After much procrastination, and/or deciding that someone else’s plans or experiences is a solid plan B, a safety net of sorts, and probably an easy out, a rather bitter reality many of us chose not to foresee jumped up and slapped many of us square in the face on Monday, February 13 at the University Info Session, attended by AIS Juniors and their parents.

What we once imagined to be a joyous selection process, in which we would search for an educational institution to cater to our career aspirations, in a desirable location, hopefully not too far away from some our friends, and easily financed and approved by our families, was completely washed away with what felt like a bucket of ice water being dumped on our heads. Every box we had previously ticked, and took for granted was no longer an issue, became a serious concern.  Suddenly, it felt like we were no longer afforded the right to choose, and could only work really hard to so much as dare to hope to be chosen.

From nearly impossible admission requirements to exorbitant tuition fees, given the new, post-economic reforms exchange rates in Egypt, we were stunned into silence, while a few of our parents desperately tried to make sense of this new reality by asking our guidance counselor as many questions as their already troubled minds could come up with to gain some clarity. The rest of our parents, hearing that AUC’s US$ 20,000 tuition could translate into EGP 400,000 per year, when they had paid EGP 180 per semester in the 1980’s were rendered speechless.  Also, hearing that non full IB diploma students applying to AUC had to have a GPA of 3.7 or above, contrary to the university’s listed admission requirement of a 2.5 GPA, was quite a blow, especially to those of us who until the economic reforms regarded AUC as their contingency plan in case they couldn’t get into universities they chose abroad. Following the economic reforms, some of us considered completing our general requirements at AUC, and then transferring out and graduating abroad, to productively buy some time and alleviate pressure on our families imposed by current foreign currency restrictions.

It became glaringly obvious that how we were going about the entire process in reality or in our heads might have worked for past generations, but would not get us very far today. Our guidance counselors offered many alternatives, new locations to consider, and choices that would allow us not to compromise our objectives. While some of us, especially juniors, might need to go back to the drawing board, or alter course slightly, what we all must do is work very closely with our counselors, listen to their expert advice, adhere to their deadlines, and allow them to yank us “out of the box” so to speak, in order to explore all possibilities, find the best fit for us, fulfill needed requirements, and pursue our dreams in the real world.
By Maya Abou El Nasr