In the shoes of a Graduate · Journalism

Moral of the ‘student’ story.


No one ever tells you what life is really like after university. All they tell you while you were growing up is that one has to go to uni and actually GRADUATE to make it in life. What no one tells you is what happens after you have sat through three or four years of boring lectures; acquiring knowledge that you will soon forget after the final exam, which if your lucky you will pass and will led you to the long walk up a stage in front of family and friends to shake the dean’s hand and proceed to getting a piece of paper for validation. All I was ever taught, even before starting school was that school was a very important part of our life on this earth. I was told that the more academic certificates the better as this was the only ticket to a good secure job; this being a job which offered some job security and a good pension package. Do not get me wrong, I am a woman who supports and acknowledges the importance of going to school and acquiring knowledge of whatever field your into and applying it soon after graduation however, what I feel was not taught and is not being taught to students before graduation is how to prepare for the real world; the life after University.
As a kid, growing up in the heart of Uganda-Kampala I went to good schools. From Kampala Kindergarten to Kampala Parents then to Vienna college for my High school. My parents made sure they sent me to good schools and worked themselves to the bone to make sure all my siblings did as well. When I joined primary school I was so excited as this meant I got to go to the same school as my older sister who I worshiped back then. I had always wondered what went on at my sisters school as my mum dropped her off before proceeding to drop me off at my nursery school. So when I was old enough to go to Primary school, I was over the moon. There was a system in the school when it came to allocation of students as there were huge numbers of students coming in every term. Every class, this being from Primary 1 (P1) to Primary 2 (P2) had streams that were made of the alphabet (A,B,C,D…) A being the stream with the most clever students and the rest following behind still in alignment with the level of book smart, the last stream was for the least academically striving student. The streams went on as far as E or F considering how huge the population of kids was that year. I remember being okay through out my P1 to P5, I always seemed to fall between A, B or C however my fate was about to change. In the start of every academic year, we all had to line up and check with allocated class teachers to see which stream we were to be in for the rest of the academic year. Normally my mum used to go with me and I remember always holding her hand so tight as we went through A and not finding my name there, then B… and so on but this only went on until P3. So when I was joining P4 I went by myself because I deemed myself a big girl. Anyway P6 proved to be the year of my downfall, I was allocated stream C which was right in the middle as that years streams went on till E. However, during the academic year, they switched things around and they decided to promote the students who did well on their mid terms to a stream above and those who did not do so well were demoted to a lower stream and I happened to get cut to the lower stream. I was devastated. See I had become so reluctant that year because I used to sit next to my two best friends (who both happened to stay in C) which meant I was playing the whole begin of the term instead of paying attention in class. When I was demoted to D, I couldn’t have felt more defeated. I cried myself to sleep that night. When I got up the next day, I promised myself that that was the last time I was to cry about it and got my head in the game. When I went into stream D that morning, I couldn’t have felt more alienated. I knew the kids in that class but not personally, I felt like the new kid on the playground. The worst part was even during recess I did not get to hang out with my two best friends who I thought I would relay on because they had stopped talking to me now that I was in a different stream.  This played well for me because it eliminated my chit chatting in class. This only motivated me more; I applied myself, read even during break time when all the other kids were out playing, on my way home in the car and on the weekends. This worked to my advantage because I was first through out that term and was taken back to my old class which was pretty much made of stranger again. Anyway I digress, what am trying to say is this whole system was a win for me but could have very easily been a bad situation too. It pushed me to apply myself, to notice were am weak and work on myself as a person and really strive for what I want in life. However I had friends who say this was a negative system as it put children in a box saying ‘this is what you are and this is were you fit ‘. They somehow felt the streaming system was belittling and worked a number on their self esteem and was a corrupt system at some level.  I somewhat see their point of view as some of the pupils who were in stream A were only there because of the influence of their rich parents who paid off the school to put their kids in stream A without really  achieving it. This always pissed me off but even as a kid I always had a ‘such is life‘ attitude. This showed me at an early age that the world is not always fair and that was that. If you really want to achieve something, you had to fight for it because there is always going to be someone better and someone more influential with the right strings to pull.
However, my positive, push through thrones and hedges attitude is not working with this after uni life. I graduated from the University of Bedfordshire in the summer of 2013 with a degree in International business. I was an excited little trooper that day and no one could tell me anything. I had finally gotten the certificate that all African parents talk about and with good grades at that, I had plans and options. I struggled with the idea of staying here in the UK and getting a graduate job & going back home to work on my entrepreneurship. After a summer of applying for jobs and working a few odd ones, I decided to move back home and see where I could start with my own venture into the unseen deep sea of business in Uganda. I had not been home for nearly four years, so the first week consisted of me getting into the Kampala vibe and reuniting with family and old friends. However,my father being the man he is sat me down the second day after I arrived and asked me what my plans were. I proceeded to give him the low down on what I want to do and he and my brother both smiled at me and said they loved my drive. My brother went on to call me unrealistic, I took this as an insult and asked him exactly what he meant of which he told me, “you will see”. I did not understand him until I got to my sixth week in Kampala with most of my savings almost gone and a job at one of the companies in Kampala that pay little to nothing. To sum it all up, I weighed my options and ended up back at uni doing my masters degree.
The adjustment from student to working class has been one of the hardest things I have had to deal with. Those who are lucky to fall into a well paying job in the field they studied in, with holiday and benefits are but a few. Forbes stated in 2012 that 60% of students in the US can not find jobs and only half of the UK graduates found jobs in their field of study. I do not know if this is due to lack of jobs or a large number of students have switched careers along the way. All I know is the government and the universities all over the world should enforce a course on ‘what to expect after university’ and a class on ‘how to manage finances’, that would help a lot of graduates. I know it would have helped me avoid a lot of mistakes a long the way.


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