Thursday, December 6, 2018

How I rose from a CGPA of 4.29 To 4.59 on a 5-point GPA scale in 3 Years -

dreams of achieving a better academic result, be it a first class or second class upper, ... 
Just to understand the mindset I had when going into the university, I graduated from a reputable secondary school in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria, as the 10th best student in WAEC with 4A’s 4B’s and a C (Cheating was a grave sin). I was greatly involved in extracurricular activities during my 6 years there and this took a toll on my academic performance. I knew I had a greater potential with regards to achieving stellar academic feats. So this informed my choice to be more focused on my academic pursuit in the university than extra-curricular activities like sports and volunteering.
My first year (B.Sc.) at my alma mater started without any plans as to my academic prospects (i.e., finishing with a first class), despite being sure I wanted to have a great academic performance. I had just resumed at a school which was my second choice in JAMB, which I did just to fulfill all righteousness. Now reminiscing, I thank God I didn’t go through the rigours of securing admission to a Federal University. I definitely intended to do well with my academics, but I didn’t have a definite plan as to how to achieve this desire. 
My first and second-semester results were out and I felt good. I assumed I was the best student. I knew I didn’t put in much work but still “topped” the class on most results. Surprisingly, while discussing with a course mate towards the end of my first year I was informed of a coursemate who was on a 4.8. This kind of “gingered” me towards covering up such a wide gap between our GPAs. To me, it sounded quite absurd, that a course mate being taught the same courses as I and who had attended the same lectures as I did could give us a great head start like this.
My department was one where achieving a first class was a wonder. From a staff source, I was made to understand that in over 40 years of the department’s history, the total number of first-class students were less than 8, one of which was 2 years ahead of me. 
I took up the challenge to achieve this feat and close the wide gap between my GPA and that of our best student. I graduated about 4 years later with a CGPA of 4.59 (Thanks to ASUU strike and a suspension of academic activities due to a somewhat violent student protest). This may not sound like a great increase, but it is noteworthy to mention my GPA s in my 2nd, 3rd and 4th years were 4.54, 4.70, and 4.90 respectively (with just 1 B in a “borrowed” course during my final year).
I have gained a lot from these grades (one of the best Nigerian undergraduate scholarships, a full sponsorship to an international conference, a good job, a new perspective on life,...). I still expect more rewards in the years ahead as I plan further (Graduate studies, More Scholarships,...). 
I share these practical steps as a tentative guide to those in their early university years aspiring to achieve an improvement in their class of degrees before graduation. Not necessarily just for aspiring first class students.
1. Plan and be determined
Determine the possibility of achieving such a class of degree.
What this means is first learning how to calculate your GPA by yourself. Then determine how feasible your new target is by knowing the nature of grades you need to get for the rest of your years in the university to achieve your goal. One of my motivations was that achieving this would encourage younger generations in my department to see the possibility of getting excellent grades.

2. Aim Higher
It isn’t a new thing to see a grade far different from what you expect on the notice board, I experienced this so many times.
One instance was on a course I read so well for and wrote. I could predict most of my scores before the scores were pasted, so I expected an A, or worse a B. But on this particular case, I got a C. Worse was that this C was a 50/100, meaning I could have even gotten a D if I missed another mark. Therefore, it is necessary to set higher targets to avoid too many disappointments. The fault may not be yours. I never went for a remark.
Another instance was my final year when I had just a B in all my courses for that session with the rest A’s. I was shocked when I saw my result because I didn’t anticipate it would turn out great. I had planned to ace my courses because getting an A in our research project was quite slim. Also, my CGPA for my 3rd year was 4.49 (0.01 shy of a first class and anything could happen). At least an A in other courses would make up for a B in a 6 credit load research project. So I aimed really high, gave my best and God rewarded it more than my greatest expectation. I eventually was one of the five in my set to get an A in our research projects.

3. Set your priorities right
A university is a fun-filled place filled with a lot of time-consuming activities. This fun comes at a price. You’ll have to weigh how much fun you can have that wouldn’t be detrimental to your academic success. Also, religious activities can be time-consuming. I’m not kicking against some of these activities, because I was still involved in religious, volunteering, and even farming activities while schooling. But I had to plan really well to accommodate all of this.

4. Prayer
Although this is not coming first, I think it played a significant role in my success.
I don’t pray for hours, but I always believe a short sincere prayer to God and according to His will would be answered. Someone once told me, whenever you remember an exam you’ve just written, it's best you pray for fair marking at that point. Our subconscious has a powerful way of communicating with us. I prayed often for my papers, I received favour. I never had a missing script and that's something to be really grateful for. Although, I paid due diligence too, by following the exam rules strictly and writing my matriculation number on all of my answer sheets in case a page was erroneously detached. Missing scripts could be either the fault of the student or staff or some other unfortunate event.
5. Don’t listen to Nay-Sayers
As you try to achieve your goal, you will meet a lot of people who would either encourage or discourage you. Listen to the good advice and ignore the bad. You know the possibility of an increase in your result by calculating what you have and what is feasible as shown in my first point. Some people would tell you, “Who first Class hep?”. But I tell you the truth don’t be deceived because someday you may wish you got that result which you didn’t.
There’s much more I would have written here, but I believe this is enough to inspire and tentatively guide someone to success. I am not so intelligent, I am just a hard worker. As Socrates said, “Man Know Thyself”, understand yourself and don’t follow just anyone's pattern of reading. It may not work for you. We are all different. I mostly read for an hour almost every day, revising my notes and making more notes. Understand your lecturers, learn to predict them, don’t procrastinate your reading. Procrastination would just make your reading harder.
A good character is key to success. It has saved me a lot of times. Sometimes when you see a pompous person excelling, know a fall could be on the way!!! Pride goes before a fall!!
I believe we're not always just assessed based on our academic prowess, but by our character.

A price must be paid! Nothing good comes easy!!
My colleague and I finished with a first class. Unfortunately, my colleague had a few setbacks, but still graduated top of the class (I think with a 4.73 or so). He’s currently on a fully funded international scholarship for graduate studies. I am also hopeful!
I must say this first class hasn’t been an express ticket in life but has shown me with hard work and consistency I can achieve a great thing in this life. Sometimes to whom much is given, much is expected; people expect more from me.
I give freely because I have received freely.
Pardon my typos and the quality of my writing. I am not much of a writer.
If you have further questions, kindly quote me here or mention my moniker.
I would respond as soon as I can.

Wish you all the best!!! Source Nairaland

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