Kids, your folks will make much of Despoina Loukos. Tell them to chill. She doesn’t know either what she wants to be when she ‘grows up’. And that’s just fine! Go listen to Baz Luhrmann now

What attracts international students to U.S. universities?

Earlier this week, much to the envy of possibly thousands of students, Greek national Despoina Loukos, 18, was accepted into 12 US universities with a total of Dh2.4 million in merit scholarships. The great part? She’s not sure about the profession she will pursue.

Speaking to Khaleej Times about how her love for dancing, her tight schedule and her extracurricular activities, all which she believes led to her many university acceptance letters, Loukos said, “I have no idea what profession I want to get into. I love economics so I have chosen to study international business but I do enjoy the arts, so I have chosen a university that will allow me to pursue both.”

“When I was young (er) I don’t remember having any aspirations. But the one thing I do remember is my dad saying that when I find a job it should be something that I enjoy, so that’s the plan.”

Loukos said she scored a long list of acceptance letters because besides studying, she focused on volunteer work, extracurricular activities, which is her tip for others who may have not quite cracked the formula yet and would, of course, also want a dozen acceptance letters from schools in the US. “Without a doubt, getting and maintaining good grades is one of the most important things that universities look for but I think that the universities in the US really appreciate students that have long term extracurricular activities.” “I think the fact that I have been dancing from the age of three and haven’t stopped since was something that stood out for them. I do think that they look for a balance between academics, sports or music and charity work.” Besides the tight schedule – school, studying, dancing, spending time with friends and family – she makes time for social media.

“Like most millennials, I use social media on a daily basis. It interferes with studies, but at the same time, I find it helps as well. For example, if I’m sick one day and I don’t go to school, I know that my classmates will post pictures of any work they did in class or of any notes teachers wrote on the board, so that helps with staying on top of work.” Loukos’ only free time is on Fridays. She doesn’t have dance class on Friday. That’s when she meets friends.

In all this, there’s not so much time for reading books, though. Compromises have to be made and time managed. She talks of getting her priorities right.A dream pupil for any school, she credits her alma mater with a fair bit. “Luckily, Dubai University provided the opportunity for me to join clubs during the school day – charity committees and social committees”. It frees up her time after school. The Hale Education Group, a UAE-based consultancy focusing on US university admissions, helped Loukos with her application process.

Loukos, who has chosen Northeastern University in Boston, said she feels excited but also sad about moving. She’s lived in the UAE for 17 years. Moving to another country, in her words, will be a big change. “It will be hard living without my family. They mean the world to me. I have a twin brother so that is going to be a major change, even though he will be in the US as well.”

“I think it will take some time adjusting to the change from doing everything together (being in the same school and social group) to seeing each other mainly during holidays. But I am so excited about this new chapter in my life and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”When should students start preparing for undergraduate university admission?

Categories: General