Three years ago, I graduated from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) with a bachelor’s degree. In a few days, I will be graduating from the University of Stavanger with a Master’s degree in Petroleum Engineering. From my experience of schooling and working, I have learnt some lessons about life after school. I hope every student about to graduate will be aware of these points;
1. There is a bigger classroom called, “the world”
Every student is conversant with a classroom setting where a lecturer comes to lecture, and gives instructions as to what to do or not to do. Beyond the traditional classroom or lecture theatre is a bigger classroom I will want to refer to as the “world.” After school, then awaits you the world out there. The good news is; the world out there is not too different from what you encountered during your student life on campus.
The world becomes your classroom, real life experiences will be your lecturer, and trials and challenges will be your assignment to figure out. Truth be told, no one has a handle on the real experiences of life in the real world. No one can advise you enough until you experience it yourself, firsthand. But one thing is certain, if only you will be humble to learn and listen from those who are ahead of you, and keep to simple life principles of patience, modesty, and faith, you will find the world a better place to be.
2. No one owes you anything
Now, this may sound harsh. But I mean every word of it…no one owes you anything, but you owe the world everything! You see, after my bachelor’s degree, I realized that many graduates, some of my friends included, have this entitlement mentality. In their minds, as long as they were done with a bachelor’s study, they were entitled to having the best of jobs, car, house, you name it. But they soon get to realize, rather harshly, that life isn’t that way.
You don’t need to come out of school thinking that the government or companies owe you a job. No one owes you a job. At best, you owe yourself the responsibility to translate your acquired knowledge and/or skills into a job. Not everyone is meant to work for a big company. Some are meant to work for themselves. If you find no job, you have no business joining the so-called Unemployed Graduates Association. Your ingenuity into turning an idea into reality will not only give you a job, but will help alleviate the unemployment challenge we are bedeviled with.
3. Your certificate is just paper
I am sure you might be fuming with anger at this point. But calm down! Yes, I did say it, and I will say it again. Your certificate is just a piece of paper. This dawned on me the day I was being awarded my certificate on graduation day. The Registrar at the time said if our certificates ever got burnt or destroyed, there was no replacement. Then I thought to myself, so what was the big deal with holding on to this certificate as if it was a gold mine?
Today, despite my making a first class in an engineering programme, I barely set eyes on my certificate. It is stuck somewhere in my folder. Your certificate is just to certify your successful completion of a programme; it is not a visa to landing a job, nor is it a reason to go round town blowing your trumpet. Your certificate is in nowhere compared to the value you bring to the table when employed.
You’ve got to work yourself hard to make it after school. You’ve got to put away the entitlement mentality, especially if you made a first class. Making a first class doesn’t put you anywhere ahead of the pack. It was in the past that first class graduates had an advantage over their peers who made a lower class. Today, you can see a first class graduate working for a third class employer. That is life for you!
4. Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.
You are going to be faced with a lot more responsibility than you used to while at school. Of course when you were at school, for the many of students I know, all you would have to bother about was your studies and the submission of assignments. When I got out of school, as a first born son, I had the responsibility of not only supporting my upkeep, but lending a helping hand, financially, to support my siblings and parents.
From quite a humble home with my parents without such a strong financial background, I strove to get them more established in their line of businesses. With these responsibilities come challenges. I have failed at two separate businesses. I have engaged in some projects with haven’t gone as I expected. That is the real life I am talking about. No wonder suicide is so rampant in the news these days. Life can be tough. But suicide is in no way the way out. Real men and women do not run away from their challenges by committing suicide. They face them head-on until they win. You’ve got to be tough to overcome the tough times of life.
The harder life hits you, the higher you should rise again for a comeback. I always find solace in the words of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans in Romans 8:18 that, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Tough times don’t last. Only tough people do!
This article was culled from the insightful book THE REALITIES OF LIFE AFTER SCHOOL by Jonathan Adzokpe.
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