When the Michael Taiwo Annual scholarship was advertised on October 1 st , 2019, between 100 and 150 applications were expected. Instead, in just a week, over 1,000 applications were received. This is even more remarkable given that no amount was spent on advertising: the announcement was shared by people on social media, WhatsApp groups and word of mouth. The applications came from all six geopolitical zones in Nigeria, so the desire for graduate studies in the US and Canada has a national spread.
When I reflect on my entire US/Canada graduate school application process as a Nigerian living in Nigeria, the most difficult part by far was paying for the required standardized tests such as the GRE and the TOEFL, as well as the application fees to schools. Having a high GPA from college, crafting persuasive application letters, and securing credible references (all part of the application requirements for applying to graduate schools) was difficult, but was nothing compared to living in a third world country and trying to pay online for services based in North America.
The 2020 Scholarship application window opened on October 1st and closed on October 15th, 2020. Winners are already announced.
The 2021 Scholarship application window will open on September 1st and close on September 15th, 2021.
Please visit the Scholarship page for more information.
Currently, we serve Nigerians in Nigeria struggling to pay for the cost of applying to graduate schools in North America. The award typically goes to recent college graduates.
We award GRE/GMAT/TOEFL/IELTS scholarships and cover up to four school application fees. This averages about $1,000 per student. Coming up with a thousand US dollars is a steep hill to climb for many students in a developing country.
We also mentor the scholarship recipients and guide them throughout the graduate school application process and beyond. We coach them on how to ace the requisite exams, help edit their application essays such as the Statement of Purpose and Personal History (or Diversity) Statement, guide their school selection process, prepare them for visa interviews, and on how to succeed in graduate school and beyond. Winners of the MT Scholarships get access to a network of world-class professionals that serve as both mentors and role models.
This is why the official name of the legal entity disbursing the MT Scholarships is The Dream Network because winning the MT Scholarships grants students with typically no connection the network needed to achieve their dreams.
The scholarship committee uses several factors in screening the initial application. The goal is to select a diverse, service-oriented group of so-called MT Scholars who have the best chance of thriving through the rigors of a graduate program. The process is not unlike what graduate school admissions committees use in selecting the composition of an incoming class.
We look for academically strong students who are financially incapable of covering the cost of graduate school applications. We also look for candidates who have shown initiative or drive that they can withstand the challenges of living abroad in a rigorous graduate curriculum. We strive for geographic and gender diversity: so females and those from underrepresented states are particularly encouraged to apply.
We started in 2019 by just paying for the GRE exams because we believe the GRE is a key factor in securing fully funded graduate admissions. In 2020, we expanded the prize to cover not only the GRE but also the TOEFL or IELTS and school application fees.
Going forward, we plan to expand the prize even further to cover some hidden fees of applying to graduate school such as the cost of obtaining and certifying applicants’ transcripts which an increasing number of schools are started to require. From the feedback we have received so far, this cost of obtaining and verifying one’s transcripts can be as high as $500. This way, we can completely help the helpless.
Mentoring is an equally – some say even more – important part of the scholarship package. In 2019, the mentoring program was geared more towards ensuring the winners ace their exams. In 2020, the mentoring program has expanded to include a more holistic approach of assisting MT Scholars over many years covering the time period of their application to graduate schools to thriving in graduate schools to landing that first job after bagging their advanced degrees.
In the future, we will formalize the mentoring program with a view to decouple it from the award. The reason is because there are bright, motivated students with a means to pay for their graduate application package who nonetheless require the type of top-notch mentoring that only MT Scholars currently enjoy. This category of students will not normally qualify for the MT Scholarship because we factor in “indigency” in our selection decision. More to come on this. If you have any questions, please contact us.
In 2019, we awarded seven scholarships. In 2020, even with the expanded prize package, we awarded 22. In absolute US Dollar terms, this translates to 10 times increase year-on-year. We hope to keep sustainably growing the scholarship.
Geographically, we hope to broaden the scholarships to other countries in sub-Saharan Africa and eventually to all developing countries. Designs for this are already underway.