Today, I’m going to be telling you a story. No. Contrary to what you might be thinking, it’s not a story of how I almost made it out of school with a First Class degree. It’s more of the things I learnt from that experience afterwards.
Some of you don’t know this but I graduated from OAU in 2016 and from a department that hadn’t released any First Class student in over 30 years. I heard this was a deliberate act, something about some lecturers sitting on the degree like it’s their birthright, but I don’t know how true this is. All I know is that despite the fact that my class was an extremely brilliant one, all of us graduated with classes that were below a First Class. Same with the set before us and the sets before them.
Still, I finished school with a very strong CPGA, well above 4.0 and I took some consolation in the fact that well, ‘at least I was close’.
Then came convocation and we all had to go back to school. Some days before I traveled, I received a text from a classmate, congratulating me on being the best graduating student in my class.
‘Hold up. What?! Me?’ I was shocked, definitely did not put my mind to it at all. I mean it could happen but I expected that with what I had, somebody else must have had higher. So, I was very quick to dismiss the thought until another classmate sent me the exact same message. This one even saying that I shouldn’t try being humble about it, as it was a big deal and all that. Then my closest friend called to tell me the same thing. The last straw that broke the camel’s back was when a junior colleague who had never met me collected my number from a friend and texted me. She wanted to know how I did it so that she also could learn.
At this point guys, I just let the thoughts fly. I mean for four people, four different people to tell me the same thing, maybe it was true. If it was true, I would be the happiest person in the world. No First Class, but this? That was something.
Then I traveled to school. A day before the convocation, I was eating in a cafeteria when I saw a guy pass by with a copy of the brochure. *Ghen ghen ghen ghen*. My head started sparking guys. I immediately collected it, flipped straight to the awards page, best graduating student – department of English category and in something that I would call the most heartbreaking moment of my entire life, I found someone else’s name.
The next day, we went into the hall for the ceremony and just as they were about to start giving awards, I leaned over to a friend and told her this was the sad part. She looked back at me, smiled, flipped the brochure open and showed me a guy’s name. She said ‘Seun, this guy is going to be awarded today. But he is dead.’
Immediately I heard that, all the sadness just vanished. ‘Well’, I told myself, ‘at least I’m alive.’
We finished the ceremony. I went back back home, got a fantastic job and didn’t think much of the whole incident until last week, when my friend and sister, Damilola Sowemimo made it out of UNILAG, college of Medicine as the best graduating student of the year. (Dr Dami, if you are reading this, I am so proud of you!)
Then, on Sunday, another member of my service group in church, Abisola Fasuyi, was invited to speak to us, upon making it out of Covenant University as the best graduating student of the year. As she spoke, I caught myself myself thinking “well, at least I almost… “ and it was then the following hit me, which I think are viable life lessons we can take out of this story today.
I. ‘At least I almost’ is an attitude that should be discarded:
This is the very first lesson I picked out from that whole experience, and now, I’m paying it forward to you, especially if you are still in school.
For me, this ‘at least I almost’ attitude was one I carried with me throughout school and it told on my grades. Anytime I saw a result and it was a B, I was cool with it, especially if it was one of those very annoying Bs like 69. At least, I almost made an A, right?
Well, I have learnt now not to settle for something I do not want, just because it’s close to what I want and this is my advice to you as well, whether or not you are still in school. Instead of settling, look at what went wrong the last time, learn from it and try again in the next semester.
For example, if you find that it was the library that got boring and you slept for the most time you went to read, consider changing your reading spot this semester. Or if you find that the back of the class where you sat was very distracting, consider moving to the front or middle this semester. On the other hand, if it’s something way out of your hands, like a lecturer’s harassment, then you should pray about it. Remember those two lecturers who threatened me and how they went on sabbatical at the same time? Yeah, God answers prayers.
So, in at lesson #1: Don’t ever settle for ‘at least I almost’, even if your ‘almost’ was good enough.
2. ‘It’s a private school, that’s why’ is another attitude that should be discarded:
This is another thing I’ve found that as Nigerian students, we do a lot. Whenever we hear that someone finished with a first class, we are always quick to say things like, ‘ooh, it’s because it’s a private school. They dash people 1st class there’ or ‘it’s because it’s your department nah. Do you know the department I finished from?‘
Guys seriously, that needs to stop. That’s an attitude right there, that if not checked, can go beyond school and affect other areas of your life. It doesn’t matter what school/department they finished from, the truth is they worked for it.
So, in at lesson #2: Stop making excuses and start working for what you want instead.
3. Books are not just for nerds:
The third lesson I learnt from my experience is that books are not just for nerds. Coming from someone who thinks being called a nerd is a compliment though, that’s quite funny. I admit that I can be quite a bookworm and not so much on the social side but if you are here and you think you are too social for books, you really should see my friend, Damilola. That girl is a real slay mama – like in every definition of the word, S.L.A.Y and I know a couple of other people like that too – who slayed till they got their awards on convocation day.
So, in at lesson #3: Don’t keep company with those who despise learning, just because learning is ‘too serious to be your thing.’ There is no such thing.
4. Don’t beat yourself up about the past. It’s gone:
Finally, this one is for those of us who have left school. I know it can be painful after you’ve tried all your best and you still didn’t make it out with what you want, but it’s fine. It’s time to face forward and move on.
So, in at lesson #4: Don’t beat yourself up about the past. It’s gone. Whatever it is your hands find to do now that you have left school, take that up diligently and do it well.
That will be all for today guys. I know that this post is quite long but I hope you learnt something from it. If you did, share it with me in the comments below.
Till later, with ❤,
PS: I heard ASUU is on strike again. Wow, see why I dedicated this post to Nigerian students? Biko, if you are affected, how is it going for you?
PPS: In the spirit of what we learnt today, I’d like to give away a copy of the book, Academic Excellence by Morenike Vincent. If you want the book, simply indicate your interest in the comment. Winner will be picked at random and announced soon. All the best!