Scholar: Wamide Egunjobi
Undergraduate Course - B.Eng Computer Engineering
Undergrad University and Grades - Covenant University, First Class Honors (Top 2 graduates in my class 2012 set)
Course, University and Funding - MBA, The American College of Greece (ALBA Graduate Business School). Fully sponsored by A.G. Leventis Foundation
It’s a little weird how most of what has happened has happened. To be honest, I always wanted to go to the US for grad school. However, I wanted some years of experience before grad school. My dad thought otherwise and we, in fact, had a big fight about this during my service year in 2012. I insisted on getting at least 2 years of work experience but committed to starting the process of finding schools. In preparation, I started studying for my GRE and passed with a 310/340. In 2013 I applied to MIT, Carnegie Mellon and got rejected. In early 2014, I applied to Johns Hopkins and I eventually got an admission to study Engineering Management but without a scholarship. I think this was the change of everything for me (at least according to my plan). For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why getting a scholarship was so hard so I started reconsidering going to grad school.
Before the admission came through, I actively started looking for a job (this was now post-NYSC). I had applied to one of the big 4 firms but the hiring process was so long, I eventually started working at an e-commerce startup as an HTML developer(I applied to Kaymu via Jobberman a month after NYSC because I was bored of sleeping at home in Ibadan). After about 8 months, I finally got the offer with the big 4 firm and decided to defer my admission to JHU hoping to find scholarships. Within this time, I got shortlisted for the PRESSID ( Presidential Special Scholarship Scheme for Innovation and Development, but it didn’t scale through. I also applied for as many local and international scholarships I could lay my hands on but to no avail. I applied to Leeds, University of York, and Imperial through UKEAS. York came through without scholarship and Leeds came through with a ridiculous £3000 scholarship, my dad just laughed at me reminding me that I was on my own.
I gave up trying to grad school for about a whole year and in 2016 started giving it some thought. By this time I started considering going to a business school because of my now 3-year consulting experience and technically because my interests were starting to change based on my career exposure.
I got better at writing my applications and paced out school admissions actively started looking out for schools that offered scholarships but still no luck. In early 2016, I applied and got admitted into IE Business School with only 40% scholarship out of over €30000 tuition excluding accommodation. I again deferred to source additional funds. I was offered a chance to take loans, but I really wanted to go to Uni debt-free so I declined.
At this time, one of my friends got a scholarship to study in the top business school in Greece but at the time my mind was fixed on US or Madrid, Spain. Later that year, my sister tried out for the Greece scholarship and got in. This motivated me to try in early 2017 for the next intake. IE Business school, on the other hand, kept following up on whether I was going to take the offer, I eventually had to give it up when I couldn’t find any additional funds.
At the start of the year in 2017, both my parents convinced me of the need to try again, and particularly try other schools outside of my initial plans. So, I reluctantly put in my application for the Greek Uni and I also tried 2 other schools in the US at the time (Stanford and Bowling Green University). Imagine my disappointment when Stanford didn’t come through and Bowling Green came through but with limited funding (AGAIN).
Since I had put in my application for The American College of Greece, I went through with the application process. When I did my Skype interview for the school in Greece, they blatantly told me there was a 50% chance of not getting in since my sister was already in. It felt like I was at my wit end again. The pressure was also more cos deep down I was in no mood to waste my GRE score and wanted to make use of it.
Eventually, I heard back from the school and I got a 100% A.G Leventis scholarship with accommodation and living expenses (won’t God do it). My work experience at the Big 4 turned out to be very pivotal in getting selected for the scholarship. In retrospect, I almost declined the offer but it's been a whole different ballgame getting here, my professional experience has also been very key to applying the concepts I’m learning.
Overall the key challenges for me were finding a full scholarship and of course reading the many ‘we regret to inform you’ emails. Key Lessons
I wish I knew more about school loans earlier, maybe I would have taken the JHU plunge or even the IE Business School offer.
If there’s something, in particular, you want, go for it. Don’t be put off by the no’s it could ultimately lead you to the right path
Do good research. Find accountability partners so you can get people to review your applications and churn out in good time.
Network. Network. Network. Find people who have more information than you and can advise you. (I got the chance to be part of TheBridge Initiative early on and they helped with reviewing my application documents. There's also Get In. (Who knows maybe I knew of this earlier, I’ll be in Stanford by now haha)
Pace yourself and apply yourself. In the end, it’s what YOU make out of your education that counts not only where you got educated. So ease off on the pressure.
Pray and find peace with your decisions (no matter how unseemly unpopular it might be, that's really what has kept me going)
I’m going to get spiritual on this one because that’s me. To be honest, I won’t say I did anything, in particular, to be where I am. Yes, I’m very ambitious and very determined and focused so people sometimes assume I don’t have these challenges and that all my plans always pan out. In fact, it’s worse because sometimes I don't get what I think I want. I've realized though that most times I find myself in unpopular situations that I later realized was the right path. In reality I wanted to be in the US and sometimes I still try to figure out why I wasn’t able to get in despite good grades, GRE, and all. (Although I’m definitely still hoping for it lowkey, not sure how but it would happen). But in the end, everything works together. The experience here has been very useful and I’m glad I am in grad school debt-free.