We Asked 5 Nigerian Students How They Dealt With Failing A Course

May 7, 2020

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.


Grades are arguably the most important things to students and they strive to get the best they can get out of the courses they register for. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always go according to plan. The Fs somehow find their ways into transcripts. However, when this happens, it becomes important to move on. But what’s this process like? We asked five Nigerian students to tell us how they dealt with this situation when it happened to them.

Nwandu stephanie, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, 500L

When I wrote JAMB, I applied for Federal University of Petroleum, Effurun, Warri, but I didn’t get that. It turned out that I was going to UNIZIK to study Industrial and Production Engineering. It wasn’t what I wanted, but life had to go on.

However, I didn’t get past the fact that I didn’t get what I went after. I nursed an apathy towards what my course and I couldn’t care less to put every bit of myself into it. The interest wasn’t there, so what was the point? It didn’t take long before all of this baggage caught up with me. In my first year, I got an E in all the 3 credit courses I registered for. My CGPA was sinking. I was the first girl studying an engineering-related course in my family, so there was mad pressure to get myself together from my family. That was when I knew that it wasn’t all about me. The realisation hit heavily and I had no idea what to do with it. I literally cried myself to sleep every night.

Somehow, I managed to survive my first year with no carry-over. Then  I took this computer programming course. I got an F in it. That was a major setback. I’d made my parents believe that I had an awesome CGPA. I got suicidal and made good on my plans to end it. To end the pain and everything that came with it. That F really messed me up.

I don’t want to sound morbid, but I think I needed to go through that suicidal phase. It made me realise how much I like living. When I got out of it, it dawned on me fully that I was stuck here. That I could control what could happen if I wanted to. That I have to love this course if I ever want to be good at it. This was the turning point. I decided to put in the work. Took a lot of effort and sleepless nights, but it was totally worth it. 

Ajarat Oluwatobiloba, University of Lagos, 300L

It started with the assignment, which was going to be our CA. I made some mistakes, and I got 14/40. It was certain that I had to write the exam like my life depended on it, and that was what I planned to do. Until the exam timetable was released. I was going to sit for two other exams on the same day I was going to write the exams for this course. It felt like the universe had conspired against me. There was a blackout on the eve of the exams. I managed to study for all three courses the best I could.

I woke up sick on the day of the exams — the stress had caught up to me. When it was time for the last paper, which was the one I was dreading because of my CA score, I blanked out. I was practically empty of ideas. Well, I failed it.

At the beginning of the session, I registered for it again. Now, I’m just waiting for the second semester so I can write it again and get it over with. I’ve decided not to stress myself about it. When the time comes to rewrite it, I’m going to just face it head-on. Whatever happens, happens. 

Ogunde Timilehin, Obafemi Awolowo University, 300L

I had to take a course where the major chunk of the final grade depends on a field trip. The field trip alone takes 60% of the marks. Unfortunately, the payment deadline had passed before I knew that it was time for the field trip. I began a frantic search for the faculty coordinator, who was also a student.  When I finally got in contact with him, he told me that it was too late and he couldn’t accept any payment since the deadline had passed. I understood where he was coming from, but I had to salvage the situation. 

I went to see the course adviser and explained the situation to him. Luckily, he understood and he allowed me to pay him. And I thought that was all. 

On the day of the field trip, my name wasn’t called. I complained but the person in charge said that the only way that could happen was if I didn’t pay the fee. I rushed to the course adviser’s office, only to be told that the man had travelled and no one knew when he would be back. Two weeks later, I got his number. He confirmed that he was on some official trip but would be back soon.

When he eventually got back and I told him about the recent developments, he admitted that he gave the list where my name was to another lecturer who was supposed to coordinate the trip while he was away. However, he asked me not to fret — that he was on top of the situation. And I believed him. When the final grades came out, I found out what I should have known all along. I failed the course. 

It hurt that I paid the money I was expected to pay but nothing came out of it. But there was nothing to do about it — I had to register for the course again.  Luckily, it was an elective and didn’t reflect on my CGPA, so that didn’t take a hit. But it hurt.

Victory Odey, University of Calabar, 400L

There was a course I registered for in my second year and was so sure I wouldn’t have a problem with. The CA test and exams were a breeze and I was very confident of how well I would do. I returned to school for my third year and sometime in the first semester, the results were released. I checked and an F was looking back at me. The shock hit me like a wave. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I found it hard to swallow the humiliation that came after. 

I felt terrible. Over and over, I thought about what could have happened, but the answers eluded me. It was a trying period for me. I lost all confidence in myself and developed a phobia for exams. My psyche was so messed up, I would come home and cry after I finished writing an exam. The whole experience was just draining. 

At the height of it, I wanted to drop out of school. I actually ran away from home at some point. I had a series of talks with my HOD, my mentor, and my friends and I realised that I had to do better if I wanted to get rid of the pain. Fortunately, I had smart friends who stuck with me. I moved out of my parents’ home and went to live with one of them. She took the lead on helping me study and also assisted in finding a study plan that worked best for me. I sat for the exam again and made it. By the time I was done with my third year, my grades had improved tremendously, and I haven’t looked back.

Victor Ilorah, University of Nigeria, 400L

I had just gotten into the school, and I didn’t know a lot about how things worked. It was time for the first-semester exams and a timetable was released. I thought that was the final timetable, but apparently, they were still making changes. I didn’t have a smartphone at the time, so I relied on memos and my friends for information. But these failed when it mattered the most. 

The changes to the timetable affected one of the exams I was supposed to write. They pushed the time for the exam up, and I was totally out of the loop. It was originally scheduled for 12 noon before it was changed to 11 AM. I got to school around 10 AM, but before I realised what had happened, it was past 12. The examiner wouldn’t let me and another student who was affected by the change in. It was the first day I cried in school.

I went to see the course adviser, but he wasn’t helpful at first. After a lot of back and forth, he promised to look into it and maybe find a way where the result wouldn’t affect my CGPA, even though I had to register for the course again. He didn’t. I failed the course and it reflected in my GPA.

It was a process but I accepted the fact that I couldn’t beat myself up for it forever. It was hard because I believed the course adviser. I just knew that  I couldn’t put myself in such a situation again. I could actually say that the event made me a better student because I promised myself not to have another carryover in any course. And I have stayed true to that promise. 


Are you currently studying in Nigeria or elsewhere and have a story to share about your life in school? Please take a minute to fill this form and we will reach out to you ASAP.

Can’t get enough Aluta and Chill? Check back every Thursday at noon for a new episode. Find other stories in the series here.

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