PS: This seminar was done on WhatsApp from the 11th to 13th of January, 2018 with fifty-nine (59) participants and six (6) panelists (Four from US and Two from the UK). Take your time and read in that context. A lot of information was shared, take out the ones that relate to you. If you have more inquiries or need help, please send an email to email@example.com
1. Introduction of Panelists
2. Talk by the Individual panelist on gaining admission, accessing grants, available schools, preparing for GRE, TOEFL, IELTS and also personal experiences.
4. Questions from Participants.
4. Final words from panelists
5. Thank you note from participants and filling of feedback form.
Meet the Panelists
Ms. KAREN OHEN (US)
Karen Ohen serves as the Director of Admissions at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
Ms. Karen Ohen has a passion for serving in the field of admissions and recruitment. With over 15 years of experience in higher education, she has placed thousands of students into colleges and universities in the United States.
Ms. Ohen has worked at highly ranked universities such as Howard University, University of Virginia, and most recently, John Hopkins University as the Director of Admissions. She completed her Bachelor of Education and Master of Public Administration at Seton Hall University.
Ms. FLORENCE ADIBU (US)
Florence Adibu is an Intercultural Learning Specialist at Purdue University for the Center for Intercultural Learning, Mentorship, Assessment and Research (CILMAR). Her primary research focuses on how Portuguese colonialism, racial census reporting, and gender hierarchies shape color and inter/intra-racial beauty ideals in Ghana, Brazil and across the African Diaspora.
Hailing from Larteh, Ghana, she was raised in Chicago, IL. Prior to joining Purdue University, Florence worked at School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she taught comparative U.S. and Brazilian race politics, Black Feminist Aesthetics and Art Activism. Florence earned her BA in International Studies and Sociology from Spelman College, her Masters in Teaching English as a Foreign Language from Beijing (Peking) University and her MA in African American Studies with a specialization in Latin America and Gender and Sexuality studies from North western University.
IRO ALTRAIDE SAM-WORUKA (US)
Iro Sam-Woruka is the Welfare Director of the NIFES Uniport North American Alumni (NUNA). She graduated from Uniport with a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography. She also holds a Masters degree in Environmental Management from Yale University. Iro has held several positions in the public, private and non-profit sectors. She is open to assisting Nigerians that aspire to study abroad in order to make a difference around the world.
MRS. NWAMAKA AKPODIETE (UK)
Nwamaka Akpodiete is an Assistant Lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt. She is currently studying for a Ph.D. in Medical & Molecular Entomology at Keele University, United Kingdom. Her Ph.D. study is sponsored by Schlumberger Foundation, The Netherlands. She actively promotes Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) disciplines.
MR. OKWUDILI NWEZE (UK)
Okwudili Nweze served as NIFES UNIPORT President in the 2007/2008 academic session and then as General Co-ordinator of JCCF UNIPORT in 2008/2009.He currently works as Information Analyst at Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Berkshire, UK. He obtained a BSc Human Anatomy degree from the University of Port Harcourt and later completed a master’s programme in Health Informatics with distinction from City, University of London.Prior to his Health Informatics career, he worked in the telecoms and aviation sectors in Lagos, Nigeria. With a keen interest in Big Data and Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare, he intends to pursue his Ph.D. along this path soon.
MR. BOLAJI (US)
Mr. Bolaji is currently doing his Ph.D. at Purdue University, Indiana USA. Last year, he did a live stream seminar for NIFES final year students on studying abroad and it was awesome. The students were able to see him live, ask questions and learn.
Mr. Okwudili Nweze
How to Get UK Master’s Admission
- This is relatively straightforward. Do your research personally and determine what schools and course you want and why. You may check University ranking sites to see the rating of the schools you find. Guardian and Times are good options.
- If you would like to stay back in the UK after your studies, you might consider a course that is related to any of the jobs in the country’s Shortage Occupation list. It’s easier to get employers to sponsor your visa for these jobs.
- In most cases, you are required to have at least a 2-2, depending on the school and the course. A 2-2 is generally the minimum for the UK.
- Some courses require that your bachelor’s degree is related in some way to your proposed master’s course, but if you have relevant work experience of up to 3 years, that might suffice.
- You will need to write a personal statement to demonstrate your interest, suitability, and prospects. This is your opportunity to sell yourself.
- You need to be bold to negotiate for concessions e.g. regarding your qualifications. Sometimes, the rules can be bent if you can prove that you are good.They also need your money.
- Most applications are done online, but you will need to ask your undergraduate university to send your transcripts to the school that you are applying to.
- You will be required to pay an initial fee deposit which could be a less than a quarter of the total fees before you are a given a confirmation of acceptance (CAS) for your visa application.
RECEIVE 100% FREE ASSISTANCE FROM UKEAS (United Kingdom Educational Advisory Service) IN PROCESSING YOUR UK ADMISSIONS, FROM SCHOOL SEARCH TO APPLICATION, INCLUDING FULL SUPPORT IN VISA APPLICATION. Visit https://www.ukeas.com.ng
UKEAS is authorized to receive your transcript from your Nigerian university and send a scanned copy to your UK school on your behalf. This will save you cost and time and they will give you your original transcript at the end of the day!
UKEAS is not a ‘business’, but an NGO. They helped me process my admission and I’ve done a couple of awareness events with them as well. So, feel safe to approach them.
About UK Shortage Occupations: https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=http://workpermit.com/immigration/united-kingdom/uk-tier-2-shortage-occupation-list&ved=0ahUKEwiL5bKiydDYAhWmIMAKHe5QAmcQFggxMAI&usg=AOvVaw3baNFYKtXpLGciRBNx1tfu
ENGLISH LANGUAGE REQUIREMENT FOR A UK MASTER’S
- Before you can gain admission into a UK university, you must sit for and obtain a minimum of 6.5 overall marks in International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Some schools and courses require higher scores, so please check.
- There are other English language tests like TOEFL but find out what your school wants. Start preparing to sit for language test early enough. IELTS, for instance, takes place at least once a month in some selected states of Nigeria.
- You need to sit for the IELTS Academic Module for UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) which comes with a UKVI number, not just the standard IELTS academic module. Well, some schools can still accept the standard academic module. The two are exactly the same, apart from the UKVI number that comes with one.
- You can prepare for the exam on your own and still pass, but I would recommend you find a coach or at least work with a group. The key is practice and more practice, and definitely, grace!
ONLINE IELTS RESOURCES
ABOUT FUNDING AND PROCESSING YOUR TRAVEL DOCUMENTS FOR A UK MASTER’S PROGRAMME
- After paying your initial fees deposit, you are required to keep the full balance of your school fees and personal maintenance (for personal upkeep) as prescribed by your school for at least 90 days in your bank account (if you are the sponsor – paying the fees yourself). You can also be sponsored by your family.
- There are equally scholarship opportunities online, like the Common Wealth Scholarships that come up for specific fields and schools in the UK. It’s worth trying if you have a very good degree result.
- School fees and personal maintenance can be a lot of money for UK studies and sometimes you can’t have it all from day one. Some people ask friends and relatives to send money into the sponsor’s designated bank account at different points until it crosses that required amount for their fees balances and personal maintenance sufficiently. The 90 days starts counting from the day you have sufficient money to cover the required expenses.
- The UK Immigration make use of the Oanda exchange rate (Google it) and you are required to maintain a naira value of your fees using their rate. Please endeavour to have enough so that the money doesn’t drop at any point below the required Pound Sterling amount within these 90 days. You know our exchange can be quite unstable. A key reason is that if your money ever drops below the required amount, you will need to top up and start counting your 90 days afresh, and you might not have the time!
- If you borrowed money to meet up with the required funding on your bank account, after the required 90 days, you can print your statement for your visa application and return the monies to the owners. However, you will still need to pay your full school fees over the course of your studies.
- Nobody cares about your personal maintenance (as long as you don’t get stranded) once you have got your visa, so you don’t necessarily need to have the money, but you should have enough.
- Most schools accept installments of your fees and if things get really tough, you can negotiate for multiple installments. However, you must pay up all your fees before you can receive your final result. Some schools might insist you pay up fully before you can start your final project.
- For your visa application to the UK Home Office, you will need a confirmation of acceptance (CAS) from the school you’re going to, as well as your bank statement and other basic documents to apply.
- You will do a Tuberculosis x-ray at a designated agency and have your biometrics captured at a visa application centre at the point of application.Over 90% of visa applicants who prove that they have funds get to have their visa approved.
IRO ALTRAIDE SAM-WORUKA (US)
Hello everyone – thanks for the opportunity to contribute to this panel. I would categorize my advice into 5 areas and elaborate on each area. Kindly allow my completion of all 5 areas, and afterwards I will take questions related to any of the topics.
Positioning Yourself for Overseas Studies and Acceptance
The Application Process and your Attitude
Scholarships and Strategic Targeting
Students and their Significant Others
Sustainable Post-Study Overseas stay
Positioning Yourself for Overseas Studies and Acceptance
The following aspects will enable you to place yourself and your application package in a position to succeed and be accepted.
Engage in community development and civic project work (paid or unpaid) especially for disadvantaged groups such as women, children, oppressed tribes, displaced communities, disabled people, etc. You can either initiate and complete a new project or join existing laudable initiatives.
For those of you that are still in school, are recent graduates or if you have been unemployed for some time, it is very important to still invest your time in activities that can enrich your resume and personal statement. Be observant & identify opportunities that exist everywhere about you!
Remain conscious of the cycle and schedule of graduate school qualifying exams (SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc) and align it to your desired enrolment goals.
The Application Process & Your Attitude
FAITH & HOPE are vital when applying for studies abroad from Nigeria.
Also staying focused and being persistent are very important traits. Always keep your eyes on the prize and you will not be discouraged when the attendant issues and prolonged delays arise.
Common pitfall areas in this process includes the arduous visa process at the US consulate office in Nigeria, securing a sponsor and affording all related costs, communication issues with overseas admissions officers, fulfilling application requirements, crafting winning resumes and personal statements, managing information flow across different geo time-zones and obtaining transcripts from Nigerian universities!!!
It is important for your morale and the eventual studies that you are prepared and that you persevere with the process and maintain a positive attitude during challenges and remain optimistic about your prospects.
Resumes and personal statement are very key pieces of your application package. Ensure the involvement of many people (diverse perspectives enrich your process!) in your professional network to enable you to craft great proses that will appeal to the academic team. I sent my draft personal statement to over 15 people and fine-tuned the final draft with 4 out of the initial group and I can honestly say that each contributor brought unique comments (including badgering family members!!) that created my winning sample! I am willing to share the personal statement that I used to get into Yale to give an idea of the structure of a winning sample.
AVOID EXCEEDING THE WORD LIMITS FOR RESUMES & PERSONAL STATEMENTS. It is a strict disqualification mechanism for some schools so ensure that you are at least 1-3 words away from the limit. It is an utmost waste of time and resources to painstakingly fulfill the application requirements only to shipwreck your chances because of a few words above limit! That does not make sense and is very demoralizing! Also, if your application is rejected, you may never know that you shot yourself in the foot because of going over the limit with words!
Depending on the volume of responses, I am willing to help interested applicants to review and enhance their resumes & personal statements.
Carefully choose your recommendation references. AVOID old-school professors that may struggle with or fail to grasp current application demands, unless you will be available to help them. Also, be sure to choose references that are committed to working with you and that will follow through the entire process of the unique application demands required for each school.
Finally, have a 12-month plan that begins with researching all schools that fit your academic goals, identify the application requirements and begin to fulfill them starting with preparing for the qualifying exams, achieving successful exams, take ample time for compiling your application materials, references notification and inputs, visa process, organize financial capability to your non-refundable application fee payment (credit card, foreign currency transfer, western union, etc); and be sure to achieve all these aspects well ahead of the deadline for applications, scholarships and obtaining a visa, international travel and organized onboarding into your new academic program.
I wish you all the best of luck with all your forthcoming applications!
Scholarships and Strategic Targeting
Spend time to research about universities in the US that have large endowments (financial assets) e.g. the Ivy League schools because they tend to allocate funding to qualified international students. The usual myth is that most people avoid such school because they believe that it is almost impossible to be accepted into their programs. DO NOT BE CAUGHT IN THAT WEB! All schools especially Ivy League schools seek to attract top talent and you should rather focus on proving that you are worthy of their scholarship investment through your brilliant scores, laudable work experience and other convincing credentials that will get you accepted and so that you can benefit from their scholarships (if you need funding).
If you need funding, it is best to research on schools that can fund 70-100% of students cost of attendance, there are schools in the US that can do so, therefore take advantage of this opportunities. I was funded 100% tuition free at Yale and I also had some work-study grants which further provided much needed living expenses during my studies.
Also note that beyond the initial scholarship award required to get a student visa, you will be eligible to apply for other scholarship opportunities when you are enrolled as a student, this will further provide much needed living expenses and can enrich your research project and academic career networking landscape.
Schools that easily accept students provide little or no funding (0-20%) which can easily put you in a scenario to produce a minimum of 35000 USD annually. The US consulate office would require you to show the total available funds before you can be issued a student visa. It is very demoralizing to know that you have been accepted for studies and be unable to enroll because of no funding. I have been in that position and I know that it can be discouraging.
DO NOT FAIL TO APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS BEFORE THE GIVEN DEADLINES! I know someone that lost a valuable Yale offer because she did not apply for scholarship and she had not secured the total cost of attendance (of 90000USD) and therefore could not accept the offer in 2009! She was very, very demoralized! Luckily, she reapplied for the program and scholarship in 2011, got accepted and matriculated in 2012 and she graduated in 2014, taking full advantage of Yales scholarship award.
It is important to be strategic with applications and scholarships. Stay focused on the areas that you possess competitive advantage and utilize every strategy that will put you the highest probability for acceptance and award.
Students and their Significant Others
It is becoming more and more difficult to support your family in a foreign country, during your studies. I do not mean to sound discouraging but the hardship can be quite heavy; I speak from immense hindsight from my own experience. My candid advice to married students is that you should seriously consider graduating and getting a job instead of relocating your family alongside you and your studies. The main exception will be if you can fully afford their cost of living or in the case of a fully funded PhD program, otherwise, totally avoid relocating significant others because it creates distraction and can greatly affect your post-graduation advancement.
Sustainable Post-Study Overseas Stay
Various ordeals from globalization is presently affecting how western countries handle immigration in light of uncertain economic landscapes especially with respect to job stability for their teeming populations. This has created more scrutiny on visa newcomers especially in the US where there is increased toughness on immigration. Being able to legally stay needs more strategic planning and supernatural favor!
The most common legal track to stay back post-study is to position yourself (best achieved during your studies) into a job through which you can obtain the 1-year post-study visa (OPT) and pray for sponsorship from that employer or any other avenue. If you do not get a renewal, you stand better chances for future US immigration if you go back to your home country when your OPT expires and strategically continue to seek opportunities that will bring you back legally.
You can also stay back by applying into another program (PhD, another Masters degree, post-doctoral training, etc.)
If you are lucky to find your life partner and marry a US citizen, that would also give you a very secure legal stay in the US. Do avoid scam marriages!!!
You can also consider transitioning to other countries like Canada or UK to take advantage of some of their highly skilled visa programs for jobs in IT and health sectors.
Thank you for your time and attention. I believe that these 5 areas addressed a lot of the questions that were submitted and I look forward to be able to contribute further by responding to other questions that may come up during this seminar in the comping days.
Nigerians are very unique Africans and I am passionate about assisting interested individuals to make a difference around the world. I wish you the best of luck with your applications and aspirations.
I pray that our good Lord perfect will all that concerns you in Jesus name, Amen.
Hello everyone, it is an absolute pleasure to participate in this unique online seminar. All the information already stated and to come are extremely critical that you should find valuable and excellent to follow or leverage as a guide. Every person applying to college walks their own path, so I would also suggest that you are introspective and tailor a plan that allows you to be a competitive applicant. This is considered the R&P to successful admission and scholarships consideration
I will offer admissions perspective from years of experience working at a variety of schools including, undergraduate, graduate and MBA programs. During my time in this forum, I plan to include and cover :
– A presentation that gives a bird’s eye view of Admissions Committee Strategic review methodology
– Recent links I found helpful for students
– Replying specifically to you submitted and future questions
Download preparing for college slides
Some of the most useful links I advise students to review:
-10 Universities Where International Students Receive Aid https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/the-short-list-college/aticles/2017-09-21/10-universities-that-offer-international-students-the-most-financial-aid
-10 State That Attracts Most International Students
Use Cambridge Qualifications to Study in the U.S. https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2017-12-12/use-cambridge-qualifications-to-study-in-the-us
International Students Tips
Another great opportunity to apply for if you are making community impact in Nigeria
Some of My Top Free GRE Resources Recommendations
1. ETS Powerprep Tests – Free online practice tests from the test-makers themselves. Use these to get a feel for not only the content of the GRE but also the basics of the exam- how the calculator works, how to flag and return to questions, etc.
2. Magoosh’s GRE Vocabulary Flashcards– Thier GRE vocabulary flashcards cover more than 1000 of the most important GRE vocab words. You can either download the app or use the desktop version.
3.ETS Essay Topic Pools, Argument, and Issue – ETS provides the entire pool of tasks from which your essay prompt will be selected. That’s right–the ENTIRE pool, meaning you will see one of these topics on your actual exam. Practice writing essays with these prompts.
Below are other things you will need to do alongside with GRE or other required exams (s) such as TOEFL or IELTS, most schools have this as an additional requirement.
While preparing for these exams, you need to start applying to schools as well, the earlier you submit your applications the greater your chances of getting admission with scholarship. But you need to do a lot of research so that you can apply wisely. GRE is the most important exam; give it an absolute concentration first. Check on this link (usnews.com/education.) for schools (US, Canada or UK) that could be of interest to you. There are a lot of schools there, you need to narrow them down based on your choice of program(course), the ranking of the school, and also the research area(s) you are interested in.
This calls for diligence and a lot of time. You can type the program (course) of interest in the search tab (for each of the links), it will bring the list of schools that are offering the program. Then you will start surfing through the websites of each school to see what they have to offer- how many of their faculty members(lecturers) are doing research(es) that are similar to what you want? Does the school offer (financial) assistantship in terms of Graduate Teaching/Research Assistantship(GTA/GRA)? This is very important if you want scholarship/funding.
Then you want to get the email address (contact) of the program coordinator from the department. Send an inquiry email to him/her, stating your achievements, Diploma, Bachelor, Masters, and intent to do your graduate studies (MSc./PhD) in their school, you can state and attach your GRE and TOEFL unofficial score results(if you have already taken these exams). You can also mention your BSc CGPA in the mail and attached the unofficial transcripts as well. Ask them if they provide financial aid/assistantship to their students and how you can apply for it.
Send as many emails as possible…it could even be more than 100 emails! They will generally reply to emails and based on their response you can ask them further question(s) and begin to select which of them you will actually apply to. Some people apply to as many as 15 schools, it’s not a bad thing if you have the money for application fees and for sending TOEFL and GRE score reports, and you don’t want to go through this process for 2 or more times. My advice is that you apply to 8 schools or more. And make sure the 8 schools are well spread in terms of rankings: 2-high ranked, 4-mid-ranked and 2 low-ranked. You can easily get the school ranking in usnews.com/education.
One very important thing, Don’t wait for application deadline before you apply and turn in your supporting application documents. Some schools make their admission decision before the deadlines, and candidates that apply early usually get the scholarship. Make sure you submit your application (with all the supporting documents) like 6 or 9 months before the start of the semester you are applying for. For your applications, most schools require you to write a statement of purpose, a sample of mine would be sent to you at that point.
Don’t forget: 1. Make up your mind 2. Gather Information 3. ACT!
In summary of all the counsels we have received, keep the following in mind:
1. Admission and sponsorship processes differ from country to country, school to school, department to department, and program to program.
2. All of them require serious research ahead of time.
3. When there is a will, there is a way. Don’t ever give up.
4. More than enough information is at your fingertip with the availability of the Internet.
5.It will work out.
Hi, prospective Ph.D. students. Here are a few tips:
1.Why a Ph.D.?: Your answer to this question is key to a successful Ph.D. It would influence your application and funding. Statement of purpose is a requirement for a Ph.D. application. You need to be clear why you are going for the degree and what you would use it for. Duration is 3-4years in the UK with the possibility of extension and approximately 5 years in the US. It’s largely independent work with pivotal imputes from a supervisory team. It’s really key to answer the “why” question. All funding bodies require this, and it’s a basis for receiving funds.
2.What research?: You would need to articulate what you want to research in a full-fledged proposal. To ensure this post is not lengthy, I’ll leave this here and probably wait for questions.
3.Where are the expertise and facilities?: choosing a school for a Ph.D. is quite different from MSc because it’s not really about the school but the individual (s) you would work with. For instance, the best expert in your field may not be working in the top 10 universities in the country but he/she is the best in that field in the world. So it’s really about the supervisor and the facilities available, plus collaborations. Read publications in your field from top journals and you’ll begin to have an idea of the person that would be your future supervisor.
4.Contact supervisors: Most schools require you to have discussed with a prospective supervisor before application. Funding bodies also require that.
5.Get an admission letter: this is pretty easy if you have step 1 -4. Other panelists have made contributions towards this.
6.Funds: when you have done 1-5 above, then you are ready to search for funding.For clarity, I’ll break this down into subtitles.
6a. Be prepared: so getting funds is all about giving someone (company, government agencies, university, etc) a good reason (s) why they should invest in you for 3-5 years. Understanding the enormity of that investment will prepare you to give it your best.
6b. Organize your CV: what this simply means is to organize your winning story. Funding requirements differ with funders but this standout- outstanding academic performance, enthusiasm for subject area, an excellent proposal, community development service, great personality, established need, importance of research to home country, quality of supervisor and facilities available at host country etc.
6c. Systematically search for funding especially around your subject area. Also, focus on specialized funders e.g. Funding for women. If you are easily discouraged, then this is not for you. I applied to over 50 bodies and I got 2. But the beauty is you can’t compare the little stress and effort you put in with the loads of benefit you receive when you get it. The thing is not just to work hard but hard & smart.
6d. Funding usually comes with commitment. You are most times required to return home and give back. You should prepare for this, especially with international bodies.
6e. Multiple/ combined funds: ideally a single funding body is preferred. Waiting for that could be limiting as there are several funders who are willing to give part of the funds. For instance, a body could say, we are offering just tuition, or accommodation or bench fees, travel expenses etc.
Also, Ph.D. students are regarded as staff in the US and most of Europe. That implies you’ll get teaching assignments, laboratory demonstrating, tutorial jobs etc, for which you would be paid. So you can see that as additional sources of funding
The work: preparing yourself mentally for a Ph.D. is very important. It’s a long stretch of consistent hard work and innovative + analytical thinking. Funds are usually released annually and you have to show good academic progress to continue receiving funds. Emotional maturity is a big issue here. Self-management and great interpersonal skills. Also add problem-solving, a never-give-up attitude. Also, thank God for His word: you would need the verse “rejoice in the Lord, again I say rejoice”.
6f. Milestones: As a follow-up, there are milestones in a Ph.D. depending on the country. Here in the U.K., after the first 10months, you’ll be evaluated by a panel. If you don’t pass, you’ll be awarded an MSC or Mphil. And your visa and funding will be curtailed.
7.Supervisor management: lastly I’ll end my talk with choosing a supervisor. I mentioned this earlier but I’d like to end with it. A good Ph.D. is a result of effective work between a prepared student and an expertly managed supervisor.
It’s a long read, but I guess it’s also a long road. See you on the other side, my future colleagues. Shallom!
“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence”
Thank you so much for allowing me to share my experience and advice as contribution to this panel.
So much has already been said so excellently, so I don’t want to be repetitive. I also want to mention if you plan on studying in the U.S. the links for the GRE prep are excellent Please take advantage of those study materials and take your time with the writing portion of your exam. Though the tests are important, please know your ENTIRE application will be assessed and it is imperative that each part of your application is submitted with special care.
I would like to add a few more specific points from the perspective of having been a graduate student, personally sat on admissions committees and as a visiting lecturer. Additionally, I would be more than happy to answer any specific questions concerning the pre and post-application process as well as the matriculation experiences of the professional degree and Ph.D. experience with context in the United States only.
First: I cannot stress enough how important it is to do your research. I don’t only mean about ranking or your program, or institution, these are important but additionally what I mean here is the area and space you will be doing your research. The other people, faculty and other graduate students in the program and the programs ability to produce, train and place you as a future researcher, academic or in industry. The city landscape, access to train or bus stations, grocery stores and cost of living. Contrary to popular belief, you will have a life outside of the lab, and you will have to be able to live with it for four or more years. The environment of the surrounding area is important. Do you need a city atmosphere to be productive? Or is your ideal location surrounded by forests and mountains or by a beach? Research, The reputation of the program, NOT the institution but the program. The world is becoming more globalized so it is not enough to be trained in your field only, is their room to engage with other colleagues. Cross collaborative research and learning experiences, the program’s commitment to interdisciplinary/ multidisciplinary training are crucial. Who are their visiting scholars, what are their courses or seminars? I want each of you to actually research and look at the course syllabi. Read the work of the potential professor you want to work with. The program must be a good fit and you will not know that unless you do your research. My ultimate point here is to start early and don’t be afraid to actually contact professors, researchers, other graduate students (they are the best at being honest) and faculty members to figure out if the University, the city, and its people will welcome you.
The personal statement: make sure that your statement of purpose clarifies why you are interested in a career in academe/research. Be sure that you have talked to a faculty member in the program(s) to which you are applying and use their name in the essay along with other professors and why it is a good match. The above panelists have already offered wonderful advice on how to construct excellent Personal Statement, what I will add is if for any reason, you are not accepted, it is ok to ask for clarification. There can be many reasons for denial, such as lack of match with faculty interests, lack of funding, applicant’s academic credentials are not sufficient, faculty member does not have space for another student. Understanding why your application was denied can enable you to make wiser choices and make a stronger application if you choose to reapply for programs in the future.
Third: Please, not only is it important to give yourself PLENTY of time (to write, get your materials together order your transcripts early) but honestly, give OTHERS plenty of time. Ask for letters of reference from persons who are familiar with your academic skills and can address your potential as a doctoral student or researcher. Make sure at least some of your letters are from current or former professors who are familiar with your academic ability and potential. Let them know your deadline and ALWAYS follow up. In a Ph.D. program, time management reaches a whole new level. You will not only have lectures to attend and homework to do. You will have to make time for your research, which will include spending extended periods of time in the lab, analyzing data, and scheduling time with other students to collaborate on research. Also, you will most likely have to teach for a number of semesters, and you will want to attend any seminar that may be related to your research or that just peaks your interest. To top it all off, you still need time for yourself and your family. Time will always be of the essence so really think this through.
Fourth: Advisor and Advisee or mentee/ mentorship relationship In a Ph.D. program you will work very closely with your advisor/mentor. Think of the Ph.D. program as an apprenticeship and your mentor as the person you apprentice with. The relationship of the Ph.D. student and faculty advisor/mentor is quite different than the relationship you had with faculty in your MA, MS, or AuD program. Thus, you will want to carefully choose your mentor/advisor. Is the faculty member an active researcher? Is the faculty member actively publishing his or her research findings? Does the faculty member attend conferences frequently? Does he or she take graduate students to conferences (and pay their way!)? Does the faculty member have a record of funded research? Is the faculty member currently funded? Can the faculty member offer financial support? If not, is there other financial support? Does the faculty member have undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students in his or her laboratory? This relationship may and can break or sustain your success at whatever institution you go. So please as I mentioned before please get in contact with professors.
Fifth: YOU are your only and BEST advocate some cultures don’t consider asking questions a positive thing. Some of us have grown up thinking asking for help is a negative thing to do. But here in America, people love questions! It shows your effort to understand and the fact that you are listening to them. So never be afraid to ask questions! It is one of the most important things to be a successful student.
Lastly, as an international student coming to the United States, there are three different student visas that you could be issued: F1 Visa, J1 Visa or M1 Visa. The F1 and J1 visas allow for the possibility of employment in the US during your stay, while the M1 Visa does not. You need to be familiar with the types of visas, how they impact your financing while in the USA and how to go through the application and arrival processes.
Types of International Student Visas
The “F” visa is for academic studies. An F1 visa is issued to students who are attending an academic program or English Language Program. F1 visas are by far the most common form of international student visa in the U.S. F1 students must maintain the minimum course load for full-time student status. F-1 status allows for part-time, on-campus employment (fewer than 20 hours per week). Additionally, students can work on optional practical training (OPT) for up to one year after completion of their academic program. Students are expected to complete their studies by the expiration date on the I-20 form (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status).
A J1 visa is issued to students who need to obtain practical training that is not available in their home country to complete their academic program. J-1 student status allows for similar employment as the F-1 visa, with similar restrictions, as long as permission is given by the exchange visitor program sponsor.
Non-Academic /Vocational Studies
An M1 visa is issued to a student who is going to attend a non-academic or vocational school. M-1 visa holders for technical and vocational programs are not permitted to work during the course of their studies. The M-1 student visa applicants must have evidence that sufficient funds are immediately available to pay all tuition and living costs for the entire period of intended stay.
Ok, so I will stop here because I have said a lot. As I mentioned, I am happy to answer specific questions.
1. Some of us ain’t looking in the direction of the US and UK. Are there titbits for those trying to gain admission in other European countries like Germany, France, Netherlands etc I for instance really want to school in Germany for M.Sc.So I want to know if there were expert tips on how to go about seeking for admission, possibility of staying back and getting a job, pursuing Ph.D. also? – Kent
Ms. Florence: Hello! Please forgive me I do not know that much, what I do know is that For German university, you will need the following to apply to DAAD for funding.German funding agency. The deadline is in October every year.They will provide scholarship for your upkeep. You will also need a German language certificate (A1- Basic level) and a reference letter from a German supervisor.If you want it this year, you can start getting the required documents and apply by September. Usually, the most difficult thing is getting the reference from the German supervisor. I do know The DAAD have an office in Ghana where people go to learn German. I don’t know about Nigeria, So please check and do your research.
Kent: Nigeria has a DAAD office.
Ms. Florence: Then you will have to find a professor in your project area and discuss with him your interests. Usually, you send to them a very short proposal concerning your research area.
Kent: Most of the courses and schools I have been applying to don’t need you displaying proficiency in the language as they are mostly taught in the English Language. I am actually taking up the option of free tuition, then I can subsequently learn the language as its a part of the modules in most courses to brush you up on at least the basics. Thanks a lot ma again.
Ms. Florence: If admission is granted, then you can add the language certificate and other relevant documents to the admission letter and apply to DAAD for funding.
Kent: Really….never knew. Thank you
Ms. Florence: No worries at all and you’re also helping me too so thank you too!
Also, and check me on this Kent, To get a visa, I think you need a minimum of about 8,000 Euros in your account. The problem is the language certificate. It is a requirement for DAAD. Unless you can self-fund but please check with the office. I just want you to get the most funding. You also can check DAAD website. Sometimes they have short stay programs which you can also apply with required documents.
2. I’m very grateful to all our panelists for making out time to share with us such vital information. Thank you very much. My question: I just graduated from the University of Port Harcourt, last session. I would love to do my masters just immediately after my NYSC, when is the best time to start applying? Thanks. – Faith
Ms. Florence: I would say it’s never to early start. Do your research look at the deadline for the application materials, establish if they have rolling admissions or a specific deadline. Begin drafting your essay materials, application materials and soliciting your recommendations now letting them know when your deadlines are.
Mr. Okwudili: Hi Faith, applications for Master’s should be done as early as March of the year that you intend to begin your programme. It’s advisable to give yourself ample time. Some schools still accept applications up to 3 months before the programme, but that’s not good for you because you need time to obtain your certificate of acceptance form the school, gather funds and also apply for your visa. Plan at least a year ahead.
Ms. Karen: Good work on all your accomplishments so far. What graduate program are you looking to pursue? Depending on the degree program will determine the best time to apply and receive the most consideration for scholarships. For example, candidates who applied to the Master’s program at my University by November 1 were considered for half to full tuition fellowships. But students who applied for our January 8 are considered for far less due to the larger applicant pool.
Here is an example from one of nine schools at Johns Hopkins :
This is for the School of Advanced International Students where I serve as Director of Admissions
Please feel free to privately message me if you are interested in pursuing a Masters, Ph.D. or certificate program in the International Studies space at Johns Hopkins University. We are looking for top talent like everyone in this group to apply.
Faith: I studied geography and environmental management in my first degree, and I’m hoping to get a masters in environmental management or Medical geography.
Crystalex: Me too…Am in line with Faith’s question.
I studied Animal and environmental biology as my first degree but I would love to study medical parasitology for my Masters degree.
Ms. Karen: Cornell offers this program-
Please thoroughly review their website and follow up with me privately
Ada Uche, NIFES North American Alumni (NUNA) Coordinator: Sis Faith, I think you’re a brilliant young lady and would be very successful in an environmental management graduate program. Since I am your mentor assigned by CMP and you’re a NUNA Scholar (won the NUNA scholarship), I will take up your case personally to make sure you are successful. Let’s talk offline.
NUNA will invest resources to support those people who have shown qualities of excellence in service and leadership. We look forward to welcoming some of you to the United States
3. I want to specially thank all the panelists for their wonderful contribution to making us have a better education (better life). I want know if it is the school that gives this scholarship to international students who wish to come to their school to study or if it is a different organization. And also I want to know how to apply for this scholarship – Tochukwu
Mr. Bolaji: In most of the cases, the school arranges the sponsorship, there are many other organizations that provide sponsorship too. Several links have been shared in earlier messages that can help you in knowing how to apply for the sponsorship.
4. What time is best for us to apply if we eventually participate in the NYSC programme this year? – Crystalex
Ms. Karen: always recommend to start a program the Fall (August/ September start). Depending on the school and its competitiveness, the application deadline usually will be September or November of the previous year.
5. I graduated from the department of mathematics and statistics and I intend going for my masters degree program in the UK, I want to know if I can also work while I do my masters program and also if there are opportunities for me as a mathematics graduate – Tochukwu
Mr. Okwudili: Hi Tochukwu, I think I will be able to answer your question having recently concluded my Master’s programme in the UK. International students in the UK are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week while they study. Most students work in shops and restaurants and can earn at least £6.5 per hour. Nevertheless, as a student, I was able to secure a higher paying job in their health sector based on grace and my work experience in Nigeria. However, I chose not to actively start working until I finished my final exams and was doing my project. Working as a student can be distracting, so you should do so only if it is absolutely necessary.
Secondly, I think you will be a perfect candidate for MSc Health Informatics or Data Science. These two courses are hot here and can fetch you a job and a work visa here, after your studies.
You may contact me privately for more info. Cheers
6. Good evening all. A big thanks to our wonderful panelists. God richly bless you all. I am a graduate of Animal and Environmental biology, majored in parasitology and my challenge has been on choosing a course for MSc. I would love a school in the UK and would also want to opt for a course that’s not so common yet productive.I would also love to know if as a graduate of the above-stated course I can have an MSc in clinical trials? Basically, I need direction towards course selection. Thank you.
Mrs. Nwamaka: Hi Steph,
I am also a graduate of AEB. It’s a broad course and parasitology is one of the majors of the programme in Uniport. You definitely are suited for an MSc in medical parasitology or any biological-related field. That’s the beauty of a broad-based first degree. You can request the pg brochure of your preferred school and look through the course requirements for the courses of your interest. You should find all the information need. You should also get this from the University website.
As a final word- it’s been a blessing to be a part of this wonderful programme. You could go to google and set up email alerts for scholarships with websites that provide such information. It’s free, you fill in your specific requirements and they send you emails of available scholarships that suit you.
In all be led by the Holy Spirit. He is the master planner. Listen to him for directions, I guarantee you would walk into all God has in store for you. Stay blessed and keep shining for Jesus and let your world see that light!
7. Whenever I remember that Ph.D. has a lot to do with research and analysis, I develop cold feet. I’ve never been good at it. So, my question is, can I do a Ph.D. without getting involved with data analysis, or get the services of a data analyst over there to do it for me? Thanks for giving me this platform – Orji
Ada Uche: Orji my question for you is why do you want to do a Ph.D. if you’re not interested in research and data analysis? It’s like saying you’d like to be a chef 👨🏽🍳but that you don’t want to cook.
Mrs. Nwanaka: A Ph.D. degree leading to an academic career is just one pathway. Not everyone is suited for this. Sis Ada has asked the right question, why do a Ph.D. when you don’t have a passion for what it entails. Besides academics don’t get paid much, our greatest satisfaction is the love for research and the impact both our research and teaching makes on society. There’s a lot of respect, connections, and collaborations; but I’d say you have to love it else don’t bother.You can work with a Ph.D. elsewhere besides academics but there’s no science without statistics. So think again and consider other viable options that you have passion and talent for.
You could actually learn statistics if you have the zeal. In my school, it is offered as an optional course to Ph.D. students. I think it’s compulsory in the US.
Ada Uche: Yep, two advanced statistical analysis courses are compulsory for getting a Ph.D. in the United States – no escaping it
Broadly speaking there are two types of research, quantitative and qualitative research. You are right that quantitative research involves statistical analysis and econometrics. But, you still have the option of engaging in qualitative research. Note, the word research still applies. Meaning you still have to employ a rigorous scientific method, it still involves inquiry, analysis, and results. You still have to publish papers and add your knowledge to the body of work. Therefore, as Sis Amaka just said, if you’re not “curious” and thirsty for knowledge, you may have to find another line of work.
Some Thank You Notes from Participants:
Gloria: Good morning (Nigerian time) I want to say a big thank you to the panelists and organizers for this great idea, it’s an indication that success is our watchword, thank you so much for exhaustively pouring out your knowledge on this issue, it means a lot to us that you desire us to succeed, and this is to say we will make you proud.
I’ve tried several times in applying for admission abroad, I got admitted in one of the schools in London but due to the financial demand and the fact that I was denied visa three times, I got so discouraged, but after reading through all of this wonderful information, I’m encouraged and energized to start afresh, I really appreciate you all from the depth of my heart, and I pray that your heart desires are met, you will find fulfillment in all you do, you will be satisfied, you won’t lack any good thing….
To the organizers, God bless you for coming up with this initiative, you manifest greatness, nations shall come to your rising and kings to the brightness of your light….
And to the participants, this will not be a waste, rather an added knowledge and advantage to us, God will crown our efforts with good success. The grace of God is sufficient for us, God bless you all….
SanSteph: I am immensely grateful for such a timely program. I must say it was strategic. To the organizers, thumbs up and God bless you…there’s nothing like “bread in due season”.
To our graced and knowledgeable panelists, words alone can’t express how much love I got for you now. For the sacrifice of time and sleep to ensure we don’t make mistakes, I say thank you. For the understanding been dispensed, words can’t thank you enough. For always been there as fathers, mothers, uncles, and aunts we could run to in such times, I am most appreciative.
God keeps you all to see our progress and prosper. And helps us to excel, leaving smiles on your faces.
Thank You from the bottom of my heart.
Golden: I want to express my profound gratitude to the panelists who despite their busy schedule still map out time to enrich us with this wonderful and timely informations.
I am really overjoyed to be a part of this and I pray that God the rewarder of good deeds richly bless you all. Once again thanks
Greatness: Good morning (Nigerian time). It has been an honor being part of this expository seminar. I have really benefited from the wealth of knowledge shared on this platform. My sincere gratitude goes to the organizers and panelists. Greater heights in all your endeavors. Thank you all.
Please feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more inquiries. We’ll be glad to help.