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Selecting Universities

April can be easily declared the happiest time for senior high school students! The sweet smell of freedom and the approaching months of guilt-free procrastination can turn anyone jumping on their couch. Facebook statuses of graduated high school students would be screaming of joy in ‘CAPS lock’ but not for long. Soon enough, they must face the inevitable question: what next?

Selecting courses and universities is a whole new direction for high school students. Although applications for foreign universities begin from November, local universities in UAE start from June. But how do you select a college? Information about foreign universities is abundant on Google and various online student forums, but it can create confusion. On the other hand, students interested in pursuing their higher education in UAE have limited resources and insight about the colleges before applying to them. On top of that, accreditation of universities and courses by the MOHE (Ministry of Higher Education) is a major concern for parents and students who wish to pursue their Masters abroad. So what should you do? When hunting for universities on your own can become a nightmare, why not seek professional help?

Intelligent Partners is an education consultation firm for students and teachers based in Dubai. They provide advice for students regarding the selection of universities, choosing courses, required tests etc. From assisting students with their application and statement of purpose to accommodation options and student visas, IP provides a variety of essential consultation services without charging students (No, really). They also assess individual students to help them select a course of interest and match them with suitable universities all over the world. Priyanka, Director of Intelligent Partners answers some of the frequently asked questions for students who wish to enrol in local and foreign universities.

Selecting Universities

1. Besides academics, what factors do students need to consider while selecting a university?

University selection should be looked at first from the course, financials, size of the college, number of international students, faculty etc. Some students prefer city colleges and others like rural. Many such small and big factors are looked into when we help finalise university selection for students.

2. Where can students register for international tests like TOEFL, IELTS and SAT?

For IELTS, registration is through the local examination centre (British Council Dubai – www.britishcouncil.org/me-uae-ielts.htm). Details outlining the registration process and fee structure are available from their website. Students are advised to register with the British Council as early as possible. You must register in person at least 5 weeks prior to the test date.
Students in Dubai opting for TOEFL may elect to sit for the Internet-based test (IBT) which is offered at various branches. Further information is available from www.toefl-registration.ets.org/TOEFLWebSAT
The College Board administers the SAT Reasoning Test (Paper-Based) six times a year in Dubai. You can look for more details on the SAT Reasoning test and SAT Subject Tests from www.collegeboard.com.

3. International universities often ask for essays. Where can students seek credible assistance on drafting those essays?

Essays should be written by students themselves. Intelligent Partners would normally have a brainstorming session on how to approach the topics and then help them with the editing. We do not write the essays for students. We always emphasise it to students that they shouldn’t copy it off the net or from another friend. Admission officers are very savvy and would know immediately if the essay is plagiarised.

4. How can UAE students apply for international scholarships?

Intelligent Partners represents 300 universities. As their official partners, we have direct access to various scholarships given to partners. Applying for scholarships needs quite some work, which is where we help our students. Currently, we have an unprecedented number of scholarships still available for all levels: UG, PG, Masters, and PhD. The amount can range from $ 5,000 to $ 17,000.

5. What can international students expect from the campus life of foreign colleges?

Campus life at every college differs slightly and this answer would depend on which particular college you are planning to go to. Any college would give an international student the great opportunity of living in a different culture. Most colleges expect the first year students to stay on campus and I think this helps in bonding and making more friends. Academics would challenge students to give their best. Doing your own laundry, paying bills, managing finances and travelling alone all add to life away from home and help to build your character.

6. Ivy League universities are known to be the best-known colleges in the world. What are the alternatives to an Ivy League college?

Because the number of applicants applying to the Ivies increase every year, your chances of getting accepted become harder. Ivy League colleges require a fair deal of work and should be started as early as possible. Many college counsellors now recommend starting up to 3 -4 years in advance.
Small liberal arts colleges and locally ranked Tier 1 colleges which aren’t well publicised are normally overlooked by the average student. Intelligent Partners try to educate and inform parents and students of all the possibilities.

Apart from the Ivies, there are many other colleges nationally ranked and known for different courses. For example, Shawnee University has been ranked no 2 by Princeton review for its video gaming design course. I am sure many would not have heard of the college, this is where a good counsellor comes in to find the right fit for the student by looking at the student’s needs and aspirations.

7. Is work experience necessary or desired by good universities for Post Graduation courses?

That depends on the course you are planning to study. Intelligent Partners also helps to guide those students who do not have work experience or a high GPA towards well-known colleges that do not require GMAT or work experience.

8. For students applying to online courses, how do you check the credibility of an e-course?

The college is very important. There are some very well known established colleges who have facilities to offer academic support. A student should enrol in a recognised college or university. Also, check to see if the course you are planning on studying is really good for your career.
With branches located in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar, they can be easily contacted via their
website or their Facebook page.

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