What kind of student were you?
I was an average student who once failed, in Year 10 (equivalent to Senior Secondary in the Nigerian education system). As a young student, I was afraid of learning or attempting to learn anything new. Consequently, this tainted my perception of my ability to perform well in my studies. This in turn led to test anxiety and misconceptions about the possibility of attaining good results in the future.
Why did you struggle?
I had no knowledge of how to study, read up on topics, take proper notes in class, no dedicated schedule of study time and no fixed aims in mind. Although I attended classes, I did not pay proper attention to what was being taught and failed to adequately prepare for examinations, feeling others were responsible for my poor performance.
So, what changed?
In my final year I made a decision to work hard, and gradually the fear and negative attitudes towards studying within me changed. I identified suitable learning styles, stated objectives, set goals, followed new methods of studying and maintained a sense of high self-concept. This firm belief in my ability to succeed and determination to succeed against all odds enabled me to achieve my goals. My educational career improved accordingly; for my GCE (GCSE equivalent), I achieved 4 A stars and 3 B+. My solid performance continued for my first degree, a Master’s degree, including my postgraduate diploma. I am currently in my PhD progression, adopting the same attitude.
What advice do you have for others who struggle with studying?
In education, sometimes you feel afraid that the study task you have at hand is so big that you cannot accomplish it on your own; you shrink from it and feel emotionally battered when you fail. You become increasingly anxious when it comes to learning or trying anything new. This is a natural human tendency. What you need to do is face up to the challenges, develop the ability to pick yourself up and master the process of simply getting started. Your destination will be reached by a series of small steps, not one giant leap.
What is your motto?
Decision + Determination + Hard work = Distinction
Some people are slow learners, some are fast learners and others are learners who find it very hard to get things done. No matter where you fit, do not worry: you have what it takes to succeed.
You too can make it!
Patricia Orlunwo Ikiriko is a trained counsellor who has worked with different organisations involving young people for over 18 years. She is the author of The Successful Student: How to Develop Good Study Habits (£12.99, Panoma Press).