Name:Omar El Barbir
University & Graduation Year: Georgia Institute of Technology – Class of 2025
High School: American School of Dubai
Major/Program: Computer Engineering

1. As a first-year student, what was the biggest surprise about college life? Were there any specific challenges you faced or adjustments you had to make?

At first I found that my biggest challenge was to accept and adapt to being entirely self-reliant. This meant getting my own food, cleaning my room, washing my clothes, etc. These are simple tasks, but when you are busy with schoolwork and lectures, they are easy to forget about or fail to prioritize. So, learning to better manage my time was a critical part in this transition.

2. If you could do your first year/term of college again, what changes would you make and why?

I think that if I were to redo my first year of university, I would try to take advantage of the free time I had, which was a lot more than I have now. I would have tried to meet more people and join a few more clubs.

3. What makes your college special? What is your favorite thing about it?

What makes Georgia Tech unique is the fact that almost everyone experiences the highs and lows of the school year together. Most of us are studying engineering, and we all understand how our classmates feel. For example, when I have three midterm exams in one week and are struggling to complete a homework assignment on time, it’s reassuring to know that I’m not the only one experiencing these things.

4. Are there any misconceptions out there about your college? What would you like to share with students who might be considering applying?

While there is a lot of work and studying at Georgia Tech can be very intense, I believe that anyone passionate and determined to succeed will be able to do so. I believe that it is all a matter of having a strong work ethic and discipline.

5. Are you involved in any clubs, teams, or other extracurricular activities? If so, tell us how this has shaped your college experience.

Currently I am a part of the Arab Student Organization. We host monthly events and get together to socialize and enjoy Arabic food. I enjoy being a part of this club and it keeps me connected to home.

6. If you could give your high school self any advice about college admissions, what would you say? Having been through the college admissions process, what is the biggest lesson you learned?

I think that stressing over college admissions is inevitable, but I don’t think that you should put so much pressure on yourself to get into your “dream university”. Getting into university is only the first step on this journey. Once you get in, you need to focus on doing well and graduating, which is another challenge.

7. How has COVID altered your college experience? Do you have any specific advice about attending college in the post-pandemic world?

COVID hasn’t really affected my experience too much. Georgia Tech got rid of the mask mandate quite quickly and almost all my classes were in person from the start.

8. In hindsight, was there any class you did or activity you participated in high school that especially helped prepare you for college?

I believe that taking rigorous classes in high school really helped me prepare for the academic intensity of college as I was more easily able to adjust, although the adjustment was not immediate. I would say that this was probably the most helpful thing that I did to prepare for university.

9. What has been your most memorable experience or activity of your college career so far? It can be academic or non-academic.

The most memorable experiences I have enjoyed so far are the experiences and moments that I have shared with my university friends.