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Rize Virtual University Fair Connects Abu Dhabi Students with World's Most Prestigious Higher Education Institutions

Monday, August 10, 2020/ Editor -  


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  Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) implements platform for students to begin crucial first steps on higher education journey
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, August 10, 2020:  With thousands of students embarking on their higher education journeys, Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) was keen to connect high-school students across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi with leading local and international universities in the absence of physical events.
Launched in early July and spanning four weeks, the Rize Virtual University Fair has given Abu Dhabi students crucial online facetime with faculty from leading universities from the UAE, North America, Europe and Asia; provided interactive virtual tours of campus life and numerous admissions events. The virtual fair has provided a holistic look at the higher education process, from selecting the right university and applying to course selection and career options, given students invaluable insight into what their educational future might look like.
More than 3000 students registered for the inaugural online fair, which has proven to be immensely valuable not just for young learners, but also for universities seeking to entice future cohorts.
“Deciding which higher education path to follow can be a daunting prospect for students. At ADEK we take great pride in providing guidance and support at every step of the learning journey. The challenge of no physical events presented a great opportunity to harness technology to connect students with universities. Thanks to the commitment of leading universities around the world, ADEK has provided through its Rize University Preparation and Career Guidance Program seamless, direct access to some of the best minds in higher education, giving our students crucial insights  to help plan their next steps,” said Khuloud Al Dhaheri, Executive Director, Education Partnerships Sector at ADEK.
With university representatives unable to travel to the UAE to engage with students, the Rize Virtual University Fair has not only bridged that gap, it has enabled higher education institutions to reach a more targeted audience, through digital outreach, adding a new dimension to a traditional fair.
“I wanted to get involved in this fair to help students who are considering taking an Art & Design course make more informed decisions and this is an initiative to help students make choices about their future study at a time when international travel is difficult or impossible,” said Khalid Abbas, from University for Creative Arts, in Farnham, in southern England.
“With the online format, I learnt more about what students are looking for and what concerns they might have in the current climate. Furthermore, the students who attended now know how to contact me for their enquiries and I already received enquiries straight after my webinar! This was also my first virtual fair, so it has been a great experience and the first of many to come I’m sure.”
“ADEK came to Illinois Tech last year and we were fortunate to have their students on our campus. This year through the virtual fair, we have had an even greater opportunity to learn a lot more the about the new cohort of students,” added Samantha Deleon from Illinois Institute of Technology. 
“We have a great relationship with ADEK and we’ve appreciated the opportunity to connect with students in this challenging time. The virtual fair has been a great opportunity, we have had a chance to engage longer and go more in depth on certain topics with students,” shared Alex Smith from Michigan State University.
Megan Lindle from University of Cincinnati commented, “The virtual fair option allows the opportunity to engage more students because it is more accessible across regions and countries, than the physical fair option. We were able to ask four of our current students and alumni to participate and offer their perspective and because the fair was virtual, we were able to call them in from two states, two countries and two different time zones!” 
Unlike a traditional fair or students visiting individual institutions in person, the Rize Virtual University Fair allowed participants to make some significant life choices in real time by connecting directly with a diverse geographical choice of universities over a matter weeks, avoiding travel restriction headaches.  
Yeap Yi Yi, Yale-NUS College Singapore commented: “A common challenge that I have seen from students is finding the ‘right fit’ for them. Some students have planned out their lives for the next 10 years, whilst others have not even decided what they would like to do at the weekend. A major deciding factor in choosing which college or university to attend is what type of environment the student wants? Do they want to be in a city, near a beach or in the mountains? Which climates are they comfortable with? How far away from home and their families are they willing to go? These are just some of the questions that students need to think about. They are unrelated to what they would actually end up studying but are equally important to their college/university experience.”
“We offered information about MSU beyond the classroom experience. I wanted students to know what they could expect from our local community and about the unique aspects of campus-life that they wouldn’t find elsewhere,” said Alex Smith from Michigan State University.
Megan Lindle, University of Cincinnati added, “Finding the best fit takes time, research, dedication and some trial and error. University fairs such as this one allows students and families the opportunity to learn more about options offered around the world, and what makes each university unique. The more they learn from these presentations and topics, the better informed they will be in making their final decisions as to where to apply for their higher education studies.”
For students still debating what is next on their learning journey and uncertainty about what a return to the classroom might look like, through the accessibility to user-friendly communication platforms, students were able to carry out due diligence and take some time before committing to a future pathway through the Rize Virtual University Fair.  This idea is endorsed by universities, which provided some sage advice on how to approach next steps.
“Take your time to think about your passions and interests beyond the class you are taking in school. What are you curious about? What keeps you up at night, if left unanswered? What questions would you like answered? Understand that there are jobs and career paths that have not even be created yet but may exist once you are in the job market. So rather than thinking specifically about a profession and how you can get there, allow your interests and pathway to lead you there instead,” added Yeap Yi Yi, Yale-NUS College Singapore.
Illinois Institute of Technology’s Deleon added: “It’s important to know if your visa/I-20 is valid amid the constant changes of the US Government. However, as a university we are welcoming students for the upcoming Fall 2020 and look forward to seeing students in Chicago. 
On which academic or career pathway to pursue, Alex Smith from Michigan State University advised “I am always quick to remind students that they don’t have to make up their mind before they come. Most US Universities are well prepared to advise students during their first year to help them figure this out, basing the advice on the student’s academic skills and conversations about potential future options. The US can help open your perspective to career opportunities you may not have previously considered.” 
The Rize Virtual University Fair is part of the Rize Enrichment program, an after-school program designed to expose students to new 21st-century-relevant subjects, and help students with their university preparation and applications. Aiming to prepare students for the future, Rize Enrichment annual programs include Rize Tech, Rize Arts and Culture, Rize Math, in addition to various activities such as competitions and fairs. Students can register through register or directly at one of the participating schools in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Dhafra.  

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