How did USAP start?
How and where did USAP expand?
What are the criteria and process for USAP student selection?
How are USAP students funded?
How does a college or university become a USAP institution?
What does the USAP in-country program entail?
How do USAP students support each other in the United States?
What is the USAP Trust and how did it start?
Where and when will the 2011 USAP Forum take place?
How does an Educational Advisor begin a USAP program?
What sort of careers do USAP students pursue after graduation? What are the options available after pursuing liberal arts education in the US?
The United States Student Achievers Program (USAP) began in 1999 in Harare, Zimbabwe by Educational Advisor Rebecca Zeigler Mano on the premise that there were many highly-talented Zimbabwean youth who had never dreamed of pursuing higher education at the top colleges and universities in the United States simply because of their financial circumstances. The program was founded on the notions of reaching out to empower youth to look beyond financial barriers and to dream, assisting them to negotiate the confusing and intricate admission and financial aid process to highly-selective institutions in the United States and creating the strength of a family cohort unit for mutual support throughout and beyond the admission process.
In 2005, several EducationUSA advisors from Nigeria , the UK and Brazil first contacted Zeigler Mano after hearing of the success of the Zimbabwean USAP students in securing admission and full funding to attend a variety of colleges and universities in the US and in excelling at those schools. To date, there are USAP programs in the following 13 counties on 4 continents: Brazil, Bulgaria, Columbia, Ecuador, Madagascar, Malawi, Mongolia, Nigeria, Serbia, South Africa, Uganda, UK and Zimbabwe . Several other countries are considering launching USAP programs in 2008.
USAP selects students that meet all of the following criteria: academic excellence, demonstrated leadership, ethos of giving back and economic disadvantage. Typically USAP students are the first in their family to attend university as well as the first to venture out of their country's borders. Each USAP country has its own application timeline and selection process, but all select students matching these criteria. In Zimbabwe, for example, application forms are available in March, due in May and selection in done in June. The previous USAP cohort, students about to begin their studies in the US, form a selection committee to review applications together with the educational advising staff. Selection in Zimbabwe is very competitive – in 2008, we received over 465 applications for the 32 places in the current USAP cohort.
USAP does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, ancestry, sex, religion, age or disability nor does it use these criteria in its selection. While we make a genuine effort to recruit USAP students from all provinces and areas in the countries our program is present, we do not set quotas for geographic or ethnic distribution but seek the students who meet all four of our criteria.
USAP students by definition cannot afford to attend any college or university without full or nearly full financial assistance. The USAP programs in each country source funds to finance the students' application process including their SAT I and II and where appropriate TOEFL exam fees, fax, photocopying and postage costs, and email and Internet access. USAP students all request application fee waivers. Their full financial assistance usually comes from the colleges and universities that they attend as well as minimally through work study on those campuses. Occasionally, USAP students find outside gap scholarships from private foundations specific to their countries or in selected countries start-up funds from the Department of State's Opportunity Grant Program to fund small gaps in funding to attend colleges and universities that fall short of being able to meet 100% of their financial need.
There is no official process for a college and university to become a host for a USAP student. Any college or university willing and able to fund the full costs of tuition and fees, room and board, for an international student can have the privilege of enrolling one or more incredible USAP students. If you as an institution is interested in enrolling USAP applicants, please contact us and we will work with you. For a list of all colleges and universities that have admitted and fully funded a USAP student, go to our USAP Institutions Page.
USAP students work as a cohort with an Educational Advisor for at least one year throughout their application and orientation process. With flexibility for country and region specific variation, USAP programs operate on a seminar system – students gather periodically for intensive seminars on all aspects of the college selection, application, test preparation and orientation process. Seminars also build the family cohort and the communication skills of the students, while opening their minds to understand how to make the most of a US style liberal arts and sciences education. For more information on the specifics of each country's USAP program, please see the Programs Page.
USAP students form strong bonds during the application process in their home country and thus have a support network in place by the time they reach the United States. In the United States, they stay closely touch with one another through a variety of very active USAP listservs, a USAP Facebook group, and the USAP website, all started as USAP student initiatives. Eve ry year a large number of USAP students gather at the annual USAP forum to share ideas of how to give back to their communities, how to maximize their college and graduation opportunities and how to strengthen the program. One USAP family rule is that there is always at least one USAP student present at every USAP student's graduation. When USAP students first reach the US, often their first contact is a USAP big brother or sister who helps them to settle in to college life. USAP students are there for each other in good and bad times, to share their dreams and challenges, a support network often stronger than any their college can offer.
The USAP Trust began by students in the second USAP Zimbabwean cohort to raise funds to assist their younger USAP siblings with pre-enrollment costs not covered by colleges and universities including visa and SEVIS fees, immunizations and occasionally even airfare. Since its inception, the USAP trust has been managed voluntarily by a committee of USAP students, and has assisted dozens of USAP students with these hidden but unavoidable US dollar enrollment costs. Traditionally, USAP students engage in a variety of fundraising activities at the USAP Forum to raise funds for the trust. The trust fund is based at Yale University in Connecticut.
USAP has had six annual successful conferences at Wesleyan, Mt Holyoke, Yale, Smith and Amherst, and UPenn. The seventh annual USAP Forum will take place at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut from June 17 to June 20, 2011 with an Educational Advisor only day visiting campuses in Boston on June 21.
USAP programs are all run by educational advisors who are part of the EducationUSA network out of a variety of educational advising settings that include embassies, Fulbright program offices, binational centers and non-governmental organizations. If an EducationUSA advisor has the passion and commitment to reach out into the community and work intensely with this specialized population, s/he can contact the USAP Coordinator, Rebecca Zeigler Mano to learn about how to initiate and run a USAP program. We strongly suggest that advisors interested in initiating a USAP program at their advising center both visit or train with a USAP advisor in their region and/or attend a USAP Forum in the US.
The US education system is distinctive in that it is primarily liberal art and sciences based as opposed to career focused. USAP students however utilize the unique opportunities offered by a liberal art education and discover new passions and learn new skills that make them more rounded. After undergraduate education USAP students typically go to graduate professional school, or find work at top firms in the US and around the world. Others become entrepreneurs and start up projects while other return home to work.