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Explaining the Michigan Difference

August 19, 2010
Written by

Mary Sue Coleman answering questions

Chinese Language version   中文版

President tackles questions about international study at U-M

During her 2010 trip to China, University of Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman met with many enrolling fall 2010 Chinese students and their parents in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing, where she spoke with them about student life in Ann Arbor and the unique value of a Michigan education.

The ties between U-M and China go back to 1880 when then-president James Angell, in his role as U.S. minister, visited China and was convinced that the university and China had something vital to offer each other for the sake of the future.

Coleman’s recent visit included formally recognizing some of those collaborations – renewing the U-M-Peking University Joint Institute and launching collaborative research with Shanghai Jiao Tong University in biomedical and renewable energy technologies.

Throughout the last 130 years, partnerships and opportunities for faculty and students have continued to grow in China and Ann Arbor. In the fall of 2009, U-M had 1,168 students from China, more than any other nation outside the United States. Another 128 students were from Hong Kong.

Question: What is the course load like? Is there a chance for the student to graduate in two or three years?
Answer: A full-time undergraduate course load includes 12-18 semester credit hours. On average, students generally elect 14-16 credits per semester at the undergraduate level to complete their degrees in four to five years. The full-time graduate course load is generally 6 to 8 credit hours per term. International students are required by  their student visa status to be enrolled full-time during the academic year while in the United States.

Q: How can a student transfer between colleges and schools within U-M?
A: Students may apply for cross-campus transfer between schools at UM by completing all prerequisite courses and meeting grade point average and other requirements and applying by the deadline.

woman with microphoneQ: How can a student currently attending university in China transfer to U-M? How is this different from (or even preferred than) entering U-M right after high school?
A: Given that space may be limited for international freshman applicants and given that certain programs are not open to freshman applicants and only open to transfers, university transfer application is a viable option. Students at universities may apply for university transfer after completion of one to two years of university study and depending on the program, completing prerequisite coursework and other admissions requirements. Note: The complete official high school and university academic transcripts along with official English translations are required in addition to officially certified copies of Gao Kao scores with official English translations.

Q: What is the ratio of students v. instructors? Are classes mostly small or large in size? If they are large, how is educational quality maintained? How can undergraduate students receive more attention from faculty?
A: U-M’s student/faculty ratio is 15:1. While there are some introductory classes that can be up to 600 students, a majority of our classes are small – 92% have less than 100 students, and 83% have less than 50 students. The majority of our large classes also have subsections, such as a discussion group or a lab, in which a small group of students have the opportunity to work more closely with the faculty member or a graduate student instructor who is working on an advanced degree in that field. We encourage all undergraduate students to attend faculty office hours – time each week that is set aside for faculty to spend time in their office to meet one-on-one with students to discuss class materials.

Q: How are U-M grads doing in the job market? Are there specific majors that students should choose in order to find a good job after graduation? What kind of help does the university offer to students, especially international students,  in securing internship, job and graduate study opportunities?
A: U-M’s international students have been successful in finding internships and jobs after graduation. U-M’s International Center and the U-M Career Center work together to provide programs and information to help international students maximize their chances of finding employment , including internships in the United States. Some U-M schools and colleges have their own specialized career offices to help students in those specific schools or colleges. International students can also attend International Center programs that explain the procedures for applying for the employment authorization needed to work off-campus before and after graduation.  Detailed information about employment authorization for F-1 students and for J-1 students is available on the International Center’s website. Information and advising on applying for graduate study is available from academic advisors and from the Career Center.
audience in BeijingUniversity of Michigan graduates from the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts do well in the job market.  In 2009 89.81% of the respondents were employed or continuing their education at the time of the survey (3-9 months after graduation).  This includes 52.64% employed; 37.17% continuing their education.
Employment: Respondents identified more than 55 different career fields in which they had secured employment, with 7 fields accounting for more than 1/2 of the respondents.  Top Fields: Education: K-12 (12.73%); Not-for-profit (8.45%); Research: Science (7.96%); Health Care/Medical (6.36%); Consulting (5.99%); Education:  Higher Education (4.77%); Research: Social Sciences/Humanities/Market (4.65%).

The Career Center’s serves the career development needs of all University of Michigan students.  Services include: Career coaching on a range of topics from exploring interests, skills and values to choosing a career path to uncovering and securing an internship, job or advanced degree.  In partnership with the International Center, The Career Center can help international students understand how to negotiate the US job market.; Connections to employment opportunities including job fairs, on-campus interviewing with organizations seeking to fill internship and job openings, and a range of job postings; Access to current, personalized, career information, tools and resources including day trips to employer sites for career exploration;  state-of-the-art tools to expand networking opportunities critical to success in today’s job market;  workshops, handouts, blogs and links to help students make the most of their networks.

Additional links:

Engineering Career Resource Center
Office of Career Development, Stephen M. Ross Business School
Q: How can Chinese students become better acquainted with American culture? How can they be connected with American families? What should Chinese students, especially those studying sciences, improve their English in a short period of time?
A: The International Center offers programs at Orientation and throughout the year to help international students understand more about American culture.  There are sometimes opportunities for students to sign up for visits to U.S. families. Joining one or more of the many student organizations at U-M is a good way for international students to get to know U.S. students outside the classroom, and there are also programs designed to bring U.S. and international students together such as the Intercultural Leadership Seminar . The University of Michigan’s English Language Institute offers courses, speaking and writing clinics, conversation circles, and suggestions for self-study to help students studying all subjects, including science, improve their English.
Q: Will tuition for international students continue to increase? How are students assessed for financial aid? Does U-M offer loans to international students?
A: Tuition for all students increases annually and increases are approved by the Regents of the University each summer for the next academic year.  Need-based Federal or State Financial Aid is not available to international students. There generally also is no other type of financial aid available to international undergraduate students. However, graduate students may be eligible for various funding and should contact their individual academic departments. Other than small amounts for emergency loans, the University generally does not offer financial aid loans to international students.

students in groupQ: Can international students work on campus?
A: International students (F-1 or J-1 visa-holders) can work on campus up to 20 hours per week during the academic year and full time during the school vacation and holidays.  See the International Center’s FAQ for details.

Q: U-M campus is large. Where should students live, on-campus or off-campus? How should students get around campus and find transportation to places like the airport, train or bus station?
A: Students reside both on and off campus.  98% of freshmen, 45% of sophomores and a small percentage of juniors, seniors and graduate / professional students reside within University Housing facilities, with the remainder living in the residential areas immediately surrounding the university.  Choice of residence is a personal decision.  The benefits of living in a residence hall include a true immersion into the Michigan experience, greater abilities to meet and interact with American students outside of the classroom setting, and additional student support services to ensure student well-being. More information for undergraduate and graduate housing- both on and off campus is available on the University Housing website.
There are many transportation options within Ann Arbor; the University bus system runs throughout the different parts of campus on a regular basis at no cost to its riders.  Students with University of Michigan ID cards are able to ride without cost the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority buses throughout the greater Ann Arbor area, including stops at the Greyhound bus station and Amtrak train station .  Transportation to the Detroit Metropolitan Airport varies on time of year.  There are several different ways to get to the airport, which are explained at
More information about these resources is available from the Campus Information Center website.

Q: Detroit has been ranked the most dangerous city in the U.S. How safe is Ann Arbor? And how safe is the U-M campus?

A: Ann Arbor and our campus are relatively safe environments. We have very infrequent reports of major crimes. Our most frequently reported crimes are thefts of unattended belongings, which usually could be avoided by practicing good crime prevention efforts. We stress to our students and staff to keep their belongings secured and not left unattended and unlocked (especially laptops and other electronic devices). We also encourage our community members to be aware of their surroundings and, when possible, at night to walk with other people.  Crime statistics and prevention tips can be found on the U-M Department of Public Safety Web site.

Q: During semester breaks when dorms are closed, where should students stay and/or store their belongings?
A: Students living in our residence halls must find other accommodations between fall and winter semesters; some choose to utilize local-area hotels for these periods, others use this period as an opportunity to explore other parts of the United States.  Students residing in University Housing apartments are able to remain in their apartments over the break periods.  Students may store their belongings in their residence hall room/apartment over the break period.

Q: How is U-M ranked in the U.S. and internationally? How is U-M different from other top universities such as UPenn and Columbia? What can U-M offer students that other universities cannot?

A: #4 Public University (Undergraduate; US News and World Report 2009)
#27 University (Undergraduate, includes public and private schools; US News and World Report 2009)

U-M is different from other schools around the U.S. for a number of reasons, including:

• Diversity: U-M’s student body hails from all 50 states and 114 countries.
• Community: Michigan’s 13 unique living-learning communities provide a supportive environment where students can be individuals, and not just faces in the crowd
• Academic Opportunity: Students can choose from more than 220 undergraduate degree programs in 12 of U-M’s 19 top-ranked schools and colleges.
• First-Rate Faculty: Michigan faculty are committed to undergraduate education, and are respected leaders in their fields. Among the faculty are recipients of the world’s most prestigious awards – MacArthur fellows, Pulitzer Prize winners, and National Academy of Science members.
• Involvement: Michigan offers 1,100 clubs and organizations from the Ballroom Dance Club to the Michigan Solar Car Team.
• School Spirit: Students at Michigan are known for packing the stadiums. With 28 NCAA Division I intercollegiate teams, there are plenty of opportunities for athletes and fans.
• Global Perspective: U-M offers study-abroad and international internship programs in countries around the world.
• Great Value: Michigan ranks consistently in Kiplinger’s “Best Values in Public Colleges”.
• Location: Ann Arbor is one of the all-time great college towns. Here you’ll find the best in music, film, dance, art, dining, shopping, and strolling.
• Alumni Family: Michigan graduates belong to a network of more than 450,000 enthusiastic alumni living all over the world.

Q: What kind of assistance does U-M provide if a student is experiencing difficulty with his/her visa application?
A: Students with questions about applying for a visa should read the information on the website of the consulate where they intend to apply for their visa for local procedures and instructions. If a student is experiencing difficulty obtaining a U.S. visa, the student can fill out the University’s visa assistance web form to request assistance.
Q: Does U-M provide invitation letters to Chinese parents who would like to travel to Ann Arbor with their children who are new to U-M or visit their children in Ann Arbor throughout the year?
A: No, but current students can write letters of invitation to their families by following the procedures explained at http://internationalcenter.umich.edu/intlstudents/faq.html#q13. Parents who wish to accompany their children to U-M should follow the suggestions about applying for a visitor’s visa and should explain to the consular officer that the purpose of their visit to the U.S. is to accompany the student and stay for a short period of time. U-M does provide letters of invitation for students who would like to invite parents and other relatives to attend graduation.
Q: Is international student health insurance offered at U-M? What are the details of the plan?
A: Yes. International students who have been issued Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for the F-1 visa) or Form DS-2019 (Certificate of Eligibility for the J-1 visa) by U-M are required to be enrolled in the University’s International Student/Scholar Insurance Plan upon arrival at the University.  A summary of plan details is available at http://internationalcenter.umich.edu/healthins/rates.html.

Q: What kind of preparation should a new student undertake before arriving at U-M?
A: Language skills are extremely important and cannot normally be improved in a short period of time. As a result, students should try to initially prepare by coming to the U.S. as an exchange student for a semester or academic year during high school or university to enhance their English language skills and gain insight into American culture before applying for degree admission if possible. Alternatively, enrollment for an academic year in an intensive English as a second language and culture program in the U.S. before beginning a degree program is advisable to gain a high level of English proficiency and learn about American culture. Many U.S. universities and private programs offer intensive English as a second language and culture courses. These programs also offer advising about the U.S. university application process and U.S. university admission, generally at no additional cost as it is a widely provided student service. If the above are not possible, attending a short-term English as a second language and culture program during the term prior to enrollment is advisable, such as during the summer term, if enrolling in a degree program for fall term.  This last option was offered by email communication to all admitted international students who planned to obtain a student visa to enroll at UM for fall 2010 if they were a speaker of English as a second language.

Q: Is Chinese food offered by dining service?

A: Residential Dining Services offers varied cuisine based on a wide array of world cultures, including Middle Eastern, South American, and Asian-based recipes including China.  The authenticity of some recipes is limited by cooking techniques and the ingredients readily available.

Questions related to the UM-Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute:

Q: How are students transferred from the Joint Institute to U-M performing?

A: As of the Fall 2010 semester the College of Engineering will have had over 250 students attend from the Joint Institute.  We have found that students are performing well academically and over 90% of students have graduated on-time with a degree in engineering. In addition, many students are having success moving into US graduate programs.

Q: How  can this type of transfer students change majors at U-M?
A: After one semester of enrollment at the College of Engineering, Joint Institute students can change majors using the same processes as other U-M students.  The process begins when a student requests an appointment with the program advisor in their desired engineering department to discuss requirements.
For further questions, email ENGINRTA@umich.edu .

Other useful links:

Michigan Engineering – transfer students
Michigan Engineering – international students
SJTU-JI Dual Degree program

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