Written by Tosanwumi Otokunefor
To say that the process of securing admission into a Nigerian university is a nightmare is an understatement. The process has become increasingly more difficult over the years with the increasing population of candidates who are desirous of studying in the Nigerian university system.
It is not uncommon to run into a candidate who has been sitting the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination for upwards of five years. Year in and out, they procure and complete the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) forms and attempt the examinations, but often with diminishing returns.
There is much agony in many families because of the failure of their offspring, the hope of entire generations, to secure admission into a university. For the majority of poor families, this is the single step they hoped would transform them from grinding poverty to instant wealth and change their circumstance for good, forever. This has indeed been so for some. But for the majority of families, hopes have been shattered, and disappointments have given way to disillusionment and desperation and its many unpredictable manifestations, including social unrest.
Many of these candidates have little chance of gaining admission into the universities because of gross deficit in their knowledge bank. The school system that prepared them has failed to equip them with the necessary tools to secure admission into a university. Many have obtained the relevant credits and passed the UTME through examination malpractice only to crumble like a pack of cards in the post-UTME. Such candidates should swallow their pride and enroll in an appropriate extramural programme and upgrade their abilities.
But beside this group are relatively brilliant youngsters who fail to secure admissions because they choose to pursue courses involving subjects in which they are not sufficiently knowledgeable, in preference to those in which they are naturally gifted, because of societal and family pressures.
In addition to lacking the adequate prerequisites for the preferred field of study such as medicine, engineering, law, accounting etc, the societal preference for such fields often lead to over-subscription for the limited spaces available. The average candidate is more often the victim because he or she cannot attain the scores to meet the cut-off marks for such fields of study in the face of stiff competition.
A young man I met last year told me that he has been writing JAMB and Post-JAMB since 2008 for Petroleum Engineering and only succeeded after changing his choice of course to Geology six years later. Another student, very badly wanted to be a nurse but her dream has still not been realized five years later! Another young man that for ten years wanted to read medicine finally accepted an admission offer to read Biomedical Science in the School of Science Laboratory, wasting ten years for choosing the wrong course initially. A realistic choice of course could have made all the difference!
But even the very brilliant candidates end up wasting their youthful years because they make the wrong choice of institution! Certain institutions are usually oversubscribed, and only the best gets in there. The cut-off marks and other admission requirements are usually so high that they are nearly always a little beyond the reach of many brilliant candidates. Other federal institutions may not be so heavily subscribed for that course, and the average candidate may easily secure admission there without wasting time. Therefore, before you fill your JAMB forms, shop around; the information is literary everywhere on the web!
Many often resort to the familiar ‘Nigerian art’ of paying huge, often mind-boggling sums of money to secure admission into fields for which they are not sufficiently competent. Many of such have dropped out two or three years later because of poor performance. Others have managed to graduate after much effort only to face the frustration of unemployment because of their poor degree.
It is no use gaining admission into a field of study if your abilities are not sufficient to carry you through. The rule of the thumb is to seek admission into a field of study in which you can easily excel with minimal effort. I bet you, a first class industrial chemist is more likely to secure a job in a chemical industry than a chemical engineer with a third class honors degree. This reminds me of a lady who rediscovered herself after graduating from microbiology department with a poor degree. She later enrolled in Fine Arts where she made a first class honors degree; she lectures in the same department now!
The conclusion of the discussion is very simple; do not be mislead by your emotions or societal pressures, but rather be guided by an honest assessment of your capabilities. It is better to be an artist who would paint a fine portrait of a king than engineer that would build a pedestrian bridge that collapses under its own weight, even before anyone walks over it!