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Get set to learn what university is all about

Dubai, August 20: Watch out students! Project completion and deadlines are just around the corner as the universities in the UAE are preparing for the start of the new academic year.

Classes for a majority of universities are set to start in the beginning of September.

Institutions such as the American University of Sharjah (AUS) and the University of Sharjah (UOS) have already opened their doors to freshers and parents for their annual orientation sessions. During this time, newcomers get the chance to learn about their rights, duties and university policies.

"I cannot stress more on not missing any orientation session. During this period, we shed light on university regulations, help students understand the system, teach them how to go about class registration, and learn university terminology," said Mohammad Al Shahid, student recruitment manager at the Admissions Office at the AUS.

Floating around

"Students who miss the orientation sessions will be floating for a while and it will take them some time to get the hang of things at school," he added.

In some colleges, parents are encouraged to attend a special orientation to learn what to expect in the coming four years of their children's lives. However, concentrating on students is a priority in other institutions.

"Of course if parents show up they are welcome to attend our orientation sessions. However, it is during this time that students make the first contact with people who might become their friends in the next four years and being around parents can be limiting for some," said Bridget Clifford, manager of student services at University of Wollongong, Dubai.

Besides dry academic work, universities also emphasise extracurricular activities, which include joining clubs, playing sports and organising events.

International students, however, get a broader look at what it's like to study in the UAE. "In addition to introducing them to the usual college work, we take students on a tour around Dubai to get them acquainted with the city. We also get members of the Student Arabic Club at the university to meet with them to talk about the culture in Dubai," said Clifford.

"The UAE may be westernised but it is still a Muslim country and they need to understand the culture and traditions."

Many students are now about to enter a phase that most adults around the world describe as "the best time of their lives". However, Abdullah Al Munaizel, Dean of Students at the UOS, stressed that with freedom and independence comes responsibility.

"Going to college is a transitional period where you move from being a school student to an adult. You are now responsible for your actions and no longer depend on your parents for every little thing," he said. "Freedom and responsibility come hand in hand."
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