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Stories from the Edge of the Future. A Guide to Applying for University. Student Voices Series. Deira International School.
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Background. Stories from the Edge of the Future – A Guide to Applying for University.

Student Voices Series. Deira International School, Dubai Festival City.

Deira International School Advice applying to university

In the second of a special series of articles, some of the UAE’s most amazing students speak directly with SchoolsCompared about grappling with the biggest jump into the future facing students in the final years of school; applying to university and the challenge of what next…

Each student was given free reign to describe their experiences and offer their advice to fellow students, and families, facing the many dilemmas, struggles, and sometimes sleepless nights, of what comes after school – and the best ways, for each of them, of getting there.

It takes no small amount of courage to agree to put your name to an article in a such a public forum, and we extend our enormous gratitude – and (giant) heaps of praise, for each of you who have taken the plunge to contribute and placed yourselves above the parapet.

For many of our contributors, this will be the first time that they will have had their names in print – well done! Who knows, maybe we shall see you in the years to come as a journalist changing the world…

The second of our stories comes from Hasan Raza, Head Boy of Deira International School in Dubai.

Mr Raza writes eloquently and honestly about the struggles of applying to university, tips for making each application count – and how being positive in a world turned upside down by Covid-19 can make all the difference.





My journey to Canada…

by Hasan Raza. Head Boy 2021. Deira International School Dubai.

Hasan Raza. A Guide to applying to university from Deira International School to Canada

“Personal statements, college essays, predicted grades, high school transcripts and mid-year reports…

These rather overwhelming terms have the idea of applying to university painted all over them.

However, rest assured, as uncertain as the transition to university may seem initially, it is perhaps one of most reflective and enjoyable experiences of any student’s academic journey.

Hello! My name is Hasan Raza, and I am an IBDP student at Deira International School.

I aspire to be a businessman in the foreseeable future, which is why I intend on studying Business & Economics at university, hopefully in Canada!

While I did have a multitude of passions growing up, it was the ability to venture into different fields during my IGCSE’s that helped me to finalise the career I want to work towards.

The three Higher Level subjects that I am currently studying are cantered around commerce: Business Management, Economics and Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches.

My Standard Level subjects are Chemistry, French B and English Language Literature.

I’ve applied early to five universities in Canada which include UofT, UBC and McGill University. In addition, as my back-up plan, I’ve also applied to five UK universities, these including the LSE, UCL and University of Warwick.

You may be wondering: “Why Canada?”

The answer is that I think it’s essential for students to realise that a university’s ranking or reputation is not the sole factor in play when deciding where to study.

Having lived in Canada for six years of my life prior to moving to the UAE, I have witnessed first-hand the level of diversity that is so integral to Canadian life and society. This provides students with a plethora of opportunities to thrive in their respective fields of study.

As a commerce student, the prospect of studying at UofT’s Rotman Commerce program, in the heart of Downtown Toronto, the second largest financial centre in North America, was the ideal place to pursue my ambitions.

The program itself is quite competitive. It requires a supplemental application alongside predicted grades – and an interim report to evaluate each candidate’s application.

Normally for more competitive programs, such as commerce, medicine, engineering and architecture, your academics will not suffice. My experience is that an additional application will almost always be required, this featuring essay questions or interviews.

In my case, I had a mix of both: three timed essay questions and two timed interview questions. It’s quite nerve-racking because you only get one shot – and the time limit just adds to the overall intensity of the application. This said, I think that it’s actually extremely important to truly be raw and be true to yourself in all your answers.

My advice is to ensure that you’re in a quiet place with no room for distractions and stay calm throughout it all.

Once you’re done, forget about it.

It’s done.

There’s no going back.

The best you can do is hope and pray for an offer; the stress and anxiety won’t influence whether or not you receive that offer.

If you’re able to prepare for your supplemental applications, start working on them as soon as possible to ensure that you’re able to get feedback and have sufficient time to make tweaks. If you rush your essays, it will show. Those minor tweaks that you make as you approach the deadline will add that element of finesse and flair that admissions officers are seeking.

Saying goodbye to my high school friends and teachers is going to be one of the hardest moments in my life.

It seems like only yesterday that I was entering IB1.

But in the end, it all works out.

It really does.

The best part about it all is looking back at the whole university application process once you get that offer from your top university choice.

While there is a lot to look forward to, COVID-19 I see Covid-19 as a real threat. It risks forcing students to study on-line –  depriving students of much from their first-year university experience and gaining the independence that comes with studying abroad.

My final advice is this.

At the end of the day, it’s important to understand that you are not the only one struggling.

You’re in a boat with millions of students all around the world that you can still connect with digitally.

In a time like this, it’s difficult to look forward to things. It becomes all too easy to fall into pessimism…

But, for me, I find the good in seemingly bad outcomes.

It really can help sustain a positive outlook towards the future and ensure good mental health.

Roll on Canada 2021.

© and Hasan Raza 2021. All rights reserved.

Notes for students and parents

Image of a child at Deira International School in Dubai Festival City highlighting the extraordinary commitment inclusion and cultural exchange of ideas and inspiration. Applying to University in Canada Guide.

Click to read our independent review for parents of Deira International School in Dubai Festival City here.

Click to visit the official web site of Deira International School here.

Click to learn about the top ranked universities in Canada here.



About The Author
Hasan Raza
Hasan Raza is the Head Boy of Deira International School in Dubai Festival City. In 2021 Mr Raza aims to begin his university studies in Canada as part of his life plan to secure a career in business.

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