College Bound: Seniors apply to dual degree programs at the University of Pennsylvania

December 7, 2016 — by Vivien Zhang and Katherine Zhou

Students plan on doing dual major programs

For senior Trishla Pokharna, the summers of 2015 and 2016 were all about science and spending time in labs.

Pokharna studied science and technology by working in the Young Scholars Program at UC Davis in the summer of 2015 and the Magic Lab at Stanford in the summer of 2016.

Inspired by her hands-on experiences in both fields, Pokharna had a hard decision to make while considering colleges for early deadlines last summer. As she began looking for colleges, the University of Pennsylvania’s Jerome Fisher Program in Marketing and Technology stood out: If she is lucky enough to be admitted to the Ivy League school, she could do a dual degree program that combines engineering and business.

“I think business and technology are really interlaced with each other because you need business to get technology to consumers,” Pokharna said. “Just having an engineering major is not as useful as having [both] because engineering can only get you so far and you need business to get [your career] further.”

While Pokharna was unable to explore business in depth in high school, since the school doesn’t offer business classes, she is still intrigued by the connections between business and engineering.

Similarly, senior Nicole Lin also hopes to pursue a dual degree at UPenn in the Bachelor of Arts and Sciences by applying for VIPER (Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research).

If admitted to VIPER, Lin would have the chance to explore different topics in energy research while working toward a dual-degree through one-on-one intensive training. It aligns with her interest in engineering and energy sustainability.

“I think it’s really cool that you can figure out a way to power the world  using methods that aren't currently in use or by making the current methods more efficient,” Lin said. “This program allows me to do everything I want to, and helps me get the best education I need to take my interests to the next level.“

Lin has had much experience related to her desired major, being a participant in robotics, having taken all four engineering classes the SHS offers and currently taking AP Environmental Science. Lin likes VIPER because it is specifically designed for an elite group of 25 students.

“I like how in VIPER’s small community you get to interact a lot with the professors especially in topics that are specifically interesting to you,” Lin said. “They think they’ll be leaders in different topics within the field, such as energy storage and making better infrastructure, something I’m really interested in recently.”

Other than the UPenn programs, Pokharna has applied to other colleges such as Northwestern and Cornell as an engineering major, undeclared. Lin has applied to other schools as a FYE (first year engineering) or MSE (materials science and engineering).

Applying to dual majors brings additional challenges. For both Pokharna and Lin, applying to the program entails an extra 650-word essay. Along with that, dual major programs tend to be more strenuous and some students spend more than four years as an undergraduate  to complete the large course load.

However, to Pokharna, despite the notoriously low acceptance rates of these programs and their rigorous curricula, there is a large potential payoff.

“I think [dual majors] are really useful because [it includes about 50] people who are high achieving, tight knit and interested in the same thing that you are,” Pokharna said.

3 views this week