Journey to America II

Journey to America II

My journey to the America (Part 2)

By my final year, most people were making 
plans to get jobs but me 
I had only one goal in life and it was 
to study for my master's degree in 
the USA. 
A few companies like KPMG, P&G, 
Skye Bank, Zenith Bank, and Access 
bank came to UNILAG to conduct Job 
aptitude tests for students with 3.5 
and above CGPA. 
For lack of anything better to do and 
because you’d get free snacks and drinks 
at the end of the tests, I wrote the first 
three companies’ exams and passed 
but did not follow up on any of them. 
I was going to America! Remember? 
Every time anyone asked me for my 
post-NYSC plans I would confidently 
tell them I was going to study for my 
master's degree in America and I was 
not interested in hearing any advice 
telling me to either work for a few years 
first before going or apply to the UK 
As I said earlier - stubborn goat. 
This meant the whole Nigeria expected 
Oluwatoyin to be in the US come 
August 2010 and I was determined not 
to disappoint them.
I did my Industrial training in the transmission 
unit at Starcomms Ltd - a telecoms service 
provider - and loved it. 
You know the people that ensure your 
conversations and data packets are 
transmitted over the airwaves to their 
destinations using microwaves? 
Na we! 
This experience informed my decision to 
study Elect/Elect Engineering with a 
wireless communications specialization. 
One of the lies I told in my Statement 
of Purpose (SOP) was that my goal for 
wanting to study the course was to go 
back to Nigeria and apply the knowledge 
I gained in school towards ensuring 
broadband internet was readily available 
and affordable. 
Yeah right! Boya I’m MTN or Glo.
P.S. 90% of Nigerians pursuing higher 
education in the US lie in their statements 
of purpose about planning to return to 
Nigeria after completing their programs 
but never do.
My cousin had gained admission to study 
for her Ph.D. degree also in the US 
so I asked her for advice and one of the 
things she told me was to go to the 
Educational Advising Center (EAC) of the 
United States information services (USIS) 
as they would advise me on schools 
to apply to, help with my SOPs and 
coach me for the VISA interview for 
a fee of N27,000. 
I heeded her advice and spoke to one 
of the two counselors at EAC. 
She asked me for my undergraduate 
school, CGPA, my age, and course of study. 
And I replied with; UNILAG, 4.01/5, 
22 years old and mobile communications 
While we were talking, a boy came in to 
speak with her about going to the US 
for his undergraduate program and 
when she asked him for his age he 
said was in his early 20s. 
This woman shouted at the poorboy 
asking him how on earth he could 
be just be planning to get a first degree 
at his old age.  
She asked him to take a look at me 
saying I was only 22 years old and 
a female yet I had already graduated 
with a degree in Elect/Elect engineering 
from the University of Lagos with a 
2nd class upper and I was already 
planning to go for my masters! 
Hearing this immediately put 2 hefty 
shoulder pads on my shoulder and 
made me swell with pride. 
As far as I was concerned, that 
statement meant the admission process 
was going to be a breeze and any 
American University would be glad to 
have me in their school. 
Little did I know that pride goeth 
before a fall.
GRE and TOEFL were required exams 
to take for many postgraduate programs 
in the US and I can’t remember how 
much they cost now but they weren’t 
You also had to pay an application fee 
for every school you applied to,  
write a statement of purpose tailored 
to the specific question asked by the 
school,  and submit three letters of 
recommendation for each of the 
schools you apply to. 
As you can see, applying for postgraduate 
studies is not beans. 
EAC advised their students to apply to 
10 schools to increase their chances of 
getting admitted to at least one school. 
Application fees were like $50 or $100 
(I can’t really remember). 
Somebody was now asking me to pay 
that amount 10 times! - can never be me. 
I decided to only apply to 4 schools 
and I chose 4 top schools with one of 
them being my dream school even 
though you were advised to apply to 
1 top school, 2 medium schools and 
1 safety school based on your grade 
and credentials. 
I sat for the GRE exam and scored 
1270 - 720 in Math and 550 in verbal. 
The average Math score for the 
schools I applied to was 750 with 
some people even scoring as high 
as 800. 
Yet, I refused to heed sound advice 
telling me to retake the exam believing 
that I could compensate for my 
low score with other parts of my 
I really didn’t know what was going on. 
I barely went back to EAC for advice 
and follow up because laziness and 
procrastination were my strongholds 
Their office was located in Broad street 
and I worked in VI so I’d have to take 
Buses to get to their office which was 
quite inconvenient for me. 
The lecturers at UNILAG  I begged to 
write my letters of recommendation, and 
gave thank you gifts to wrote nonsense. 
Could you blame them though? 
They barely knew me and were even 
less familiar with writing such letters. 
Imagine a lecturer writing “she’s a good 
girl” inside a letter of recommendation 
instead of highlighting my academic and 
leadership achievements. 
I am suspecting although I can’t prove it 
that other candidates wrote their letters 
of recommendation themselves and just 
asked the lecturers to sign and send it. 
But what was my own? 
I submitted the letters like that after all, 
I was a star candidate! 
I gave My statements of purpose to a 
few friends who weren’t really 
knowledgeable about writing SOPs to 
review and they gave me decent feedback. 
In my heart of hearts, I knew my SOPs 
weren’t compelling enough to make 
me a strong candidate for admission, 
but I brushed the thought aside and 
constantly reminded myself that 
I was a 22-year old, female,  
elect/elect engineering graduate of 
the prestigious UNILAG with a 
4.01 CGPA and 8-months industry 
Even I am laughing at my nerve as 
I’m typing this. 
Anyway, I ended up applying to only 
3 schools as I missed the application 
deadline for one of the schools. 
My latest deadline was December 31, 
2009, and I was expecting admission 
decisions around April 2010 for resumption 
in August 2010.
By May 2010, I had received an email 
from my dream school notifying me that 
the admission decision had been made 
and I needed to login to the portal to 
see the decision. 
With a heart beating partly out of fear 
and excitement, I logged on to the 
portal and read;

“Dear Oluwatoyin,

After considering your application, we 
regret to inform you...”
there was no need to read the rest. 
I got my first taste of rejection and failure 
in 22 years and it almost broke me! 
I cried my eyes out but after a while, 
I  figured I still had 2 more schools to 
wait for so I dried my tears. 
It was like all 3 schools got together 
and planned to
Show me pepper for my pride
2nd school wrote - “we regret to inform 
 Even the 3rd school that was supposed 
to be my safety school sent me “we 
regret to inform...” you decision. 
I wasn’t interested in being retained at
 my NYSC office so I was just whiling 
away time there and barely applied 
myself diligently. 
I had not applied for a single job because 
I was 100% certain I was going to move 
to the US. 
I had told the whole of Nigeria whether 
they cared to listen or not that I was going 
to the US in August. 
How was I going to face them and explain 
that nobody gave me admission when 
I bragged about going for my masters 
in the USA like I had already secured 
the admission?

To be continued...

Firecracker Toyeen