How to Increase your Chances of getting a U.S. Visa

If you want to attend college in the United States and you are not a U.S. citizen, you will need to obtain a student visa. The Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security share responsibility for monitoring school and exchange programs and for monitoring visa applications that are submitted.

In order to obtain a visa, there are specific requirements that must be met by each applicant. It is always a good idea to start preparing for this part of the process early on so that you can be sure you are able to meet each requirement sufficiently.

Applying for a Student Visa

Applications for visas will not be approved any more than 120 days in advance of when the first day of classes will start. Approved applicants are generally not allowed to enter the United States any sooner than 30 days prior to the start of their classes, so if you have special circumstances or you simply want to come to America sooner than that, you will need to request an exception through the consulate or embassy that you are dealing with.

Applicants should wait until they have been accepted by a college or university before they begin the application process, as it is not at all likely that an application will be approved for students who do not have concrete plans to attend a school in the United States.

As a standard part of the application process, applicants will be required to participate in an interview at an embassy or consulate. There is usually a wait for interview appointment times, so it is advisable to put in a request for an interview as early as possible. The U.S. Department of State has a listing of American embassies to help you find the one that is nearest to your location.


Everyone who applies for a visa will have to present some documentation during their interview. There are no exceptions to this rule. The documents that are required are:

  • One 2 x 2 photograph
  • A passport that is valid for travel within the United States. It must be valid for a period of at least six months beyond an applicant’s intended period of stay in America.
  • A completed application – this is the non-immigrant visa application, number DS-156. It must be submitted along with form number DS-158. The embassy that you go to can provide you with complete, detailed information regarding any questions that you might have concerning these application forms.
  • Form I-20A-B – this is the certificate of eligibility for non-immigrant student status. This form, or another one that is similar, will be required. You must complete and sign this form, and a representative of the school you will be attending will also need to sign it.
  • Transcripts and diplomas – these are required from each institution a student has attended.
  • Scores from standardized tests such as TOEFL, SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.
  • Financial evidence proving that you or your parents have the financial means to support you while you are in the United States attending school.
  • Fees – application fees are always required, and they may vary. It is always best to check with your local embassy to find out the current fees in advance.

If you make sure that you have all of your information together at the time you begin the application process, you will likely find that it goes quite smoothly.

Interested in a University in the UK?

Many African students dream of traveling to the UK to attend university. They’re excited about the multicultural glamour and fine art of London, or the wild, barren reaches of Scotland or Wales. If this is your dream, you’re probably wondering how to achieve it.

Here are a few tips from the experts. We spoke with officials from the international student office at several universities, and here’s there advice. Before you apply to a program, here are some questions to consider.

Photo by David Jakab on

Am I qualified for this program?

Every university course has entry requirements. The requirements are designed to choose students who will be the most successful. Research the program and course requirements online or in the university prospectus. Remember that the requirements are there for a reason. It’s not going to do much good for you to enroll in Advanced Algebra, if you’ve never studied Basic Algebra.

Usually the entrance requirements will be described in terms of UK exams as grades such as A* (A-star, the highest grade), A, B, C, D, E, F, or G. Often they will be described in terms of a Tariff point score. The Tariff point system is used by UCAS to help universities to compare students. An A –Level exam score of A* counts as 120 points on the Tariff point scale, for example. Each university sets its own requirements for Tariff points. For example, one university might require 240 points for entrance, while another might require 260 points.

Will this university accept my diploma, certificate or qualifications?

Unfortunately, there is no standard for international students throughout the UK. Every university sets its own standards. Some will accept your secondary school certificate, and some will not. Those that won’t, will likely require that you take British A-Level exams, which you can study for and take online. Contact the international student’s office at the schools you are interested, and ask if they will accept your qualifications.

What are my English scores like?

If English is not your first language, you’ll probably need to pass a test. Every UK university sets its own requirements for admission, and they vary widely. Unfortunately, there are over a dozen different English tests that may be accepted. If you already have high scores on the TOEFL, ESOL or another test, ask if they will accept that. If not, research schools online to find a school that will accept your test scores – or test again.

Should I take a gap year?

Gap years are becoming increasingly common in the UK. If it’s good enough for Prince William, it’s good enough for you, right? A gap year is a year off between secondary school and university. In past generations, wealthy Englishmen spent their gap year traveling throughout Europe. Today, young people of all classes take gap years. They often work or pursue a special interest during their gap.

For an international student, the gap year allows you to study English or brush up on any academic areas that you might be weak in. If you need to study for British exams such as the A-Levels, this is the perfect time to do so.

If you applied to UK universities and weren’t accepted during your last year of secondary school, consider applying again. Often, if your grades were good in your final year, you’ll be accepted. You’ll be showing school administrators what you have accomplished, instead of what you might accomplish.

Give some thought to these questions, and then figure out the best way to make your dreams of a prestigious UK education come true.

Australian Admissions Checklist

If you dream of attending an Australian university, here’s how to make that fantasy come true. Australia has a centralized application process for students from Australia and New Zealand. Students from other countries must apply to individual universities, so it’s best to start the process earlier.

Three Years Before You Enter University Research universities and identify courses you are interested in Research scholarships Contact universities by email or mail Learn entrance requirements at each university. Locate the nearest office of the Australian Commission on Educational Research (ACER) All schools in Australia are regulated by the state or territorial government. The higher education tax system in Australia ensures that the brightest students are able to attend university, without worrying about the cost.

For this reason, the most intelligent students, not the richest, usually go to state universities in Australia. On the other hand, private universities may have more financial aid available for international students. Compared to similar programs in the United Kingdom or the United States, it is much cheaper to live and learn in Australia. The cost of living is low, and students can work up to 20 hours per week.

Two Years Before You Enter University Take the STAT in October or November Apply for scholarships, grants, loans and funding from your home country Apply for scholarships, grants, and other funding from a variety of sources:

  • The Australian Government
  • The Australian States and Territories
  • Australian Companies
  • The United Nations
  • The World Bank
  • International Student Loans Begin working on your personal statement or Statement of Purpose (SOP)

Since the STAT measures ability and not knowledge, there’s no advantage in taking it later. Take it in October or November. If you don’t score well, you can always take the test again next year. Australia offers a variety of scholarships for students in high-demand professions. Usually, the students must agree to work in Australia for a specified period after graduation. Contact each Australian state for more specific information.

One Year Before You Enter University Take the IELTS or TOEFL English tests, if required. Complete your personal essay or Statement of Purpose (SOP) Complete applications for each university on time. Receive an offer letter from one or more universities and select one Make sure you have funding in place for your education. Apply for a preliminary assessment of your student visa, if required Get health insurance coverage through the Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) Get a medical exam, if required Pay at least one semester’s tuition, if required. Receive your eCoE from the university Apply for a student visa Receive your student visa The school year for Australian universities starts at the end of February and runs until November, so plan accordingly.

If English is not your first language, most Australian universities will require that you complete an IELTS (International English Language Testing System) test, or a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam. Depending upon which African country you come from, you may be required to have a preliminary assessment for your student visa. Once this is complete, you can get health coverage, pay your tuition and receive the electronic Confirmation of Enrollment (eCoE) from your university. With that in hand, you can officially apply for your student visa.

Your student visa will not be issued until you have met any financial requirements of your university, and obtained health coverage through the OSHC (Overseas Students Health Cover.) OSHC is designed specifically to provide health coverage for international students, and their families, while studying in Australia. The rates range from $300 for a single student to $1,000 for a family. OSHC covers medical and hospital care, but not dental care.

Full Scholarships to London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) – 2019

The Standard Bank Derek Cooper Africa Scholarships

The prestigious London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) recently announced three Standard Bank Derek Cooper Africa Scholarships for the 2019/20 school year.

The scholarships are funded by Standard Bank of South Africa PLC to support academically gifted students who demonstrate financial need.

The scholarships are awarded to students accepted into one of the following programs:

  • MSc Environment and Development
  • MSc Environmental Economics and Climate Change
  • MSc Finance (full-time)
  • MSc Finance and Private Equity
  • MSc Risk and Finance
  • MSc Real Estate Economics and Finance
  • MSc Law and Accounting
  • MSc Economics and Management
  • MSc Management Information Systems and Digital Innovation
  • MSc Management and Strategy
  • MSc Financial Mathematics
  • MSc Economics and Philosophy

Applicants from African countries with a Standard Bank presence will be considered, with preference given to residents of South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Angola, Mozambique and South Sudan

Each successful applicant will be awarded £40,000 towards tuition and living expenses.

To apply for the LSE scholarships awarded for the school year starting in September of 2019:

  1. Submit your application for the program you are interested in pursuing (See how to apply for graduate courses here)
  2. Submit a Graduate Financial Support Application Form via the Graduate application tracker
  3. Recieve an acceptance letter (conditional or unconditional

The deadline for completion of these three steps is 5 pm (UK Time) April 26, 2019. Successful applicants will be notified by email by the end of July, 2019.

Scholarship Website

Yale African Scholars Program (YYAS) | Deadline February 6, 2019

The Yale Young African Scholars Program (YYAS) brings together African secondary school students between the ages of 15–18 for a tuition-free, intensive academic and leadership program that lasts eight-days per session. In 2019 the program will be held in three countries—Ghana, Kenya, and Zimbabwe—between late July and end of August. Continue reading

America’s Top Colleges – Part I

Looking for the top colleges in The United States? You are not alone! Many people are interested in knowing which schools are considered the best of the best, and they may even be interested in getting their application in. Even with acceptance rates of 5.6% percent, like at Harvard University, it never hurts to throw your hat in the ring and see if you are one of the chosen ones.

Determining the best colleges in America actually depends on what criteria you use. Some reports, like  U.S. News & World Report, evaluate colleges and universities on 16 measures of academic quality. They allow you to compare at a glance the relative quality of U.S. institutions based on such widely accepted indicators of excellence as first-year student retention, graduation rates and the strength of the faculty. while the FORBES list, of America’s Top Colleges, is focused on the direct benefits schools provide their graduates. They look at alumni salaries, debt after graduation, retention and graduation rates, debt load upon graduation, alumni salaries and signs of individual success including academic and career accolades.  Both lists are worth checking out and using as tools in your research.

Here is a list of the top-ranked universities in America (some involve ties) that appear on both lists in no particular order:

In addition to some of those listed, the ones ranked as best colleges by student reports include Williams College, Amherst College, United States Military Academy, Swarthmore College, and Claremont McKenna College.

The top colleges in America come at a hefty price tag for those who get selected to attend. While Princeton University has a 7 percent acceptance rate, 2018–2019 tuition and fee rate is $49,055. Meanwhile, the University of Chicago has an 8.8 percent acceptance rate and their 2018-2019 tuition and fee rate is $54,825. However, generally speaking, the price is worth the return on investment when it comes to listing one of these schools on your resume as your alma mater.

African Leadership Academy: Raising the Bar for Secondary Education

To bring about future peace in Africa, most would agree that good leadership is necessary. This was also the founding vision that the team of founders had when they decided to open the African Leadership Academy in 2004. Located on the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa, the non-profit academy is focused on instilling a sense of excellent leadership in Africa’s next generation of adults.

To date, the African Leadership Academy has already raised over $1 million, because supporters believe so much in their mission. The school is a coeducational boarding school that focuses on those students ages 16-19 years. Students at this age are perfect for teaching leadership skills to, which can become a key factor in helping to keep peace in the region.

Initially, the school recruited 100 students for enrollment. But, since that time, interest has increased, along with the enrollment, which is at 250 students, or 125 per year. The two-year intensive program for these teens focuses on helping to shape and prepare the students so that they can transform the continent in a positive way.

For many African students, it comes as a relief to learn that money is not a factor in being selected for this academy. Just because someone can pay doesn’t mean they will be admitted. There are scholarships available and the admission is based solely upon merit. The students are kept in small classes, of no more than 12 students, and focus on a curriculum that includes African issues, entrepreneurial training, and leadership development. Attending the program also helps the students to gain access to some of the best universities around the world.

The African Leadership Academy is certainly living up to their mission and is raising the bar for secondary education in Africa. Their impact on the lives of the students that attend the programs, as well as the country, will be long-lasting, as they develop the next generation of peaceful leaders.

Ashesi University: A Model Institution for Africa

When you think of West Africa, higher education is probably not one of the first things that come to mind. But with the help of schools like Ashesi University, that may change, one day in the future. The University is making great strides in providing a quality higher education to Ghanaians, as well as international students.

Ashesi University first opened their doors in March of 2002. Their first class of students was a group of 30. Their enrollment has been increasing each year since, and in 2018 they had 1005 full-time students enrolled, with almost as many part-time students as well. While 87 percent of the students enrolled are from Ghana, there are 17 percent that are international students from Ghana, Gambia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Students at the private, not-for-profit University are coming from near and far to take advantage of the quality education and variety of opportunities. International students have attended from such places as Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sudan, and even the United States of America.

Academics at the institution focus on providing a blend of liberal arts opportunities, with students being able to earn four-year degrees in the areas of:

  • BSc Business Administration
  • BSc Management Information Systems
  • BSc Computer Science
  • BSc Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • BSc Computer Engineering
  • BSc Mechanical Engineering

Ashesi University is certainly living up to its goal of raising the bar of higher education in Africa. The co-educational school has a mission that focuses on educating the next generation to be ethical entrepreneurial leaders in the country. This school is a model institution for Africa that will help shape many of the minds of future African leaders and businessmen and women.

Another admirable aspect of Ashesi University is the employment rate for those that graduate from it. Since the school first opened, 90 percent of the students who graduate receive a job offer within three months of graduation, and within four to six months, 100 percent of graduates have received employment offers.

United Kingdom Top Colleges – Part I

If you are thinking about getting an education in the United Kingdom (UK), you will likely be making a wise decision. The UK is considered to have some of the best colleges in the world. Rich with history, culture, and plenty of great places to visit, the continent offers many wonderful places to get a university education.  The following list is not exhaustive or scientific.  It’s just the first part of our coverage of European Universities.


Some of the top colleges for International Students in the United Kingdom include:


  • University of Cambridge– located in Cambridge. More than 25,000 undergraduate students currently attend the university, including over 5,400 international students. The university is celebrating its 800thyear and running.
  • University College London–  located in London. This multidisciplinary institution is located in the heart of London. They currently have over 11,400 undergraduate students, including over 3,000 that are international ones.
  • Imperial College London – located in Kensington, London, this university opened in 1907 and has over 8,300 undergraduate students, including almost 3,000 international students.
  • University of Oxford located in London, this university also has 800 years of higher education tradition under its belt. Currently, it has over 12,000 undergraduate students, including over 1,500 international students.
  • University of Edinburghlocated in Scotland, this university is over 400 years old and was founded in 1583. Their undergraduate student enrollment count is over 15,600, including over 2,000 international students.
  • University of Bristollocated in Bristol, this university is one of the most popular and successful universities in the UK and enjoys a high international ranking.They attract students from all over the world, creating a rich and exciting international community and are located in a vibrant, dynamic city with a reputation for creativity and sustainability.


Whether you live in Africa or Europe and would like to attend university there, you will find excellent universities to choose from. There is something for everyone in the UK. The hardest part will be narrowing down which school is a good fit for your career goals and current circumstances!

Online Education Provides Opportunity

 Have you been thinking about getting a degree, but still want the convenience and flexibility to handle everything else in your life? The answer, for many people, lies in online education. If you haven’t yet considered earning a degree online, now is the time!

The future of education is online education. Millions of people have turned to earn a degree online. By doing this, they reap benefits which include being able to do your work and attend classes when it is convenient for you, saving time so you don’t have to drive back and forth to a college campus, and more.

Online degrees are rapidly becoming the way that people choose to handle earning their education. And part of the beauty of it is that you are not bound just to schools in your own backyard. You can be anywhere in Africa and earn a degree in countries around the world.

If you want the flexibility that earning a degree online provides, contact multiple schools to gather information about the programs they offer. Compare their online format, what they require in terms of weekly assignments, and what their tuition rates are. While some schools charge a higher fee for online classes, others do not, making their convenience cost no more than attending classes on campus.

Online education is a simple solution, especially for those who may have a job or other duties they need to fulfill in addition to earning an education. With a little discipline and a goal, you can earn a degree online, often in less time than on-campus classes would take.

If you are worried that you will not have the technological savvy needed to earn an online degree, don’t worry! While you are not alone in that fear, most people find they have no problems once they get started, as the courses and delivery platforms are designed to be user-friendly.