While I must admit that this may turn out to be an awesome marketing device for Qatar Foundation’s third newest university, my understanding and appreciation for Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar is utmost genuine and comes from experiences of being away from the university for more than 4 months (during an exchange program at a university in Singapore).
As a seasonal blogger and Fakebook celebrity, I understand the need for keeping things concise and clear. And so, without spending too much time beating around the bush, here are are my top 7 reasons for loving CMU-Q:
- Many universities, many cultures BUT One community. One family.
As a visitor to Education City, you will not help but notice this striking aspect: there are no borders between members of different academic institutions. They are no multiple communities among students from different universities, residence halls, nationalities and cultures. There is just one community, just one big family. Americans celebrate Garangao night like it were the next best thing to Christmas, Arabs are the most enthusiastic participants of Desi events, and the presence of Christians & Hindus is just indispensable when celebrating Eid. Event organizers from TAMU-Q cannot imagine a large gathering, without the presence of members from CMU-Q and NU-Q. At most, there is 1 degree of separation between any two individuals here. You’ve simply got to love this! Texans in thobes and Egyptians in kurta-pyjamas is a familiar sight. Never before have I come across such a genius mix of people and such a hybrid, yet vibrant community atmosphere. This is in complete contrast to what you would find in a big campus at one of the home universities in the US, where most students, from say the business school, have never met students from engineering schools.
As an undergraduate student, one thing you always lookout for is for people to notice your ideas & work, and give you opportunities. Its an inconvenient truth to most students that the best faculty, managers and people with power are not deeply interested in immature and less nurtured undergrad minds. Not the case with CMU-Q. Education City, especially CMU-Q, is the land of opportunities you want to be in today. Whether it be funding for student-run hobby clubs, evangelists hearing out your dreams and associated ideas, or your willingness to teach your peers and get paid for it, there is a flood of opportunities at any given moment in this city. The best part is that you don’t need the best pair of goggles or swimming trunks to dive into this flood – all amateurs are invited and learn by trying the waters
- Access to wisdom, and the tools to be wise
You may have the best tuxedo, degree from UK’s number one medical school, the sexiest girlfriend in town, several jobs at your doorstep, etc. But what money and effort cannot buy most undergraduates is wisdom, because wisdom comes from experience. And it is not just important in allowing you to achieve what you always wanted, it is CRITICAL. To capture this critical component, you need to have the chance to communicate with the leaders, the gurus and the knowledge creators. This is exactly what you get to do at CMU-Q. No mention of names, but I have personally had deep discussions with visitors to CMU-Q, who wouldn’t have ever offered me a 2-minute appointment at their HQ in New York. And when you get the chance to have access to them, when you speak to them, you learn more about combating challenges and reaching your goals, than any Deepak Chopra book can teach you. It just gets better, as all Education City students get access to all the facilities students in other countries can only dream about. At no extra charge, every student entering CMU-Q gets multiple opportunities to train themselves to dream big, learn about how to make them real by accessing wisdom of the experienced ones, and the right set of tools to chase them. All this, in the luxury of enjoying some of the finest education in the world.
- Easy to become a big fish, in a medium-sized pond
The only thing Maslow would have never predicted, when he came up with his theory on hierarchy of needs, was that students at CMU-Q, or for that matter any institution in Education City, can reach the hierarchy level of esteem without all that much struggle and effort. Lets put this in simpler words. When a reputable community is very small, such as that in CMU-Q, it is not very hard for an individual to take efforts, which are marginally better than average, and get known in the eyes of others in the community. This simple socio-economics idea is not a piece of genius, and often does not mean much to most students. However, it works like a true charm when this community comprises of knowledgeable, powerful and influential people, and the-better-than-average performer comes to be known in their eyes. This opens a world of opportunities for the new big fishes, and places these individuals nearer to the core of the more active, upcoming and powerful networks. And suddenly, the world becomes their playground. Traditionalists think of this as pampering young minds, but I would like to believe that this is a new paradigm of empowerment where newcomers can battle most experienced warriors, without having to stay in lower ranks for decades.
- Qatar needs YOU
Let’s be downright honest. The Education City exists because of a simple idea: (this is the part that most people think is more important) to provide young minds of the region with an opportunity to get the finest education in world, without having to travel abroad, (but actually, this is the more important part) so that these nurtured and knowledgeable minds can stay in the region and contribute to the local economies. It is clear: Qatar needs YOU; Qatar needs analytical, reasoning, ambitious, competitive, bullish & broad thinking minds. Every student from Education City is a big asset to the economy. Being appropriate in accounting lingo, every student is an investment, and Qatar needs to maximize their return from this investment. The finest planners of the country are desperately waiting every year to tap into the enormous potential in the community. I hope the next time someone from these universities wonders if they would get a job after they graduate or not, the answer should be clear: if you are good, no matter what, there is a nation that believes in you and will have you build it well, at any cost
- Creating and innovating systems and traditions
It has been less than 8 years, since CMU-Q has come into being. While cultures, beliefs and practices are being imported from the home campus of the university, there is a very fascinating phenomena happening in campus in the Qatar: traditions and values are having sex, and all of a sudden, new hybrid systems and traditions are emerging. This is that phase in the life of the university when systems, processes and norms are in their infancy. You may wonder what is so beautiful about this. What is beautiful is that all the members of this community today are getting an undisputed chance to contribute ideas in how they want these traditions to be, and what are the ideal ingredients to making this never before cooked recipe. This is special and not happening anywhere else in the world at this scale. This is just one of the many advantages no one realizes they will become a part of, and often base their decisions on applying to these universities on how hard it would be to explain to every second individual on how legitimate the education and degree is.
- Experiments have its perks
Education City is probably one of the largest experiments of its kind. For one, we all know that when researchers conduct big experiments, they give in all their resources and energy in making these first experiments successful, because they do not want to fail. The word “fail” is not even in the dictionary of the Qatar Foundation. And so this experiment also has its perks: the administration of all the universities go all out in making the student experience very very special. Beginning with extremely well-worked out orientation programs, to grand and massive graduation & convocation ceremonies. Financial aid, research funds, free food at events daily, trips to around the world, 5-star-hotel-like university buildings, all-year-long celebrations, paid work opportunities, classy accommodation at residence halls, personal wellness, undue attention from faculty, and more. Just some of the many reasons why this experiment is worth applying to
(This post became too serious! Funnily, I started off with thinking about writing this as I was not being a perfect social fit in Singapore – here, much like most other places in the world, students celebrate by drinking a lot of booze. I just began to think about how my non-drinking-habit never affected me one bit in Doha )