How I got a scholarship at NYU Abu Dhabi and my thoughts on it
Dec 5, 2022
4 mins read
NYU Abu Dhabi
💼 Bachelor: Social Research and Public Policy
⏳ Aug 2017 — Nov 2022
📍 Abu Dhabi,
✅ Student Visa
NYU Abu Dhabi
📍 Abu Dhabi,
💰 Need-based financial aid
🤓 2,000 Students
🌏 80% International
How I learned about studying abroad
I was in the 9th grade when my mother and I started actively attending exhibitions on international education in Kyiv. These were opportunities in Japan, China, Poland, the Czech Republic, the UK, Canada, as well as the USA. I still have tons of flyers describing universities and programs at home. Getting financial aid was the cornerstone of my decision. That’s why when we heard about scholarships for tuition and accommodation from American universities at a lecture "5 steps to Admission" from Education USA, there was no hesitation.
As always, the first question of Ukrainians is about money, and the second is about a visa. Who knew that getting a visa is the easiest part, but the path to admission is much harder than filling out an application and taking tests.
My English was poor, and I had no friends who had studied abroad, let alone in the United States. So I felt isolated and confused. Studying in an ordinary public school in Bucha, I had no idea where to start, how to pay application fees, prepare for tests, or how to translate documents and grades. Every week I went to Kyiv to attend lectures from the American House to learn about the university selection process, funding, essay writing, letters of recommendation, and tests.
Challenges of the application period
The 10th and 11th grades were the most stressful mentally. I tried to get into programs where I could get closer to my goal - to get help with admission and talk to alumni who are experts on the topic. But I received a series of rejections: twice from FLEX, twice from Ukraine Global Scholars, and from United World Colleges (UWC). The last one took place in December of 11th grade, less than a month before the deadline for sending applications to the United States. I had low TOEFL and SAT results, so I was already doubtful about the possibility of admission that year. The rejection from UWC was a turning point when I just cried in the bathroom not knowing what to do next.
I should note that I did receive an invitation to the Competitive College Club and Opportunity Funds programs from Education USA, which provided funding for my tests and some applications.
Studying in New York was the perfect scenario for my American Dream. That is what initially attracted me to New York University. But the New York campus does not provide full financial aid, while the Abu Dhabi campus was much more generous: in the end, the university provided a $320,000 scholarship that covered tuition, room and board, flights, visas, and a stipend. Talking to students at that time, I also learned that the campus in Abu Dhabi is considered more prestigious because the acceptance rate is only 3%.
I remember the morning of January 1, when after celebrating at a friend's house, I ran home to check and send all the documents.
The final selection in Abu Dhabi
After that, I nervously waited for March - the season of decisions. How big was my surprise when in February I received an obscure email inviting me to Abu Dhabi for the final selection round. It was the most enjoyable part of the application period. A three-day sponsored trip with a city and campus tour, but also two additional interviews and a written assignment. Let me emphasize that it was 2017, and now the final stage has changed :) I was worried about my poor English and thought I failed one of the interviews, but I guess I stood out because I gathered people around me with my long selfie stick.
Two weeks later, I received the coveted acceptance letter, and my life changed to "before" and "after". I had to confirm my predicted scores (the offer was supposedly conditional), but I was so excited that I overdid it and passed with the highest scores.
Years at the university
Jumping to August 2017, I was the happiest. The first semester was very difficult academically, as it was a different educational system and all teaching was done in English. I spent days and nights in the library. But all freshmen were like that, so there was a thrill, the joy of struggle, besides, the professors were understanding, and the courses were very interesting.
The years at NYUAD were the most beneficial for my intellectual and personal development. Due to the Liberal Arts system and my major in Social Research and Public Policy, I was able to take courses in various disciplines that interested me: business, sociology, politics, art, media, theater, writing, and programming.
I am very grateful for the opportunity to travel, having semesters in New York, Paris (with courses at NYU & Sorbonne), Shanghai, and short trips to the Emirates and abroad. In total, there are 16 campuses in different locations, among which students can choose their preferred ones.
The most valuable accomplishment during my studies was my relationship with people. NYUAD is unique as it recruits students from 120 countries and provides an opportunity to gradually enrich your cultural knowledge and change your worldview. Moreover, the network definitely becomes important in the future - in career and life. I can't count how many times I’ve already turned to and received help from my university friends and acquaintances. Especially when the full-scale war broke out, and I just returned home after graduation in January 2022, the first people who offered financial and emotional help when we were still in the bomb shelter, and later with housing for my family and finding a job, were from the university circle. It is so valuable and I will never forget it.
Illustrator & Designer
6 months ago
Elza, you are such a strong and inspiring person. I really loved your YouTube channel, you are so charismatic. Thank you so much for this sincere and warm story. I wish you the best!
5 months ago
This is an interesting story to be honest! thank you for sharing with us Elsa, NYU Abu Dhabi is really awesome!
4 months ago
Thanks for sharing u know .Soo how can one apply for scholarship?
Co-founder & CEO of Borderless
4 months ago
Hi! Here you go:
https://nyuad.nyu.edu/en/admissions/undergraduate/apply.html how to apply to NYUAD
https://nyuad.nyu.edu/en/admissions/undergraduate/scholarships-and-financial-aid/apply-for-financial-aid.html - how to apply for financial aid