EducationUSA Gives Success Tips For New Nigerian Students Who Gained Admission Into US Universities

nigerian students gained admission us universities

EducationUSA Gives Success Tips For New Nigerian Students Who Gained Admission Into Various Universities In The United States

By Kofoworola Bello-Osagie, The Nation

Nigerian students are happy when they go abroad to study. However, making a success of their stay depends on how well they adapt to their new environment. KOFOWOROLA BELO-OSAGIE examines the coping tips shared with a group of students travelling to the United States for further studies.

With about 12,693 Nigerians studying in United States colleges and universities, Nigeria has the 13th largest population of international students in the North American country.

Being accepted to study in the U.S. comes with a lot of prestige for students given the country’s reputation for quality education which offers its graduates greater visibility in the job market. However, before they get to the point of graduating from these institutions, Nigerians, like other international students, face some challenges that can derail their education if not well managed.

In the past, the student visas of many were cancelled leading to deportation; some found themselves in jail because of involvement in crime, while others even ended up dead as a result of ignorance about the weather, culture, involvement with drugs, and other issues.

In an interview with The Nation at a pre-departure orientation for students going for undergraduate and postgraduate studies in U.S., EducationUSA officer, Mrs Adeola Adejumobi, said there had been cases where Nigerian students got into trouble due to ignorance. She underscored the need for students travelling to the U.S. to learn how to manage their academics, health, opportunities, and relationship with people.

“From time to time, we have come to realise from some information that we get from students that sometimes students get into trouble with the law because of things they don’t even know about,” she said.

To settle faster as international students in the U.S., over 100 students who attended Tuesday’s EducationUSA pre-departure briefing were told to pay attention to the weather, academic work, networking, health and safety, and opportunities.

Classroom work

In Nigeria, a student who asks or answers too many questions in class may be seen as overly zealous or calling for attention. The reverse is the case in the US where students are expected to actively participate during class sessions, group assignments and relationship with their professors.

U.S. Public Affairs Officer Russell Brooks said Nigerian students should not in the name of ‘respect’ fail to shine.

“You have got to speak up. If you want to shine – especially among your peers, you are going to have to speak up. If your professor is going to pay attention to you, you have to show you have something to offer. The professor wants to know whether you have original ideas. If he does not know you, then you will not do particularly well,” he said.

EducationUSA Adviser Mrs Chinenye Uwadileke said unlike in Nigeria, the student-faculty interaction in US universities was more informal. She underscored Brook’s point that students must be active participants in class as that forms part of their scores.

“Students are expected to participate fully in classes. They may work in groups; they may be told to teach a class, give a presentation. You have to be responsible for your own learning. You turn in a lot of assignments,” she said.

Though interactions with lecturers can be casual, Mrs Adejumobi warns students not to lose their Nigerian respect and start off calling their teachers by name.

“Draw the line until your professor tells you to cross it,” she advised.

Olamide Oladeji, who is starting his doctoral at Stanford later this year, advised students not to take on more classes than they can cope with, as the classes are intensive.

He said he learnt vital lesson during his Masters at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) when he took on four courses as against two he was advised to do.

“When I started in 2016, they told me two classes were a lot for someone doing research. The Nigerian in me started with four classes, including two at PhD level. I had to drop one. I took my mid-terms and the result was not good. Take advice. Take it easy on yourself when starting. Take easy classes when starting because the depth of the classes are so much more. There is a lot of work, assignments, and tests. Unlike here, where grades are concentrated in a large final, grades are distributed over your tests and assignments, and presentations,” he said.

Earning good grades without taking assignments seriously is almost impossible, says Mrs Ozzy Ajibade, an engineer with Chevron Nigeria who earned her Master’s from the University of Houston in 2005.

“The way we go to school is very different here. In Nigeria exam is a big deal but in the U.S. it is not like that. Every home work counts; every test counts; your assignment is the leading indicator whether you get an A or not,” she said.

To get started with classes without trouble, Honours graduate, Ete Ogor, who studied International Studies at Hanover College, advised students to register for their courses on time as classes get full and they may find it difficult getting into classes for their programmes.

Ogor also counselled students to be punctual to all classes as timeliness was taken seriously, unlike in Nigeria. “Go to the classroom before classes start. Time management is a real big deal. If you are five minutes late, it’s like being 20 minutes late here,” she said.

For postgraduate students, Dr Chioma Okafor, who said she achieved a 4.00 Grade Point Average as Masters student of the University of Missouri-Rolla studying Geology in 2001, said their relationship with their advisors was key.

“If you are going to grad school, your relationship with your supervisor matters. The job is on you to understand what your supervisor wants and work that way. Without having your supervisor’s cooperation, you end up not making it,” said Dr Okafor, who now works with Chevron Nigeria.

Using campus resources

Many universities and colleges have resources, such as counselling, career guidance, funding services and the like that students could benefit from. Many of the alumni advised the students to take advantage of such vast resources.

Okafor said graduate students could get teaching and research assistant positions that could help them gain experience and earn extra cash, if only they would ask. She said she got both teaching assistantship and research assistantship as well as internships during her time as a student. She said such experience paid off in helping her get good jobs.

Mrs Ozzy Ajibade, who earned her Masters in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Houston, said students should be familiar with the career centres of their institutions as through them they could get their CVs fixed, learn about jobs, get prepared for interviews, and even find funding.

“In the U.S, there are abundant resources. Information is key. If I were you, I would find the career centre before I know where the cafeteria is. Go early, be proactive in applying for internships ahead of time. Find out about conferences, volunteer to do student jobs so you can participate,” she said.

Oladeji said students should take advantage of office hours to discuss their concerns about their studies with faculty members. He also said through campus career advisory services, they could get funding to attend conferences or even start businesses.

He said through such resources, he was able to travel on funded educational trips to Madrid, Ghana and India.

Preparing for the weather

The weather is one of the shocks that students have to endure living in the U.S. Mrs Adejumobi said students needed to be prepared for the cold weather, which is very different from what obtains in Nigeria. She advised students to shop for appropriate clothing before the winter months set in when they are usually more expensive.

“Pay attention to the weather. When you get to school in the later part of the summer, get ready for winter. Buy thick jackets, scarves when they would be on sale and much cheaper. In the winter, they would be in demand and the prices would be higher,” she said.

Mrs Adejumobi said states like New York, New Haven, Michigan, and Massachusetts could be very cold. Also, she said in some times of the year, it gets darker earlier or later.

In Texas, there are times that it gets dark around 4.30pm, while in the summer, the sun may not set until 8.30pm.

During the winter, Oladeji said there is the tendency for students to keep to themselves which may lead to depression. He advised them to make conscious efforts to interact with people more so they do not feel lonely.

Cultural orientation

With differences in language, dressing, culture and mannerisms, Nigerian students may find it difficult to settle down to their studies on time.

Mrs Adejumobi said Nigerian students must realise that the English they know may not be totally functional in the US, and as such be cautious, ask questions, and open to learning.

“You are goin g to the natural environment of the English langurage – where if there are changes, it emanates from there. Some words that are acceptable here are no longer used there. Forget what you see on TV and in the movies. You cannot use the ‘F’ word on anyone; you cannot use “Nigga”; you will only get into trouble,” she said.

Okafor reported that understanding classes initially was tough because of language barrier. She said she found the professors talked too fast for her to process what they said in classes. To cope, she said she watched a lot of news on TV.

Regarding making friends, the Nigerian students were advised to make friends with others outside their comfort zone as a way of dealing with loneliness.

Regarding making friends, the Nigerian students were advised to make friends with others outside their comfort zone as a way of dealing with loneliness.

Mrs Ajibade said friends, who she referred to as human energy, helped her during her studies. She advised Nigerian students could make friends in church, their communities, and by participating in student programmes.

“Don’t go to school and all your friends are Nigerians. Embrace diversity,” she said.

Keeping safe

One key thing Nigerian students were warned to avoid was run-ins with law enforcement agencies. Consular Officer, Matthew Phillips, warned the students against battery and drugs, which they said could unfortunately be easily available on campuses, and other crimes.

“You cannot touch any person in a manner they don’t want to be touched. It is called battery. Pay attention to distances in relationships you get into.

“Drugs are on every campus. Don’t do it. You are there to get an education. Don’t do it; you can get into a lot of trouble. You can get deported. Don’t let your parents get that phone call that you are dead,” he said.

Two FBI agents, Mark Grimm and Heather Armstrong, told the students that the legal age for alcohol was 21. Even if above 21, they advised the students not to drink and drive. They were also advised the students against riding in cars with strangers but pre-arranging how they would get around through public transport; or not following commands of law enforcement agents when pulled over.

“If you ever get pulled over by law enforcement agents, listen to commands before you say something back; show your hands; do not move to take something from your pockets,” Heather said.

Grimm said it was important to know the emergency and non-emergency numbers of security agents and the 10 states that allow Americans to carry concealed weapons.

4 thoughts on “EducationUSA Gives Success Tips For New Nigerian Students Who Gained Admission Into US Universities

  1. That’s how America always take the best brains from most countries of the World, those who can be lucky to finish, aren’t going back.

  2. Great tips(if u get to rome,behave like the romans) but such brains wont even want to return back after studies.
    just like medical tourism we engage in,it should be time we look inwards and develop our own.
    The asians are good at this but dont expect the aso villa dullard who travels to the west every now or then to get treatment for ordinary dandruff.
    we are losing our best to foreign lands and i dont blame them.

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