Majority of those who would read this have probably passed this stage, and know what i am about to talk about. After the "hustle" to cross the hurdle presented by JAMB and Post UME examinations set by institutions of higher learning, the struggle literally continues. For those who are lucky, you get shortlisted to study a course you love, for others, they get stuck with courses they ordinarily wouldn't be caught dead having an affiliation with... Nevertheless, do not despair. Do not be like the few who would think the hustle for higher education ends after you become a card carrying student of a school; aspire to be better than you were when you were admitted.Now when i say be "better", i do not mean go from not wearing make up at all to becoming a certified face painter, neither do i mean go from church going lad to yahoo boy/cultist whose name becomes feared amongst his peers; i mean be better intellectually. Like they say, "pass through school, and let school pass through you". Now, i think with the little i noticed around me in school, i have a few tips that can help the "willing" ones amongst you who might read this get prepared to literally "kick ass" in school. (emerging the best, i mean).
Have a "Can Do" Attitude: Yea, i know we are all familiar with this phrase. Well, i have come to realize that having a "Can Do" attitude is not limited to only requirements for that "dream job". In fact, having such an outlook to tasks does not grow over night. On your first day at school, make a list of things you would like to achieve at the end of your four year or five or six year spell at school, whichever the case may be. Tell yourself that despite the scary stories about "harsh lecturers" you might have heard from your "seniors", you are new, and thus you have the potential to go where they haven't with your grades. (Trust me, this works). Never tell yourself, "ha, this lecturer only awards "C" in his course and so i would try my best to score a "D"".. You would be shooting yourself in the foot with such a mind set. Remember, You CAN DO it, and even surpass your dreams.
Look out for Academic Clubs: Every University is set in a way that it presents the pathway to any kind of life you want to lead, literally. You have different sorts of clubs in school, those that preoccupy themselves with social activities, and those that aim to encourage intellectual development. Now, don't get me wrong, i am not saying you should be a total "bookie", but you can attempt to balance social activities and academic activities. If you can handle both, well, you are good to go. If you can not, choose that which you know would be instrumental to your development as a person. You could even work towards establishing an academic club if there is none in your department.Groups like the National Society of Black Engineers, University of Ibadan, are examples of the sort of groups you should look out for in your own institution. If you are a student of Physics, find a Physics club to join in school, you could also test your diversity by venturing into the Arts, depending on how well you can merge their activities with your own core activities. Trust me, engaging in such activities helps you remain focused on your goal in school. Who knows, you could represent your department in some prestigious competition anywhere in the world and your name would be out there for good... Winning!
Dress Moderately: Now, this is a very sensitive issue with students in certain schools. On admission into the University, there is this air of freedom that comes with it. Most often than not, this "freedom" extends to the way young people dress. For the females especially, always try to dress moderately. I am not saying you should become an "S.U" or put on drab looking clothing, but make sure you are not exposing too much. Always dress to convey the message that you are a STUDENT, a respectable one too. Majority of the cases of sexual harassment in higher institutions are most times precipitated by immodest dressing by female students. Plus, there is a difference between make up for school, and make up for parties. Make sure you don't "over paint" your face and attract unwanted attention to yourself. Let people know you for what is in your head and not what is on your face or in your cleavage. Remember, you want to be the best within the exact number of years for which you signed up.. Not a year more.
The Library is your friend: Boring huh, yea. i can imagine anyone reading this piece would think this writer must be the most boring person on earth. (Yea i am, i wont try to deny it). However, one of the keys to academic success in the University is becoming a frequent user of the Library. When i say frequent user, i do not mean those who use the library as a rendezvous point for catching up on the latest gossip, neither do i mean you should go there with your notes to sleep because the library is powered with Air Conditioning. I mean use the Library to enhance your knowledge. Fine, the internet presents you with the opportunity to "Cntrl C and Cntrl V" when you have an assignment; but anyone interested in truly broadening their knowledge as a student learns to put the library to good use. Apart from the fact that in most libraries in higher institutions you have the opportunity to consult a wide variety of books on any topic you wish, the library is always the best place to read, for those who love to read in a quiet environment. You could also register online to be a member of e-libraries such as jstor.com and in turn educate yourself on how resourceful the internet can be when you really mean to study. Try not to be like those who only know the route to the Library when it is time for their final year thesis, (trust me, they always look stupid).
READ!!!!: I could not avoid putting this in caps. I am screaming here... Yes, you have to READ!!! Except you are exceptionally gifted, i do not advice you to wait till days before examinations before you dust up all notes taken (assuming you take notes), and then begin the whole charade of going to do "overnight". From my experience, people who do "overnight" end up sleeping on their notes... with some even drooling on it (LOL). My suggestion, imbibe the habit of reading from the first day you get your course outline. Be a step ahead of your lecturer (that's for those of you whose lecturers actually teach you..). Read like you love it. Set out a day in the week when you would do nothing but read, with breaks in between. Do not assume you would be able to cram when exams draw nigh, it really doesn't help. Try to read up recommended texts that come with your course outline, (i know some lecturers actually provide these). Do not sit down and wait for your lecturer o teach you everything..(Epic failure awaits you if you do).. Get out there, visit book stores, go to the library.
Monitor your grades: I think i have "over yarned" already.. Too much talk. Not done yet though. Yes, DO NOT be afraid to check your grades! DO NOT assume everything is OK. I know people who had no idea they were going to have "extra year" till when it was almost time for finals. The sooner you are in the know about your academic standing, the better. You would know your strengths and weaknesses and work hard enough to come out tops. That is assuming you adopted the CAN DO attitude i mentioned above.
Stay Cordial with your lecturers: Nobody likes an "oversabi". This is Nigeria; you have lecturers who would literally make your academic life hell if you begin to act like "sey na u know pass". Be respectful (lol, i am not taking y'all to church)., but yes, be respectful. If you ever have reservations about lecturer, try to make him/her see reason. These people are human beings, and from my experience, if you indeed are a good student and you know what you are doing, no one would be crazy enough to "mark" you out for "destruction". Study hard, be respectful, be cordial. And i believe all would be well.
Always visit the office of Student Affairs: Depending on how your school is set up, the office of student affairs is the point of contact between the school and the student. From experience, it is advisable that students pay attention to what happens at this office. There you have various opportunities for students who are willing to participate in different extra-curricular activities. For instance while i was a student at the University of Lagos, the office of the D.S.A as we called it organized work-study programmes that encouraged students with grade points from 3.5 and above to take up jobs while schooling. I was a participant, and i can say the experience was a very good one. There was also an internship programme with Goldman Sachs, for interested students. There are a lot of opportunities at the office of student affairs if you are willing to maintain good grades and broaden your reach. Visit the office at least once a week to keep yourself up to date on new opportunities you could enjoy as a student.
I might have missed out a few points here, but i think i have been able to cover a majority of the things any wide eyed Nigerian student new to the real "acada" life needs to excel. Oh, yea, there is something else. I do not know what you believe in, but whatever it is, pray for success. I am no stranger to the fact that studying in Nigeria can be the toughest things ever, but trust me, when you work hard and emerge "victorious", you would be happier for it. Most times Organizations and Companies of repute attend Convocation ceremonies to look out for the students who stand out academically, in some cases, people get hired on the spot. Granted, not everyone can emerge "Best Graduating Student", but everyone can have graduate with a C.GPA that would not be an handicap for him/her in future endeavors. Remember, the journey of a thousand years begins with a step a day. If your goal is to get the best out of life anywhere in the world, you have to begin from the first day. Do not procrastinate. Be prompt on assignments submission, go early for classes. All these contribute to mold you into a distinguished individual.