Two months ago, I was glad to be in Ilorin, Kwara State, for the second time. The first time I went there was when I was a little boy of about five years old. Then, I went with some people for an event. The second trip to Ilorin was born out of the need to attend a Youth summit to commemorate the International Youth day with other youths, under the platform of a non-governmental organization. The event was a success as the youths came en masse and the speakers and panelists did justice to the topics and theme of the event. However, during the event, one of the speakers asked the audience a question. “How long does it take the average individual to learn how to code?”, he asked. What a simple question, you must have said. Since I am not a Tech guy, I relied on the response generated from the audience- about four months. Whether accurate or not, it cannot be more than double of the above estimated figure. So, if it would take at most six months to learn the art of coding, then why do we have Computer Science graduates who cannot perform simple coding operations? Welcome back from the story room. In fact, let me use this opportunity to personally welcome you back on campus. I will save you the advice of what to expect this semester, for I know you are aware that the period of fun filled activities and the era of political ballyhoo has arrived. My point is not to draw your attention to these upcoming activities but to attract you to some activities which I believe will be of added value and advantage to you. Aside from the reduced workload, the average Uite spends the second semester on frivolities. At the end of it, there is little that can be said to have been achieved, of course, except the dinners and parties we must have attended. Even the CGPA of the average individual suffers in this course. However, to have a productive semester, there are so many things that could be done and several activities that could be engaged in. For this week, I shall be sharing with the average Uite, some activities that can be engaged in, alongside our academic workload. These activities range from the skill acquisition, personal development, entertainment, opportunities, among others. Irrespective of your level, gender, religion, class or preferences, you should be able to key into one or two of these.

Join Social Organisations: The average Uite has a mentality that he is here to read and write; to go to church or mosque and seek divine favour; and to write exams and have seven or four points, as the case may be. But truth be told, the world is changing, the demands are increasing and certificates are getting useless day by day, especially without skills to back them up. Rather than spend this semester on unaccountable activities, why not build yourself to get better. To an extent, the academic calendar as well as the environment of the University of Ibadan, promotes social activities as there is in existence, numerous social organizations on campus –even though many of them no longer have accessible secretariats, courtesy of the school management. Join press organizations, debating societies, cultural associations, religious organizations, community development groups, among others, and play an active role therein. With this, you develop and network yourself, while making relevant impacts.

Apply for Internship and Scholarships: While the first semester was filled with cumbersome workloads for the average Uite, the second semester is a way of making up for the lost scholarship applications. This is the time to write those scholarship essays and fill those scholarship forms, no matter how lengthy they may appear. You may not necessarily set your mind on winning such scholarships, but you never can tell which would be your jackpot to a greater height. Also, you can apply for internship opportunities, which is one of the privileges one could benefit from as a Uite. Such application would benefit you on the long run, for it adds to your experience, connects you, expose you to new things and also helps to boost your curriculum vitae.

Relax by Visiting New Places and Trying New Things: Should you be opportune to ask the average Uite to describe his first semester, the response you would get is this, “stressful”. First semester is actually filed with lots of stressful activities; getting a new room or apartment; registering courses; signing the course form; attending classes; meeting assignment deadlines; and reading for tests and exams. So the second semester is a time to cool the nerves and relieve you of stress. Actually, there are several highlighted events at the department, faculty, hall or religious organization which would cater for this, however, you still need to try something new yourself. Visit new places and try new things, create new memories and enjoy the moment, for another first semester is on its way.

Work on Hubby, Talent or Take Steps in Your Career Pursuit: While some of us are yet to discover our talents or decide what to do with our lives after school, some of us have already made up our minds on what to do. Should you be in the category of the former, this is the time to think of what you would do with your life and start working towards it, and if you fall in the class of the latter, this is the time to take a step towards moving to the top of that career. You can hone that talent of yours and create something big out of it. You can take a step in that career choice of yours, for instance by learning or embarking on simple operations in that field.

Volunteer: The average Uite is a member of Theory X, he engages in activities for the purpose of compensation, especially in value of grades of money. But we fail to realize that at times, you discover your true purpose while serving humanity. Volunteering for organizations or agencies is a means of building yourself and preparing for the future. You can even volunteer to mentor kids in other schools or serve as a mentor to a junior colleague. Be a part of the success stories of others by contributing to their success, while serving as a volunteer.

Learn a New Language: There are numerous languages across the world and some are of greater value or relevance than others. Aside from being a Uite, the average Nigerian knows no other language aside from that of his mother’s tongue and the English language, learnt in schools. This semester is a time to learn new languages, which has proven to be a distinguishing criterion for great international opportunities. Mandarin, Spanish, French, among others, are globally acknowledged languages you can learn through physical classes or via the internet. You can also learn local languages too, such as Hausa, Igbo or Yoruba.

Take Online Courses: The internet has made the world a global village where you can learn a lot while sitting in the comfort of your room. There are several courses one could apply for, to keep you productively busy, increase your knowledge and equip you for the better. What we often do most times is to chat and browse frivolities, rather than use the internet as a tool for empowerment and development of oneself. YouTube and a host of several other websites could be well utilized this semester.

Learn a Skill: The focus of the world has changed from the number of certificates you possess to the number of skill you can perform. While we enjoy the fun for this semester, we can as well engage in learning a trade or skill which might be useful to us, if not today, in the future. For me, a real graduate is not someone with just the qualities of formal education, but also with the informal and non-formal aspect of education. The average Uite believes that three to four months is so little a time to learn a trade or skill, but I believe it is enough to achieve something or at least, start something great. Web design, graphics design, digital marketing, phone or laptop repair, wrist watch repair, make up, interior decoration, catering, photo and video editing, photography, beads making, among others are trades you could learn this semester and probably continue during the break.

As every first semester ends, a second semester commences. As each day in the second semester ends, we countdown to the end of the session. But while the countdown is on, the phase we are to face is that of relevance and productivity and not of redundancy and frivolities.

See you next week.

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