Scholar: Oluwatosin Fatoyinbo
Undergraduate Course and Grade: Law, Second Class Upper
Undergraduate School: University of Ibadan
Graduate Course and University: Public Policy, Willy Brandt School of Public Policy, Universität Erfurt.
I studied Law but I always loved public interest related fields. I actually wanted to study political science for my undergraduate program but I was convinced by my family that Law was the better option. I am grateful that I was persuaded to study Law, but my love for public interest subjects never waned. So when I was leaving Law School, I promised myself that I was going to work in a top Law Firm for two years, after which I would get an education in a public interest field.
Why Public Policy
At first I was distracted and was applying for LLM programs but I got rejected into a regular LLM twice. I took that as an indication that I was veering off my original plan. Then I applied for many public interest masters programs. I got into a program in Democratic Governance and Rule of Law in an American University with partial funding, a master in Competition and Regulatory Law at the Frei Universität Berlin, a master in Tax Policy and Tax Administration at the Berlin School of Economics and Law and then the Public Policy program at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy. I went for the Public Policy program because I felt the curriculum was more encompassing than all the other programs, it aligned better with the ideas I had in mind and was more affordable.
While searching for programs and countries to apply for graduate studies, I always considered programs that I could afford on my own even if I received no funding. I found that Germany was generally tuition free so that got me interested. However all the programs I wanted and got into in Germany were all specialized programs that weren’t tuition free. The Public Policy program was the most affordable of the three, so that played a role in my decision making.
Know what you want or at least what you don’t want
My Tips for Graduate Studies Applicants
Know what you want or at least what you don’t want - graduate programs are very demanding and you need to want it so much that you are able to withstand the stress. Interests change but at least make sure that at the time of application, you really want the program you are applying for.
Plan and Research - there is no substitute for this. You need to start planning early, especially if you need funding. Early applicants are often considered for most funding. I got partially funded for a program and when I emailed to request for more, I was told full funding had been awarded to early applicants and the funding I got was all that was left for that academic year. It is therefore very important that you apply early.
Be Open and have a plan B and plan C - I spent time and money trying to get into Canadian and American universities and after a number of heartbreaks, I found Germany. I overcame my bias and stories I have heard about Germany, put in my applications and got into three good programs within months of each other. Sometimes things may not work out the way you want and it is why you need alternative plans.
Have an idea of what you want to do after graduate studies - this was my personal experience. I wanted a PhD but I got cold feet at the last minute so I didn’t submit my application for the PhD programs that I wanted. When I eventually decided to give it a shot, the application deadlines for the programs except one had closed. I finally put in an application for the one that was still opened - a PhD in Victim Participation and Transitional Justice at Ghent University, but by that time it was too late - I knew my proposal wasn’t good enough and I was rejected. I would have been stranded wondering what to do if I didn’t have an alternative plan. So things may not work out as planned, but plan you must and then pray for the best.
Special recommendation for anyone interested in studying in Germany
Do a lot of research and ask a lot of questions. Ask people about their experiences and if you have plans to or are considering staying over in Germany after your studies, you will be doing yourself a big favour by learning German. There are so many opportunities in Germany, but you need the German language to unlock most of those opportunities. LEARN GERMAN!!!
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