Information was provided by:
- Yerkebulan Imanbayev
NYUAD, 100% grant
1st-year Chemistry student
IELTS 8.5, SAT Reasoning 1500/1600
- Aruzhan Temirgaliyeva
NYUAD, 100% grant
1st-year Psychology student
IELTS 7.5, IB 38/45
- Alina Berikova
NYUAD, 100% grant
1st-year Psychology student
IELTS 7.5, IB 40/45
Yerkebulan has finally arrived at the university, ready to open its doors and welcome his new life. The climate, the language, even people - everything was so unique yet so exciting. For a split second, Yerkebulan thought of all the exams, extracurriculars, dozens of draft essays, and now, while standing before NYU Abu Dhabi, one of the best universities in the world, he finally saw how it was all worth it.
Summer is in a month, which means the academic year is almost over. So it's a perfect time to start preparing for the application process, that is why we've conducted an investigation: exclusively for our readers, we have collected all the hidden information, including tips, interesting facts, and honest opinions on NYU Abu Dhabi, directly from our students, who were happy to share their stories.
Getting into elite universities still feels like some impossible dream for most Kazakhstani high school students. We’re used to seeing Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cambridge, or New York University as some magical schools for exceptional geniuses. “Mission: impossible” - that’s what it feels like. However, plenty of Kazakh NIS alumni have already proved you wrong: our kids are studying at Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cambridge, and yes, New York University too.
New York Abu Dhabi is a portal campus of New York University, a private higher education institution located in the large city of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. NYU has two other campuses: one in New York, USA, and one in Shanghai, China. Established in 2010, NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and science campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university.
Understanding the essential roles and challenges of higher education in the 21st century was the number one reason for NYU's agreement with the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to create NYU Abu Dhabi. It was their commitment to educating students who are actual citizens of the world, ready to make contributions to solving global challenges.
NYU Abu Dhabi introduces a brand new model of higher education globally: it focuses on researching humanity's shared challenges. The university has its own set of principles, making studying at NYU Abu Dhabi experience so unique. NYUAD is a multicultural space: students worldwide come together to get the best education and prepare for the challenges of our interconnected world, focusing on intercultural understanding. The university encourages advanced and innovative research and learning not only in classrooms but also in residential houses. NYUAD offers various clubs and organizations that make university life so exciting and helps students to be as engaged with the community as possible. Not only is NYUAD a model university for the 21st century, but it also heavily contributes to the development of a sustainable economy in Abu Dhabi.
Good things don't come easy: NYUAD is one of the most challenging universities to get into. With an acceptance rate of less than 3%, admission to NYUAD is highly selective due to numerous reasons.
One of them is its class sizes. NYU Abu Dhabi classes are very small compared to other schools such as Harvard, Yale, or even NYU in New York, making it even more difficult not only to get a scholarship or financial help but also to get into NYUAD at all. Some classes are as small as two students. The main reason this happens is that NYUAD prioritizes providing students with the opportunity to connect with their professors and work on research projects more intimately.
Wow! No wonder so many students worldwide dream about NYU Abu Dhabi. But don't let this information scare you: although it's pretty hard to do so, it's still possible to get into NYUAD if you really want to. The key here is to know a little more than your competitors, and we are ready to help you out on that!
- You don't have to spend a fortune to apply.
The process of application to NYUAD is relatively simple — this can be done through a common app https://www.commonapp.org and does not require additional costs. Since the application fee varies from 70-150$ in American universities and not every applicant can afford to apply to his dream university, the common app might give an application fee waiver that allows students to apply for free. Students should receive the school counselor's consent via a common app.
- NYUAD dispels the idea that it is expensive to study at an advanced American university
Students come worldwide because some of them are offered the deal of a lifetime – free tuition. Many students in NYUAD do not pay for tuition, housing, or meal plans. Everything is provided to them, along with a stipend. The school got over 14,000 applicants this year, an impressive number for an institution that has only been around for a decade.
You only have to fill in the CSS profile — information about the financial condition of your family. Kazakh students are usually given a full grant. Grades do not affect this. However, the university considers funding after reviewing the application. That is, the first is to pass the selection (motivational essay, exams, grades, etc.), the second is to get funding. CSS profile needs to be completed every year.
- NYUAD accepts a variety of exams
You only have to submit official results from one of the following:
- SAT (essay test not required)
- ACT (writing test not required)
- Three SAT Subject Test scores.
- Three AP exam scores
- International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma
- Three IB higher-level exam scores if not an IB Diploma candidate
- Certain nationally accredited exams that show you completed your secondary education.
Tip from Aruzhan: “Understand what kind of tests you would be focusing on or what kind of test you require. I followed the herd and passed the SAT even though I didn't need it, was not ready nor willing to properly prepare for it, so I ended up wasting my money twice trying to pass it. Honestly, I still blame myself for wasting all of that money. For NYUAD, you can apply with a nationally accredited exam (ЕНТ), IB, and many more. So save yourself some money and nerves. Don't pass unnecessary tests, properly divide your energy and focus throughout the application process."
- Don't expect to get high scores from the first attempt.
It is commonly believed that you can easily score high points on the SAT exam. However, it is not as easy as it looks at first sight. To enter your future university, it is essential to have high exam scores (at least higher than the average) to increase your chances of acceptance. But, there are no limitations in the number of attempts you will take to reach your perfect score. So don't let this exam stop you from your final destination.
Yerkebulan shared his experience: "The path of admission was long. I want to point this out right away, especially for those who want to do the SAT. I am the kind of person who needs everything to be perfect, and I will not regret anything for it to be that way. I am a perfectionist. Therefore, my path to admission began with my preparation for this exam. Preparation began in the middle of the 10th grade, and from that moment, I knew that it would take a long time. And it turned out to be right: I've passed this exam three times with a final score of 1500. However, at that time, I still felt a certain dissatisfaction with my indicator."
- Be prepared to apply early.
It is important to mention that the earlier you apply, the much higher your chances of getting accepted. By November 1 (deadline for Early Decision 1), most students do not have time to collect everything they need to submit, which means there will be fewer well-prepared people in the first stream. So take advantage of less competition.
The best advice we can offer is: plan ahead! The application process is time-consuming, and the commission asks for a great deal of information (in order to evaluate your candidacy better). Do not save anything until the last minute, and make sure you are in contact with those who will be submitting application materials on your behalf.
Based on last year's experience, all NIS IB students who applied for the early decision were admitted to the university. Everyone who applied for a regular was rejected, even though they had approximately the same level of academic achievements and high scores. Thus, it is highly recommended to prepare for application as early as you can.
Students about living in NYUAD: Expectations and reality
When Alina applied to another country, she expected to explore a new culture, locality, visit different places and landmarks, and completely immerse herself in another society. However, since the campus is located in the marina district of Saadiyat Island, 500 meters off the coast of Abu Dhabi, it is not that easy for students to move around the city. If you want to go somewhere, it cannot be spontaneous - you have to plan it. Transfers take a lot of energy, time, and money, so students rarely travel off-campus.
NYU Abu Dhabi offers a wide variety of food options to keep the community energized and nourished morning, noon and night. There are many places to eat and many types of dishes, cuisines of different cultures. Students did not expect such a huge abundance of food, and joke that just, for this reason, it is worth applying to NYUAD.
The students themselves are from all over the world, with UAE nationals constituting only about 15% of the school's undergraduate population compared to the 76% Americans at NYU right now. Americans account for about 12% of the student body, making it the second-largest nationality represented. With less than 400 first-years coming in each year, someone could feasibly know everyone in their year. The diversity is much more prominent than on the New York campus for precisely this reason. In the last week, I have personally met people from Trinidad, Latvia, Nepal, Sydney, and Ghana. According to Yerkebulan: "I would like to note how the brand of this university corresponded to reality. NYUAD is renowned for its multiculturalism, and of course, this is the first thing you pay attention to when you arrive on campus. And I want to note right away that this is not a myth. The institute impressed me with its multiculturalism, and it's amazing because you immerse yourself in a mini-model of the world, where you have, like ambassadors, guys from all over the world gathered. So you get a piece of each country."
Zulfkhar, a 1st-year Computer science student, noted that there is no such thing that all Indians or all Chinese people communicate purely by themselves (as it was in his previous university in Hong Kong, where he had no friends there except Kazakhs and Kyrgyz). Now all of his friends are from different nationalities. There is no definite division into ethnicity at the university, and there is a friendly atmosphere at the campus.
Let's sum up...
If you decide to apply overseas at NYU Abu Dhabi, you will not regret it as it will feel like being a part of a close-knit community on campus and university. With student clubs, great gym and sports facilities, cozy places to chat with fellow students and professors, and countless internship, research, and volunteer opportunities to choose from, you will create connections that will go beyond your time in Abu Dhabi compared to other universities.
At first glance, it seems like this university is inaccessible and it is difficult to enter there, but according to the facts that were stated above, we were convinced that it is not difficult at all and it is possible to apply for a full grant. Therefore, believe in yourself, and you will believe in your future.
Written by: Alua Nurasheva, Fatima Yerbolek, Demeu Atymtayev, Ayerke Kabdi