17 Oct 2014

The Road To University Life

“I shall argue that strong men conversely know when to compromise and that all principles can be compromised to serve a greater purpose.” – Andrew Carnegie

With the Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB) examinations concluded, tertiary institutions all over the country would soon start Post Unified Matriculation Examination (PUME) to select candidates for the next academic year. Dreams begin to take shape and careers kick started with the decision of which university to fill into that JAMB form and what course of study you decided on. From early childhood years we all have dreams of noble professions like medicine, engineering, being a lawyer and those with really big imaginations even go as far as talking about being pilots and what have you.

The first blow to these dreams for some usually comes with the JAMB results when they score so abysmally low that their dream to pursue a worthwhile degree in the university is dashed. That is when the first harsh rays of reality begin to creep in slowly to bring in the dawning light of knowledge and experience. While some are lucky enough to make the cut off mark for the polytechnic, they can’t offer the same course that has been their dream all their life. That was my first starting point to adulthood, I have always wanted to be a lawyer since I was eight but as it would seem, fate would not have it so. Despite scoring 276 in my first JAMB and another 252 in the PUME of one of the federal institutions in the West, it was not good enough for the Law Faculty and I had to console myself of waiting another year to write the PUME examination.

This was a first failure and I wasn’t going to let it deter me from pursuing my dream of becoming one of the country’s most renowned lawyers and it was with the same enthusiasm I put in for the same course of study again the following year albeit into another federal institution still in the West. This time around I was a mark lower from my previous year’s attempt of 276 and had 275. I was a bit disappointed in myself and could envisage a repeat of last year but with the encouraging words from loved ones and family I sat for the PUME of the institution I had chosen with my fingers crossed. Sadly I joined the league of candidates to tell the woeful story of being one or two marks away from their cut off marks thereby denied admission while lesser deserving candidates with just the right connection got admission. A famous man had once said that trying the same thing over and over again in the same way yet expecting a different result was foolhardy so this time I had not put all my eggs in one basket. I wrote the post utme of a leading polytechnic in Nigeria and alas was granted admission to study a course I had just casually put in for in order not to leave that space blank.

At first I was depressed that I had had to settle for the polytechnic while my peers were in the university but as time went on I developed a passion for the course, Mass Communication, and realized that the discrimination against polytechnic graduates was just another unfair and baseless sentiment by the Nigerian society and labour market. Not only were the lecturers sound and educated, they were dedicated to their work and in no time at all, I had forgotten all about law and had found a new calling. But as our society would continue to say “man must put food on his table,” I wrote another JAMB and put in for another course in the field of communications and it was an easy entry with me meeting up to the cut off this time.  I finished my mass communication programme from the polytechnic amidst the top five in the class and left to pursue another degree in the university.  

It is at this point I would just say if you are seeking admission into the tertiary institution do not allow yourself join the band wagon of discriminating against certain courses that you could be very good at just because it doesn’t belong to the league of the supposed prestigious courses in our society. As Robert Frost preached in his poem “The Road Not Taken,” the popular way is not always the right way.  Secondly, always leave other options open rather than having a do or die fight for the university only. It is all about determination; see it as a stepping stone to greater heights, every finish line is the beginning of a new race so don’t hesitate to start from somewhere. Lastly, never be discouraged from pursuing something you believe you can do just because you failed once or twice, go back and think about your previous tactic and restrategise in meeting your target. The story of Iziren Akhigbe might just inspire you not to give up, a young man who graduated with a record setting First Class from Mechanical Engineering from the University of Lagos in 2012 with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) OF 4.98. He wrote JAMB three times and had to settle to study in a polytechnic before getting admission into the university. To read his story CLICK HERE.

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