10 Mistakes That Can Cost You A First Class Degree

By 06:46 Thu, 19 May 2016 Comments

As a graduate who came very close to
finishing with a first class in engineering, I can
easily identify errors that cost students the
prestigious first class degree. I made one or
two of these mistakes. Over the span of five
years that I spent in the university, I saw lots
of people make the same mistakes outlined
here. Many brilliant students start with the
initial dream of graduating with a first class,
only to end up struggling to even finish with a
2.1. Obtaining a first class takes a great deal
of hardwork, consistency, intelligence but
most importantly discipline. Commit these
errors and your chances of getting a first class
will be very slim if not nil.

1. Womanizing – This is not about having a
committed girlfriend in school which can even
be very distracting. This is referring to keeping
strings of girlfriends while in school, or
pursuing anything in skirt. I am not speaking
for or against womanizing in school. But
womanizing is the quickest way of ensuring
that your dream of graduating with a first
class vanishes into thin air as your attention
towards your academic studies will be greatly

2. Not starting well – Except UNIBEN which
notably operates CGPA system that is based
on percentage depending on undergraduate
level, all other universities operate a
cumulative system based on credit load of
individual courses. Most first class graduates
build a solid foundation in the first 2 years in
school. Thereafter, they ensure they do not fall
below the boundary. Not having a high CGPA
in your first 2 years means that you will not
have any buffer during tough academic times,
as the going may get tougher as you progress
and your CGPA may become progressively
lower. Your academic standing after your first
2 years can make or mar your chances of
graduating with a first class. In addition,
having a high CGPA may help build you gain
respect amongst students or even lecturers
who may be careful when marking your scripts
so as not to make mistakes.

3. Placing less significance on small unit
courses – Yes, some courses may carry
smaller credit units but they count. Such
courses may be electives and general courses.
Cumulate all those courses and you will
surprised about how big the effect can be.
Every ‘A’ grade matters especially if you just
on the edge, and there may be moments
when it is the smaller unit courses that keep
you above the boundary. One of the critical
moments that defined my final CGPA was a 2-
unit course that dropped my CGPA from a
potential 4.51 to a 4.47 in my penultimate

4. Not studying hard enough – I need not say
much about this. Studying hard does not
necessarily mean spending long hours reading
in classes. Studying hard involves studying
with high level of intensity and depth within a
study period. The difference between a first
class student and others is the attention to
detail when studying. I use myself as an
example. I remember that eventhough I
sometimes spent hours reading, I was always
too lazy to solve sample problems. In many
cases, I overestimated my level of
assimilation. I sometimes got away with it in
exams but it cost me a few important A’s
which would have made significant differences
in my final CGPA.

5. Not taking internship and project work
seriously – SIWES (internship) is mainly for
science and engineering students. Internship
has a combined credit load of about 12 – 15
units depending on the course and the
institution. Imagine what damage a ‘B’ can do
a first class student! You don’t necessarily
have to work for a top company as an intern.
Sloppiness in filling log books, poorly written
internship report, and inadequate preparation
towards defense of industrial attachment are
enough to cost you an ‘A’ grade.
Project and practical works also carry
significant credit load as well. Practical work
can be particularly tedious, and undisciplined
students can be lax about it.

6. Allowing the opinion of mediocre students
influence you – Average students will always
be negative about their academic environment.
They will talk about how tough it is to
graduate with a 2.1 much less a first class.
They will complain about how tough the
courses or the lecturers are. They will remind
you about the failure rate in the past. They will
play the victim when they fail exams. They will
congratulate themselves on how ‘lucky’ they
are to escape a carryover with an E grade.
They will continually demonize the school
environment and their department. They will
never say anything but positive things about
the school. They will criticize everyone but
themselves. Feed your mind with such
thoughts from them and kiss goodbye to your
dreams of graduating with a first class.

7. Not seeking help / information – Not
seeking information can be harm your chances
of finishing with a first. Information gathering
is important in the pursuit of a first class.
Having the right set of past questions, exam
materials, handbooks, textbooks, etc. matters
a lot. Most Nigerian lecturers have different
handbooks, textbooks or online materials they
are comfortable with. They often set exams
from these handbooks and textbooks. First
class students are aware of these and sought
to get the necessary information.

Forget secondary school days when you can
be completely independent and isolated. In
the university, you will likely encounter
academic challenges one way or the other, you
matter how good you are. You will need the
help of others who are equally good. Build
high walls around you and it’s almost a
certainty that you won’t graduate with a first

8. Helping others during exams – I have seen
and read about how potential first class
students make this mistake that can deprive
them of not just their dream grade but their
entire aspiration. A lot of people look up to
first class students to help them during
exams, not minding the distraction it may cost
them. Some even make monetary requests for
first class students to write exams on their
behalf. Time after time, brilliant students keep
falling for this trap without thinking of the
consequence of being expelled or rusticated.
In many cases, first class students already
have good reputations amongst their fellow
students and lecturers, and being caught
teaching in exams can soil that reputation.

9. Not attending classes – I have seen many
that graduate with 2.1 that ‘stabbed’ classes
on a regular basis. But I am yet to see or hear
of a genuine first class student/graduate that
deliberately missed classes frequently at least
in their last 2 years of study. They attend
classes because
1) They want to listen to the salient points
made by the lecturers so that they can
understand better and prepare well for tests
and exams. Attending classes is one way of
getting information
2) First class students are perceived to
represent the department and generally have a
good image. Not attending classes can
damage their reputation
3) Many lecturers take attendance seriously
and allocate marks to attendance 4) There can
be impromptu tests and classworks during
You want to graduate with a first class but you
keep skipping classes? Then think twice.

10. Not taking care of your health– Some, in
the bid to get a first class, spend almost all
their time and energy reading. They are always
in class reading or attending one tutorial or
the other, and they often do overnight reading
not minding the fact that their body needs to
be catered for. Consequently, they experience
frequent health breakdowns, and this can
cause serious setbacks in their dream to
achieve a first class. Nothing can be more
frustrating that falling ill in an academic
session. Wanting to have a first class does
not mean that you cannot eat well, rest when
necessary, relax, play games and manage
stress. Nurture your health. Health is wealth




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