College counselor Jane Bauman visited New York University Abu Dhabi, an American university located in the United Arab Emirates, last week. Although students graduate with a degree from NYU, the program is tailored to fit the campus, with a different curriculum from that of its American counterpart. NYU Abu Dhabi was founded in 2010.
Q: Why did you decide to visit NYU Abu Dhabi?
A: I was invited and it was paid for by NYU. Who wouldn’t? It was a terrific opportunity.
You’re with a group of college counselors from the U.S. That kind of close, professional contact is rewarding. (I was the one that came from the farthest away.) Most of the counselors on this tour were from private schools.
Every time I visit a college campus, I’m so excited that I want to go to school again.
On the campus tour, I was in direct contact with the admissions staff at NYU. I met with the director of admission and two of the most important admissions counselors. Plus, I took a selfie with the president of NYU, John Sexton.
Q: How was the flight?
A: Rather long. I was through-ticketed from Sacramento directly to Abu Dhabi, changing flights in LA. It was 16 hours. Pretty crazy.
Q: Did you feel any culture shock?
A: Not enough time to have any culture shock, although you notice small things.
The rules of courtesy are a little different. The rules of hospitality are terrific, and when you’re invited and you are a guest, you’re treated very well.
But there’s no chivalry; there’s no “ladies first” or “after you” – that little touch of politeness that we’re used to in the United States is not the same. If you’ve traveled a lot, you know to expect that.
And I really loved the food.
Q: What was the most interesting thing about the school?
A: The diversity of the student body. Students from all over the world. The incredible breadth.
Our visit was arranged to coincide with the fourth and final candidate weekend, when the finalists for admission are brought to the campus for a visit and evaluated. Every candidate who is being considered for admission to NYU Abu Dhabi is invited.
In this round, there were 129 candidates who spoke 40 languages. They stood up (we were observing their presentation), gave a greeting in their language, gave their name and where they were from, and described a personal object.
Students were from many different countries, but many of them already had a global background. For example, there was a student born in Hong Kong from New Zealand (and) a student from Georgia who had migrated to Ukraine. There was a student from Armenia who had immigrated to Jordan (and) a student from China who lives in Wales.
They were brought in to have their final interviews and evaluations. Some of them had never been on a plane before.
Q: So it’s incredibly competitive?
A: Of 50 NYU admits, only one would be admitted to NYU Abu Dhabi. The next incoming class is going to be 310 students.
The classes have been small up to now, and so they’re growing.
Q: Would you recommend the school to Country Day students?
A: Yes. I also have the option to nominate students. But it’s a very special situation, so I would nominate somebody maybe once every several years.
The students need to have a really global outlook and be interested in living in the United Arab Emirates for four years. The students need to be really engaged in global issues, and I think there’s a character trait they’re looking for. They’re looking for people who are very culturally sensitive, who are able to be diplomatic, to adjust, but who also are able to be leaders, people who are good at thinking for themselves.
So the profile of a successful candidate is very particular.