Parth Garg, an Indian student from Abu Dhabi, with his father at Stanford University in the US Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: An 18-year-old Indian student has become the first pupil from his school in Abu Dhabi to gain admission into Stanford University, one of America’s most selective universities.

Parth Garg, a grade 12 graduate of the Indian-curriculum Bright Riders School, is also the only student from the UAE to be accepted last year to Stanford for undergraduate study, according to Hale Education Group, a Dubai-based global independent educational consulting firm that provides admissions counseling to international students seeking admission to North American universities.

Garg, who recently started his undergraduate studies in Stanford, California, told Gulf News through email that non-academic learning is no less valuable than schoolwork – and is looked at closely by top universities.

‘Never be limited’

“Never be limited by what is going on in your school or immediate surroundings. Explore and learn from as many things as possible. Learnings from outside of the school are the ones that are most important,” said Garg, who will be majoring in physics and economics, but for his first quarter he is studying literature and philosophy as well.

He added that, in his case, “my academics [he scored 95 per cent in his core subjects in CBSE garde 12 exams], along with my passion for community service coupled with my penchant interest in physics and cosmology”, helped him secure admission to Stanford.

Garg said he was immensely excited when he heard the news of his admission. “It was 3 in the morning and my primal scream is still a joke among my neighbours.”

‘Like a maze’

However, applying to university in the US is not easy and Garg too faced challenges. He said: “The entire US application was like a maze which I had to navigate. Essays were a big part of the application and there were times when I would write over 12 essays for university application. I believe Hale was really helpful in helping me understand the entire process when I needed it the most. My counselor Tim was more of a mentor and he helped me a great deal throughout it all.”

Garg wants to undertake research in cosmology after graduation. Garg, whose hobbies include chess, reading, and researching about cosmology and astrophysics, had lived in Abu Dhabi for six years before moving to US for his further studies.

Garg is not on a scholarship as Stanford “does not give merit based scholarships”. Stanford University is ranked fourth in World University Rankings 2020.

Incredibly selective

“Stanford is the most selective university in the US and is more competitive to get into than Harvard University. It is so competitive, in fact, it has stopped publishing its acceptance rate. The last time they published, it was the year before last, when it was 4.4 per cent,” said Peter Y. Davos, Founder and CEO, Hale Education Group.

“Every year – maybe – a single student from the UAE will secure an undergraduate acceptance to Stanford. That’s how tough it is. Parth was that student last year.”