A First Class Degree Does Not Automatically Translate to First Class Career By Tobi Amoo

Tell it to all Nigerian undergraduates. Tell them over and over till it starts ringing in their ears. That long gone are the days when students were worshipped merely because they have a first class degree. I do not underrate academic excellence in any way. As a matter of fact, I believe that what is worth doing at all should be well done. Therefore, spending 4 or 5 years (or even more, courtesy of ASUU strike) in an institution should be ‘resultful’.

In an educational system that is way behind globally, a student must not be caught in the waves of the current status quo, lest he be swept away unto the island of oblivion.

Employers no longer tremble at the sight of a first class certificate. NO. They need results. They need someone who has something to offer. Someone who can bring something tangible to the table. Someone whose creativity can positively impact the organization.

The world is now competitive, more than ever and the Nigerian student must learn that ‘la cramme la poure’ has become a blunt albeit redundant tool in this battle. For those who do not know, ‘la cramme la poure’ is a system where a student crams(memorizes) his note or a material supplied by the lecturer, reproduces it exactly on the answer sheet, gets a good grade and forgets it as soon as the exams are over.

Tell it to the students. Tell them over and over till it starts ringing in their ears. That a first class degree will only get you to the stage. Once there, the audience will be earnestly waiting for your performance and if you do not meet up they boo you out of the stage. That a first class degree only gets you as far as a room, across an interview panel and it does not guarantee you a job. That a first class degree does not automatically translate to first class career.

What am I saying? Students must learn beyond the chalk board. Students must read outside their expired, rarely updated curriculum. Students must learn soft skills. They must make efforts to get adequate exposure. These are what makes you stand out. Not a certificate you cannot defend after a year due to the amnesia after effect of ‘la cramme la poure’.

Lecturers should encourage creativity. Spur students to think outside the box, to constructively criticize their lesson notes. Marking schemes should only be a guide and not an original that must be photocopied exactly.

Check round, do your research, follow the successful people. Ask them questions, and they will tell you their current status is not primarily a result of their class of Degree.

Tell it to all Nigerian undergraduates. Tell them over and over till it starts ringing in their ears. That they should strive to graduate with the best results possible (have a first class if they can). However, they should go a step further to ensure they can defend that certificate, and ultimately compete favourably globally by acquiring such knowledge, exposure and experience as necessary. Otherwise, risk becoming a first class idiot.

Using a Biblical analogy let me end by saying: For ‘la cramme la poure’ profits a little but the real knowledge and skills are profitable for all things.

Tobi Amoo

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In the beginning...Let there be Light

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