Just recently Kenya's Ministry of Education unveiled the list of students set to join our local universities and TVETs. A total of around two hundred thousand students were beneficiaries. I must share with them several pointers both as a scholar and an elder brother.
The first is that no course at the university is superior to another. For example, a student pursuing a course in history can become a lecturer in the school of medicine. He/she can lecture about the history of medicine. This shows how disciplines are interrelated – none is an island.
Secondly, do not expect to be at the top of your class. Institutions of higher learning are different from high schools where success was primarily relative to the performance of others. It is important to recognise that the people sitting in your class are the top cream from not only Kenya but also East Africa and potentially the world. Yes, our local universities have international students as well.
Therefore, do not despair when you realise that your colleagues are performing better than you in class. It simply means that you are the worst among the best which is not so awful. It is similar to being fresh milk in the presence of yoghurt; you can still escort a piece of ugali down someone’s throat.
Thirdly, you should know that enrolling for a course is not congruent to completing the course. You will be surprised that whenever you fill any forms – attachment, job application, and visa – you will always tick secondary school as your highest level of education until you graduate from college. The drop-out rate in our universities is alarming yet little research is being done about the subject. Policymakers are equally silent.
Therefore, you need to clearly outline your priorities when you join the institution of higher learning. Take a piece of paper and list your objectives, in order of importance and urgency, from A to Z. This will ensure that you focus on what matters. You will make a wise decision between diligently attending your classes and demanding more soup to accompany your plate of rice.
Fourthly, you have to be satisfied with your socio-economic status. Do not live beyond your means. You must realize that you come from a different background from your colleagues. Use what you have to achieve your objectives.
Lastly, you must enjoy your new-found freedom responsibly. Beware of crime, drug abuse, and sexually transmitted diseases. These are threats to the wellbeing of modern youth.
In conclusion, as you join institutions of higher learning: have in mind that no course is superior to another, find new ways to measure your success, aim to complete your course, outline your priorities in order of importance, live within your means, and be a responsible young person.
Mr. Kihu is an economist and founder of The Bizconomist Journal. firstname.lastname@example.org