First Person Accounts (FPA’s) are meant to provide a first-hand account of Indian graduates who have pursued, or are pursuing, a post-graduate course (LL.M. or otherwise) from different universities across the world.
Sreejita Mitra successfully applied for an LL.M. in Competition Law at the Queen Mary University of London this year. Although she eventually had to cancel her plans, I thought it would be useful to speak to the Symbiosis Law School graduate on how she went about the LL.M. application process.
As an undergraduate student, when did you decide to pursue a master’s abroad? And once decided, how early did you begin the application process?
I had planned to do master’s abroad since I was in my 3rd year. By the time I was ending my penultimate year, I had decided on the course and the universities, so I applied very soon in the application cycle.
My applications were over by the first week of November.
How did you go about selecting just where to apply? What were the schools you shortlisted and what got you to narrow down on QMUL?
I had two criteria while shortlisting universities. First was the country I wanted to study in and second was the course. The UK was always my preferred choice and the universities I decided to apply to were the ones that had impressive Competition Law Courses.
I had applied to LSE, UCL, KCL, QMUL and Glasgow of which I qualified for the latter two. However, between Glasgow and QMUL, QMUL was the clear winner for me as the course structure for Competition Law was more diverse and interdisciplinary.
Any advice on how to go about the application process itself? More specifically, the personal statement, meeting the English language requirements, and the recommendation letters?
Applying sooner is usually thought to be better. However, I personally do not agree with this. I think if one has the requisite grades, no matter when they apply, they get through. I think the personal statement and the recommendation letters are secondary factors.
I personally feel that good grades are non-negotiable. However, the SOP must make an indelible impression on the reader because that is the only means of showcasing oneself as one would want to. I was honest yet tactful in writing my SOP and it always does good to show that one has thoroughly researched about the university one is applying to and is clear about their thoughts.
The designation of the referee does not matter as long as they can show that they know you well and vouch for you strongly. I feel it is better to take a recommendation letter from the faculty who taught you that particular course in your undergraduate studies irrespective of their credentials.
English language requirement is a significant criterion for master’s abroad as universities tend to reject applicants with a low English score. An average score of 8.00 in IELTS is considered good. Getting a satisfactory score does not have a fixed formula. The applicant must gauge their level of proficiency and decide what to do to get a good score.
I personally practised only from the practice materials of IELTS and did not take any external aid. It is important to have a good vocabulary and keep a track of time.
Did you apply for/receive financial aid?
I applied for financial aid from a private trust in India, but they scrapped the scholarships this year due to the pandemic. However, I received a scholarship of £2000 from QMUL.
Looking back, any aspect of the application process that you would do differently the next time around?
I do not think I would do any part of the application process differently except maybe improve my grades a bit. It is unfortunate that I had to cancel my plans this year due to unprecedented circumstances.
However, I have joined L&L Partners recently and hope to do master’s abroad sometime down the line. Hopefully, it will be better next time as I would have gained some experience by then.