THE EUPHORIA OF CGPA AND THE ILLUSION OF SUCCESS

 
An hour ago, I read through some comments posted on a social media platform. The comments revealed how some students were saddened by the potential mass failure in a departmental course and how their 'CGPAs' are on the verge of a possible decline. The feelings that came with this was very much nostalgic. It inspired me to review my four semesters in LASU; with a view to dissect the values that have been added to my life, and if a University Degree is really even worth the strive. The reflections of my sober moment are not far fetched. I will try to make this not too lengthy.

The Nigerian educational system has passed through some facets. With the Tertiary level, being the zenith of this Britannic model of education. Over the past decades, what has proved to be a subject of passion, zeal, desperation and extremism in Nigerian Universities is the CGPA. Upon admission into the University, the goal of every student is to graduate with a FIRST CLASS. Majority of such dreams, more often than not, dies in the second year into the University.

Obviously, the CGPA(Cumulative Gradient Point Average) massages ego, it inspires smile and induces tears. Why does a decimal point carries so much weight to an extent; people commit suicide for not making a targeted Gradient Point? The society has made us to believe albeit erroneously; that, not making a good CGPA means not making it in life. More worrisome is the fact that; there is this delusion among many undergraduates that a '5.0' CGPA will automatically earn you a wealthy life in the outside world. This is false and quite delusional! Although, it gives you a cushion, but there is far much more needed to navigate through the storm of the outside world.

Fundamentally, the Nigerian Educational System can be likened to a Zoo, where the Zookeeper in a quest to test which animal is the strongest, gathers the Antelope, Giraffe, Monkey,Lion and Tiger and declares thus : "whoever climbs the tree first is the strongest animal in the Zoo". Surely, the monkey will win under such circumstances but the monkey is no match for the Lion or even the Tiger. Given this analogy, it therefore appears that in every society; where there is no equal level playing ground, any result produced from any contest is bound to be distorted as it lacks the fundamentals of a true competition. In this light, not everybody is made for the Nigerian University System. Some are better off as fashion models, musicians, technicians, photographers, craftsmen et all. These people and their ilk are meant to be in special skill acquisition and development centers and not in a place their talents doesn't belong to and thus, may never be maximized in such an environment. Admittedly, the basic knowledge and usage of English is a prerequisite to make headway in a British colonized country like ours. This can however be achieved outside the four walls of the University. English studies, etiquette and soft skills(which are not even taught in the University) should be incorporated into the syllabus of such centers. This is how it is done in the Western world.


Instinctively, there are three categories of students in Nigerian Universities. The first being the so called "book worms or scholars". The second being the "average or normal students" and the third category being a conglomeration of misled elements, who surely have no business in a sane University Environment. After taking a deeper observation, I pointed out other group within these categories. Time won't permit me to digress that much but these observations will be integrated into the analysis of the larger groups.

Using the overemphasized CGPA as a yardstick, the first category, to be frank, are predominantly students whose cgpa falls between 4.4 to 5.0(on a scale of 5.0). These are the revered 'geniuses' on our campuses. They are the 'living and moving books', as the society has taught us to believe. However, there is something paradoxical about this category of people. Many of them are aided by the way the system is structured and their academic success is not necessarily a product of invincibility. The system has made little room for innovations but it has rather strongly maintained a high level of conservatism. The system also encourages cramming. Hence, a student who crams a lecture note and gives it back to the Lecturer; verbatim in the exam is more likely to have a distinction than a student who made an indepth research or even have a better in depth knowledge of the course. There are empirical facts to back this up. The reason being that, most lecture notes images the sentiments of a Professor about a concept or topic.

Once a student toes the same path in answering his examination question, he will be on the same wavelength with the lecturer who would then key into his answers. Most times, when students go 'too deep' into a course by unraveling so many things that were not taught in class and flaunts such 'new knowledge' in his answer booklet, such students are most likely to get a C.
The 'verbatim givers' are much more likely to have an A. Little wonder why some students can read a singular course material 10times before exam - the system rewards such approach, the verbatim givers, I choose to call them. I do not hold any grudge against the 'genuises', what I find quite bewildering about most of them is the tradition of studying the same set of materials from the beginning of the semester till the end all under the auspices of getting As. Why should I study a course material(which was probably used by the ancestors of my department) all through the semester? This is very crazy. A high CGPA without the initiative to solve societal problems is a WASTE. I once met a First Class student from the University of Ibadan who can recite all the theories of Karl Marx, John Locke, Aristotle, Plato, Voltaire and others. I was stunned and mesmerized by such enormous knowledge.

However, when I challenged this great friend of mine to apply all his knowledge towards proffering a solution to a national crisis I posed before him, he stuttered. His initial eloquence that poured out the theories suddenly went into oblivion. Apparently on paper, he is a genius. But in practice(the most important aspect), he evidently appears to be impotent. If the materials you study doesn't propel you to 'think out of the box', my brother, shelve them and go on a journey of self discovery. I've seen so many 'scholars' who starts a sentence with "Am", who doesn't even know when to use "Have and I've". Some can't even properly spell the basic things related to their course and you begin to wonder how they attained such Cumulative Gradient Point. Truly, no man is an island and everyday, to me, is a new day to learn new things. However, when you dedicate all your time on pursuing a singular goal, you are very much unlikely to learn anything new in life, other than the materials, you've confined your brain to.

The University is not a place to pursue a singular goal. It shouldn't be a one-way traffic where all you pursue is "GP, GP, GP, GP! ". The outside world will demand far much more than that 'decimal point' you hold high like an oxygen. Self development they say is the key to greatness. The greatest and richest men in the world barely graduated with a high CGPA. In fact, they even dropped out of the University. I'm talking about the likes of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.

What makes them great was their ability to identify a societal problem, think about a possible solution, expand great possibilities and here they are today. Problem solvers mostly ends up being the greatest acheivers. Are you investing in yourself? How well do you spend your time? Do you spend all your day clinging to your books? My brother, you are not an undergraduate if all you do is to romance those books - 24/7. Being an undergraduate is an opportunity to explore other possibilities apart from your academics, it is a time to learn new things, discover your ever changing world, meet new people, network and if possible, learn new skills.

How often do you learn new things? By new things, I do not mean the next topic on your course outline. No. I'm very much far from that. Rather by new things, I mean : the needed soft skills, continuous improvement of your communication and public speaking skills, understanding your ever changing world and how you intend to navigate through the stormy way to your career.


The world is changing. The society now demands much more than CGPAs and similarly, academic brilliance is not just enough. We are in a century, Professor Lanre Fagbohun described as a "century that abhors excusiologists but instead promotes the deep thinkers - problem solvers. According to him, it is a century of CLASH OF IDEAS".
The thing is, in the labour market, there are thousands of four-point(4point) graduates. In fact, majority of Covenant University graduates made either a First Class or a 2'1. What will distinguish you from the crowd won't be your result but rather your ability to understand, anayse and proffer intelligent solutions to problems. A good result surely gives you an edge, but it's not just enough. Personally, my best moments as an undergraduate have proven to be a product of self development and deep thinking, with little or no attachment to the decimal point on my DPU profile. The only attachment it appears to have is the fact that I've never allowed it to be on warning/withdrawn. Thus, maintaining my studentship in LASU. Surely, I do not celebrate mediocrity. In fact, as an undergraduate, who knows the reasons for being in the University, your CGPA - no matter how political, religious or busy you are, should NEVER fall below 3.4 or at worst, 3.0! Anything short of that is most likely a lack of seriousness and misplaced priorities. Although, I also do not particularly blame the people that are even below 2.0. The reason being that : many of the students in the University have no business in the University in the first place. Many would have been better productive as photographers, event planners, musicians, technicians etc after leaving various skill acquisition or training centers (as I mentioned earlier). Some are even born business men and women. Meanwhile, even majority of the ones that have the traits of a typical undergraduate are studying courses they never dreamt of studying. Hence, the whole system is distorted. There is no equal level playing ground. Apparently, there is a need for a rejig and review of the nation's curriculum.

Notably, high CGPAs boosts chances of gaining scholarships and Postgraduate admission into the likes of Harvard and Oxford University. It must however be also pointed out that self development, extra curricular activities, politics(student leadership) also plays pivotal roles in gaining admission into the ivory league Universities as well. Oxford University for instance, doesn't admit based on high CGPA alone. A check on their website shows. Likewise testimonies from their graduates. In fact, they highly rate potential post-graduate students who involved actively in extracurricular activities, student leadership and those who also participated in various competitions while they were undergraduates. It is never a one way traffic.

Consequent on the foregoing, I hold no intention to hurt the feelings of anybody. Rather, I intend to awaken the consciousness of my readers to their ever changing world. The world keeps transcending and it's really disturbing when I see many people pursue a singular goal as undergraduates. More stinging; is the reality that your stay in the University is also very short. Shockingly, some live it as if life ends in the University. The 4 - 5 years is nothing. Before you know it, you are already out of the system - facing the shock of the outside world. Most Importantly, I do not intend to portray myself as an invincible or immortal human. I make mistakes and fail virtually everyday. But, I learn from every moment of my life. The primary goal of this article is to bring to the fore : the little experience I've had and what I've also learnt from other people. Having a massive CGPA is good, it gives you an edge to some extent. However, it is never a free meal ticket in the outside world. Finally, graduating with a First Class is great, but going through the rigors of self development,deep thinking and networking makes you a quintessential graduate.

Best wishes.
Pelumi Olugbenga(Ambode of LASU).