Bukola shares the importance of funding in graduate school. Read about how she got her LLM funded
Updated: Feb 27, 2019
Scholar: Bukola Fadahunsi
Undergraduate Course and Grade: Law, Second Class Upper
Undergraduate University: University of Ibadan.
Graduate Course and University: LL.M Candidate, University of Western Ontario
If attending graduate school is dependent on whether you obtain funding or not, raise your hands!
Right from my undergraduate days, I always desired to attend an international graduate school. However, this was totally dependent on whether I got fantastic funding or could afford to self-fund my program (I was not so inclined to obtaining student loans). Honestly, I seriously considered the amount of funding schools had a reputation for providing, in choosing a graduate school.
After I had concluded my undergraduate studies, I started my practice with one of the top law firms in Nigeria. This exposed me to a great number of corporate and commercial transactions and at this point, I knew any further educational advancement had to be in corporate law! Fresh graduates/undergraduates frequently ask “Can I go for my masters immediately after University? Or 5 years after? I usually advise that young graduates gather some work experience before applying, although this may not be applicable to everyone. I believe that your work experience may help you identify your passion and as such, can help you tailor your graduate education to such areas of interest. Using law as an example, if in the course of your practice you discover you are interested in tax, perhaps an NYU or Georgetown LLM in tax will appeal to you (I hear they have a great tax program). Thus, you need to identify your area of interest, look out for schools that offer such
programs and also provide great funding as well.
Please see below a few tips from my experience:
I know this may sound cliché, but in deciding on a graduate school to attend and obtaining great funding, the importance of research cannot be over emphasized! This will help you identify the particular schools that provide funding, how to qualify for the funding or scholarships and other international funding that may be available for persons in your field. For instance, some schools provide funding, while in some other instances funding may be from external sources, i.e government, organizations, etc. It is also very important to reach out to people in your field who have achieved similar goals or attended the same institutions that you currently desire. When I decided to apply to graduate school, I contacted about three of my older colleagues that have gone through the same process. One of my friends informed me about the amazing funding at
two of the schools I applied to, while Get In informed me about the University of Western Ontario, which is where I am currently undertaking my master's program. You can also reach out to the schools if there is anything on their website you are not clear about.
The strength of your application
Having a strong application does not necessarily mean having a first-class degree on your application; it means having a well put together application. This includes having very strong references, a very personalized statement, a resume that clearly highlights your experience and educational achievements and in some instances, an interesting research proposal. With respect to obtaining strong references, this may pose a challenge, as it may feel weird requesting for strong
references from your referees. Nonetheless, if your referee is an academic setting, they may probably understand the need for strong references in obtaining admission and funding as well. I remember sending my resume and transcript to my referees to assist them in highlighting my strengths when writing my references. Thus, it is very important to use persons you have a relationship with or have worked closely with as your referees.
Your personal statement, on the other hand, should set out your experiences, your knowledge, and your future plans. This is a platform to sell yourself to the university and make them want to have you. I believe everyone has a story and how you tell it really does matter. It is very important to give your application a special touch. What this means is ensuring there is something different
about your application. It could be your work or leadership experience, your personal story in your statement, or an exceptional research topic. I believe my work experience strengthened my application. It is also advisable that you give your friends your application to read through. I asked my senior colleagues to help me review my application and I also employed the services of Get In.
To be frank, applying to graduate school takes a lot of time and requires commitment. Working in a demanding and fast paced environment did not exactly make my graduate applications easy. However, I had set my mind toward this goal and I knew I had to create the time necessary to accomplish this.
Do your research, reach out to people for information and ask experts or friends with experience to assist with reviewing your application and please work towards submitting your applications early. That feeling of setting a goal and achieving it is incredible! Of course, all of this would never have been possible without the grace of God.
Wish you God’s grace in your applications.
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