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From No Funding For Her Program To Getting A Full Tuition Waiver; Eyitene Shares Her Graduate Story

Scholar: Eyitene Iwere

Undergraduate Course and Grade: Bachelor of Laws (LLB), First Class Honors

Undergraduate University: University of Hull, England, United Kingdom.

Graduate Degree and University: Master of Laws (LLM), Cornell University, New York, United States.

As a law graduate fresh out of the university, I decided to delay attending grad school until I got

called to the Nigerian bar and had practiced law in Nigeria. During my NYSC program, I made

the decision to attend grad school the following year.

With this in mind, I started researching into potential grad school destinations. After weighing

my options, I chose the United States because of the availability of funding opportunities. There

was no way I would have afforded to attend grad school without obtaining a scholarship or

substantial funding.

I drew up a list of 4 schools I wanted to apply to and commenced the application process.

Interestingly, Cornell was not on my initial list. It was through LSAC (an organization that

provides a platform that simplifies the process of applying to multiple schools) that I decided to

take a chance on them. I was contacted and offered an application fee waiver if I applied. I

researched into the school and realized that it was also great for the courses I wanted to study so

I decided to add it to my list.

Applying to grad school is a very time-consuming job and it helps if you don’t try to do it all on

your own. I got friends and family members to read and review my application materials. I also

contacted my referees well in advance. I chose people who knew me personally and could speak

to my strengths and preparedness for grad school.

Regarding funding, I noticed that my program did not qualify for any specific graduate

scholarship and I only qualified for merit-based scholarships which was assessed solely on the

strength of my application.

Cornell was the first school I received an admission offer from. However, I was informed that

there were no available scholarships, but I would be contacted if funding became available. I

took that as a rejection and focused on the other schools I applied to.

After receiving two rejections and one admission with very little funding, I gave up on attending

grad school that year and agreed to try again the following year. The deadline for the payment of

deposit at Cornell passed and my admission was withdrawn. Surprisingly, two days after, I

received an email that my application was still being considered and a decision will be made soon. I brushed the email off as a glitch in their system because what school withdraws an

admission and then sends such an email?

Within minutes, I received another email that I had been recommended by the Dean of the Law

School for the award of a full tuition waiver by the Institute for African Development at Cornell!

It was when I got here that I realized that there were only 3 recipients of that award across all

graduate schools at Cornell and you could only be considered for the scholarship if you were

recommended by the Dean of your faculty.

What did I learn from this experience? Be prepared! Sometimes, you might not know exactly

what an admissions or scholarship review board is looking out for, but your application must

speak to your individual strengths, passions and interests. Secondly, if you never ask, the answer

will always be no. If I knew then what I know now, I would have emailed schools that offered

me admissions to enquire about funding opportunities and/or negotiate for more funding. I have

read about people who got substantial increase in funding just by asking!

Lastly, remember not to take rejections personally. Grad school, as with any other aspect of life,

is ultimately a game of numbers and sometimes, even great schools miss out on fantastic


If you are thinking of pursuing graduate studies, let us work with you. Book a consultation here


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