Effective Tips to Survive University Challenges as a Nigerian Student

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Survive University Challenges in Nigeria

Being Nigerian is hard enough. Every day is a struggle for survival. You survive primary school, Secondary, JAMB, and then you need to learn to survive university challenges as a student in Nigeria. Does the quest for survival ever end?

To survive university challenges in Nigeria, you’d require some important attributes. You’ll need willingness, perseverance and courage. Today, there’s garri plus a public holiday, tomorrow there’s nothing plus 8-5 classes. A friend of mine says, “if you overthink these challenges, you might run mad.” Lol. But where’s the lie? 

The hustling and bustling for most are all on chance. Maybe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe some person would be retiring as I apply, then I’d get a job. Or maybe, I’ll just turn my side hustle to the main one after I secure the certificate. These are thoughts constantly running through so many Nigerian students’ minds. 

The system has failed us all. To survive university challenges as a student in Nigeria is tough but yes, we try.

University Challenges that Nigerian Students Experience

Students generally go through a lot. But, Nigerian students go through so much more. These challenges are of two kinds. Though both problems classify as personal, their solutions don’t. The challenges whose solutions are extrinsic in manner, I’ll regard MACRO challenges. The challenges whose solutions are rather intrinsic, I’ll call MICRO challenges.

The macro challenges are challenges that you can’t resolve as an individual and are not as a result of actions by students. They are a result of inactions of the University and selective groups of individuals.

The personal challenges – micro-challenges – and ways to overcome them would follow shortly after. For now, let’s check out a few of those macro challenges.

  1. Inadequate learning facilities

It’s definitely no news that greed has overtaken the world. This is evident when students must be involuntarily punctual. Why? The school’s largest lecture hall originally can accommodate two thousand but over four thousand are registered for a course. That is over two thousand that by default, the school has no provision for. 

The system is already against half the entire populace, yet nobody really cares. Even for the ones who sit for the class, the environment is usually far from conducive due to overcrowding. Still, everyone says “You must beat the system” and there is mounting pressure to perform. The expectations to survive university challenges as a student in Nigeria is sky-high even though the conditions are unfavourable. 

  1. Transportation issues

Many Nigerian students staying off-campus experience: 

  • Consistent hike in prices of transportation fares;  
  • Constant daily struggle for vehicles. As the number of available vehicles can’t properly service the needs of available Nigerian students; 
  • Unsure or unsafe conditions of available vehicles.
  • Reluctance from many drivers. Many would prefer to be hired by individuals for a higher fare rate than by masses for normal rates. 

To survive university challenges as a student in Nigeria, you need to be tough. To meet up with lectures or exams, some take lifts from total strangers even to a fairly walkable distance. They neglect the risks encompassed in these situations only to find out that “Class is cancelled.”

  1. Inadequate medical facilities

It doesn’t matter the symptoms presented to health practitioners in health centres of Nigerian Universities. A Nigerian student must learn to make do with general antibiotics, paracetamol and anti-malaria medications. Beyond these, they rarely offer more help. They sometimes just make referrals and wish good luck.

There once was a girl drunk on SNIPER juice. Her friends and neighbours rallied around and somehow got her to the school’s health centre. It was a dark night. Not in the absence of light, there was electricity and appropriate lighting. But, the health care attendants insisted on seeing an I.D.

The girl laid on the stretcher, groaning and wallowing in pain. Worry and anguish on the faces of well-wishers. This girl had just attempted suicide but she should die because her friends, amidst all the turmoil, forgot to bring her I.D. 

They demanded to see some I.D before administering any form of care. According to them, it was a policy they must adhere to. The story dragged on for a little while until the Student Union intervened.

This short story explains the reaction of Health centres in Nigerian Universities to emergencies. You’d think the health sector would help students survive university challenges… Wrong!

  1. Security issues

Cult related activities, kidnapping, drug abuse/offences, students’ union election crisis, room break-in, stealing and pilfering, and sexual assaults/harassment. These are the most prevalent security challenges in Nigerian Universities. 

These challenges go beyond what an individual can just resolve on their own. They require the collective efforts of individuals and University management alike. 

Possible Solutions to Survive University Challenges (Micro-challenges) in Nigeria

You now know a little about the first type of the two types of challenges that Nigerian students face. Let’s move on to the micro-challenges – the ones you can beat.

These are university challenges that you can directly influence because you can easily identify the root cause. This section should help you survive university challenges as a student in Nigeria. 

  1. Finances

Upon gaining admissions into a Federal or State University, there’s a long list of dues to pay. I’m not sure about private institutions. 

I remember my first days on the University campus, I was thoroughly extorted by Cyber Cafes. There was the acceptance and school fees and a ton of documents to print. There was the college, departmental and students’ union dues. It was also mandatory to purchase the college and department handbooks. 

I spent a fortune on medicals. Words these days are that the prices of all these have gone up by more than 50%. Imagine the costs that new intakes suffer. There’s also house or hostel rent and new environment essentials to settle.

Then, there’s the day to day war with sapa (lack of funds). The impromptu billings from school to purchase practical manuals or hardcopy handouts when the softcopies are already everywhere. The University really just takes without giving much back. The Nation’s economy also worsens while needs are ever-increasing and the source of income falters.

Solution to financial challenges

Learn income-generating skills and put them to proper use. If you already have a few that don’t seem very lucrative, trust the process and keep pushing. Expand your reach and keep on striving. Soon, it would all be worth it.

More importantly, this generation, like the last, easily feels like the world is out to get them. We feel as though our lives should be top secret to avoid pending destruction. Many live like they hold real stakes in world power and must guard the world’s secrets closely. Dear student, if you have a problem, speak up!

You may not scream to the whole world for help but at least, to a few people you trust. I’m not advocating displaying your life for all to see. I’m saying, for things that matter, know the people that matter. “No man is an island”. Know when you need help and strive to get it. 

Read also: How to become a successful freelancer in Nigeria

  1. Time management

Distractions would always exist. It’s on days you have really important things to do like assignments, tests or exams that social media becomes increasingly interesting. A new movie series is out every week and that is why you’re finding it hard to study. 

It’s very common to underestimate how long it’ll take to finish a task. Therefore, you might make the mistake of putting the less important tasks first. This will hinder the efficient use of your time, as you may need to sacrifice something principal like your sleep to complete these tasks. Or you just find yourself stuck and unable to complete the set tasks. 

Read also: Time management tips for Nigerian students

Solutions to time challenges

You must learn and properly engage the acts of discipline. Identify time wasters and set goals. Plan by creating a list and tackling small tasks to start. Only do one thing at a time because attempting to multitask might not be as smart as you think.

Establish routines. It’s okay to live the same efficient way every day. Afraid to be called a dork or a geek? Truth is, Nigerians don’t do that. They might call you worse or make you very uncomfortable. But, be confident in your way of life. The road to success can be very lonely and you simply can’t please everyone. 

Use breaks wisely. Don’t just play them away every time. You know that is getting you nowhere. Also, take time off. Always give yourself quality rest from time to time. And lastly, learn to delegate. Assign tasks and/or subtasks to different times. If you truly want to survive university challenges as a student in Nigeria, discipline is highly important. 

Read also: How to build self-discipline as a Nigerian

  1. Feeling overwhelmed

You have just transcended from secondary school – that fed you numerous privileges – to university. You’re probably used to being woken up to prepare for school, either by hostel bells, if you attended boarding school, or by your parents or siblings. You had breakfast waiting just before setting out, sweet daily pocket money and guaranteed dinner awaiting your return. 

Now, you’re on your own. You set alarms to wake you up, that is, if your problems don’t first. You plan your days from the very start to the end. Whether you attend school or not is totally up to you. Maybe some friends would nag and advise but it’s still solely your decision to be responsible or not. 

Now you truly understand what it means to “shape your destiny”. You’re experiencing fully the gravity of it all and becoming overwhelmed. 8-5 classes at least four times a week. You feed on rice, noodles, spaghetti or garri week after week. You’ve come to understand the efforts it’ll take to enjoy 3-square meals. You’ve made peace already. Snacks during the day and a heavy dinner. 

Billings left and right for things you planned to purchase. You’re learning life as a course plus the course you were admitted to study all at the same time. Juggling between school, social, religious, and business life. All these can be overwhelming, especially realizing the price you’re having to pay for freedom. 

Solution to feeling overwhelmed

To survive university challenges, take life one step at a time. Don’t rush things. Always try to rest well or practice siestas to cool off or reboot. Eat healthily. Know what works for you and live by it. It might be wise to thoroughly embrace a moderate life. And more importantly, Breathe! 

You’ll also need perseverance, commitment and strength to survive university challenges as a student in Nigeria. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, you’ll only be new at this university thing once. Try and enjoy it. 

Truth is, you might even have to become someone else to survive university challenges as a student in Nigeria. We’re all aiming at survival. But who says we can’t relish the process? 

Read also: How to stop feeling overwhelmed despite your challenges

  1. Motivation

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going” – Jim Pyun 

Your results continuously humble you. Or you just don’t get things taught in class and most or all of your courses are looking difficult. Or from the onset you didn’t get the course you wanted and so the motivation has never really been there. These things are bringing you down and you’re starting to ask if it’s all worth it. 

To follow the trend amongst us Nigerian students, we say “Shey na me go graduate sha?” Or to really portray the tiredness and sheer lack of motivation, “E be like na mama go make herself proud o. I don taya”. Usually easy to laugh at until it hits you too. Till you have a ton of work and very little strength or interest. How do you survive university challenges without motivation?

Solution to lack of motivation

Be gentle with yourself. Always remind yourself why you started. Be happy with the little victories. Take things slow and steady. Your dreams, passion and success are worth so much. The world is waiting for you! You can survive university challenges with this state of mind.


The world is yours for the taking. Do not allow these challenges to reduce the size of your dreams. It’s hard, but great men are distinguished by greater sacrifices. You can beat the odds. Don’t lose hope and trust the process. 

There are numerous tips to survive university challenges as a student in Nigeria. There’s the part for the University to play and a part for students. If everyone plays their parts right, everything literally becomes better. 

Some would say these challenges make students better prepared for the harsh world ahead. Maybe they are right or wrong, it depends on your point of view.

A lot of information, right? If you enjoyed this, share your thoughts in the comments section. If you’re looking for a community to relax and engage your mind, join insight’s WhatsApp community.

Author: Victor Fatorisa.

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Op-Ed are articles published by guest authors. We no longer accept guest posts. However, we are still open to adding long-term content contributors to our team of insightful writers. To write for us, please check out inisght.ng/guest-post.

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