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9 Success Tips for Poor Students Who Desire Academic Excellence


Whether we believe it or not, it is an unarguable fact that access to finance goes a long way in determining a student’s academic performance while in the university system.

Now, it is also true that some students have failed to justify the huge financial investments their parents have made in their education, effectively throwing resources down the drain. Similarly, some students have beat the odds to emerge academic gladiators with little or no resources at their disposal.

Yes, some students ride latest cars, wear expensive clothes and accessories, eat the best restaurants but still end up with poorer grades than those who have only a pair of worn-out clothes, eat 1-0-1 or worse.

Still, the bottom line is that the average student will do better with access to resources. A student with a full stomach, who is well dressed and can afford the necessary textbooks and study materials is already set up to perform well. Students will no financial backing often have to depend on magnanimous friends to settle assignment costs, scrounge roommates’ pots and die in the library to use antiquated books.

A poor student is not judged on a different scale from a rich student, meaning he or she starts at a disadvantage and is expected to emerge with something worth celebrating out of that situation.

So, how does a poor student survive the system? I will be talking from my own experiences at the Ahmadu Bello University(ABU), Zaria, where I emerged the second best graduating student, with 2 Class Upper Division, in my department without buying a single textbook throughout the four-year duration of my degree.

You too can achieve it with these 9 tips:

  1. Never miss lectures – one habit you must never cultivate in the university is missing lectures. Even if you study at a university where the lecturers don’t grade your for attendance, you’ll miss a lot by not being present when your lectures explains topics and your course mates contribute to the discussions. You also stand the risk of missing out on ‘shot-guns’, sudden tests that could ruin your chances of a good grade in a course. At least you won’t have to beg and bribe any lecturer.

  2. Always take notes – many students stay in class and refuse to take lecture notes for reasons best known to them. Even if you are not fast enough to get everything, jot down the key points of every lecture and build on them later. Interestingly, lectures often say what they expect in the exams during their classes. These notes can save you the need to photocopy/type handouts and textbooks.

  3. Google and Wikipedia are your friends – even if you don’t have money for textbooks, there are a billion academic resources available online. Simply knowing how to use Wikipedia and Google will give you access to a gazillions of academic material. Cultivate the habit of Googling the parts of a lecture you don’t understand, immediately after the lecture is over.  As you read online, make further notes under what you got from the lecture.

  4. Always participate/head group assignment projects – when you are given group assignments, always try to be active and if possible, head the groups. First of all, you will most likely not have to pay and secondly you gain more knowledge than the passive participants and this may come in handy in the exams.

  5. Join/create study groups – study groups are very important because they help you to rub minds with your peers, learn in a relaxed environment and test your knowledge before the exams in an informal, relaxed setting. You can learn a lot from your colleagues.

  6. Have a specific reading time and stick to it – it would be good if you can give yourself a reading timetable and stick to it. It will be tough at first, but the habit will stick if you struggle to maintain it and you’ll be glad you did. Find out the time (and conditions) you think you best assimilate and make it your study time. Personally, I like reading outside, in open spaces at night.

  7. Exploit library off-peak periods – many times we find the libraries overcrowded or the books we need already borrowed. To avoid this, try to use the library at times when you know others will not be available. One of these times is in the afternoons when most of them will be sleeping, planning to come in the evenings. This will make the books available for you.

  8. Buy your provisions in bulk as semesters start – this may sound funny, but you need to ensure that food is never a problem for you because a hungry stomach will prevent the brain from assimilating anything. As soon as you arrive from the holidays, stock a lot of non-perishable items, especially if you are allowed to cook in your hostels. It is cheaper to buy in bulk when you still have some money on you than to spend in bits.

  9. Create time for school, God, love and fun – a clear mind is important to your success in school. This is why you need to make sure you find time to relax your mind from school stress, interact with other students and God. Though a sexual relationship is not advised, having a working relationship with someone intimate (platonic or otherwise) often works positively.

In addition to the above, you might want to consider learning a trade which can fetch you a little income while in the campus.

What matters is your will to excel, not how much resources you have at your disposal.

One day, the struggles will be history and some of those who are privilege now may be coming to you for employment.


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