The expected and unexpected challenges faced by all first-year students in Nigerian Universities

The expected and unexpected challenges faced by all first-year students in Nigerian Universities
The challenges faced by first-year students of any Nigerian university cannot be compared to those faced by secondary school leavers who are doing everything possible to gain admission into any of the universities in Nigeria. It is assumed that the first year of freshers is always easy, straight and a run-on-the-mill experience where everything is gotten on a platter of gold since it is their first year in school. In fact, most first-year students have walked into the university with this sense of reasoning, only to realize that their assessment of the university environment is faulty and holds no water; thus, making them to buckle up and face the harsh realities of the tertiary institution with insurmountable seriousness.

As against general assumption, gaining admission into any Nigerian university does not put an end to the problems one faced while seeking admission into a university or any tertiary institution in Nigeria. Rather, it is the starting point for some familiar and unfamiliar challenges. These challenges are discussed below:

First on the mind is the curiosity of getting to know your new environment for the foreseeable future. House hunting is supposed to be done at this stage, and most students actually prefer having their lounge/apartment closer to the campus for easy transition. But when that isn't possible due to lack of space or unwillingness to live in campus-provided lounges, they tend to look outside for suitable houses with affordable price tags.

Getting used to campus environment is quite stressful because one has to find his faculty and teaching centres in the midst of other gigantic structures which are far away from where one lives.

Language is also a challenge as most universities are located in states or communities where one's mother tongue is not spoken. This will make it difficult to get vital information about the school and the community from the natives, especially the elderly ones who neither understand English nor Pidgin.

Besides, the importance of language in trade cannot be overemphasized. A food item of N200 can be sold to a student at N150 if he/she bargains price with the seller in the seller's language. In other words, a student who does not understand the language of the community where his/her school is located is likely to get goods and services at higher prices since most of the traders will be natives of that community.

In most tertiary institution in Nigeria, lectures start at 8:00am and end at 4:00pm. However, some lecturers are good at fixing their lectures before and after the official time to suit their schedules for the day. First-year students always find this challenging since they are not used to it. 
Unlike in secondary schools, most of the lectures in universities take place in halls. And halls are usually bigger than classrooms, yet overcrowded to the extent that lecturers may be forced to speak with public address systems. This doesn't help the situation either, especially when they choose to do so in high tempo and linguistic accents that may be difficult to decode.

The mode of teaching in any tertiary institution differs from what first-year students are used to in secondary schools. Most university lecturers only scratch a topic on its surface and compel the students to research on it. This is one of the familiar challenges that a first-year student encounters in any Nigerian university. Students are perceived by university power brokers to be sophisticated and flexible in all aspects of their academic lives hence the complex scheme of work.

Also, students whose secondary schools failed to implant in them the necessary ethos of dictate writing will struggle to take down important points as a lecturer explains a topic or dictates his note.

Surprisingly, most lecturers do not mark your examination scripts based on correctness. Rather, they mark them based on what they have given you in class. In other words, if your explanation of a concept does not correspond with the lecturer's, you will be awarded zero regardless of its correctness. This is entirely different from secondary school examinations where students can always go behind to pick points and ideas which correspond with their teachers' explanations but differ in style.

Liberty is an unexpected challenge, too. Most first-year students who have been deprived of certain freedoms while in college or secondary school due to strict parental guidance or rules and regulations of their secondary schools, may want enjoy the freedom that comes with being university students. They develop this terrible habit of procrastination. Postponing and delaying every assignment, missing classes and indulging in other frivolities with friends. This, if not quickly and carefully managed, may cost the students their academics. One needs to strike the right balance between school and social affairs in order not to face the awkward distraction when they meet in loggerhead.

Freshers might just need to find repose in new ways because there are always going to be bouts of nostalgia by virtue of being new to town and having fewer sidekicks. The thoughts of family and friends left behind could come flooding in, especially at a time when they feel regress and need someone close to comfort them. 

Tertiary institutions have always been skilled at announcing themselves to incomers, especially 'jambites,' and these 'jambites' always arrive in quick successions. However, the ability to prepare for their arrival has been a major challenge. And that is why we have the aforementioned problems which may not be resolved soon. Therefore, determination, resolve and focus are the correct tools any fresher/freshman must wield in order to address these problems, and one just has to look beyond them in the right manner in order to maintain a positive outlook.

Victor Wisdom

Tamuno Reuben

Those who seek knowledge seek power because the pen is mightier than the sword.


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