‘So after school what do you want to do?’ my friend asked as we exchanged texts.
‘Do? I honestly don’t know’
When I wrote about life after school for the first time. I was writing from the perspective of an observer. This time around, I am writing from the angle of someone who is anxious and nursing the fear of the unknown.
No day goes by after I began my final exams that someone wouldn’t ask what my plans after school are. I shrug most times and reply with a stupid grin. My course mates are not different, majority though. And I noticed with time the different categories of people we have among us concerning the life after school business.
– THE ONES WITH PLANS
They are the ones who are fully prepared. They engage me in heated discussions about what they have drawn out for themselves. It often takes the same ole direction
But it is legit, they roll out plans and make it sound so easy ‘Hey, did you know Englometology is the study of English orthography? Well I plan to do a six months course in that after my masters and…’ and I listen without interrupting, ‘enchanted’. They speak with so much conviction that I wonder what I was doing with them in school in the first place.
– THE BANDWAGON
The second category are the happy-go-lucky set. They don’t care about what life has waiting for them, they take their steps one at a time. They are the ‘lead let us follow’ people. Oh it is NYSC yeah? They sign up for it. They see others going for Masters and they do so too if they don’t have anything else to do. They take their steps one at a time without a strategy, they have no backup plans in case they meet potholes or bumps on the way.
– THE PARANOID
The paranoid are the ones who want to excel at all costs. Their fear had eaten deep since their first year in the University and with the years it festers and becomes a part of them. They want to be successful in their field but they don’t know how to go about it. This leads to more paranoia and confusion for them, they want to be many things at a time. Their confusions are often unnecessary, they spend days brooding over the best place to study for masters. They let the fear of the unknown affect them too much that they hardly smile in class, they don’t participate in fun activities because it is a waste of time and it wouldn’t ‘help in the Labour market.’
– THE CLUELESS
The last category are the ones who don’t know what to do after school. They don’t even know why they are in school in the first place. They go through the mechanical process of going to school and coming back. They are usually clueless about what to do after school ‘Well, I don’t know sha… But maybe I will just go and learn makeup or I will go for masters.’ The funny thing is, they don’t care about Masters or learning anything new. They are done with school and that is enough contentment for them.
The statement After school what next? is now a cliché. The talk of life outside school has triggered students out of their idealized dreams of what life would offer when they graduate. I used to think everything comes on a platter of gold once you attend a university, I was part of the kids who shout I wantu to be a docutor, I wantu to be a lawyer, an enjiniya and a pilot to serve my countiriiiii. Then, with our baby brains we thought only a Doctor, a lawyer and an engineer can excel and become successful.
In my own opinion, some of the anxiety students feel as they are about to leave school is a result of the inadequate training and sensitization on the part of the lecturers and their department. Take my department as an example, very few among our lecturers engage us in discussion about our future, those who did were the ones who were able to make my course mates see few out of the many opportunities English as a course has to offer. Most of my course mates saw themselves in classrooms barking at students out of frustration, after all what else to do with English if not teaching? We realized with the pep talks that you can work in an embassy with your degree, a radio station, a bank, a firm and so on and so forth. It was embarrassing seeing my course mates rush to sign up for the school’s radio station the day after a lecturer called our generation dumb and went on to talk about how money can be made from our voices.
Departments ought to have career day programs which can come up at the end of the second semester for the students. There they would listen to people who have succeeded in the field they are in, they get financial advises that’d help them shape their minds and restructure their plans for life after school. They tell students about the challenges to expect and how to deal with them. Through career talks, the student can decide whether to work with his or her degree or not.
Yes, it is not a must for you to work with your degree. Thousands of people like you are graduating from the same field of study as yours. Hello! LABOUR MARKET! In a country saturated with corruption like Nigeria, if you don’t know somebody who knows somebody, you are done for. This is why you have to stay woke. It is not too late.
Welcome in advance to reality.