A batch of Emirati students has started a two-year summer programme designed to prepare high school pupils for enrolment in top international universities.
The programme the Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Scholarship for Outstanding High School Students is being handled by New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD).
The programme is designed to help the 24 selected students succeed in challenging higher education programmes by providing early exposure to the academic standards, norms, ethics, and values appropriate to the culture of leading international universities.
Diane Yu, executive director of the Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Scholarship programme at NYUAD, told Gulf News: "This is a very intensive programme where students will be imparted knowledge and expertise, and develop the ability to handle hard questions and break them down."
"We want to grant them a level of comfort to take standardised tests, to give them options, opportunities and confidence. With these elements they can indeed be the UAE's future leaders," Yu said.
All 88 students who applied for the scholarship programme went through a rigorous selection process.
"After studying their dossiers we interviewed 67 students who also had an essay to write. Selection criteria included leadership potential, maturity to inspire others, interest to expand knowledge, commitment, positive attitude and group dynamic skills," she said.
The programme kicked off on June 25. The first three weeks were spent in Abu Dhabi, where students worked on their English language skills, critical thinking and writing.
On Thursday they flew to Florence, Italy, for a two-week visit to an NYU campus there. In Italy they will be exposed to other international pupils to share experiences and continue working on their critical thinking and writing. They will also start other subjects, such as mathematical reasoning and applied maths. "We wanted to show the students how maths infuses almost every field in life," said Yu.
"Italy is the perfect place to introduce the students to humanities and the western way of looking at the world, a first-hand experience that will make their college studies abroad later an easier experience," said Yu.
The programme will include a trip to New York in summer 2012, where students will focus on public speaking skills. They will continue to have online classes and discussion forums during the academic year to maintain their level and their progress will be monitored.
"Students will have monthly video conference meetings," Matthew Demmer, senior tutor at Advantage Test, told Gulf News. He is currently preparing students for the SAT exam.
"SAT can be a huge barrier and extremely daunting to entering college, that's why we figured to make the students familiar with SAT and build their confidence," Yu explained.
A common refrain of students in the programme is that they have "never worked so much and so hard" in their lives.
Lisa Springer, principal instructor for the NYU summer academy, told Gulf News: "Some of the ideas we exposed to the group were totally new, like the concept of debate. "Now they are capable of debating and backing up their ideas. I am most impressed how fast they are learning."
Butti Al Ka'abi, a military high school pupil who has finished his 10th grade, said: "This programme broadened my way of thinking. At first girls and boys were not comfortable mixing together; now they are all together bonding solidly and supporting each other."
Another student, Mansour Al Ka'abi, said: "We have the courage to talk and express our opinions. I was never confident to do that before."
From / Gulf News