This article has been written by a graduated foreigner student residing in the United Arab Emirates – specifically in Al Ain, the aim being to share the experience of a graduate here and to perhaps share a bit of advice.
I have graduated in the year 2021, this summer by July, my high school being one that followed the British (GCSE/A-Level Examinations) Curriculum. After completing 12 full years of education, students are expected to apply and enter Universities – or to be more specific, acquire a degree to be able to later pursue a job and to contribute to society.
I’ve followed the Science Stream GCSE curriculum and was taught in English, my last two years of high school consisting of me taking the subjects Math, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and IT. Despite being in my senior years at the time, I had no passion or interest in any particular field; so, I decided to select general core subjects that may make it much easier to apply for higher education (since the above subjects harbor to many course options).
From what I’ve gathered, math and at least two science subjects are the most common application requirements for a lot of courses (specifically the science and engineering courses – I do not think this applies to law or language courses, though business/economic courses revolve around statistics).
If you have genuine interest in a course and are bent on pursuing it, obviously take the subjects in relations to it. Otherwise, take general subjects in your high school years! You may not like math or chemistry, but despite our dislikes, their importance remains.
Since I’ve selected the May-June exam timeline (there are options for October-November exams depending on what your educational institution provides for you), I’ve received my A-Level results certificate by around mid – end of October. Although online results have bene released by early August, I had to resort to report cards and forecast grades prior to receiving my certificate to apply to universities.
A main tip would be to collect your documents as early as possible! Be it school report cards/academic transcripts, high school diplomas (a document stating you’ve completed 12 or so years of education), extracurricular activities certificates, medical records, etc. – acquire them as early as possible. It helps that there are open admissions all year round (spring, summer, winter, etc.) but most of the deadlines for university applications start by around May – July (fall admissions) and end with varying deadlines. Do thorough research! Apply with whatever documents that are in your hold now and avoid procrastination!
Another thing would be taking an English Proficiency test – be it O-Level English, IELTS (Academic), TOEFL, etc. Here in the UAE, EmSATs are accepted – a standardized test consisting of English, Math, Computer Science, the Arabic language, and the three sciences. This is often a requirement and possessing a language proficiency test result lifts the burden of taking language entrance examinations and eliminates a risk of your application being rejected for not fitting application requirements.
Contact agents for travel purposes, getting even more reliable information regarding a higher educational institute, or for acquiring scholarships! There are many good services – one I personally had contact with was with Lock&Stock, specializing in scholarships! I was very fortunate to receive information about them through a school mate and it truly helped way more than I thought it would.
Many agents also provide travel information services – assuming you’d like to study abroad and dislike the accommodation provided by your university of choice, they may be able to assist you in finding a dorm outside of your campus to your liking! Although many provide paid services, it can be quite worth it.
Communication is key! Don’t hesitate to contact any educational institutions regarding any matters that you need assistance with – be it through calls, emails or through site inquiries. Talk along with your friends, reach out to your seniors – you’ll never know if you’re missing a document you have the right to receive, or if someone else is searching the same courses as you are.
These are very general things I realized after graduating – for more detailed tips, it is best to reach out to someone who has already gone through the period between graduating and finishing first year of university. Same goes for those interested in applying for foundations and acquiring diplomas.
Research your course, research the careers, and manage your time well! These times could be stressful and such, given current circumstances with the pandemic as well, but push through regardless! Find the balance between doing things quickly and not rushing – rest well and take gap months if needed!
Major disclaimer – in no way is this an official statement, nor is this writer sponsored by any institutions mentioned above. The aim behind this is to share a bit of experience and perhaps to shed a bit of light onto what’s going to come to you.
Everyone has their own paces, do what you think is best for you. Put your effort, find your balance.
And may the odds be in your favour.