10 life-changing truths every African student needs to know about success in life.
Things are different in this part of the world, I know, but hear me out first. It’s no secret that many of us learn just to pass. In Senior High School, I once had a teacher who always used to say, “The direction of your life, to a large extent, is determined from the university”. I thought that was smart, but I realized that that isn’t entirely true. It’s a choice that comes with responsibilities or consequences. Not every African student knows this.
In about 20 years of my schooling, I realize that there are some things I wish I knew earlier. Fortunately, it wasn’t too late to act on them and it’s not too late for you to do so too, even if you’re not in school right now.
Being a student has numerous benefits. We never stop learning because the world evolves. Anyone who stops learning starts dying. Even the Good Book says, “For lack of knowledge, my people perish”. I would say, the right kind of knowledge. This is what fuels your passion or purpose in life.
“Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men”….says the Good Book.
Don’t take your African parents for granted.
They are traditional. Some are superstitious and overprotective. Nevertheless, they are carriers of wisdom. Don’t dismiss everything they tell you. They may be old school, but that is not a crime.
Every African student needs to know that intelligence with no attitude gets you nowhere.
Success is not solely about intelligence or having the best grades. Success is attitude on a mission.
Now, this is an interesting one. For as long as I remember, I have unconsciously compared the attitudes of really intelligent people and I’ve been amazed
In the long run, attitude matters more than IQ. This does not negate intelligence or IQ in any way. These are means to an end. Never underestimate your intelligence. Every field in life requires knowledge accumulated over time and that is where intelligence and IQ are useful.
Average students blame the educational system and the school authorities for every mishap but exceptional students think of better ways to be more efficient, maintaining respect for authorities.
Hold on a minute……..Who cares whether you’re a walking encyclopedia? Life revolves around our relationship with people. If you can’t relate to people, you can’t impact them. No man is an island. Intelligence could open doors for you but it will not sustain it. You may close the door to your promotions and ruin your relationships with others.
Every African student needs to know that high grades or fist class honors doesn’t guarantee a top job…or even getting a job in the first place.
I am not joking! People who are in high demand are people who are change-makers, have acquired skills that are assets to growing a business or institution. People who add value, who may not even know how to speak English fluently, but can pick up fast, people who are courageous and can think outside the box. What makes you different?
Are you merely using your mental ability to make history or just recording history others have made?
Think ideas, think smart. Start a side hustle. Acquire some skills, read wide, beyond the scope of your academic materials. Well, you’d be surprised to know I didn’t exactly follow all the rules, my curiosity wouldn’t allow me (I’m more curious than the proverbial cat).
Work on propounding your theories or formulas, if you have any. If you have that one idea, or perhaps two, three….whatever….Just know you’re not crazy. Ignore people who say you are. They probably might have thought of it too but never had the guts to do it or they’ll eventually steal your idea and get credit for it.
Always, start with something you know and with whatever you have. You have nothing to lose if you fail. You’d have just gained experience at trying and at another time, you’d push through, maybe not with what you intended to do initially, you’d be surprised at what you may discover as I did. I’d be delighted to share my story of how I started blogging and freelancing soon.
Remember that, no one can do what you do the way you do them.
Every African student needs mentorship. However, no one else’s experience can be the standard for your life….not even your parents.
Mentorship springs you to begin on higher ground.
Many of us made inquiries about the universities we intended to attend. Stuff like entertainment, academics, preferred programmes, facilities, sports, etc. We asked friends, parents, grandparents (in my case….I know right). Some even perch with older siblings for a few days just to have a feel of life on campus. In the end, our perception of the school is determined by this. This is the case for almost every other thing we’re interested in until we get first-hand information about them.
We must understand that no two experiences are the same, because no two people are the same. We all handle situations differently. In as much as the info may be helpful in some ways, they’re not conclusive. Don’t make the same mistakes they made, but create yours. Don’t live in their shadows. We are unique in our own ways. Don’t tiptoe through life scared of putting yourself out there because someone tried, and failed. Rewrite your story and take responsibility for it.
Every African student needs to explore. Be open to learning and building networks.
Life on campus is dynamic and sticking to just one area is like shooting yourself in the foot.
Be curious about other stuff that you won’t be examined on and be open-minded. Extra-curricular activities and workshops or training sessions may seem like a complete waste of time but they come in handy in the long run. You’re not competing with anyone in basketball, tennis, literary, or science club, actually except yourself. Oops, I spilled a secret.
If you have this mentality, you’ll end up being better than you were the previous day and won’t worry much about competitors (internal and external). Maintain relationships….healthy ones off course, but keep the crazy ones around too. They may want to become sober in the future. Because you never know when you may be in the position to save a friend from distress or need help.
A friend once said, “Your friends today are the same people your children will call “connection” in future, so if you like gather mad people as friends”. I felt that. In Africa, and particularly, Ghana, connections mean a lot if you want to get ahead in life. What is the case in your country?
Every African student needs to know how to invest and save money for the future or any unforeseen circumstances. You never know when adversity may strike.
Slow down on chilling your heart out. Keep track of your expenditure, whether or not you’re filthy rich. Research has proven that it takes an average of 42 days to continuously do the same thing to form a habit.
If you have been a spendthrift all your life because you’re wealthy, chances are, if you don’t take the bull by the horns, you’re going to end up in-depth and miserable no matter how much money you accumulate. On the other hand, if you’re a miser, you’ve got to loosen up a little, otherwise, you’ll never get to enjoy the fruit of your labour.
Every African student must understand that popularity is overrated.
Focus rather on values that build you up like integrity, excellence, responsibility… Being popular does not guarantee success.
Pay attention in class and jot things down.
Don’t say you already know it. Our brains don’t always recall everything we need when we need them. A secret that got me ahead of my class, ALWAYS, was jotting the extra stuff down. My notes were always different.
Sometimes I could remember how the lecturer said it and the page of my book I had it written. Remembering little details makes a whole lot of difference in the outside world. It helps you remember personal details about a business venture, a potential investor, or an important contract.
Ask for help when you need it.
Everyone needs help at some point. In writing assignments or projects and in other fields. When we were kids, some people would often cover their work to prevent others from copying…Now that I think of it, it makes no difference in real life because everything in this world is copied except your authenticity.
Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. My lecturer once advised, “Emmanuella, don’t be modest about asking for help. You need it”.
It’s high time every African student becomes an agent of change. The status quo should not be our benchmark. I hope this helps you be a better person and student at large.