#AdmissionTips #ScholarshipTips Choosing a University and a Program

Most times, when looking for admissions abroad, prospective students often think that they are at the mercy of the supervisors and hence have no choice but to accept whatever they are offered.

No No No, that’s the wrong mindset. It’s a win-win situation. Supervisors need you as well especially if you are good!

We can’t actually do much without you.

So, before accepting an offer, consider the following:

– The Supervisor, you can reach out to their current or former students and ask about their experience. Some may not be good at handling diversity since they work mostly with people like them. Are you able to cope? Are they able to cope?

– The University, how well do they support diversity. If you’re black or other people of color, this is a MUST! How do they treat international students? Ask Questions, Google them and read relevant stories.

We often make decisions based on superficial things such as ranking and location. Those are not important if you don’t graduate! Be wise!!

-The Country, what’s their immigration policy, opportunities for foreigners, the degree of racism – it exists in most countries, but the degree is unbearable in some and it can also cost you your life. I hope you read and listen to the news. Don’t ignore it, you’re no different!! It can happen to you!

Rejection is better than a wrong Admission. Accepting a wrong admission just like accepting a wrong job, marks the beginning of your miseries and can change the course of your entire life. It takes time to recover if at all! It may be the beginning of the end!

There are so many factors that contribute to success, Hardwork is just one, Smart Decision is very important.

Some risks don’t worth it!!! I’ve heard a lot of scary stories from people and a lot of questions asked. So, I decided to drop these sensitive tips to help brothers and sisters. This is my Personal Opinion.

Many have asked about tips for choosing a University for an undergraduate program. So, I added this part.

The same tips apply except the supervisor part, undergrads don’t need supervisors initially, but should seriously consider the University and the Country using the tips above. The problem caused by a wrong choice of University and Country may be more damaging to undergraduate students since they are usually younger. Hence, they need a supportive environment with less Racism and Discrimination. Otherwise, they may get disoriented and lose their sense of self-worth. I have seen this a lot, it could be really traumatizing!!

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Writing a Good Statement of Purpose

Summary of points culled from the thread’s discussion Organized by Rita Orji, PhD

Summary provided by Felix Dike and Martins Iyekekpolor

The full discussion is available on LinkedIn here

Statement of purpose is a rich but concise essay where the applicant clearly justifies their motivations for their choice of research, program, and school with strong reasons for why he/she should be considered for the admission / funding. This should not be a story of your life!

A Statement of purpose (SOP) is to enable applicants to discuss the link between his or her past experiences and future career goals.

SOP is very important to showcase one’s ability to the admission committee.

–      In writing SOP, mention the skills you have (in concrete ways, using key terms); the skills you intend to acquire and where you intend to be afterward (future career path)

–      Candidates should commit Professor they want to work within their SOP. For example, mentioning a professor and his work, which of his research captivates you and how you fit in can further make your SOP stand out.

–  Be concise to explain why you choose the graduate school and field of interest. In some cases, why you need to join the research group? What are your interests during and after the training/program?

–  Mention Positive and valuable Past experience relevant to the study. Think of the skills you need to include in this SOP. Not all your past experience will suit all graduate school (select the vivid ones)

–      Mention why you choose the Program, Why the country and not other countries? Why the University? Also, there must be a strong connection between the selected program and your future career.

–  Highlight your positive Personalities relevant to the study. Any outstanding qualities that make you unique for the program (please do not mix it up with personal statement). You can start your quote or anecdote that relate with the program

–  Write in simple but correct English free from grammatical errors. communicate clearly, effectively and logically. Be simple! The admission committees do not have time to check vocabulary words.

–      Start the Process early. Begin writing your SOP at least 3-4 months before application. This would give you more time to brainstorm and get feedback.

–      if you struggle with writing generally, I would recommend you make up your mind to write in drafts. No good piece of writing happened at a go.

–      You can think of SOP this way, it serves as a surrogate interview between the applicant and graduate admission decision committee.

–      Contact friends, learned colleagues, and relevant professors in your target school to know if funding is available for your chosen program. You can also send the same SOP to the professor you are about to work with. Then he may let you know if he is interested in you.

–      Discuss your SOP with your present academically experienced friends and colleagues for feedback. 

–      When you identify a program and a professor, please read their areas of interest. That must correlate with yours! Then, read the last two scientific publications and identify area for further study— that you are likely to find at the conclusion or the end of the abstract of the paper. Report it in your SOP without mentioning that you read it from his work, and that will be the area you seem to be interested in.

–      Be honest and precise while writing your statement of purpose, it is very important to showcase your strength and determination toward achieving goals.

–      Consider your long term and short-term goals? start writing SOP at least 2-3 months before application.

–      avoid all forms of plagiarism, follow the instructions given and avoid more than 2 pages (sometimes, one page is required).

–  Do not wait till after your test scores before writing SOP. The more you write, the more you become better.

–      Avoid writing general conclusion: You can get the attention of the committee more by writing about some interesting courses or about their alumni in your conclusion.

–      Do not mention the name of a professor (s) who you are not sure of whether he or she is accepting graduate students or have funding (s) to support international students.

–  Avoid using the same SOP for different applications. Read about the objectives of the department or scholarship. 

–      Always crosscheck what the admission committees are looking for and ensure your SOP speaks to those before submitting it. 

–  It is advisable you write the same ideas in different ways if you are applying for different graduate schools.

–      List your achievements, extracurricular activities, community services, work experiences including internships, part-time jobs, and freelance jobs, research experiences, degrees, and any other thing the school specifically requires.

–      Talk about why you have chosen the school/university or college for this program. Perhaps the quality of the faculty members, the reputation of the college or even the employability of their graduates.

–  Discuss what qualifies you to be taken on this program – academic background, leadership skills, extracurricular activities or support for your community. Understand that grades is not everything. There is a need for students who can balance every aspect of education vis-a-vis social interaction and shaping humanity with the knowledge you will gain.

–      State your future goals and how the program would prepare you for it. Make a case for why you deserve a place.

–      One thing to check for when writing SOP is the prompt for the essay. You’d usually find the prompt in the application guideline or while filling forms. You might also be given word limits and points to cover in the SOP.

–      Do not forget to finish with an appreciation sentence.

–  In writing a good SOP especially for Erasmus scholarship, you must know the core values and goals of the programme. For example, if they intend to raise passionate leaders, you must be able to connect all your achievements and short/long term plans to that goal.

–      Also, it is very important for an applicant to have clarity. Where do you see yourself in 5 year-time and how will the fellowship help you to get there?

–  You must be able to make reference to the achievements of the school, quality of teaching and facilities and the excellencies of their current students and alumni across all sectors.

–  Another point to note is that most applications would have requested your CV, so no need to repeat what you already have on your CV in your essay. Tell them what they are yet to know about you that distinguish you from other applicants.

–      it is important to be coherent. Don’t make repetitive ideas in your SOP.

–  One should be able to see a sensible flow from the first statement, paragraph to the last. So before starting, first define what comes at what point. No disjointed flow.

–  Normally the first paragraph should capture the interest of the reader. An improperly structured first paragraph could even not allow the rest of the SOP to be read. start this paragraph describing what skills, courses, lab works from my undergraduate studies that are relevant to the programme. Be careful not to give too many details that are not necessary. Talking about your IT experiences is advisable if it is relevant to the programme, the same goes for your bachelor thesis but again just the relevant aspect with respect to the programme. Equally important is the concluding or last paragraph, a lot of people read the first and the last paragraph before diving into the rest.

–  A SOP helps convince the institution on how you can give the institution the best of you. It’s about what you are willing to give and how your effort will transform your career and your field of study. This statement must be very clear, true and upfront.

–      A mistake that I come across all the time is the lack of a CLEAR PURPOSE (especially for PhD applicants). Remember that the career you hope for is not necessarily your purpose. Your purpose is what you hope to accomplish with your future career.

–  Write in an active voice and provide details in a positive perspective

–  Be logical. Don’t beg and don’t sound desperate. Focus on your value proposition and the opportunity to learn and make an impact.

–  Start your personal statement by explaining and demonstrating your motivation or rationale for applying to the course.

–  Includes what elements of the course you are interested in. Explain what made you choose the programme.

–  Apart from your work and education, what are your hobbies, interests, and habits? Mention any unique aspect or characteristic you have and how this will benefit other students. What do you know about the school community and do you think you can fit in?

List of Contributors to the original discussion:

Rita Orji, Kelechukwu Onwukamike, Olaniyi Fawole, Bello Folaniyi, Felix Dike, Bayode Akomolafe, Theophilus Tenebe, Adeniyi Adeoloye, Ikenna Henry, Ọlágbénró Ọládípọ̀, priyanka porwal, Samuel Ogunwale, Maryleen Ndubuaku, Adegoke Adeniyi, Wainkwa Chia Rogers, Sam Eneje, Chigozie Joseph Samuel, Akeem Ayobami, Unyime Jasper, Great Umenweke, Iroabuchi Idika, HENRY ODOEMELEM, Ayodeji Akintomi Ojo.

#AdmissionTips #ScholarshipTips:

Success Tips for the New Year

Got a lot of requests to write about success tips for the New Year. I was reluctant because I’m not there yet. However, here are three quick tips based on my little experience.


1. Don’t leave anything to chance. Plan your success and figure out the various steps required to get there way in advance. Be intentional about your activities toward achieving success.


2. Write the vision down and make it plain. Write also the various steps/milestones to achieving each and if possible, timelines for each. My visions are written down and positioned in strategic places in my life including the bedroom, school bags. I read them every day before bed and first thing when I wake up and also tick them off as they come to pass. All my visions for the last decade have been ticked off. I may not be able to explain why and how it works but trust me, it works. At least it helps you focus your effort. If you speak about it long enough, it may become your reality! Hab:2:2

3. You have not, because you ask not!Ask for help from both God and man. If you don’t believe in God skip that part. A closed mouth is a closed #Destiny. Remember the king granted the widow’s wish because she asked and was persistent about it, Luke 18:5. With faith, we speak things into existence.

To your success in 2020.

Happy New Year!

Feel free to add yours

#AdmissionTips #ScholarshipTips #Day8 #SmartCV

Today, we talk about preparing a Smart CV

You remember that Section called “Objective”, eliminate from your CV. It does more harm than good. Instead, use a smart headline that focuses on your skills.

For example:

‘Award-winning Graphic Designer’

.’ ‘Full Stack Software Developer with 6 years of experience

If sending the CV abroad, don’t include the following:

– Age or Date of birth

– Gender

– Marital Status

– Number of kids

– Religion

– Secondary school education or high school qualification

– State, Local Govt.

-etc.

In general, avoid things that are not necessary for evaluating your capabilities, skills, and qualifications. They may unconsciously bias people’s judgment or distract them from focusing on the important things.

Keep the CV neat and smart

I still get a lot of CVs with all these.

RitaOrjiTips

Read more details here

#AdmissionTips #ScholarshipTips #Day7 – Finding a Supervisor for Graduate School

In previous tips, I highlighted how important it’s to get to know profs’ work and how it relates to your interest and previous work before contacting them. Following that, many asked where they can find a prof’s research. This appears basic, but it’s one of the common questions I get.

In today’s tips, I will quickly tell you three places to check that out, but before that, remember research is driven by curiosity. If you’re able to use LinkedIn, you should be able to surf the net and find any information.

To find profs in your area of interest or in a department, first, go to the University’s website and click on programs, departments, faculties. The name may vary depending on the Uni. There, you’ll see a list of programs. When you find a program of interest, click and go to the department’s website. There you will see profs in that department and summary of work and a link to their website where they provide details of their research. You can find any University website via Google. For e.g., if you type “Canadian Universities” on Google, it’ll display the list of all Universities and link you to their website.

To access profs publications that you can’t be accessed via their website, go to https://scholar.google.ca or https://www.researchgate.net and search using the prof’s full name. You may be able to access the preprint version of most publications from these two sites free.

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#AdmissionTips #ScholarshipTips #Day6 – How to get a supervisor

Let me burst your bubble. Irrespective of how outstanding your profile may be & how good you think you are, you’re not a UNICORN. You’ll still compete for a slot.

This’s not what I intended to talk about feel it’s necessary to clear this illusion before I continue.

After my last a prospective student contacted me justifying why reviewing prior work doesn’t apply in his case. According to him, he’s a unicorn with respect to his research interest. He believes nobody has worked on anything related and hence it’ll be a waste of time reviewing previous work. He feels he’ll be doing profs favor.

I like his it’s without bases, hence seems like sheer arrogance. Having first-class honors is not enough!

If you’re like him, better wake up, I’m yet to see a unicorn in research. Not even a can make such a claim. Innovative Ideas Are Not Born In a Vacuum.

If you’re a 1st class holder, focus on showing that you’re not just good at passing exams. Success in research requires much more! If you hold a lesser grade, focus on showing there’s more to you than your results. I hired a 2.1 over 1st class due to complementary qualities.

#RitaOrjiTips


Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

#AdmissionTips #ScholarshipTips #Day5 – Engaging with Professors

Use Appropriate Email Address and Catchy & Informative Subject Line.

On average, a Prof. receives 100s of emails daily. Your email is in a pool and has the potential to be ignored. What do you think will earn you the time of your reader? What is the first thing the recipient sees *Name/Email address* and *Subject of email* ?

First, use a proper email address, not some junk emails such as 2sweekKeys@domain.com, PrettyDamsel@domain.com, MoneyMan@domain.com. The potential of such emails to go straight to the junk email or be ignored, even if they make it through is high. Get a professional-looking email.

Second, the email subject. We talked about the subject in Day1 but have to take a deep dive because of how important it is. The subject should be your first bang to persuade the recipient to click the open button. Stop using generic subjects. I get many requests for supervision weekly and most comes with ‘Prospective Graduate Student’, Requests for Supervision’, etc. Arguably, there’s nothing wrong with these subjects, but they are not of high priority & can easily be ignored in busy moments which is most of the time for a prof.

A creative subject ignites curiosity and makes the recipient take a look. To have a catchy subject, you must have a reasonable knowledge of the research area you are applying for and also know the interest of the Prof. 

For instance, a prof. who is working on *HCI for the under-served population* and you want to research on how to design applications for the blind. A subject such as “Interest in designing for the blind: HCI for the underserved populations” or “Interest in Designing for the Blind: Prospective Graduate Student.” Being the research interest of the Prof. and the mail is coming from a professional email address, the tendency of taking a look is higher.

This is subjective and based on my personal experience.  There may be other tricks, I welcome contributions. When the recipient opens the email, another bang is needed to keep him/her glued to the email and unavoidably make them take a look at your documents.  I shall be dealing with the actual content of the email next stay tuned…. 

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Follow me on Twitter @ritapurity, Linkedln Rita Orji

#AdmissionTips #ScholarshipTips #Day4 – Engaging with Professors

Engage Profs with their own research

It’s good to talk about yourself, qualifications, skills, past, and current research, however, don’t waste the whole email space talking about yourself. Profs are human and appreciate when you show that you read their work and engage them on that.

You can provide insights on how you hope to extend their work, overcome identified limitations of their work. How their work relates to what you’re doing or have done, and how you can fill in a gap or solve known problems in the area. The email shouldn’t be all about you.

I’ll suggest you use the first paragraph to engage the prof deeply on their own work and eventually talk about how it relates to your own work (past, current, & future) in the second paragraph. This requires that you take your time to study their research – current & past. This’s where many students fail. Doing this’ll help you avoid exercise in futility and ensure contact only appropriate profs.

If you can’t take time to read and synthesize profs’ work, you should rethink graduate school. It’s a MUST. Next, I’ll show you how to find profs and their work based on popular demand. I need good reactions (likes, shares, and comments) to continue…

Feel free to contributions

RitaOrjiTips

#AdmissionTips #ScholarshipTips #Day3 – Finding a Supervisor for Graduate School

Avoid mass emailing professors or sending generic emails to many profs at a time when looking for admission.

In many Universities in North America, getting a supervisor is one of the criteria for admission to a research-based graduate program. Even when not required, getting a supervisor increases your chances of success in the competitive admission.

This’s often a daunting task and you may need to contact many professors before you get a single response. Mass emailing profs and sending generic emails will not make things easier, it worsens it. It irritates profs and increases the likelihood that no one will read your email irrespective of how good you may be.

Customize your email to each prof starting with Dear Prof. ). E.g., Dear Prof. ‘Dear Prof. Rita’). Reflect specific things about the prof’s work that attracted your attention & how it relates to your past experience and future interest.

I’ll advise against using greetings such as ‘Hi Rita’, ‘Hey Rita Orji’ and other variants even if you’re a friend, sibling, or you think he) is younger. This email should be strictly formal and depict you as a respectful person.

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