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Information for the Diaspora in the US

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Education

Higher education refers to a level of education that is provided by universities, vocational universities, community colleges, liberal arts colleges, institutes of technology and other collegiate level institutions, such as vocational schools, trade schools and career colleges, that award academic degrees or professional certifications. – wikipedia

Undergraduate and Graduate Degrees

In general, Associates and Bachelors degrees are considered undergraduate course work, while the Masters and Doctoral degrees are considered graduate course work. Graduate course work – in most cases – is very specific and particular to one field of study. Thus, the graduate study is advanced course work which follows undergraduate course work.

An undergraduate degree is awarded for the completion of 2 years (associates) or 4 years (bachelors) of college level study.
A graduate degree is awarded after attending graduate school. A graduate degree is a masters degree, which generally takes 2-3 years of graduate school after college.

Undergraduate coursework is a basic educational foundation within a given program of study following high school. The course work includes a general cluster of knowledge that promotes a well rounded education. Thus, the student is exposed to a variety of areas, not just their chosen field of study. These areas would include general education courses to include, English, Math, History, Laboratory Science, courses in Humanities, and Social Sciences to mention a few. These would be tightly coupled with the students Major Requirements and Major Elective Requirements.

In the USA, information on the difference between varying levels of tertiary (post high school) education is given on the US Department of Education website. (http://www.ed.gov/)

In general the following applies:

In the US there are 6 main levels of post high school education:

  1. Associate Degrees
  2. Bachelors Degrees
  3. First-Professional Degrees
  4. Master’s Degrees
  5. Intermediate Graduate Qualifications
  6. Research Doctorate Degrees

Level 1 and 2 count as undergraduate courses of study. Above this level the qualifications require an undergraduate degree or period of study as a prerequisite and so are termed graduate courses.

Both Level 3 and 6 qualifications commonly lead to the title of Doctor, however level 3 qualifications are professional doctorates such as those in medicine e.g. MD, whereas level 6 doctorates are research or academic doctorates e.g. PhD.

In general in the USA:

  • Undergraduate courses involve study in Freshman-Senior courses with the aim of gaining a Bachelor’s or Associates Degree.
  • Graduate courses involve study for a higher level qualification which has an undergraduate degree as a pre requisite requirement.

source: www.answers.com wikianswers

College Requirements for Admission

By Aksana Nikolai, eHow Contributor

 

Students often feel overwhelmed at the beginning of the college application process. In addition to filing out endless paperwork and writing a personal statement for each college according to its specific guidelines, students must also make sense of each college’s admission requirements. While each school has its own specific requirements as to how high a student’s standardized test scores and grade point average should be, the majority of colleges will evaluate candidates based on the same general group of criteria.

Grade Point Average

  • In many cases, a good grade point average (GPA) is essential for college admission. Generally, the more prestigious and well-known colleges, such as the Ivy League schools, tend to have higher GPA admission requirements. Many students who have a low overall GPA choose to apply to smaller, specialized schools where satisfactory marks in subjects relevant to the student’s intended major can be sufficient for admission.

Standardized Tests

  • The majority of US colleges require students to achieve a certain score on either the SAT or ACT examination. Some colleges also require specialized SAT II subject test scores. Students must verify the specific examination and score requirements of each college to which they are applying.American students who are applying to schools outside of the U.S. do need to take the SAT or ACT, which is only required by American colleges. However, students who receive high scores on these examinations should find out whether any of the foreign universities will take high standardized test scores into consideration. Although not required in countries such as Canada, strong scores will give American students an advantage over other candidates.

    High School Diploma

  • The majority of U.S. colleges require that admitted students have a high school diploma with completed coursework in liberal arts, science, math and English language. Candidates who completed homeschooling programs as opposed to graduating from high school are expected to provide materials such as coursework portfolios or personal recommendations in place of the high school diploma.

Extracurricular Involvement

  • Most universities are looking for well-rounded students who not only excel in academics but are also actively involved in extracurricular activities such as after-school clubs, sports teams or volunteering. In some cases, students who do so while maintaining good grades will be accepted over those with a flawless academic record but no extracurricular activities. Those candidates who demonstrate leadership or gain recognition for their involvement, for example the president of the Student Union or the winner of an award for volunteering, will particularly stand out.

International Students

  • Because U.S. colleges and universities are highly competitive, international students applying to the States must meet additional admission requirements. They must demonstrate proficiency in English by meeting the college’s TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score requirements. In addition, while they do not need to do so for college admission in their home country, international students must take the SAT or ACT at an overseas test center and, in most cases, meet the same score requirements as American students.
By Aksana Nikolai, eHow Contributor

 

College Admission Tests

Undergraduate

  • PSAT/NMSQT
  • SAT
  • ACT

Graduate

  • LSAT – Law School
  • MCAT – Medical School
  • GMAT – Business School
  • GRE – Business School
  • MAT – Graduate School
  • DAT – Dental School
  • PCAT – Pharmacy School
  • OAT – Optometry School

Grading System

Grades are standardized measurements of varying levels of comprehension within a subject area. Grades can be assigned in letters (for example, A, B, C, D, or F), as a range (for example 1.0–4.0), as descriptors (excellent, great, satisfactory, needs improvement), in percentages, or, as is common in some post-secondary institutions in some countries, as a Grade Point Average (GPA). The GPA can be used by potential employers or further post-secondary institutions to assess and compare applicants. A Cumulative Grade Point Average is a calculation of the average of all of a student’s grades for all semesters and courses completed up to a given academic term,whereas the GPA may only refer to one term. source: wikipedia

Resources for foreign Students

1) CLEP

The College Level Examination Program (or CLEP) is a group of standardized tests in the USA that assess college-level knowledge in several subject areas. Many colleges grant credit to students who meet their minimum qualifying score.The tests are useful for students who have obtained knowledge outside the classroom, such as through independent study, job experience, or cultural interaction.CLEP also offers international and home-schooled students the opportunity to demonstrate their proficiency in subject areas and bypass undergraduate coursework.

http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/clep/about.html

2) International Education Research Foundation (IERF)

http://www.ierf.org/

One of the challenges most immigrants to the US, including Zambian immigrants have is the ability to have their foreign school certificates, diplomas and degrees recognized because of the different educational systems.

IERF’s mission is to research and disseminate information on world educational systems and to facilitate the integration of individuals educated outside the United States into the U.S. educational environment and work force.

IERF accomplishes this by:

  • conducting and supporting comprehensive, quality research on world educational systems
  • sharing its research findings with the international community
  • providing research-based credentials evaluations and related services

IERF achieves this mission through its Credentials Evaluation Service and Research Program.

IERF is a Charter Member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES®), a recognizing body for credentials evaluation services in the U.S.

 

Choosing a college



Top Ten Rules for Selecting a College or University
  1. Never make your final college selection without visiting at least your top two or three choices. No matter how well you think you know a college or university, you can learn a lot (good or bad) by spending a few hours on campus, including whether or not the college feels like a good “fit” for you. Having family members accompany you on college visits is a great idea because it gives you extra “eyes and ears” and people with whom you can discuss your impressions.
  2. There are no exceptions to rule #1.
  3. A college is not necessarily right for you because its name is familiar. That might seem pretty obvious, but you wouldn’t believe how many students equate educational quality with name recognition.
  4. Investigate at least three or four colleges you know little or nothing about but offer the field(s) of study of interest to you, are appropriately selective for a students with your grades and SAT or ACT scores, and are located in geographic areas attractive to you. You have nothing to lose and you might make a great discovery. A little research and an open mind can greatly increase the odds that you make a good college choice.
  5. There are very few worse reasons to select a college than because your friends are going there. Choosing a college because your girlfriend or boyfriend is headed there is one of them. In fact, if there is a worse reason to choose a college, it escapes us.
  6. Investigate, investigate, investigate, and be sure to separate reality from (often baseless) opinions. Lots of folks will refer to a college as “good”, “hard to get into”, “a party school”, “too expensive”, etc. without really knowing the facts. Don’t accept these kinds of generalizations without evidence.
  7. Do not rule out colleges early because of cost. Many colleges offer scholarships, financial aid, and tuition installment plans that make them far more affordable than they may first appear. You can’t/won’t know how much it will cost to attend a college until the very end of the process.
  8. Deadlines, whether for college applications, SAT or ACT registration, financial aid, scholarships, campus housing, etc. are not suggestions. Miss a deadline and you may find yourself in deep you-know-what. Write down on a calendar and adhere strictly to all deadlines.
  9. Don’t be afraid to apply to a few “reach schools”. You might be pleasantly surprised by the results if you are not entirely unrealistic. Then, apply to at least three colleges you like which are highly likely to admit you. Remember, choose these three colleges very carefully as they are the places where you are mostly likely to wind up. Finally, choose at least two “safety” colleges. Colleges to which you are virtually certain you will be admitted. Choosing “safety” schools they don’t really like is a mistake many students make. If you take the time to choose safety schools you would be happy to attend, you’ll eliminate all the anxiety some students experience in the college application and admissions process.
  10. When it is time to make your final choice, discuss your options with your family, your counselor (if you have one), and others who know you well and whose judgment you value. If you have a tough time choosing among two or more colleges or universities it is probably because you have done a good job putting together your list and you will be happy at whichever institution you choose. Once you make your choice, don’t agonize over it. If you have followed these rules there is an excellent chance your final college choice will be a good one.

source: by American Educational Guidance Center

Paying for College

7 alternative ways to pay for college

By Lucy Lazarony • Bankrate.com

The news on college costs is mighty grim, but there are plenty of creative ways to keep your college dream on track.

Dwindling state and federal aid, lower endowments and drops in fund raising have forced many colleges and universities to raise tuition prices and cut back on financial aid programs.

What’s a cash-strapped student to do?

Never Give Up on Scholarships

You don’t have to be a stellar student to land a big scholarship. Unless it’s strictly an academic scholarship, your grades don’t really matter. As long as your grades make the cutoff, often a 2.5 GPA or higher, you have as good a chance as any applicant of bagging a scholarship.

And there’s no reason your scholarship search can’t continue through four years of college.

“It’s really just beating the bushes,” says Barbara O’Brien, director of college bound marketing for Sallie Mae’s planning-for-college destination, CollegeAnswer.com.

The Web is a great way to get started. Check out individual college Web sites, and search for scholarship sources on sites such as FastWeb, College Board, Wiredscholar.com and ScholarshipCoach.com. Avoid sites that charge you to search for scholarships.

Don’t overlook local sources of scholarships. Community-based awards may be smaller, but they’re also easier to win.

“College Answer has the largest online scholarship database containing more than 2.4 million scholarships worth more than $15 billion in
funds,” O’Brien says. “Students should look to organizations such as the Kiwanis Club, YMCA, parents’ employers and area businesses.”

You can learn about local competitions at the public library and at the guidance office at your local high school.

It’s time to pull out all the stops. Be flexible. Be determined. Be willing to give the unusual a try.

Here’s a roundup of some offbeat and overlooked strategies for pursuing and paying for a college degree.

1. Accelerate your degree
Accelerated classes cram a semester’s worth of material into six- or eight-week sessions. The classes, while intense, can really help to move up your graduation date. You land the degree you want at a much lower price.

Tuition in an accelerated degree program at Albert Magnus College in New Haven, Conn., is about half the cost of its traditional degree program. And many schools offer bachelor’s degree programs in three years instead of four.

For students on the physician track, George Washington University in Washington, D.C., offers a seven-year program integrating a bachelor’s degree with a medical degree, saving a full year’s costs.

At Seton Hill College in Greensburg, Pa., a student can earn a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in elementary art education for the price of a bachelor’s degree.

An accelerated degree program is a great option for a student with a clear career goal. If you’re ready to work hard, why not put your college education on the fast track?

2. Be a transfer student
Consider the power of credit transfer.

In many cases, credits earned at a less-expensive college or university can be transferred and applied toward a degree from a pricey, elite school. You could earn a prestigious diploma at a fraction of the price.

So why not attend a community college for a couple of years and then transfer to your dream college? It’s not as if the fancy diploma you’ll hang on your wall will say “transfer student.”

Taking the transfer-student route will save you some serious cash. Every credit earned at a low-cost community college could save you hundreds of dollars in tuition. Also, by bunking at your parent’s house, you could knock down your room-and-board charges to zero.

“You get some of your core curriculum out of the way for a cheaper price,” Cooper says.

The first step is learning about articulation agreements at your dream university and nearby two-year colleges.

An articulation agreement specifies which community college course credits will be accepted toward a bachelor’s degree at the four-year college or university. It also outlines scholarship requirements and specifies what kind of grades a student must achieve to transfer to the four-year school as a junior.

3. Go where you’re wanted
Somewhere out there is a college or university that’s dying to have you as a student. Find that school, fire off an application and watch the cost of your college education drop.

“Every student is a star at the right college,” says Ray Loewe, president of College Money, a Marlton, N.J., financial planning firm specializing in helping parents pay for college.

And star students get deep discounts for their education. A college that really wants you will find the aid and scholarships to keep you.

“Colleges know what they want, and if you fit their criteria, they’re willing to pay,” Loewe says.

The trick is finding the school that considers you a star.

Peruse college guides. Do your grades and SAT scores match or exceed the average marks of the current student body? Does the college offer the courses you want?

If so, this could be the school that rolls out the red carpet for you.

“Choose a college where you fit in the top 25 to 30 percent of a class,” Loewe says. “Obviously, the higher you are the more the school wants you and the better position you’re in.”

Not sure where to start your college search? Begin by checking out smaller, regional colleges in your area. An excellent but less-known college may be searching for a student just like you.

4. Choose a tuition-free school
Overwhelmed by tuition prices and the prospect of paying massive student loans after you graduate? Why not attend a tuition-free school? You get the college education you want without the hefty price tag. The catch? You may have to work. Some schools require students to work 10 to 15 hours a week on campus and in jobs related to their majors.

Tuition-free colleges include The Cooper Union in New York, N.Y.; Webb Institute in Glen Cove, N.Y.; Berea College in Berea, Ky.; College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Mo.; and Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, Ky.

5. Get a sponsor
Can’t quite swing the cost of college? Federal student loans are the best way to go when borrowing money for school. The government sets the maximum rate of interest and any qualified federal loan lender is able to charge less, such as MyRichUncle. The company provides federal Stafford, PLUS and Graduate PLUS student with upfront interest rates that start at repayment. There are no minimum number of on-time payments to qualify and this interest rate cut will never be taken away from the borrower, so long as they don’t default of their loan.

“Debt should be avoided at all costs,” says Raza Khan, president and co-founder of MyRichUncle. “But when you need to borrow, you should shop around for the lowest rate possible.”

6. Lock in tuition
Can’t stand the way college tuition keeps shooting up? Consider locking in a single tuition rate for four years.

The tuition rate you pay as a wet-behind-the-ears freshman is guaranteed until you graduate. No more losing sleep over skyrocketing tuition costs.

Colleges with locked-in tuition programs include Anna Maria College in Paxton, Mass.; Baylor University in Waco, Texas; Centenary College of Louisiana in Shreveport, La.; Concordia University in River Forest, Ill.; Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas; Huntington College in Huntington, Ind.; Urbana University in Urbana, Ohio; the University of Charleston in Charleston, W.Va.; and New York’s Pace University.

Some schools offer guaranteed-tuition programs for free. Others charge fees. Be sure to check.

7. Work off debt with community service
Got your degree? Why not do some good and wipe out a big chunk of education debt at the same time?

Recent college grads can cancel part or all of their federal-education debt by working in public-service jobs — lower-paying professional jobs that serve low-income communities — or by volunteering.

Loan-forgiveness programs are available to everyone from teachers to nurses to young doctors and lawyers to Peace Corps volunteers.

Teachers who work in low-income elementary or secondary schools may be able to cancel as much as $5,000 of their federal Stafford loan debt.

The National Health Service Corps offers loan-forgiveness programs to physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, midwives, dentists, dental hygienists, psychologists and therapists who work for two years in communities in great need of health professionals.

Similar programs are available to attorneys who pursue public interest careers. About 50 law schools offer loan-forgiveness or loan-repayment assistance programs. The National Association of Public Interest Law has a list of the schools on its Web site. The site also lists state and employer loan-repayment-assistance programs.

Several volunteer organizations also provide assistance with student loan debt.

Peace Corps volunteers who complete a two-year term can wipe out 30 percent of their Perkins loans’ balance. Student loan payments may also be deferred while serving in the Peace Corps.

Members of Americorps and Volunteers in Service to America receive educational awards of $4,725 for each year of service. These awards can be applied to student loans or future education expenses.

Scholarships

A scholarship is an award of financial aid for a student to further education. Scholarships are awarded on various criteria usually reflecting the values and purposes of the donor or founder of the award.

The most common scholarships may be classified as:

  • Merit-based: These awards are based on a student’s athletic, academic, artistic or other abilities, and often factor in an applicant’s community service record and extracurricular activities. The most common merit-based scholarships, awarded by either private organizations or directly by a student’s intended college, recognize academic achievement or high scores on the ACT and SAT standardized tests.[1]
  • Need-based: These awards are based on the student and family’s financial record and will require applicants to fill out a FAFSA to qualify if the scholarship is a federal award. Private need-based scholarships will also often require the results of a FAFSA, which calculates a student’s financial need through a formula looking at the expected family contribution and cost of attendance at the intended college.[2]
  • Student-specific: These are scholarships where applicants must initially qualify by race, gender, religion, family and medical history, or many other student-specific factors. Minority scholarships are the most common awards in this category, and not all are based in the United States. For example, students in Canada may qualify for a number of aboriginal scholarships, whether they study at home or abroad.
  • Career-specific: These are scholarships awarded by a college or university to students planning to pursue a specific field of study. Often the most generous awards are given to students pursuing careers in high-need areas such as education or nursing. Nursing students are in high demand, and many schools will give future nurses full scholarships to enter the field, especially if the student intends to work in a high-need community.

Some scholarships have a “bond” requirement. Recipients may be required to work for a particular employer for a specified period of time or to work in rural or remote areas; otherwise they may be required to repay the value of the support they received from the scholarship. This is particularly the case with education and nursing scholarships for people prepared to work in rural and remote areas. The programs offered by the uniformed services of the United States (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration commissioned corps, and Public Health Service Commissioned Corps) sometimes resemble such scholarships.

Local scholarships

It is typical for persons to find scholarships in their home region. Information on these can be found by asking local persons and organizations. Typically, these are less competitive as the eligible population is smaller.

  • Guidance counselors: When starting to explore scholarship opportunities, most high school students check with their guidance counselors. They can be a reliable resource for local scholarships.
  • Non-profit organizations and Charitable trusts: Most non-profit organizations have at some point of their history founded scholarships for prospective students. The Good Schools Guide, a guide to schools in the UK, states “Charitable grant-making trusts can help in cases of genuine need,” and goes on to outline several instances where this may be the case, including an “unforseen family disaster” and a “need for special education”.
  • Community foundations: Many counties and cities and regions have a local foundation dedicated to giving money in the form of grants and scholarships to people and organizations in the area.
  • Music teachers: Some music teachers offer reduced-cost or free lessons to help low-income children gain access to an arts education.In addition, some local non-profits provide free music classes to youths.
  • Foundations: Certain Foundations in the United States offer scholarships for Entrepreneurial Endeavors.
  • Labor unions: All the major labor unions offer scholarships for members and their dependent children.
  • Houses of worship: The local house of worship may or may not have any scholarships for their members, but the religious organization or headquarters may have some available. Of course, theology study is highly encouraged.
  • Chamber of commerce: Many chambers of commerce offer (usually small) grants to students in the community, especially those planning on careers in business and public service. Even if they do not offer any themselves, one can usually get a listing of members, and many of them may offer small scholarships to local students.
  • Other volunteer organizations: Many organizations offer scholarships or award grants to students whose background or chosen field overlaps the field of the organization. For example, local chapters of professional societies may help the studies of exceptionally distinguished students of the region. Similarly, charity organizations may offer help, especially if the late parent of the student was a member of the organization (e.g., a Masonic lodge might help the orphan of a lodge brother.) This kind of scholarship is mostly ad hoc.
  • School: Old, well-known schools are often endowed with scholarship funds.
  • University: Old, well-established universities may have funds to finance the studies of extremely talented students of little means. To be eligible, a student often must belong to some special category or be among a nation’s best. However, universities have information available on scholarships and grants, possibly even internship opportunities.
  • PSAT/NMSQT: In the United States, students are offered the opportunity to take the PSAT/NMSQT test, usually in their junior year of high school. Not only does it help them to prepare for the SAT later on, but National Merit Scholarship programs are determined, in the first step, by the scores received on the PSAT/NMSQT test. Some private scholarship programs require applicants to take the PSAT.

Other sources of information on scholarships are libraries, newspapers, the yellow pages, and Internet search engines.

source: wikipedia

http://www.isoa.org/list_scholarships.aspx http://www.iefa.org/search.php

www.finaid.org/scholarships/ http://www.scholarships.com/

http://www.usastudyguide.com/Financial_aid.htm www.studentscholarshipsearch.com

http://www.internationalstudent.com/ http://www.fastweb.com/college-scholarships

 

 

 

 
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