Summary of Exceptional Student Series – types of students in Nigerian tertiary institutions

In brief, this guide in the exceptional student series; types of students in Nigerian tertiary institutions categorizes all students in Nigerian tertiary institutions into groups based on their performance, development and preparedness for the labour market through schooling.

It starts off from the lowest rank of studentship all through the highest rank of an exceptional student. The objective of the exceptional student series is to provide leading guidelines for students to ascend the ranks of studentship with clear foresight of the eventual labour market. This is to ensure that by the time such student as will follow the guide graduated, s/he will have carved for himself/herself a comfortable portion out of the increasingly rare spot in the labour market.

Accordingly, the aim of this post is to help students identify the current level that they are in so as to determine their next right move to profitable schooling.

Let’s Begin with Introduction to the Exceptional Student Series – Types of Students in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions

From Ivan Illich’s extraordinary groundwork – Deschooling Society in 1970; to John Taylor’s 2010 Weapons of Mass Instruction; from Salman Khan’s masterpiece – The One World Schoolhouse; to the expressive work of Ken Sir Robinson and Lou Aronica – Creative Schools; there have constantly been what one may call “anti-school” but pro-education campaigns. Top among these are Prince EA’s The People vs. The School System; and Sully Break’s Why I Hate School but Love Education.

Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad is perhaps the most influential work that challenges the regular school system. All of these revolutionary books converge at a place – the school and the labour market.

A strong take home from Jacqueline Grennon’s Schooling for Life: Reclaiming the Essence of Learning is that the essence of school stretches beyond test scores – it is not just to graduate with the best grade. Rather, Professor Jacqueline convincingly demonstrated that the ultimate end of schooling is the fruitful life that results from it.

The Question

But how has schooling made the life of the average Nigerian graduate any more fruitful than their “uneducated” peers? We all know how the majority of Nigerian graduates will answer this question. I know a sociology graduate who wished he had invested his tuition fee in the business he was doing before enrolling in one of the top-ten most sort after university in Nigeria. Recently, a friend with Master’s in Microbiology told me had he known, he wouldn’t have gone for Master’s after his first degree and Postgraduate in Education – this is simply his expression of disappointment in the labour market. He is not alone. In fact, Nigerians have of recent hewed their disappointment in the labour market into the cant – “school na scam” – all thanks to Zlatan & Gururu for popularizing it.

But realistically if “school na scam”, what are our freshmen so excited about started university? Is there any use going to school, since it doesn’t guarantee fruitful and comfortable life as professor Jacqueline noted its essence to be? Invariably, there is every use going to school.

In truth, none of the works I have mentioned earlier is really “anti-school”. Instead, each and all are against the inadequacy of the current school system and advocating for one that places students on the trajectory of success – not only within the school system but as well in the labour market.

How then may students make the most of their schooling for success both in academics and in the labour market. Read on

Exceptional Student Series – Types of Students in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions

Working towards becoming an exceptional student is akin to a journey in boundless space. Exceptional student is the destination. But students need to know their current position in relation to the destination to be able to set their compass in the right direction.

At this point, one who does not already know should be asking what in the first place do I mean by exceptional student? As I mentioned earlier, exceptional student is the highest rank of studentship based on their performance, development and preparedness for the labour market through schooling.

Nothing New But Better, Existing Categories of Students

If you will google types of student, you will see different categorization of studentship. Teachers categorize students based on their attitude in the class, approach to academic work, assimilation rate, learning styles, etc. This helps teachers in handling different kinds of students. There is the fun categorization of students based on their school character – The tough, the clown, the bully, slacker, noise maker, etc.

All of these categorizations are based on the student life within the school environment, involving academics. None is based on actual student performance or preparedness for the labour market. But it is true that the performance of a student or his/her preparedness for the labour market is independent of the category you place him/her based on school life or approach to academics. For example, a noise-maker may perform with high grades or low grades. And a clown may graduate better prepared for the labour market than the star.

Let us then look at the categories of students based on performance and preparedness for the labour market.

The types of students I in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions based on performance and preparedness for the labour market are:

  1. Mis-placed students
  2. Poor students
  3. Good students
  4. Excellent students
  5. Exceptional students

Mis-placed Students

Mis-placed students are students that are wrongly placed in a class, study group, or program. These are students that do not qualify to be among their current mate because they have not met the prerequisite for the class. Mis-placement of students may result from admission malpractice, making uninformed academic/career decision, or other educational malpractice at the earlier time.

This category of student rarely understands what the teacher/lecturer teaches. Unsuspecting individuals often label mis-placed students as dull or clueless. However, human as an intelligent being is hardly dull. Certain factors are responsible for underperformance. And one of such factors is mis-placement.

Fortunately, only little percentage of students fall under this category. In subsequent post in this exceptional student series; I shall discuss self-help for mis-placed students.

Poor Students

Apart from mis-placed students; there is the poor student category. Poor students are students that although not mis-placed, usually perform below average in their academic work – they mostly attain and graduate with pass in semester and final examinations. The underperformance of poor students is seldom the result of inability to do better than it is due to attitudinal challenges. A student who possesses the prerequisite for a class but did not perform up to the minimum expectation simply indicates that something is amiss in the student’s attitude, to academics and possibly to life.

Although, in the spirit of “school na scam”; increasing number of people feel it doesn’t matter if one performs below average in academic, in reality it does. For one, that is a mediocre mindset which goes into every other endeavour in life thereby increasing the tendencies of underachievement. Secondly, accepting that underperformance is normal is also refusing to address the attitudinal issues that is responsible for it. This extends to lower such student’s chances in the post-graduation life (labour market).

People who believe that underperformance in academic is acceptable are often quick to give instances of individuals who perform badly at academic but went on to be successful in post-graduation life. Inasmuch as these instances are true; if you will take statistics, such individuals represent an insignificant fraction of the lot. In addition, a close study of the lives of such individuals will reveal a massive change in attitude and effort at the entrance to their success. This is not to mention that only few of poor students will have access to factors such as the right mentorship that is responsible for that attitudinal change. Also, not all will have the tenacity and perseverance to pull through the process.

P.S: Being a school dropout is not the same as being a poor student.

Can a poor student become a good student? Absolutely! A poor student cannot only become good but excellent and even exceptional.

How can a poor student become good, excellent and exceptional?

A poor student can become good, excellent and exceptional by following the exceptional student guide. Stick around for it.

Good Students

We now come to the largest bracket – the category of good students. There are different definition of a good student using different criteria. However, this post – exceptional student series – types of students focuses on academic performance and level of preparedness for the labour market.

As such, let’s define good students from that light.

Who is a good student?

A good student is a student who plays well by the school rules/societal norms and attain the minimum expectation for their studies. Good students score between 180 to around 290 in JAMB/UTME; and also attains and graduates with between third class to second class upper (lower credit to upper credit) in semester and final year examinations.

Because good students play by school rules or societal norms; they study within the frame of the course outline that the lecturer gives. Good students have fair understanding of the personality of the lecturers and how to get their needed mark from them. Additionally, they hold sway to one or more hypothetical statements about school and the labour market such as:

  • Once you graduate with 2.1 and above, you will not have any problem in the labour market
  • Graduating from university is automatic ticket to comfortable life after
  • Immediately you graduate and complete your NYSC, you will get a job
  • Promises of job by their relatives – without ruling out the 1% of unscrupulous public servants that fulfil this illicit promise through nepotism.

Majority of graduates fall under this category. This is why the disappointment is much and commonplace in the Nigerian society.

But the current experiences of these many, should become the lesson of anyone that is still a student in Nigeria at this moment. Being a good student alone is not sufficient for a promising experience in the labour market. You must be more!

Excellent Students

We now come the much-desired grade of studentship – the excellent students. Good number of parents wish their children to be excellent students. Excellent students are the grade masters and mistresses. They the highest grades possible and are their teacher’s delight.

But who is an excellent student?

An excellent student is a student who plays perfectly by the school rules/societal norms; have mastered the personality of the teacher/lecturer; may or may not have mastery of the course of study; but knows how to get the scores they need to attain beyond the minimum expectation for their study.

These are the first class and distinction students. The joy of being an excellent student is respect and special treatment you receive within the school environment – which sometimes make them arrogant. This class of student hardly goes out to check their result on the board because once it is released; more than enough will call to update them. An excellent student failing in a course is a breaking news in the campus publication. Concerned members of the community will greet such news with “what happened?” and if care is not taken, they will assume the lecturer has played foul.

Just like good students, excellent students also mostly believe in hypothetical statements about school and the labour market; although such statements are somewhat truer (less hypothetical) for excellent students than for good students.

Nonetheless, good as it sounds and feels to be an excellent student; recent experiences have proven that it is as much to be an excellent student as it is to be a good student. Being an excellent student nowadays does not guarantee that such student will automatically get his/her dream job after graduation. This is especially if they are excellent without the mastery of the subject.

To guarantee a spot in the labour market after graduation; students must be more – they have to be exceptional!

Exceptional Students

We now come to the ultimate level of studentship with regards to performance and preparedness for the labour market. Under normal circumstances, excellent level of studentship is enough for any student to guarantee a comfortable spot in the labour market after graduation. But the Nigerian society is not under normal circumstances. There are excellent students without being excellent at their field of specialization just as we have masters without mastery of the subject. This is why the Nigerian student who wishes to guarantee a spot for himself/herself in the labour market after graduation must be exceptional.

Who is an exceptional student?

An exceptional student is a student who possesses a perfect understanding of the personality of the teacher/lecturer; knows how to get the scores they need to attain the grade they require; have mastery of their field of specialization beyond the framework of the course outline; understands the evolution of the labour market and positions himself/herself  for eventually the best and most suitable position for himself/herself in the labour market.

An exceptional student is different from all other levels of studentship in that they do not believe in hypothetical statements. This is because they are aware of the facts in the industry. This is the category of students that make things happen. These students understand that school is beyond the grade one obtains from examinations.

While graduates from the other grades of studentship move about with files, folders and hope; students who graduate as an exceptional student get offer calls or acts with certainty of their benefit from the labour market.

When others are excited about wearing khaki and boasting of being graduates, this class of students clears their portion on the labour farm. When after their passing out parade, the other class begin to ask the big questions, picking up files and placing reminder calls; the exceptional students retire to their ready-made portion.

Who wouldn’t want to become and exceptional student? None! But how to get there is the focus of the next posts in the series.

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