Make hay while the sun shines

One of the most emotional faces of a frustrated man that I remember happened about three years ago. I was accosted on a windy afternoon by a man who wanted to know his chances of furthering his at my place. After one or two questions, I told him why he was not qualified, the main reason for which was that he had a Third Class degree.

His explanation that he had one or two postgraduate diplomas did not help as I explained that such qualifications might be put into consideration in future but the regulation in use does not support such now. He soon wore the look of someone who had lost his family and life investment to a fire incident.

He restrained tears as he said, “For how long will I continue to pay for the sin of having a Third Class? Everywhere I go, my Third Class is a hindrance. What is the meaning of all this, my God? Where do I go from here? I can’t get a job and I can’t still further my education!”

I empathised with him as his forlorn look and melancholic stare probed into my soul. His words struck me like an arrow. He sounded intelligent but he could not make much headway in educational and career life because of how he spent his average of four years in the University, simplicita.

Unfortunately, many people still find themselves in his shoes as everything is becoming more competitive with little room left for the under-achieving. Students are especially vulnerable. The only good thing is that for every student, the situation of the man narrated can be averted with some seriousness now. The opportunity of being a student is for a short period. Make hay while the sun shines because a stitch in time saves nine but no stitch at all saves time.

Malcolm X famously said, “Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” Many students do not plan for or think of their future and just allow the four important years that will shape their lives to fritter way. Many are obsessed with socialising and getting distracted, at the expense of their primary assignment in school. They eventually manage to graduate without (much) honours.

It is at the labour market that reality begins to dawn as many gates are closed against them. They begin to regret that if they had utilised their time very well, at least they would have been more competitive as many employers would these days specify the minimum class of degree they want. Usually, Third Class is ruled out. And it won’t be possible to roll back the hands of the clock and earn a better result.

There is no way anyone who passes his O’ level exams and gets qualified for university education should not make an average grade on graduation. The main factor for which students fail or graduate with poor grades is lack of seriousness or misplacement of priorities. If you attend your lectures punctually, do your assignments religiously and comport yourself morally, it is difficult to fail, especially when you still put God first.

As another year begins and another opportunity for recalibrating unfolds, it is important to make hay because diamonds are not forever. The nine months spent in the mother’s womb can have a long-lasting effect on the baby’s health throughout life. A careless mother risks a life-long damage for her unborn child through wrong choices and unhealthy lifestyle.

Similarly, a student who spends his school years pursuing pleasure, chasing shadows, making friends and “stabbing” lectures soon realises that his destiny is shaped and his future is altered by his record of academic performance. It is very important that one makes use of the opportunity before it slips by. You won’t be a student forever but your undergraduate years will go a long way, to some extent, in determining your future.

Regardless of the situation of the country, the problems of the society and the challenges that make life hellish for many students, let your own resolve and faith be akin to Abraham Lincoln's own: “I will study and prepare, and someday my opportunity will come.”

So, do your best now and leave the rest. Afterwards, whatever happens is fine or at least a blessing in  disguise.

Re: Hakuna Matata

  • The race of life is full of intrigues but nevertheless we should realize that slow and steady win the race. Worry is man’s partner in his daily routine; the strength to manage worries should be of great importance. Less worries grant man much happiness. – Aina Akindele Oyebanji
  • I want to let you know that your piece titled “Hakuna Matata” spoke to my soul. Thank you very much, Sir. – Osuji Chima

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