Thursday, May 1, 2014


Much Love to my big mentor

I prepared this based on my personal experience,
experience of people I know, and experience of
juniors I mentored to making it.
1, NATURAL BRILLIANCE: There is a minimum
level of natural brilliance that is required before a
student can think of First Class or second class upper. I do not intend to
put limit to one’s capabilities, for I believe like most
people that impossible is nothing. However,
realistically speaking, that is an exception to the
rule. Most First Class students have a track record
from lower levels of education. That is the first

2,THE POWER OF DREAM: Most first class
students dream. I do not mean metaphysical
dream, I mean the Luther King definition – vision,
forward-looking, even though awake.

3, COMPETITION: What most people don’t know is
that there is usually a subtle competition among
best students in classes. The competition is not
necessarily unhealthy. They may be –and in fact
usually are – friends, but they compete. In my
undergraduate days, I know of a friend in
the beginning of every semester, went to ask what
X, the best student in the class immediately
preceding his, scored in each course and he would
tell those that cared to listen to him that he would
break the record and score higher than him. He
did, most times. Most First Class students
compete. Each wants to be the highest scorer in
each subject. That is why it is always good to go
to a competitive institution, rather than enjoy local
championship status without stiff competition.
4, CALCULATION: When you see some students
reading a purely theoretical course and having
calculator by the side, don’t think they are insane
or doing ‘over-syllabus’. No they are just running
the permutations – if I score B in this course, what
will my CGPA be? What is the worst case scenario?
What is the best case scenario? How many A’s do I
need to make X-CGPA? etc. These are calculations
that go on in their heads. Some don’t even
compute their GP’s at the end of a semester, they
have the template in their heads already, having
done the permutations over and over again even
before writing the examinations, and they just
insert the course scores into their mental template.
5, OPTIMISTIC MENTALITY: Some students die
many times before their academic death. How can
a student gain admission into a school and the first
thing he hears is, you can never make a First
Class, they wont give you. Well, I don’t believe
this. This is what kills many students. How can you
go to battle with a defeatist mentality and expect
to win? Many First Class students defy these
“messengers of doom” and pursue their target
optimistically. I finished from the Abia State
University, faculty of Business Management where you hear people tell you that no body have ever graduated with a first class but before we graduated some pals broke the jinx, not minding I did not later graduate with a first class but I graduated as the best in my class and a cgp of 4.39 and this is one thing I must warn against walking with people that sees only failures but associate with friends and senior friends that motivate
you, not some tale by moonlight about a sadist
lecturer denying you First class. This is another
very vital feature of First Class students. They
don’t believe cock and bull stories.
environment also helps. In a school where you
spend most of your time queuing for water or
transport or forced to read with candle, chances of
academic success are very low. This is why
Nigerian students do well abroad where they have
all the facilities and learning is conducive. This is
also why schools like Unn, UI and to some extent,
Unilag, with strong students body that fight for
students welfare like good transport system, power
on campus, good water system etc, produce more
First Class students. Same for private schools,
where there is little or no worry about welfare.
7, COURSE OF STUDY: Course of study is
another very important factor. It is better to
choose a course you are interested in, not one you
are forced to do. Some otherwise brilliant students
don’t perform up to potential because they are not
interested in what they are studying in the
students get taken away by the euphoria of being a
university student and spend their first year faffing
around. Still, in some schools, year 1 performance
is not aggregated as part of the overall grade. For
most students, after performing woefully in their
first two years, they now grab straw to salvage the
situation in the later years. Needless to say, it is
most times a futile exercise. But there are cases of
great come-backs. One of the best students in my
class during my undergraduate days were not
among top 15 in class after our first semester year
1. They were not even in second class upper then. But he
came back to overtake most of us early flyers. Well,
that means there is still hope if you didn’t do too
well after your year 1. But after year 2, the bridge
may have fallen.
9, KNOW THYSELF: The problem with many
student is they try to ‘copy-cat’. While it is good to
learn from the method of another high performer,
it is important to know how to adapt it. Some
students don’t need to read for more than 3 hours
a day before they pass, indeed do excellently well
and top the class. Some must read for at least 7
hours a day. I know First Class students that
watched football and participated actively in
campus religious activities. Some even get
involved in departmental politics. It is about
knowing oneself. But for most First Class students I
know, reading the notes while still hot, and not
waiting till they accumulate, is a common
how to approach a question in an examination is
an art itself. How do you organize your answers? It
goes beyond just picking the answer script and
writing down what you think is the answer. Know
what the lecturer wants. Does he want ‘lengthy
story’? Or he wants it ‘short and snappy’? You may
have a clue into this through your seniors who had
taken the course earlier. First class students
study not only the course, but the course-taker.
Ultimately, God is very important. The above are
just helpful human factors.

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