New York University Abu Dhabi, class of 2015
Alberto Manca, the Romanian Pioneer at New York University Abu Dhabi, class of 2015
Student highlight as featured in the Undergraduate Newsletter, Spring 2012 issue. Want to learn more about New York University Abu Dhabi? Read the university highlight available here.
Last year I was almost certain that I would go to the U.S. to study. After winning two silver medals at the International Astronomy Olympiad, I spent most of my last year of high school doing extracurricular activities and preparing for the U.S. standardized tests and the admissions process in general. Although I also applied to universities in the UK as a fall-back option, I was always a fan of the American educational system: even though I was accepted by Cambridge University and visited the campus for an interview, I decided to keep to my U.S.-bound university path.
New York University/NYU was among the U.S. universities I applied to. When I was filling out my Common Application, I ticked a box in order to also be considered for enrolment at the Abu Dhabi campus of NYU, but I didn't really think about it much afterwards. In March, however, I received an unexpected email inviting me to the Candidate Weekend NYU Abu Dhabi was hosting in the United Arab Emirates.
Because all expenses were paid, I didn't have any reason not to go. The 3 days I spent in Abu Dhabi last spring were incredible. I realized that this institution is flexible because it is new, but still enjoys the prestige of a member of the New York University network. When the moment came, I chose NYUAD with a lot of confidence because it offers students the opportunity to prove themselves in an unique, competitive, and multicultural environment. International students account for 95% of the enrollment figure (only 5% are from the Emirates) and the number of countries represented here increases every year. Travel opportunities were another advantage that made me choose NYUAD. During the four years that I will be an NYUAD student, I will spend two semesters abroad and have numerous local and international trips.
Furthermore, NYUAD provides extremely generous financial support, as it meets the student's full need. To put it plainly, financial aid can cover the full cost of tuition, living and personal expenses, etc..
Although when I started high school I thought of myself as an Astronomy Olympic, at the International Computer High School of Bucharest I alsodiscovered an interest in photography, when I took part in the Infomatrix competition, and also in entrepreneurship. These experiences encouraged me to keep exploring different fields of knowledge. Now, I plan to become an economics major with two concentrations: one in history and one in urbanization.
Since coming to the sunny NYU Abu Dhabi campus, I've gained new appreciation for how the university funding works: if there is a problem to be solved or an idea to be implemented, money is not an issue. We have housing facilities that are much better than the standard standard student housing elsewhere and the food is diverse and tasty. Until now I went on student trips to India, Sri Lanka, and Oman, and during spring break we went to other emirates, where we stayed in five star hotels.
Another huge advantage of attending NYU Abu Dhabi is that classes are small and you can develop personal relationships with all your professors, inspiring teachers that in New York may teach classes of 200 students.
Wondering whether I miss Romania? Well, yes. Abu Dhabi is great and NYUAD proved to be generous and top of the line in all respects, but I can't help but miss my country, especially in the very, very hot first and last month of school. I also miss European-style cities with their parks, buildings, and subway systems. Of course being so far from family and friends is also hard, but there is only one hour difference between Abu Dhabi and Bucharest time zones in the summer so I can easily Skype home in between visits.
As far as my application goes, in hindsight, I realize that each and every part of the admissions file was important. Nothing is too small when it comes to U.S. admissions, where anything can make a difference. The selection process is truly holistic. Of course, SAT scores (or the less common ACT scores) are important, but while a high score is definitely necessary to be accepted by a good university, it is not sufficient. The TOEFL exam seemed to be only a requirement. After a certain level of proficiency, the score itself isn't that important. That is why I advise all students to compare their results withPoza 7.5 the average scores from each university's class profile (available online) and refrain from retaking the test if they are above average or if they got over 100 points (out of 120) with 25 points (out of 30) points for each section.
While numbers are a big part of the application, U.S. schools, unlike ones in other educational systems, care about the person they evaluate and not only about the quantitative elements of their application. They want to know if you can handle life away from home, if you are friendly, involved or passionate about something. Here extracurricular activities are critical. Do not underestimate their importance. Playing an instrument, success in Olympiads or volunteering can bust up anyone's application. But, again don't be overconfident: having only international medals might not be enough for some universities.
The personal statement is a tricky part mainly because it is subjective. I would advise students to be creative, but be careful not to cross the line between creativity and excess of creativity.
When it comes to recommendations, having a professor who believes in you is a great advantage. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Efe, my former guidance teacher, for all his support especially in the final year. My classmates and I owe him a significant part of our current success.
In the end I would like to encourage everyone to apply to NYU Abu Dhabi, it is truly an amazing institution. I would gladly answer any questions and help any fellow Fulbright Educational Advising Center friends with the application process. Good luck to everyone!
My fulbright experience
Students at the advising center