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Students must prioritise learning to excel, says UNILAG first class graduate Oluwamuyiwa

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Precious Deborah Oluwamuyiwa


Precious Deborah Oluwamuyiwa recently graduated with a first class degree in Accounting from the University of Lagos (UNILAG). The young lady who hails from Isua, Akoko South East Local Council, Ondo State, in this interview with ADELOWO ADEBUMITI, stressed the need to review the curriculum of Nigerian universities so as to align them with global trends. She also gave reasons why most students’ fail, saying their inability to prioritise learning was responsible.

What came to your mind when you learnt you were going to graduate with a first class?
I was with my dad the night my broadsheet was released. I screamed for joy and received a tight hug from my biggest fan, my dad. I could not believe my eyes because I had faced a number of challenges, including a bout of illness during my final examinations. I had my doubts prior to seeing my final result, in all I am deeply grateful.

Did you set a target for yourself to achieve this feat?
Yes, I did. I was inspired by a family friend, who also bagged a first class in Accounting. From the first day I was admitted, I was determined that I must always have a first-class Grade Point Average (GPA) every semester. To achieve this goal, I ensured that I completed all my notes, materials, read before and after each class, attended all classes regularly and prayed well too.

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What were some of the challenges you faced in the course of pursuing your degree programme?
I had commenced a professional course (ICAN) as soon as I gained admission to UNILAG. It was quite challenging combining both programmes. As a result of the difference in course outlines, the timeline for both examinations were usually very close. Due to my very busy schedule, in my final year, I had a period where I was stressed and overwhelmed due to inadequate rest and my demanding workload. During that period, my mentor, Temiloluwa Dosumu, assisted me on prioritising my assignments, creating time for rest and other key tips that guaranteed my success in the university.

What were those factors that assisted you to accomplish the feat? 
My parents were very supportive all through my stay in school. Despite mentioning that combining a professional course with academics was challenging, but I gained resilience and discipline. I also remember having classes on weekends for eight to nine hours with elderly and experienced people; there was no time for loafing around.

In addition, the academic programmes organised by my fellowship in school availed me with useful tips, which aided me in accomplishing this feat. My friends and course mates were also very instrumental to accomplishing my success. We had series of group studies and tutoring. I also spent most of my days in the reading room, going through my notes and solving past questions.

Why do you think many students are not doing excellently in their studies? 
As much as I understand that every student has different capacity in comprehension and assimilation, I am still of the opinion that many students have not been able to prioritise their learning routine and activities. I mean, we will note the difference if we all place premium on studying well, which also includes sacrificing the extra ‘flex’ time, gist time, movies, particularly series and partying, among others, that can be very engaging and time consuming during academic sessions.

A number of students also struggle with academics because they have not explored reading techniques, which work best for them. For instance, for me, I like to read with soft music when doing calculation.  

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What are the problems still confronting the nation’s education sector?
One of my concerns for the sector, particularly in public universities, is the archaic and out-of-date-syllabus that has become so obsolete in present times. Usually, a fresh graduate in the job market knows very little about his profession after spending not less than four years in the university.

In addition, poor infrastructure, including lack of e-learning facilities has severely affected the standard of education in Nigeria. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an eye opener for the education sector. It has clearly shown that more public universities need to be more inclined towards e-learning.

Also, I would advise that government should provide more funds to develop infrastructural facilities for the purpose of building more hostels, conducive lecture halls and constant supply of electricity within campuses. I hope that in the next five years, the government would utilise the two per cent Tertiary Education Tax remitted by corporate bodies to develop educational facilities in public tertiary institutions in Nigeria.

What are the things other students should do to replicate your level of success? 
In as much as we all have different capacities, I want students to embrace the reading and retention techniques that work for them, including surrounding themselves with people who are passionate about academic success. Students, who do well in school should not wait until they are in the mood to do a focused study session neither should they wait until they feel motivated before they start preparing for examination. Instead, successful students rely on systems and techniques to ensure that they get the work done, even when they don’t feel like it.

One big obstacle to academic success is distractions. To overcome distractions, you can’t depend solely on willpower. You have to be deliberate about it. Stop procrastinating, restrict your Internet access, and freeze apps that easily distract or even switch off your phone while reading.

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What is your advice to students?
My first advice is for every student to have a proper relationship with God. The spirit of excellence won’t be far-fetched when this is in gear. However, as the popular saying goes, “heaven helps those who help themselves,” every student should buckle up irrespective of his or her current CGPA. I have seen people, who didn’t start with a first-class grade, but eventually graduated with a first class and I have also seen people fall from that level.

Let everyone take heed on how they stand. Students should also plan their internship period to fall during academic break, so their learning period is not affected.

Also, for entrepreneurial inclined students, in as much as profit should be made, there should be a balance especially when it is close to test or examination periods. I would like to add this quote “whatsoever thy hands findeth to do, do it with all thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

What is next for you now as a fresh graduate? 
As much as I look forward to an exciting career future, I plan to take a masters degree in business administration in about a year and I will also take up some professional courses having concluded ICAN in flying colors. I am currently undergoing my mandatory youth service at KPMG Nigeria, where I am being exposed to the practicality of the profession. I hope to continue working there after the completion of my service year. 

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