Changing a course midway through your university years may be traumatic and problematic and will obviously affect your future career prospects. That is what seems to be happening to a number of students at the American University in Cairo. This story will highlight one particular case.
Habiba el Abd is an international student at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. She is 21 years old and has suffered due to the system at university which required her to change majors from architecture to mass communication with a specialisation in media arts. This is her story from the interview that was conducted with her.
El Abd encountered a huge problem since she applied for an architecture course at the American University of Cairo but this was not available due to some problem with registration. The course did not open for some reason and she was extremely chuffed about it. Habiba confirmed that this was not due to some personal decision on her part but was actually due to the incredible inefficiency of the university’s administration. It seems that around 5 per cent of students experience this problem (Masr 2006)
Let’s hear it in Habiba’s own words:“Basically, I was an architecture student for quite a long time but then i had to change majors due to some problems i faced. The student declares him/herself for a particular course but since architecture is an engineering major, this has to be taken in a specific order and this intrinsically means that if there aren’t enough vacancies in the course, you cannot take it and have to wait some years. This is also due to the fact that the 5 year plan for the university’s engineering courses keeps on changing. I then had to change to communications and specifically mass communications which is not my area at all but unfortunately there wasen’t much I could do”.
Habiba was confused but she had to take a decision and instead chose to take up the mass communications course instead of waiting for engineering and architecture to open again. Apparently she was the only student who had to forego her course and this can be backed up by her sister Nesma el Abd who said that Habiba was negatively affected by the change since she had pinned practically all her hopes on a career in architecture. Habiba said that although it was very hard to change her career path she will still continue to pursue her dream since there are other architects and public figures who didn’t even graduate in the subject and went on to be a success.
Speaking to other students on campus confirmed some of the problems which Habiba encountered. Some students had to change courses midway through their time at university since there weren’t enough professors or tutors to take up the course. Others lamented a lack of lectures which were constantly moved around to accommodate others
Other sources confirmed that a lot of students do change majors at AUC and this is an inherent problem due to lack of guidance and proper support. Nadine Abuelfad who graduated in 2011 in architecture also agrees that the system is very harsh and does not offer space to students who wish to pursue their dreams.
It is crucial that if one is to succeed, then one’s dreams have to be pursued. This is what the students at the American University in Cairo are striving for.
Interviews with Nadine Abuelfad, an architecture major from 2011 and Nesma al Abd, a sophomore student at the American University in Cairo
"Egypt’s AUC welcomes students from over 100 countries". Bikya Masr. 2010-09-06. Retrieved 2011-03-12.
"About the American University in Cairo Press". American University in Cairo Press. Archived from the original on 5 April 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-12.
The American University in Cairo: 1919-1987, p 37