Motivation from a Nigerian Postgraduate in the US

This is a true life event, written by Farayola Praise. He is presently studying in the United States (most likely PhD). It was shared on a WhatsApp group. It is very Informative and has a list of things to do to achieve a Postgraduate studies abroad.



One of our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to *try just one more time*– Thomas A. Edison

Do you know that Michael Jordan (One of the greatest basketball player ever) missed more than 9000 shots in his career?😳 He lost more than 300 games and for 26 different times he has been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed?

What makes us and keep us remembered are not how many times we have failed but “that win” after several attempt through persistence and consistency.

Muhammadu Buhari knows better. He contested and lost the presidential election 3 times in a row before winning his fourth attempt.

Every time I tell people I was on 4 scholarships during my undergraduate days. They are quick to envy and resent. 🤷🏼‍♂Before you join their party and start shouting “It’s not fair” please know that I wrote not less than 17 scholarship exams in Lagos. As a matter of fact, if you have been to Chams City or JKK House in Lagos for any scholarship exam (2011 – 2014), there is a 70 % chance that I have seen you, only that I do not know you. On several occasion, I had to sleep overnight pretending to be reading at reading rooms in some male hostels at Lagos State University. From there, without bathing or brushing my teeth, am off to find the location of the next exam. 2 out of the 4 I won was gotten on the second attempt. I cannot forget the day I went to write one like that and they refuse to give us money they promised ( In those day, many scholarship exams give small change as transport fare to go back home ) . I joined the protest only for them to call the police. It was a friend that borrowed me money back to Ibadan.

These are not stories that touch the heart. They are just proofs that every winner has a lot in their bag of stress, difficulty and trying moments preceding their victory. The fact simply remains and will always remain. *You cannot succeed if you do not try.* You can never win what you did not apply for.

Now that I am studying abroad too. Everyone is quick to congratulate and ask for tips. The truth is that there is no tip anywhere but stories of predicaments, difficulties and almost giving up moments. What makes the difference today is that I continued to apply and apply and apply and did not let my predicament and surrounding deter me.

You need to see me on the day I was begging my mum to give me money to write GRE. 🤦🏼‍♂ What did I not hear? All your mates are, Bla Bla la (let me save you the details). Because I knew how important it was, I just swallowed my pride and let it go. She only agreed after I played my epic last card. (Pay half, I pay half). The same card worked for my TOEFL. Last month, when I sent her money for Christmas and new year. She didn’t remember o. 😂 Nobody does.

I remember when I was reading for both exams. It was hell on earth. What about the overnight browsing searching for schools and scholarships. It got to a point I had up to 55 bookmark of potential scholarships. I had up to 4 different MTN sim (50 naira for 1.5 gig night family) as Money to subscribe for internet sometimes was hard.

I learnt how to be humble by force when I was begging some of my lecturers for recommendation. Some even threatened to block my number. ( 😂😂🤣Lolzz. No vex sir. Its not my fault nah). Different SOP review nko. There was a scholar that returned my SOP filled with many remarks. In my mind, I was like kukuma write another one for me🤷🏼‍♂.

Seeing crowds at Postgraduate scholarship exams and interviews was not longer new to me. As a matter of fact, I now had cliques that we greet each other, laugh and ask after each other at various exams. Our slang and logo was *#We die here.*😂😂😂

I remember the sorrows, the pains and the disappointment. There was one dragnet exam I went to write last year I cannot forget. After the prayer, faith and preparation. I sat down with the computer at JKK house. It was shocking. 17 minutes for 25 quantitative questions. 🙆🏽‍♂ I was still in number 6 when I saw that it remained 3 minutes. As I started doing random selection from number 6 to 25, I was already shaking my head sadly. 😭😭 Am very sure the people that set the question themselves cannot perform any wonder if they take the test.

Do I begin to count how many professors I sent mail too that never replied or “ We are sorry … blab la “ from the one who were polite at least to reply. Do I begin to number how many times I will be checking my email every minute when I hear some people have started receiving Congratulations emails only to console myself that my own will enter tomorrow when I sleep that night.

*Was all these experience worth it?*

Right from the day I landed at JFK international Airport, to the first day I received my first stipend in dollars till date. *It was more than worth it.* If they multiply all my struggle by 7 and ask me if I will still choose it to get to where I am today. I will gladly say yes.

Before you get bored of my plenty stories. Permit me to provide some tips that might be of help as another year begin. There is no list without exceptions so if anything that reflects here does not agree with you, there is no *Alarm for Cause* (Just skip and ignore)

*1) Invest in good internet.*

Imagine after many emails, you finally get to have a Skype interview with the professor or scholarship board and as you begin to convince and pour out the grammar. The screen just hang. (One minute, two minute…. Before the network came back. They had moved on to the next candidate)
or after spending the whole day filling application, as you press submit, because of the poor connection, the entire application just reloaded.
If you are spending more than a minute to load Gmail in 2019 you are still in the past. Pls, to avoid stories that touch the heart. Upgrade to 4g or find a better and solid network provider. Nothing beats having 100% Internet freedom, assurance and guarantee.

*2) See your Applications and Spendings as Investment.*

Don’t be afraid or reluctant to spend money as long as it’s toward the scholarship pursuits. Some people are reluctant to spend money on major exams like TOEFL, GRE etc or pay application fees because they see it as throwing money away.
My first monthly stipend was more than all the fees I ever spent for the scholarship pursuit ( GRE + TOEFL + Application fees + Browsing Fees ( I vex buy Smile when MTN and Airtel disgrace me several times ) + Visa Processing fees and Sevis fees + Flight tickets fees, etc)
See all spending as investment that will yield return later on.

*3) Don’t wait till the last minute*

I will do it tomorrow. I will do it tomorrow. You now sat down with 17 pages application on the last Day and jubilate as you press submit at 11:58pm is something you should avoid in 2019.
You will be applying again for some of the scholarships you did last year. You know the things involved so try to prepare earlier. If you are going to write essay. Nothing stops you from writing the essay before they even release call for the scholarship for 2019.

*4) Not all application are for you*
This may sound funny and disputable. I did not apply to all the scholarships that was posted in the group. I evaluate each one to see if tallies with what I want, promises and provide what I seek and favours my strength.

The goal is not to leave Nigeria to go and continue the suffering in another country. Look before you leap. #Personal Opinion

*5) Deadlines are important*

Most reviewers say that they expect serious students to have submitted their applications at least 3 days before the deadline. Keep that in mind. It’s not about rushing to be the first to submit. It’s about not waiting till they have received enough applications to discard the rest.

*6) Talk to people who have worn previous awards*

They know something that you don’t. Review their essays. Ask them to help you proofread your applications. Ask them to tell you the extra things they did if they will be willing to share it with you

*7) Write your Statement of Purpose yourself*
You are not me and I am not you. Even if you studied the same course, copy copy of another person SOP is a misrepresentation of who you are. You have your own strengths. Use it.

*8) Don’t lie in applications*

I can speak French, I know C++. I was the leader of a group that dug 200 feet of water for some villagers are only good on your application if they are true. If you lie or ( Over Exagerate ), It will one day backfire.
Today, am in good terms with my supervisor because I did not lie about the softwares I could use even though I knew it counted against me then. When I came, he gave me allowance of months to learn them. Imagined I have lied and his first task for me was a big project using those softwares.

*9) Learn from your rejections*

You want to copy and paste the same essay, same application you did last year this year. Are you serious at all.

*10) Letter of Recommendation matters*

Because you are not in good terms with the Professors and other prominent people at your department you are now manage and settling for the new phd holders with little experience, publications or authority.
Recommendations carry weight. Many boards check out the person recommending you.

*11) Resume / CV matters*

If your resume/CV is empty. We know ourselves. Pls go and volunteer in places that have names and stop listing class rep functions in secondary school in your CV.

*12) Be doing other stuffs*

If scholarship applications is the only thing you are doing, frustration and breakdown might not be too far from you.
It pays to have something else doing like a Job or schooling that can always take the tension and anxiety away while you wait for reviews.
You can take online courses or engage yourself by doing something that will better prepare you for grad school.

*13) Proof read applications*

Applications with many errors does not represent you well. Take time to Prof read to eliminate as many typo errors as possible.

*14) Ask questions*
When in doubt. Don’t assume, Ask questions. Mail and mail the people in charge if you cannot call them.

*15) Don’t over impress*
I reviewed a friends Statement of Purpose. After reading it, I myself that wondering🤷🏼‍♂. Oga Are you sure you did all this things? Even if you did, the report was written in a way that was boastful and does not look real

16) Drink the water of patience

It takes month to review applications and get feedback. Till then. there is little you can do than to wait. That’s why its advisable you are doing other things so the wait wont be frustrating.

17) Be realistic
My dream school was CALTECH or MIT. When I saw my GRE score I woke up from that dream and applied to schools that are within my score ranges.
I believe in miracles oo but …………

18) At least, have English proficiency

“We studied in English”. It’s not fair on us” is in the ideal world. The earlier you wake up to the reality, the better o.
All graduates applying to the university Ibadan are required to take English Proficiency test. All graduates including ones that graduated from the university with less than 40% is automatic rejection. Come and see how many people failed.
If Nigerian schools are requesting English Proficiency how much more International schools.
There are many people that still got scholarships without any Proficiency exam but
IELTS or TOEFL is always an added advantage in your applications

2019 is here and has started already. The summary of this lengthy sermon is to not give up in your pursuits.

You are almost there.

Keep Believing
Keep Applying
Keep Hoping
It will be real one day.
That one day can be this year’ If you don’t give up

On behalf of my very self, other distinguished Admins and Scholars in this group. I want to wish us all the best in our pursuits and endeavours in this new year 2019- DON’T GIVE UP

© Farayola  Praise


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