1. How can I obtain a scholarship?
The United States Embassy/Public Affairs Section does not offer scholarships. When you write directly to a university or college for admission application materials, also request information on financial assistance. At some institutions your academic ability is considered together along with your financial need. At others your application for admission and your financial need are considered separately.
Judging from past experience the student with ‘O’ level subjects with a majority of ‘A’s, high ‘A’ level passes and respectable SAT test results (composite score of 1200 plus) has the best chance of being offered a scholarship. In addition to the academics, Admission officers value students who can demonstrate extracurricular leadership and involvement in sports activities, clubs, hobbies, and community projects. It will be up to the student to convince the admissions personnel of the institutions to which he/she is applying he /she will be a real asset to that institution as well as to society in the future.
For the student with exceptional ability in a particular sport, usually marked by participation on a national team, a sports scholarship could be an excellent way of financing his/her education. Write to coaches at a large number of institutions and correspond with them directly. The student should be aware that acceptance by the coach or even the offer of a scholarship does not guarantee admission into the university/college. The regular admissions procedure must still be followed. The student should also be aware that he/she would still be expected to carry a minimum course load and maintain a certain academic average in addition to participating in the demanding sports program.
Once you have identified schools for possible funding, do further research with books and the Internet. When looking at universities, do not just apply to those, which are private. While private schools offer more financial aid, 2-Year community or junior colleges from which you can transfer to a 4-Year college, and state universities can also be good choices, as they are less expensive and can sometimes offer partial aid to international students.
2. How do I pay the college application and test registration?
Students are encouraged to register for examinations online. If you do not have a credit card, you can find a relative or friend who is willing to make the payment for you. Students in Zimbabwe taking the SAT exams may register for these in cash at the US Educational Advising Center in Harare.
3. After gaining admission to a U.S. college/university, what college expenses will I incur?
There are several types of expenses, which you will incur. A rough estimate is given below:
- Tuition and fees (This could range from US$ 3000 to 20 000.)
- Books and supplies – US$ 1 000 – 1 500
- Student room and board US$8,000 to US$15,000
- Personal (clothing, laundry, recreation, medical) – US$ 2 000
- Medical insurance US$700-US$4,000
4. Which are the best schools?
There are over 4500 accredited colleges and universities in the United States.
U.S. Public Affairs Section does not have a list of the best universities in the United States. Often the quality of individual departments and/or colleges within a university varies. There are several lists of the “best” universities based on the criteria such as funds for research, personal opinion or the considered opinion of professionals in a given field. Often the most famous universities are also the most expensive and the most difficult to enter. You should decide which university is the best for you, i.e. one that offers your field of study meets the other criteria important to you, such as location, housing, size and facilities for international students.
5. How can I be assured that the degree, which I obtain at a U.S. university, is acceptable in Zimbabwe?
You should only apply to accredited universities listed in our college reference section in the P.A.S. library. These universities/colleges are accredited by various national and regional accrediting groups that have been evaluated by the Council on Post Secondary Accreditation in the U.S. and recognized as meeting acceptable levels of quality and performance. These colleges are also listed in Accredited Institutions of Post Secondary Education, a publication of the American Council of Education.
Consult employers and Zimbabweans who have studied overseas about the quality of schools. Seek advice from lecturers at the University of Zimbabwe or various professional organizations, ie., Institute of Architects of Zimbabwe, the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Zimbabwe, etc. Speak to some established professionals already working in your area of interest. Also look at how selective the school is by noting their acceptance rate, average test scores, etc. The Educational Advisor is also willing to assist USEAC members to access the quality of various institutions.
6. What are the minimum requirements for me to apply to colleges in the US?
You must have a minimum of five ‘O’ level passes of “C” or above including Math and English if you wish to apply for an undergraduate degree. Your acceptance will probably be based upon these and other academic results along with the results of U.S. college entrance examinations, which can be taken in Zimbabwe. Those who have ‘A’ level credits may be given advanced standing, however, this will be determined by the particular institution and the appropriate department.
7. How can I obtain a student visa?
Before applying for a visa, you must first gain admission to an institution. The school will send you the Form I-20 that will list the comprehensive amount necessary for one year’s expenses at the institution issuing the I-20. The consular officer at the U.S. Embassy will require that you demonstrate that you or your sponsor has this amount before you are issued a student visa. In some cases the university will require prepayment of the amount listed as the total for one term or one year’s expenses before the Form I-20 can be sent. You must prove to the Consular Officer that you are academically qualified, financially prepared and intending to return to Zimbabwe upon graduation.
8. What do I need from my sponsor to document financial support?
If your sponsor is in the U.S., he/she will need to send a completed Affidavit of Support Form I-34, available from the district office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service in the U.S. or from our office in Harare. Allow several months for these arrangements. Consult the consular office for additional requirements for U.S. and local sponsors. Your sponsor will also have to prove availability of funds through a recent bank statement and sometimes also a bank statement or letter from his/her employer.
9. What is the deadline for application to a university?
It differs from university to university. Look in the International Student Handbook or one of the college directories under “Application Deadline” to find each university’s deadline. Many highly selective colleges and universities have a January 1 deadline. It is crucial that you meet all these deadlines.
10. How do I find college/university names and addresses?
At the U.S. Public Affairs Section Library in Harare and the Bulawayo Public Library in Bulawayo there are several manuals which list college/universities. If you are not familiar with the geography of the U.S. use a map to guide you in choosing states and/or institutions. You may also find extensive college or university information on the Internet. We suggest you try www.petersons.com/educationusa