Saturday, November 12, 2011

Rate your University Experience

So sometime in July I volunteered to work as a student rep during my school's Open day. An event set aside by a University to showcase its facilities to prospective students, while for the potential student, it is an opportunity to have a feel of the school's academic environment and general ambience.

I had been watching all the preparatory activities with a cynical eye. First cos it reminded me that my days in Durham university were numbered (by July I was done with my final exams), secondly it reminded me again that universities in the West have become education factories and thirdly I was waiting to see the white-wash my university will get up to (remember how the roads and sidewalks get whitewashed in Nigeria when a dignitary/governor/president visits?) lol.

I had only had a virtual open day before I arrived at Durham. To be honest the concept of open day was lost to me. It isn't a common event with Nigerian Universities (I hadn't visited UI prior to penning it down in my JAMB form). I only knew it was a top university and that most of my friends from secondary school were heading there. I also knew I didn't want to attend a university in the East (well, the only one I would have deigned to attend was UNN and I would probably have been married by now or so my eldest Sis moans.). 

Anyway somehow in a moment of madness, I squealed my love for my DU on the application form and was invited to join the Open day team. Our job was to welcome parents and students, hand them goodie bags and maps, give directions to seminar venues, answer questions about our own experience and praise the school to high heavens. 

On the D-day, the only whitewash was the weather. It was a bright warm summer day, and DU practically beamed a welcome. Quite opposite to our usual dreary weather. 
Parents and kids came in droves. I noticed how parents of African origin made a beeline for me immediately they walked into the hall. Some families came with the family dog. One mom was a bit taken aback when i asked what course the dog was planning to take, then she caught the joke and started laughing.
One elderly woman with her grand daughter in tow, told me she was an alumnus, so also her daughter and her husband and now their child - her grand daughter. I thought it was sweet.
I remember one dad asking me what the entertainment was like in Durham. Are the pubs alright? Do you have clubs, parties, sports facilities or is it all about academics. lol. I cod just imagine a Nigerian dad asking that....not.
Not everyone liked what we had on offer. Some parents criticised our library ..that it was old fashioned...'Durham still uses books??!' "So so and so university's library is practically virtual. no need for old and musty-smelling books" o__O. 
A number weren't impressed by our historic castles and colleges. My beloved college (originally built in 1846) was called 'olde worlde' by a sneering  father. No vex.

I came away from the open day with a deeper appreciation. Open days are very vital for a school. any school. Students are the life-blood of schools not the other way round. Schools NEED their BRAINS, their BRAWN and their MONEY. Hence they need to attract the best who will contribute to new knowledge, new records in sports and become credible ambassadors. They also need their money to help run the school. And this is what motivates the school to keep improving and exceeding expectations. 

I also left with an appreciation of the importance of parents attending open days with their kids. When you send your child away to a school - be it boarding school or University, it is important for you to have a feel of what their future learning environment will be like; the classes, the chairs, the accommodation, the toilets, the fun/sports facilities. I believe the challenge of parents and students visiting keeps the school on its toes.

Lastly, it is an opportunity for the staff of the university and current students (eg. Me) to re-evaluate why they chose this particular school. You can only truly convince another person to share your zest for your university if you truly believe it. Well, unless you are a good liar salesperson.
I was actually surprised at the positively passionate answers I gave to questions like 'what do you like about Durham University', 'what has been your experience as an international student', 'Was it value for your money' cause it wasn't practised.
I read somewhere that Universities have 3 principal, direct functions: In the 1st place they teach; 2ndly they accumulate great stores of acquired and systematized knowledge in the form of books and collections; 3rdly they investigate or in other words they seek to push out a little beyond the present limits of knowledge and learning year after year, day after day, some new truth. They are teachers, storehouses and searchers for truth.

Durham University satisfied on all three 100%. 
I feel most Nigerian Universities nowadays would satisfy 90% of the first stipulation. 40% of the second and 5% of the third.   

What has been your University experience?

16 comments:

  1. Babe, you are very generous with that 90% and 40% on teaching for Nigerian universities.

    O_o at the disdain for books- they will always be a place for them. I love books that i can hold

    Adiya
    http://museorigins.com

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  2. hahaha..I was also an ambassador for my school..hhehe I like the open especially questions from the highschool students while the African ones jjc aka international student either form big boy or act like mumu..It makes me smile and remember when I was a jjc too...
    My part in the open house was more of taking people around the school and explaining things..:D definitely not the best times during winter but hey we had free tea :P

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  3. I like the concept of Open days and wonder why Nigerian unis don't use it. At least in primary and secondary, there are PTAs and visiting days and all.

    I also think you're generous on the first two. I'll score Unizik 80, 30, but on research, my department - biological science - was quite good, I'll actually score them 50. We had great profs with contacts and funding from NGOs and Govt, maybe it helped that parasitology was a minor in the dept.

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  4. I loved undergrad lol! Why else would i be getting my masters in student affairs?!? But i loved school for the social reasons...the leadership opportunities, social and civic engagement, etc. Having to go to class and stuff really got in the way of all that lol.

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  5. Rate my alma mater... ehhh, im coming!

    Really, Undergrad for me meant only one thing - STUDY!!! You wouldnt blame me after all the years I spent in combat with JAMB and then at the Polytechnic!!

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  6. I'd score naij.uni's zero-zero-zero on whatever criteria!!!If not for God's partial mercies,I'd dare say my 4yrs was a waste of my time!And I'm nt being rude in saying that.

    Oooh but for the western uni xperience,good times,and money well spent,in my humble opinion:p

    Open days were good for me to laugh at jjc's!

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  7. I totally like the idea of open days. It promotes a sense of belonging within students and lecturers because they are the ones promoting their university to others. I have been opportune to partake in one while at VUW here in NZ and I enjoyed the one hour I was given to man the stand. I wish Nigerian universities would take it up. Truth is, there is nothing to showcase in our universities any longer, unless God Himself intervenes... *sigh*

    - LDP

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  8. Open day is verrryyyy essential but in 9ja, 4where? Babcock had Parents/Teachers Forum which is close but not d same as Open day.
    UI def had no such thing tho.

    I'll rate BU dis way tho:
    Bible studies:90%
    Teachers: 85%
    Books & Collections: 85%
    Pushing boundaries: 60% (not sure i can speak for all depts)
    In my books, not bad for 9ja

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  9. Sweetie'm!!! I Haff missed you!!!!
    lol, the dad that asked if it is all about academics is so Happening!!

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  10. i loved my days in school i won't lie.lol. especially the social aspect. in terms of the three, i would say 85%, 90% and 100%. I wish i had access to a lot more then than now. i'm sure my career may have gone a different way. though i love where i am but i just wonder sometimes too.

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  11. Hahaha at what is the dog studying? Nice one. I loved my college too...went for an open day and I was sold. Open days would be awesome in Naija, but I highly doubt it would be a sustainable effort.

    I'm with the first commenter, I love books that I can actually hold and put dog ears on. Technology has really taken over...*sigh*

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  12. hey Ginger good to see u after so many days though I'm also responding late, but it doesn't matter.

    Well I had so much fun in school as well as college and still enjoying my college days :)

    Its very difficult to rate them so I prefer not to :)

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  13. I went to a small private university (when I was in my 30's), that catered to working adults. While I'm sure the excitement of a regular public school would have been great in some ways, this was a good school for me. Most of the students were my age and pretty goal oriented. I had a lot of police officers in my classes who worked nights (midnight to 8 AM). These boys would beg me to take notes for them while they snoozed during the class. Hah! While we didn't have football, and that sort of sports thing, we did have working professionals who taught the classes which was good because they brought real life applications to the classroom.

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  14. Lol @ the dog comment nd at african people streamlining for you - also had those experiences.

    I agree with open days reminding you of why you decided to go to the university and though i didnt go to uni in nigerian, when i filled in my form, i picked universities based on hearsay than going to visit them.

    I loved my university experience, i went to imperial college. It was hard work but I made sure I had loads of fun too. xx

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