May 23, 2012: The United States is increasingly a destination of choice for Zimbabwean students – more than 450 student (F1) visas were granted in 2011/12, representing a 14 percent increase over the previous year, according to the Consular Affairs Office in Washington D.C. While Zimbabwe increased, the rest of Africa saw a decline of 2.4 percent in the F1 visa category during the same period.
According to Open Doors 2011, Zimbabwe sent 1,135 Zimbabwean students to the U.S. for the 2010-11 academic year. Open Doors is an the annual report on international academic mobility published by the Institute of International Education (IIE) with support from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.
The figures come at a time when U.S. colleges are intensifying outreach to Zimbabwean students with the promise of a liberal arts education and state-of-the-art campus facilities.
On Tuesday May 22 three U.S. college admission officers addressed a packed auditorium at the U.S. Embassy’s Eastgate offices during a Food for Thought session. They emphasised Zimbabwean students need to pursue excellence in academic and other disciplines to stand a better chance of getting scholarships to American colleges.
“We are not only looking at your marks, your transcripts, but we are really looking at you as your whole person and we want to be sure that you are going to come to our campus and, based on your own individual interests and background, are going contribute something to our campus community,” said Meredith Mebitt, Assistant Admissions Director at Smith College.
Mebitt and fellow admission officers from Amherst and Wellesley colleges spent five days in Zimbabwe meeting high school students in Bulawayo and Harare. The three admission officers briefed students about their respective colleges and application procedures, and provided information about opportunities for scholarships and other financing.
”We will encourage you to have well-rounded educations when you leave our colleges,” said Vicki George, admission officer at Wellesley College. “Liberal arts is a philosophy education, so we teach students to be really good, effective community speakers in any field. We anticipate that by the time a student leaves they would have an all-around education.” Francis Tuleja, Assistant Dean of Administration at Amherst College, added,“being a fine musician can give you extra points but it won’t help in distinguishing your academic qualification.” – ZimPAS© May 23, 2012.