence Yong, a student at Granada Hills Charter High School in Los Angeles, realized he was one of thousands of students on the University of Michigan's waitlist, he took a 21st century-style approach. Yong sent the school a YouTube link of him singing his heart out in a Michigan-flavored cover of the Jackson 5 classic "I Want You Back." The video went viral and it worked: Yong got a spot in the 2012 freshman class.
Indeed, with the more than 110,000 views the video's garnered so far, the school could use it as a recruitment tool. But, Yong never anticipated that kind of attention. "In all honesty I only expected it to get maybe 100 or 200 views. Maybe from a couple of my school friends and then some people at church," Yong told AnnArbor.com.
Part of the appeal is certainly that he actually has a decent voice—he's a member of his high school's a capella group. But what really works is that Yong let his earnestness and creativity show. How can you not love him when he sings "Oh Michigan, give me one more chance to show you that I love you? Won't you please let me into your school?" while wearing an adorable, handmade "M" for Michigan patch?
Bernadette Lis, Michigan's assistant admissions director says Yong's video caught their attention because it was so unique. The school takes "demonstrated interest into account" said Lis, when deciding which students to pull off the waitlist, and Yong certainly fit the bill. And his success in getting off the waitlist is no small feat given that last year the school only accepted 42 out of 14,600 waitlisted students.
Of course, now that Yong's successfully pulled this stunt off, other students looking to escape from waitlist limbo will probably flood admissions offices with similar videos. For the sake of the staff, let's hope they have the singing chops that Yong—who plans to join an a capella group on campus—does.