The University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute (UM-SJTU JI, JI hereafter) has a Dual Bachelor’s Degree (DD) program in collaboration with the University of Michigan. This program is designed to allow a student entering the JI undergraduate program to earn two Bachelor of Science degrees from JI and UM in two different academic areas.  This year, Daniela Mata, a JI international student from Peru, was one of the students to be admitted to the UM-JI DD program. She is going to UM in fall to pursue her study majoring in Aerospace Engineering (AE). In spite of the global COVID-19 pandemic which prevented her from returning to JI campus, Mata continued taking online courses at her Peruvian home and fulfilled the application process for the DD program. How did she make it? Let’s find out more from her personal experience shared below.

Application tips for the UM-JI DD program

In the application, I think that one essential aspect is the essays. Undeniably, the academic aspect is of high importance and the section of activities too. Nonetheless, these things only talk about you partly. Through your essays, you have the chance to directly talk about yourself and emphasize the unique qualities you have and also the challenges you’ve faced. There are three short essays; one is the C.A. topic, then another explaining why you choose the major and then why you are transferring. It is important not to repeat things that are already in your transcripts or any other part of your application.

At first, it was hard to find what to write about, but I learned that it is important not to rush. I decided to brainstorm on ideas that could be useful and were unique and meaningful to me. I was not only stating that I want to study AE but truly showed my passion and commitment with past experiences.

Remember that it is just not about the topic, but most importantly, why it is important to you. Focus on quality over quantity. Likewise, when I expressed my reasons for transferring, I focused more on why UM needs me as a student. Highlighting the aspects of UM that you love is good, but many other students tend to focus on that. Instead, focus on yourself as part of the UM community and say what you will achieve by attending the school.

My study at JI

Daniela Mata and her JI students take photo after a group meal.

Throughout my JI study period, I learned that the courses are not worth being scared of; there is a solution for everything. In my case, I used to be anxious beforehand and thought that I would fail or that I would not do well in my courses. But honestly, everything has its time. Once you face a situation in which you are struggling, and you don’t understand something, remember that you are not alone.  There will always be a teacher, a TA, a friend, or internet resources that can clarify your doubts.  Please do not keep your insecurities to yourself, rather fight them, and remember that your attitude and desire to learn will make the difference despite the difficulty.  On the other hand, I’m still learning how to organize my time.  It may sound cliché, but it really is vital to take care of your mental health.  Breaks and times off are essential for everyone. Not only work hard but enjoy the process.

In the following semester, I hope to return to campus even though the covid situation is complicated.  I want to go back to have a better academic experience and enjoy my last semester with my friends at JI before going to Michigan.  I hope to return to complete my missing labs and meet the professors I had the pleasure of having in my past courses.