Students in Nigerian universities have stories to tell, but hardly anyone to tell them to. For our new weekly series, Aluta and Chill, we are putting the spotlight on these students and their various campus experiences.
A good experience at university and other institutions of higher learning revolves around valuable information. For many people, this process starts before they get their offer of admission. However, there’s only so much anyone can know when they are not in the school community. The moment they become a part of the community, new information often comes to light.
This week, I asked students at 5 different universities to talk about the most important information they wish they had about their schools or courses before they got admitted.
Favour, Covenant University – I wish I knew I could get in trouble even if I did nothing wrong
I heard a lot of stories about Covenant University before I got in, and I thought I was ready for whatever the school was going to throw at me. For a moment there, I thought people were reaching when they talked about how regimented life at the school was. They treated us nicely when we first got in, but the moment we had our matriculation ceremony, a lot of things became real.
It was interesting to see how they made chapel services more important than classes, but I didn’t stress myself too much about that. However, it was scary to find out that I could get in trouble for doing nothing wrong.
During one of the chapel services, I led the praise and worship session. I was so into it that day and there was a lot of energy. After the session ended, one of the hall officers approached me and asked me to give him the name of the drug I took before the service started. I thought it was a joke at first, but it wasn’t. He whipped out an offence form and asked me to fill it. In the end, he promised that he would come back to fetch me and take me for a drug test.
The story travelled fast and it got to the Dean of Students. Fortunately, he didn’t think I was guilty of drug use. He looked for me and apologised about the whole situation, promising to take care of it. I guess he did because nothing happened after that.
Anyway, it would have been great to know that getting admitted to study at this university isn’t a problem but staying till the end of the 4 or 5 years is. There were 209 students in my class when I came in. At the moment, there are only 67 students in the same class. The rest were either expelled or dropped out of school.
I would still make the choice to come to school here, though. I believe that the advantages of studying here outweigh the disadvantages.
Tamilore, Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology, — My school community has no power, and nobody told me
My dad sold the idea of going to university in my hometown to me and I agreed. I wrote UTME, applied to the school, and I got in.
That should be where this story ends, but there was a surprise waiting for me. The town of Okitipupa where the school is located has no power supply. The university runs on generators 100% of the time.
Coming to terms with this was a big struggle. I didn’t have a generator when I was in 100 level, so I used to go to a hotel close to where I lived to charge my devices. The worst thing that came with this power situation was the heat. There were lots of uncomfortable nights that could have been mitigated if there was power.
In my third year, I bought a generator. I have to spend more to fund this lifestyle, but the quality of my life has been better. However, I wish someone had told me about the non-existent power situation before I got in. It wouldn’t have changed much, but it would have been good to know.
Fisola, University of Ilorin — My life would have been easier if I knew the university wasn’t as liberal as I thought
My first roommate in university was fun, but she always found a way to get on my last nerve. We were both Yoruba. I am not a fluent speaker. She left me out of most conversations when her friends were in the room. The way they went about it, I couldn’t fit in with them because I couldn’t speak the language as well as they did.
When I eventually moved out of the room and the campus to the college of health sciences, I found out something new. I realised that the thinking of some students at the university was deeply rooted in patriarchy. In my second year, I was in a group with these guys for a class project. I thought collaboration mattered here. I tried to bring everyone together to exchange ideas and find out the best way to execute the project. However, the boys in the group didn’t take kindly to this. According to them, that role wasn’t mine to take because of my gender. They were telling me to know my place and stay in it. This was a big culture shock that I didn’t sign up for.
I expected the university to be a place where everyone could be the best version of themselves without dealing with any form of subjugation. I got that wrong. My life would have been easier if I knew that before I got in.
Mojolaoluwa, University of Lagos — I wish I researched my department before I accepted the admission offer
I applied to University of Lagos to study Medical Laboratory Science, but I didn’t get it. Instead, I got Human Kinetics and Health Education. The Health Education bit drew me in, and I thought I could do with it.
I could not.
The first class I had at school was at a swimming pool. The scary part was that I had to dive into the pool. I almost drowned in a pool when I was nine years old, which made me develop a phobia for swimming. Now, I had to swim to pass a course.
Also, I hated all forms of sports, but the Human Kinetics part of what I’m studying requires me to participate in a lot of sports. There was an exam I practised so hard for. It was a track and field course, and I was supposed to do a triple jump and a long jump. I’d barely started running before I tripped and twisted my ankle. Also, when it was time for the Javelin throw, my stance was so bad that the javelin travelled a short distance before it fell flat. This was an exam, and if there wasn’t a theory part, I probably would have failed the exam.
I had no idea that this course would be very physical and I wish I had done more research. I probably would have still accepted the offer, but the reality of it wouldn’t hit heavily as it did.
Precious, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture — It would have been great to know that I wasn’t coming here to solve problems
I wrote JAMB three times before I got admitted to study Mechanical Engineering at Michael Okpara University of Agriculture. I was disillusioned with the whole process at this point. When my provisional admission offer arrived in my mail, I had a brief moment when I thought about deleting the mail, but I got over myself, accepted the offer and went off to school.
I had many thoughts about how my time at the university would go, but I didn’t know I was coming here to cram scientific formulas to reproduce during exams. All my life, I thought Mechanical Engineering was about creating value and solving problems, but these didn’t happen.
There was this school project I had to do in my third year. I was supposed to build a machine, but I had no idea how to get it started. For starters, I couldn’t even weld anything together. Not that I didn’t want to, but there was little room for practicals. Before that time, we had a class on welding and the technician wouldn’t even let us near the tools. According to him, he wanted only people who had welding experience because he didn’t want anyone to damage the machine. Yes, this happened in a supposed place of learning.
I think I would have prepared myself better if I had known that I wasn’t coming here to solve any problems. And maybe I would have made different choices too.
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Can’t get enough Aluta and Chill? Check back every Thursday at 9 AM for a new episode. Find other stories in the series here.