December 9, 2023


Serving the university community

A fresher’s guide to thriving in UNILAG

By Ukey Elizabeth and Amali Rejoice

Freshers during matriculation

Being a first-year undergraduate in a university as big and prestigious as the University of Lagos can be a very daunting phase. Some may even count it as scary or a cause to worry, all within reason. As heard from different freshmen, the process of transitioning into the university system is very stressful, especially because it’s not a process they’re used to coming from high schools. New experiences, new structures, new expectations, new environments, new academic standards, and new people. It is basically a whole new world for them. 

The university usually holds orientation programmes to welcome these freshers and properly indoctrinate them into the system. However, this orientation is usually from the perspective of the institution and it may not answer all their questions. If they are not satisfied with the information they get they may look elsewhere which could lead to false and misleading tips that may harm their school life.

The onus therefore lies on us to dispel correct information and guidance that would benefit the freshers. Therefore, this article is for this exact purpose. We’ve gathered tips, advice and suggestions from undergraduates ranging from 200lvl to 500lvl, also called staylites or returning students. These tips are more personal and cater to the needs of freshers, seeing as they are coming from people who have already passed through those stages.

The following are what some returning students had to say.

As regards department/faculty:

Make friends with your coursemates, and don’t belittle anyone as you never know who is who. Those you think aren’t the brightest may end up being the best. Being friendly to coursemates will help when it’s time for group work and collaboration.

Get acquainted with your seniors and always go to them for tips, advice and help. They will be of help in sticky situations as well.

Build a relationship with your class reps and class governors. Those are the people that are in touch with the higher authorities and your issues will have to go through them first. 

Respect your lecturers and as much as possible, build some rapport with them.

Participate in departmental and faculty activities, join communities and volunteer. You never know who is watching.

Pay your class, faculty and department dues and keep the receipts. They are always needed towards the exam period.

One tip stood out among these and is from a History student of the Faculty of Art. She said: “Go in with an open mind, you’d get asked why you’re studying History most times in a degrading way, but please drop all you’ve heard about the course and go in with an open mind. Fall in love with History, start well, lay the foundation well and bag that degree!”

This piece of advice is applicable to whatever course or field of study one finds himself in. Going in with a mind full of malicious or degrading comments about your course will only deter you as those words will seek roots and stop you from giving your best.

As regards academics

Go through the course outlines and requirements first. That way you know what is expected in each course and how to tackle it.

Be diligent with every lecture and lab. Don’t miss or skip any class. You never know when there will be an impromptu test or whatnot. Attendance also adds to your grade. 

Listen attentively to the lecturers. Some drop tidbits during the lectures. Try to understand the concept of the lecture the day it is taught. Don’t be too shy to ask questions.

Start reading early. Don’t wait until exams are approaching, it can be overwhelming. Also, don’t start praying or calling on God two weeks before exams when you’ve not been diligent with your studies, it doesn’t work that way! 

Read extensively, read textbooks, materials, past questions, and any resources you can get your hands on. Attend tutorials where needed, youtube tutorials are your friends and the library is also a good place to get materials.

Read smart! Each lecturer has their own style of teaching, marking or setting questions. Learn those styles and apply them.

Do your assignments yourself. Seek help where necessary but endeavor to attempt them yourself.

Learn what reading style works for you. Whether overnights, daily reading, group study, individual study, using the library or reading alone, whatever works. Don’t be pressured into how others are reading.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Everyone is figuring it out just like you and it’ll get easier by and by.

Remember, your first year is to build your CGPA. don’t play it away. The time to play will come later. When your first-year GPA is settled, subsequent years will be easier.

One staylite recommended a book about academics. It is called “How to be a Straight-A Student” by Newport Cal.

As regards staying on/off campus

Analyze which is preferable either staying on campus or outside. They both have their advantages and disadvantages, so choose what works for you.

For staying outside campus, it’s advisable to find accommodation close to campus so as to beat traffic and reduce stress.

Always wake up early and make sure to be on time for lectures. No lecturer wants to hear you missed a class because of traffic, fuel scarcity or queues.

Be conscious of your environment. Not everyone is a student, not everyone thinks the same as you and aside from your hostel/building security, no one is looking out for you.

For those staying on campus, whatever hall of residence you find yourself in, go in with a fresh mind cause there will always be one bad comment or the other.

Be nice and polite to everyone, and try to leave a good impression on people. Your good character will speak for you in times of trouble.

Get acquainted with your roommates and build rapport with them. But avoid trouble and troublesome people.

Pray for grace and wisdom to deal with and meet the right people.

Be clean and tidy, and always keep your things properly to avoid them getting missing or stolen 

Mind your business and focus on yourself.  

Prioritize your hygiene and health, both physical and mental health.

As regards social events:

There’s always something happening on campus. Unilag’s social scene is hyperactive, but don’t let it distract you. Your primary focus is on your academics.

Don’t completely shun these events. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy as they say.

Filter these events, know what is good for you and attend those.

While attending, be security conscious, don’t attend those too far away from the campus especially if you don’t know your way back. When attending in groups, don’t get distracted and stray from your group.

Take pictures and videos, and make memories.

As regards foods/restaurants:

The food scene in Unilag is bubbling. There is a lot to try. From spaghetti to abula to shawarma to different kinds of rice to snacks and finger foods.

Eat healthy, try different places and stick to what works best for you.

Don’t get intimidated by others’ spending habits. Buy according to what you have.

There are a lot of hidden gems on campus, explore but be careful not to catch food poisoning.

Some of the recommended places are Iya Moria, Korede Spag, Seun’s Yam and Oil, Ewa Goyin at CITS, the food courts at New Hall, the ice cream stand at Jaja Hall and the milky popcorn at Moremi Hall.

Overall, Unilag is a place to achieve dreams and do exactly that. Remember why you applied to the university of first choice, remember the struggles to get there and remember the people counting on you to finish with distinction.

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