How to Choose the Right Course & Higher Institution in Nigeria

How to Choose the Right Course & Higher Institution in Nigeria provides the leading guides on how to systematically make the right career and tertiary institution choices in Nigeria.

This post presents statistical data and admission pattern in Nigeria over a period of ten consecutive years. Thence, it provides logical approach to help aspirants arrive at choices that are the result of their own thinking; one that will ease the struggles for gaining admission into tertiary institutions. And decisions that result from exercises such as this ensure, to certain level, that the student get the most of their schooling; and safeguard success at the eventual labour market.

Introduction to How to Choose the right Course & Higher Institution in Nigeria

Securing admission into tertiary institutions in Nigeria has become almost as difficult as securing a good job after graduation from the same institutions –universities, polytechnics and colleges.

Delay due to fixed choices

If you have not been there or heard, you will find it exaggerating if I tell you that there are people that have sought admission for 3 years – without success! Indeed, there are some that spent five years at home due to this struggle – sigh.

Some people stay longer because they wanted to study a particular course by all means – it is the course or no other. Yet, there are the category that wanted to study at a particular institution at all cost – there or none.

Now, the baffling thing is that sometimes; the reason for this insistence is nothing logical but the result of a hunch “they developed” at some point earlier in primary or secondary school. Good enough, a sheer percentage of this adamant set of aspirants eventually get what they wanted. Still, fewer ended up realizing that what they got is worth the wait. Larger percentage usually end up discovering that the alternatives could as well have served the purpose.

More issues in choosing the right course & higher institutions in Nigeria

This is not the only hurdle that aspiring higher education students in Nigeria face. Take statistics if you would, and see the many ‘wrong’ career decisions that Nigerian teens make at post-secondary level. You will see JAMB/UTME applicants who know too little career alternatives. It is certain, that you will also see many university students studying courses not out of choice but due to lack of alternatives. There is also the sect who is wishing they could choose another course all over again. The bold among the last sect usually drop out of a course at 300 – 400L just to start another course of interest all from the scratch.

Effects of not tackling admission issues the right way

In all, year after year, many aspirant losses precious time – in an era where employers require workers to be as young as possible. This has indirectly made many parents to erroneously believe that the best way to meet the young-age demand of employers in the labour market is to cut short the process. Hence, you see supposedly secondary school students in tertiary institutions; primary education is informally reduced from 6 years to 4 or even 3!

Little wonder the increasing number of funny sad stories we hear from across our campuses nowadays. Even more unfortunate is the inefficiency/reduced productivity in the labour market. More and more young adults have graduated not to trust in systems and processes. Some honourable parents have come to live in secret shame of what their “well-trained, university educated” children have turned out to be – executive/educated drug addicts and polished-English kidnappers, scammers, armed robbers, etc.

Lesson from Experience

All these are proofs that rushing the child or cutting corners is not the right way to tackle delay in admission due to wrong career decisions. In succeeding sections (posts), I will present the statistics of the prevalent wrong career decisions. Also, I will outline the systematic approach to arriving at informed choices for success.

Facts from Data on How to Choose the Right Course & Higher Institution in Nigeria

In this section, I highlight empirical data representing the dilemma of JAMB/UTME applicants over the period of 10 years (from 2010 to 2020).

We made the following findings through survey and thorough analysis of JAMB/UTME statistics starting from 2014.

It should interest you to know that we have held training/career guidance and counselling sections on this matter for prospective applicants in different schools since 2016.

That being said,

what facts do we have from data on how to choose the right course & higher institution in Nigeria? Below are five key facts about admission processes in Nigeria:

  1. Analysis of JAMB/UTME applications since 2010 reveals that out of the 630 courses available in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions to choose from during JAMB/UTME application; only 15 courses accounts for about 80% of all applications every year – i.e. 80% of applicants choose one of the 15 courses.
  2. On average, only about 15% of the total applicants for these courses are offered admission. The rest of the 85% of those that choose these 15 common courses are not offered admission into them. Instead, the remaining 85% are offered admission into other courses.
  3. Similarly, out of about 230 degree-awarding institutions in Nigeria, 32 – 42% of all annual applicants choose one of top ten institutions.
  4. As a result of 1 – 3 above, the competition to get admission into any of the top ten institutions for each of the 15 courses is twice or more than for others.
  5. Finally, majority of the students who make choices number 1 to 3 above do not make these choices according to any “informed” guidance. Instead, we found out that the 5 commonest reasons for the choice of these 15 courses and top ten universities are:
    1. Seeming course prestige – the society makes it as though these courses are better than others.
    1. Job prospects – applicants believe that those who study these courses have higher chances of getting job after graduation.
    1. Money factor – people make applicants believe that career in these courses lead to a more paying jobs than others.
    1. Lack of knowledge of alternatives – most of applicants do not know any more than the 15 common courses even though there are 630 courses.
    1. Outside influence – some students choose a course because their parents, peers and family want it for them.

What does this data mean?

From the data above, we can deduce the following:

1.      Although this depends on other factors, if an applicant chooses courses other than the 15 most competed for; such an applicant will have increased his/her chances of securing admission.

However, I do not mean to say that an applicant should forgo the desire to study a particular course simply because it is competitive. In fact, that may be a reason to actually vie for it.

Nonetheless, before an applicant enter into the competition; s/he should weigh their chances based on the admission criteria. If s/he fails to win the race, s/he will be offered admission into other courses anyways. So, why not pick what you will be offered that is also your choice?

Regardless and most importantly, is the origin of the desire to study a particular course. In the strongest terms, applicants should make their choice of course of study should be based on proven conviction which in itself is anchored on extensive exploration of empirical variables – I cover this later in the article.

2.       In the same way, if an applicant chooses institutions other the top ten; s/he would have increased the chances of securing admission.

Again, I do not mean to say “run away from competition and give up your wish”. What I mean to ask is why do applicants insist it must be a particular institution? Is that choice the result of any logic or findings? Or is it due to the prestigious identity of the top ten institutions? What aim are they trying to achieve by getting one of the top ten at all cost?

If there is a nearest alternative from the remaining 220 institutions that will meet the targeted aims; then there is that option for applicants.

Once more, choice of tertiary institution should be based on verified logic; not only wish. It is sometimes silly to think that some chooses a tertiary institution because it has large expanse of land; or beautiful environs; or classic social life. Yes, these are good for consideration but at the secondary level. What are the primary variables? I discuss them later in the article.

3.      Some Courses are no more as prestigious, others are more prestigious than before

This is a fact that applicants may not have come to realize. But the labour market is changing at a pace not foreseen. Moreover, course prestige is a wrong factor to consider in choosing course of study. An applicant who picks a course due to its seeming prestige, values other people’s perspective more than his/hers. And one who chooses other people’s opinion over his or hers; ends up hurting his or her own feelings.

That a course is prestigious, does not mean everyone will automatically find pleasure and fulfilment doing it. What appeals to different people differs just as individual temperaments, gifts and talents.

4.      The Country (World) is Going Entrepreneurial; There is always Prospects Where There is Passion

It is true, graduates in courses like the medical field tend to get job more easily than their counterparts in other fields. But what is the point getting a job that one does not like? Nowadays, people tend to prioritize the need to secure a job so high as to overshadow what suits the applicants. It is not until some get into the course or the job that they will realize it does not align with them.

Sometime, not too long ago; people used to think that studying engineering is among the automatic tickets to job offers upon graduation. But now that we have many engineers as managers in hospitality and financial institutions; perspectives are changing.

Fact is that we can’t all be medical personnel, or engineers, computer experts, microbiologists, legal practitioners, accountants, economists, media workers, public and business administrators or political scientists. But that seems to be pretty much of what we are in Nigerian tertiary institutions.

A balanced society needs more than these. And in a society where entrepreneurship is taking over; the less threaded paths offer more opportunities.

5.      No Job Pays Enough

This is especially for those yet with the notion that studying some selected courses automatically lead to higher paying jobs. Anyone with a reasonable observatory skill knows that nowadays, no job pays enough. Thus, this is also a wrong factor to consider in choosing career path.

Systematic Way on How to Choose the Right Course & Higher Institution in Nigeria


In this last part of how to choose the right course & higher institution in Nigeria, let me outline the systematic approach.

The systematic way on how to choose the right course & higher institution in Nigeria includes:

  1. Understand that every man is unique, in nature and in calling
  2. Self-Awareness Research
  3. Course and Career Research
  4. Make empirical decision
  5. Make institution research
  6. Take empirical decision

Conclusion of How to Choose the Right Course & Higher Institution in Nigeria

In this post, I discussed the hurdles that JAMB/UTME applicants face in choosing the right course & higher institution in Nigeria. Also, I presented the summary of statistical data on admission pattern in Nigeria over a period of ten consecutive years; together with its implication from the viewpoint of easing the difficulty of securing admission.

Finally, the post outlined the systematic approach to chose the right course & higher institution in Nigeria.

In subsequent article, I will discuss how to go about each of the six basic steps in choosing the right course and higher institution in Nigeria.

If you find this post helpful, kindly let me know in the comment box below. Please also let me know how eager you are to read the continuation of the post. Do you think I missed something? What would you like me to address in remaining part of this post? Please feel to let me know.

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Check back for the continuation