Dear Alpha, I left secondary school in 2015 and struggled for two years to get into the university. After two failed attempts, I finally got admitted into UNIBEN in 2018 at the third try to study Zoology (of all courses). I actually applied to study Microbiology, but they gave me Zoology. I didn’t like it, but I also did not have a choice so I accepted it. Now I am in my second year and I hate getting up everyday to attend lectures. I have lost the zeal to study, primarily because this wasn’t what I wanted. It makes me feel like quitting school altogether, but I’m scared and confused. I don’t even know what to do anymore. Please advice me. ——- Juliet, UNIBEN
I received this question from Juliet (real name withheld) a couple of days ago and I felt sorry for her. The all too familiar story of “JAMB gave me…” that has become a common theme of discussion in student cycles across the country. While I replied Juliet’s email, I thought sharing it here will help answer a burning question on someone’s mind. This is after all, a problem most students face in Nigeria.
So, what do you do when “they give you…”?
Ever heard that saying about what to do when life gives you lemons? Well, you make lemonades, right? Damn right! To put it differently, when life comes up with an unexpected twist, you make the best use of the situation.
“What good could possibly come from studying a course you never wanted”, you ask? It is not altogether doom and gloom. Studying Zoology when you actually applied to study Microbiology could sound like the devil just dealt you a hand. A heavy one for that matter. And in fairness to you, he did.
If you’re reading this piece, and you’re like Juliet, I’m going to show you how to make lemonade of your situation. Are you ready? Let’s go;
Step 1: Don’t Quit
Well, unless you have some other great thing going on, for which you so desperately want to run away from this not-so-amazing course you find yourself learning, don’t quit!
Encouraging you to stick with something you don’t like might not seem like what you want to hear at this point. Especially, since you never wanted this course. But since you accepted this admission, started the course and have come this far, don’t abandon it halfway.
You’re never going to like all of your course modules. No student ever did. Certainly there might also be a few lectures you have enjoyed even though you’re not cut-out for this course. Quitting now only says one thing – you quit when things get tough!
But I know you’re not a quitter! So stick it out with this course and finish it. You have only few semesters left.
Step 2: Spice Up
One of the reasons you don’t like the course you’re doing is probably because it seems like it was forced on you. Another reason could be because you don’t see a future in that career. I don’t know what to do! This is Nigeria! What am I going to do with a Zoology certificate? How many zoos and animal parks do we have here? I know, I know.
Your future doesn’t have to be in Zoology. Fortunately there are jobs coming up everywhere that do not care about what course you studied. You hear of engineering graduates working in banks and accounting graduates working in oilfields. How did they get there? They up-skilled.
Upskilling means that you have identified what skills are required in whatever industry you had your eyes on, and you are working to acquire those skills while you’re taking this ‘horrible’ course. There are lots of courses you can take online to add to your skill set. Most of them are free and some will require you to pay a fee to get the certificate. If you can’t afford the certificate right now, just take the course.
When you start adding these skills, you will suddenly begin to see a different future from the one that has you bothered before now. You will see that your future is not tied to your Zoology or whatever certificate. Because you have broadened your skill set, you have also expanded your future options.
Besides that, you can also choose to do a postgraduate degree in your preferred course after you’re done with this one. Bottom line is, start acquiring some other skills now. Don’t limit yourself to only learning Zoology.
Step 3: Add Some Sugar
Now, you need to sugar it up!
Juliet said she hates waking up to go to lectures and she has lost the zeal to study. That’s the perfect recipe for academic disaster. Knowing now that the future doesn’t look entirely bad, you need to put in more effort into completing the course you’re doing presently. And you need to finish well!
Future employers will be keen on that. So, even if you are getting these additional skills to complement the degree you’re acquiring, then the certificate itself should not be questionable. Some employers will overlook every other thing and grant you an interview based only on impressive educational achievement.
The class of your degree certificate will tell employers what you spent your time doing while you were in school. In fact, your CGPA and ultimately degree certificate is usually the only metric to measure that. So, put in the effort, go to classes, take your assignments seriously, don’t miss your tests.
All I’m saying is, let the enthusiasm return, and use it for the rest of your semesters in the university.
Being offered a different course from the one you applied for isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you. If you accepted the course and started the journey to completing it, don’t quit halfway. Resilience is a rare form of character. If you start now to quit when things aren’t going the way you want, when will you learn resilience? So brace up my friend, the race is not won yet.
Be enthusiastic for the rest of your academic journey and continue to see the future you saw when you first applied for your preferred course. To your success.
What other questions have been bugging your young student mind? It only takes a few lines to ask and get your mind sorted, so you can focus on being the best student you can be. Click the image below to #AskAlpha.