Tertiary Education And Accompanying Perils

What Nigerian Students Think University Education Is About, Versus What It Actually Is

by Gottfried Moh

Tertiary Education And Accompanying Perils

It’s with a sigh of relief that you receive news of your admission. You’re happy because finally, the freedom you’ve craved for so long has finally come. Your parents are also excited at the prospect of having one less enfant terrible in the house. Things are looking up. You get to school and you start to notice it is not as you’d imagined. Freedom from your parents comes at a huge price. You’re all on your own. There’s no one here to defend you. When you make decisions, you have to live with the consequences.

You thought you were coming to the University to read your books, right? Did it ever cross your mind, the number of beautiful girls that will be in the same learning space as you? You’re in a Chemistry 101 lecture and you’re trying your possible best to concentrate on what the professor is saying but the peng tings in your class won’t let you be great. The luxury of time to do whatever you want with your day is also a myth; lectures span the entire day. You can’t combine Organic Chemistry and chit-chat with Amaka, your result is bound to be disappointing.

When you selected the course you were going to study, you expected it to be an interesting journey that allowed you express yourself in your field and show your prowess. What you did not expect was that you would sacrifice creativity for theories. More often than not, you meet professors who say their word is law. In examinations, whatever it was you were given during those lectures must be replicated word for word on your answer booklet, and failure to do so would risk carrying over that course because you decided to be a wise ass.

On entering the university, you imagine that you’d have a lot of money at your disposal. Ordinarily you’re not used to handling that amount of cash, so when the money hits your account, you go crazy. Shayo for the boys, it’s time to party! Fast forward to a few weeks later, where the month seems unwilling to draw close to its last date, you return to your first love, garri. For those with not-so-impeccable home training, you decide its best to scam mom and daddy for more money for upkeep.

“They said we should pay money to access the common room”.

That’s okay, no lies detected.

You’d imagine Economics is basically the study of man and his relationship with his environment, as he tries to understand why he behaves the way he does. Wrong! Nothing would prepare you for the volume of Mathematics and Statistical analysis you’d be grappling with during the four-year period. What you thought your course was about and what it actually turned out to be can be likened to those disappointing tailoring experiences you find in viral Instagram photos. You thought you’d love school life, now Econometrics is making you suffer.

Living in the hostel was supposed to be a wonderful experience, but you didn’t expect your days to play out like the “2 Broke Girls” Hollywood series. You were thinking more along the lines of “Legally Blonde”. You didn’t envisage that you’d be robbed of your underwear, or that giant rats would throw massive parties in your ceiling, every night. The struggle to get water to bathe was a sort of culture shock to you, as you imagined bubble baths or Jacuzzis at the very least.

The period of examinations is really a trying time for students. All that hard work has to pay off. You’ve read (or at least you think you have read) to your satisfaction prior to the exam, and you can’t fathom why people always complain about a particular course. It seems easy enough, at least according to the handouts. You walk into the examination hall brimming with confidence, open the exam question and voila, the questions look like they were typed in Greek.  You immediately start to chew your pen: at no point was this envisaged as part of the script. You scribble a few things, hand over the paper and pray to whatever deity you worship. Baptism of fire, welcome to the School of Hard Knocks.

Lecturers were supposed to be some of the nicest people on earth, and best believe, a few are. When you do come across those that aren’t, nothing prepares you for what happens next.

“What does he mean when he says you have to pay money for him to mark your script, do the scripts need their own courier service?”

“How many people were made to carry the course over last semester? Jesus! Abeg how much did he say we should pay?”

Humility places you in a vice grip.

With the advent of more private schools, things don’t seem half bad. The federal and state universities, however, have a lot of catching up to do in terms of facilities. So for a prospective undergraduate, the key nugget is, don't lower your expectations, but keep them at a reasonable point. Think of the University as a place where you would discover yourself and make major moves. There’s room to make mistakes, learn from those mistakes and become the human being you set out to be.

University myths, demystified right there. You’re welcome.