Editor’s note: For the next 3 months, we’ll be accepting and publishing students’ experiences on Nigerian campuses through the #BNCampusSeries. Beyond the four walls of the classrooms, so many things happen on campus, and our goal is to document the various aspects of this phase. The BellaNaija Campus stories will explore academics, finances, love, school anxiety, mental wellness, relationships, and everything in between, and we invite you you to be a part of our effort to share the diverse experiences of campus life.
Today, Odiachi Anna, a student of the University of Ibadan, shares her story with us. She was an academic idan in secondary but UI nearly humbled her. Read her story to see how she bounced back.
If the word had been used in 2019, I would have been hailed “idan” each time I walked into the teacher’s staff room or any class. As an A+ student all through secondary school, I did not believe I would struggle in any way with academics at the university. But I started getting humbled when I had to wait three years before gaining admission into the university. Getting admission to study Law at the University of Ibadan had to be my biggest academic comeback at the time. One could say the worst was over and done with, but I could not have been more wrong.
It was like what everyone says, secondary school and university are very much different. Sure, I had enough time to groom myself for the university during my gap years, and I was very confident that my academics would not suffer at all in school. Omo! I was so wrong.
At different university faculties and departments, almost everyone was once either a head boy or head girl. This implied that everyone was brilliant in their own right. Back home, we were what you’d call local champions. So I started to shy away from intellectual conversations because I had no idea if what I had to say would be something worthy of note. And this did not get better during tutorial classes.
Tutorial sessions turned into a show of academic excellence. Before the tutor could say A, my coursemates already said the entire alphabet. I started feeling intimidated. I stopped attending tutorials and chose to read on my own because I knew I would not grow in that scene. It got worse when those at higher levels scared the intelligent part out of me. Today, they’ll tell you nobody gets an A in a lecturer’s course; tomorrow, they’ll sarcastically ask you why you are reading when the result would eventually be a B or C. So I turned the focus to myself and threw unsolicited advice away because the goal was not just to graduate with a law degree but with an excellent one.
After that pep talk and lots of prayers, things became relatively easier. After a heart-to-heart with my wise elder siblings, I was told not to pay attention to my coursemates. I connected with some seniors in my hostel and they put me through on the best methods to read, how to answer questions, and how to do things at my own pace and not using my coursemates as my yardstick.
After all this, I found it easier to pick up my notes and materials to study. My roommates at the time were all law students too, so we formed a study group. We had midnight study sessions, and we ‘dealt’ with past questions. During exam periods, we sometimes sacrificed sleep, parodying the song ‘I will pray’ to keep us motivated: “I will read, I will read o. If I don’t read, UI will make a mess of me, I will read o.” It was funny, but we understood how serious it was for us.
In the exam hall, I found it easier to attempt some courses that gave me so many headaches while studying. But, there’s always that one course that makes you question your life choices; for me, it was poetry. I had given up on the course during the semester, especially when some seniors who were so respected in the faculty mentioned they got B’s after putting so much effort into it.
The news about the course made it harder for me because my mind was channelled the wrong way. But my mentor introduced me to a student who got an A in that course. This lady drilled me; I felt she was after my life, although I couldn’t be more grateful to her now. She was also a student preparing for her exams but she created time for me, determined for me to get that A. The result came out and I got a 67 in that course. I wanted to cry, considering that two other people were involved in my passing the course. I understood that some people can focus intently on something at the last minute and excel, while others do not. I am in the ‘do not’ category. I always have to focus right from the beginning.
When we resumed the second semester and started seeing our first semester results, there were sighs of relief and disappointment. But my friends and I launched a motto: we go harder next time. Beyond book smart, I personally know how important it is to be an all-around student, so my second semester became occupied with my creative and extracurricular activities. I was able to manage the extra-curricular activities with assignments, group projects, and tests all squeezed within such little time.
I have made my campus life a training ground, a place to learn. I am permitted to make my mistakes here, learn from them and do better. Within my first year of university, in just the area of my academics, I learned lessons that are setting me on the right path. I know where my priorities lay, how to arrange my activities in order of importance and how to shred off pieces of advice that were to my detriment. I also learned how to take things step by step, not using others as a yardstick.
If you are a student/graduate in/from any Nigerian university, come share your campus stories with us! Reach us here: [email protected].