What is the University Prep Program?
Following the very successful College Access Leadership Institute program in New York City, NYU Abu Dhabi started the University Prep Program (UPP) in 2015. It has since welcomed over 460 participants, both on campus and virtually. First created to give aspiring college students in the Gulf region an opportunity to discover higher education options at no cost, UPP has evolved over the years.
UPP started as a four-day on-campus program. A small cohort of preselected local junior and senior high school students attended. The event ran every summer, sometimes twice.
These dedicated UPP sessions aimed to help participants:
- Understand their options within the higher education landscape
- Find the right “fit” in their college search
- Think about how to put their best application forward
Helping Students Put Their Best App Forward
In 2020 and 2021, UPP was offered remotely, which extended its reach to international students. Still as successful as ever, it is now held over two busy days. The programming focuses on supporting rising high school seniors and students taking a gap year. UPP helps them find the right college fit and gather all tools and resources to put together the best college application possible.
UPP lead Hanan Abed tells me, “The best part [of UPP] is to see the lightbulb turn on. For some students, it’s the first time they are thinking about university. They are motivated enough to give up part of their summer to do this. They’re on the right track!”
Applying to UPP
To apply to UPP, you need to be a high school student or a recent graduate. You should also be in good academic standing. Beyond your usual biographic details, the application asks you to write a couple of short essays about your interest in UPP and where you see yourself in the future. Sessions offered in 2022 should include: Finding Your Fit; Discover What’s Important; holistic admissions, Common Application, and essay workshops; and an NYU Abu Dhabi student panel.
Abed says, “The holistic admissions discussion blows students’ minds. They come in thinking their test score is all that matters [in college admissions]. We help them understand fit and consider class size, student diversity, climate, and geography—many things beyond rankings.”