Are you a Nigerian high school graduate, in your high school final year or are you approaching your final year in high school? It is obvious you are wondering what it would take or cost you to gain admission into a University or Polytechnic in the country. This article is intended to guide you on the right path and shed more light on how the Nigerian tertiary education system works, and how you can optimize it to your fullest potential.
First of all, the Nigerian Educational System operates the 6-6-4 module. This implies that you must spend a minimum of six (6) years in elementary school, another six (6) years in high school and a minimum of four (4) years in the tertiary institution.
Before you begin your adventure to study in a Nigerian tertiary institution, you must have completed your high school education or be in your final year. This is because all tertiary institutions in Nigeria would request to see your high school testimonial and diploma as evidence of 6-year completion of studies in high school. The testimonial is like a certification of completion that informs third parties that you have completed studies or a programme while the Diploma assesses your understanding of the subjects taught. Your Diploma can be your WASSCE (usually known as WAEC) by the West African Examinations Council, NECO Certification by the National Examinations Council, or a General certificate of Examination (GCE) by either of the Examination Bodies.
I am assuming you have either completed your high school studies or you are close to doing so. Following the following steps would guide and position you to study any career of your choosing at any Polytechnic or University in Nigeria.
1. Decide on a Career Path
Your career path is something no one can choose for you. Your parents and guardians can force a course or study programme on you, but they cannot choose a career path for you. It has to do with discovering your purpose and maximizing it.
You must have decided on this long ago. This is because, in your fourth year (SS1) in a Nigerian high school, you are expected to belong to a department of your choice. This department can be Arts, Commercial/Business or Science/Technology as the case may be.
A student who opts in for the Science department has automatically concluded to choose a career that aligns with the sciences. He might choose to study medicine, engineering or computer science. He must also consider or be willing to improve his math and physics skills before making such a choice of belonging to the Science Department.
If you already belong to a department in high school, the next thing you should do is choose a study programme that is in tune with your department. Arts students can choose to study Mass Communication, English and Literary Studies, Theatre Arts, and Visual & Fine Arts. For Commercial or Business Students, Economics, Accounting, Banking and Finance, Insurance and Actuarial Science are great fields to explore. Sciences and Technology students can decide on programmes such as Engineering, Physical and Natural Sciences, Agriculture, Geography and Chemistry.
2. Research & Work Towards Your Career of Choice
Now that you have decided on a career path, the next thing is to research how you can achieve your goal of fitting into the career you have chosen. The internet is a great tool for making your research. Our blog is also full of academic content that can help you fulfil your career goals. You should know the academic requirements and tertiary institutions that offer your programme of choice.
For instance, studying Engineering or Architecture in Nigeria requires you to take Further Mathematics or Technical Drawing in your final certificate examinations. Some students do not know this and risk admission forfeiture because of incomplete O’level results during screening.
3. Register & Sit for the Necessary Examinations
Knowing the academic requirement of your programme of choice helps you plan well and positions you ahead. You would know what sacrifices you are to make in order to study your dream programme. You should also ensure that you can differentiate between Polytechnics, Monotechnics, Universities and Colleges of Education before concluding on an institution of choice.
Now that you have made researched your career choice, you can now register for your final high school and university entrance exams. The Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) by Joint Admissions Matriculation Board (JAMB) is the entrance examination taken by students before admission can be granted by any tertiary institution in the country. This means that asides from your high school diploma, you need to sit for the UTME, as it is the most acknowledged way of getting enrolled for full-time studies programmes in tertiary institutions across Nigeria. Your final examination might be WASSCE, NECO or NABTEB Exams depending on the type of high school you are enrolled in.
WASSCE by the West African Examination Authority is the standard certification examination for high school graduates in Nigeria. You can additionally take the NECO Exams as well. The NABTEB Examination is not generally appreciated. It is mainly endorsed and embraced in technical and vocational colleges across the country.
During your UTME registration, you would be required to select Use of English and three other subjects you want to be examined for. Confirm with your JAMB Brochure that the three subjects you are choosing tallies with your choice of study programme to avoid admission termination from your school.
WASSCE or NECO exams require students to choose eight or nine subjects that they want to be examined. This includes Mathematics and English alongside six or seven other subjects. The subjects you choose must reflect your career path to avoid issues later on.
You have to sit for your final and entrance examinations. If you already have your high school diploma, you can skip this process. Asides from your testimonial, it is the second proof that you have completed your high school education.
You can choose to sit for WAEC’s Private Examination (usually known as G.C.E) which is usually a term ahead of the WAEC’s School Examination. This can give you a preamble of what the actual School Examination looks like. You should also check out JAMB’s brochure to ensure you have chosen to write the compulsory and elective subjects in your final examinations.
4. Prepare for the E-screening or Post-UTME Exercise
The UTME is a very essential examination because it is the foundational entrance examination into higher institutions of learning in Nigeria. The Examination is heralded by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board. Since 2015, UTME has been a computer-based test, hence, it is crucial you familiarize yourself with using a computer. You should also practice with Computer-Based Learning Applications on your computer.
Depending on the institution of your choosing, an E-Screening exercise or Post-UTME Examinations would take place. In E-Screening, your UTME scores and O’level grades are used to compute your average standing while during Post-UTME exams, an assessment test would be taken to determine your place.
You can request past questions for these schools and practice with them to get an insight into what their Post-UTME exams look like. This would familiarize you with their questioning system and give you a glimpse into their Area of Concentration on each subject.
5. Check Results & Match Them With School’s Entry Requirement
After writing your final high school examination (WASSCE, NECO, GCE or NABTEB) and Entry Examination into Tertiary Institution (UTME), the next step is to wait for the results to be released. Usually, the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) results are released between twenty-four hours to a week while the final certification examinations take 60 to 180 days to be released.
After seeing your results, it is time to do some analytics and predictions on whether your average score can offer you admission to study your chosen programme in the tertiary institution of your choice. To effectively do this, look out for previous cut-off points for the programme you have chosen, previous catchment cut-off points if your state of origin belongs to your school’s catchment and the number of aspirants applying to the same programme to determine competition if data is made available by JAMB or the school.
You should know where you stand by now. If you are averagely close, you may want to hold on a little to see if admission would be in your favour. If extremely low, it is advised you change your course or change to a less competitive institution.
6. Watch Out for Admissions & Take Prompt Actions
You should watch out for an admission list from the school or check your CAPS frequently so you do not miss out on Admission. In your personal CAPS area, you would be required to accept or reject a provisional admission from an institution of your choice.
Rejecting an admission offer cannot be reversed as well. Once reversed is forever reversed. You must conclude saliently before rejecting an admission offer in your personal CAPS area. In most cases, you would be required to upload a scanned copy of your high school diploma in an accredited JAMB registration centre to your personal CAPS before any admission offer would reflect.
If you do not get admitted by your school of choice, click here to see what else you can do.
7. Prepare your Credentials for Screening
Your credentials include your birth certificate, state of origin certificate, high school diploma, UTME registration form, UTME examination result slip, Post-UTME result slip and a few others as indicated by the institution of your choosing.
Most schools do not accept birth certificates issued less than a year from the screening date. Also, ensure that the names on your documents correspond with one another as this can result in admission termination as well. For instance, if your names are BABAJIDE MOSES OLUWATOBI on a document and the remaining documents answer BABAJIDE MOSES EKUNDAYO, this can result in a problem for you. To avoid issues, you should go to court to get an affidavit or sworn declaration attesting that you answer both names.
You would also be required to print an admission letter from your JAMB profile. Be prepared to make photocopies of the required documents.
8. Go for your Screening
I believe you are over 16 years. Most Federal Universities in Nigeria would request you to be 16 years and above before you can be admitted.
Most admission officers are nice enough to defer the admission of those who are not 16 yet to the following year. If you are 16+, you can walk confidently to the screening officer with your documents properly arranged. Don’t be surprised if you are treated badly by a screening officer, it could be a result of a lot of things.
Ensure your documents are arranged as speculated. Follow instructions and ask questions from the screening officer to avoid being embarrassed as well.
9. Pay your Fees and Dues
After the screening process, you would now be eligible to pay your fees and dues as a first-year student of the school. These fees and dues include medical services, sports fees, acceptance fees and tuition fees as the case may be.
In Nigeria, admissions offered to students are usually conditional until the acceptance fee is paid. Bypassing the payment of the acceptance fee is like not refusing to accept the admission being offered.
10. Prepare for Resumption
After concluding the screening exercise, you should now prepare for resumption. At this point, you would want to decide if to live on-campus or off-campus. I advise freshers to live on-campus because they are less familiar with the external environs of the school, though, they can decide to stay off-campus in their second year.
Foodstuffs, beddings and clothes are other things you might want to consider. Ensure your belongings are prepared and you are most prepared to begin your learning adventure as a fresher in your chosen institution of choice.
Be good, be kind and choose your friends carefully in school. Face your studies and disregard social vices such as cultism.