Dubai student enters elite US league

Anya Malik, who has been accepted by five Ivy League institutions, is just one of 17 pupils at Dubai College who had gained places at the best American universities.

Anya Malik has chosen Yale in Connecticut because it allows her to study economics and maths as a joint major. Satish Kumar / The National
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DUBAI // Anya Malik was astounded to find she had been accepted by five American Ivy League schools.

The 18-year-old Dubai College student had applied to six of the eight elite American universities that make up the Ivy League. She had also sent in applications to top universities in the UK.

When the acceptance notices were released in April, Ms Malik, an Indian, was stunned by the positive results.

“I didn’t really know how to react,” she said. “The whole reason I applied to so many was because I was sort of just hoping I would get one.”

Jonathan Tate, deputy head of the college’s sixth form, who oversees the applications to US universities, was less surprised by Ms Malik’s results.

“You’re looking at someone who, academically across her subjects, has got an average of about 97 or 98 per cent,” said Mr Tate. “She’s incredibly clever, hard-working, she speaks a couple of languages fluently, she plays the drums, she does work with charity, she’s a swimmer, she has an awful lot going for her, and she writes beautifully as well.”

Of the five Ivy League schools that accepted her – Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Penn and Dartmouth – Ms Malik chose Yale in Connecticut “for the opportunities that it offers” and because it is the only school that allows her to study economics and maths as a joint major.

“It was just the fact that in the US I’ll be able to study economics and maths, but also do French, and also take a class in physics and also take a class in psychology,” she said. “It’s just the chance to try so many new things that I never got to do before.”

Ms Malik is just one of 17 students who have won places at either Ivy League or other top-tier American universities.

Another of them, Alidad Chassebi, an 18-year-year-old Iranian, has won a place to study computer science at California’s Stanford University. He said he was also attracted by the flexibility offered by the American college.

“It’s not a sort of fixed curriculum as some of the other universities in the US, the way they offer computer science,” said Mr Chassebi. “It very much is a course which I can tailor to what I want to do over my four years at university.”

Incoming headmaster Mike Lambert said he was proud of the students’ achievements.

“We have Yale, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, Berkeley, Georgia Institute of Technology, Brown and Columbia among the scalps,” said Mr Lambert. “I think we have the highest ranking US destinations of all schools in the UAE.”

Peter Davos, owner of Carian College Advisers in Dubai, said an increasing number of British curriculum and International Baccalaureate students are opting to pursue their higher education in the US.

“It’s something that has gathered pace, not only in the UAE but even in the UK. You have an increasing number of British students choosing to study at American universities for a lot of different reasons,” said Mr Davos.

Most American universities do not require students to declare their major until the end of their sophomore year, whereas in the UK, students must select their major when they apply.

“Also, it’s a function of finances,” said Mr Davos. “American universities have a lot more funding and a lot more funds available to issue scholarships to students who are qualified to study there.”