As an undergraduate, I did a lot of things. I ventured into various activities which undeniably, shaped my ideology and personality. I must confess that most engagements were borne out of either spontaneity or curiosity; quest to unfurl my wings and soar, or out of self-abnegation or nudges from friends to wade into new waters and try out something new. Each of them played a pivotal role in making me take decisive stance in engaging in a plethora activities.
In all, I will say I triumphed through the academic process and extra-curricular engagements. However, there was this nostalgic feeling that trailed every completed journey, either one that was relished or regretted. And when given opportunity to get back to time, one will always accept such rarest opportunity, perhaps to correct an error or do something better. And most at times, those mistakes we want to change were actions taken inadvertently, purposelessly or by sheer ignorance.
Be that as it may, I carefully curated the things I really wished I did or had done better as an undergraduate. It is not done to berate or beat myself, but to serve as a guide to most persons who are still undergraduates, especially those in junior classes.
1. I should have taken my academics seriously: As surprising as it is, it still forms part of my wish. This lethargy to academic work was facilitated by the scary rumours peddled by my seniors then, that 1st class was impossible. It may have been true based on their half-baked and unreliable statistics. But as innocent I might seem to be, I believed them and limited my academic capacity and ability to have strove harder. If I had believed otherwise and diligently worked hard, I would have done better. Although I still find myself at the academic pantheon of my class, but within me, I wish I never settled for less.
2. I didn’t have a mentor: I have this belief that mentors serve as a bridge to where one is and where one wants to be. It can be applied in any sphere, career-wise and in life generally. But I was bereft of this knowledge as I had this iffy idea of mentors being those guys who pry into your activities and police your activities. But upon clear scrutiny, the reverse was the case. A mentor guides you in whatever undertaking you wish to delve in. Not to mention their ability to help you make the right choices needed for your knowledge advancement and career development. All these and more I missed as I wallowed in my ignorance and waded through the rigorous legal studies without a guide.
3. I should have engaged in various competitions: I wished I had participated in various competitions, whether local or international. Competitions help you channel your mental energy to outsmart your opponent, by thinking to your feet. Most persons honed their oratory or writing skill by participating in competitions. Also, networking with persons from other schools is a plus as you rub minds with them. And getting the “in-thing” in the legal space is a priceless advantage in engaging in competitions.
I had always had this prejudicial thought of organisers of competitions being able to maneuver results to some persons’ favour. While other times, it was my fears that got a better part of me, thereby dissuading me from participating in those competitions. If only I had engaged myself in them, who knows?
4. I wish I had served as a Research Assistant to any of my lecturers or lawyer: As seemingly impossible or boring as it may look, this role presents avalanche of opportunities to one. For starters, it actually opens you to the world of research and publication. Being able learn to appreciate other areas of law which are not taught in classes is an added advantage too. I strongly believe that if I had served as an assistant to any of my lecturers or lawyer, I would have honed my research acumen and become better in the role as I grow. This is only a wish now.
5. I would have engaged in lots of internship: No one can ever appreciate legal studies without having a first hand experience of the classroom teachings. The reason our traditional learning experience will always produce unprepared students to match the legal and societal realities, is because we lack the touch and experience of our legal realities. Most students have gauzy ideas of what the law really is. However, with internship, it is easier to place the law side by side realities in legal practice. You tend to learn from your role models in the field as you intern. I will not even get to stop enumerating the advantages of internship. But then, I missed the opportunity in my early years as an undergraduate. But I made it up in my later years.
6. I should have connected better with those outside law faculty: Most law students are carried away by euphoria, pomp and respect which our monochromic white and black attire comes with. We tend to form a fraternity (that I encourage), thus leaving ourselves shut in our frat house. We do not really associate with others outside our faculty and this really was one thing I wished I engaged in doing more.
It hinders our networking tentacles and limits us to ourselves and ideas. It also makes us stereotypic about a lot of issues we should have had broad knowledge about. Just as law is a discipline and profession that is not independent of these other disciplines, getting to learn more from them can never be a bad idea. After all, those from other disciples are still the ones that will form our clientele.
7. I wished I joined a club: Eventhough I was instrumental in birthing a club during my senior classes days, I was really not part of a club. Clubs have proven to be a learning and training ground for budding leaders. When aligned to a club’s purpose, it becomes easier to grow and be nurtured. This nurture comes to bear especially on some soft skills needed by organisations today. I would blame my non-membership to my busyness then, as one of the principal student judges in the faculty. But I felt I would have done better and even impacted more persons, if I had been in a club.
8. I should have started a business on time: This might look antithetical to academic pursuit, but I have learnt that starting a business builds you to becoming better in some vital skills needed in our world today, for example, negotiation skill, problem solving skill, leadership skills etc. If I had started on time with this idea, I would have learnt these vital skills and perhaps made some money too (just as expected in a business).
9. I wish I had pursued God intentionally: I will always attribute my success stories to God. In Him I live, move and have my being. I should have intentionally pursued God in my early years in school. Although I did at my later year in school, but I wish I had done this all through my stay, as His counsel has always been a guide and succour in time of despair.
Inasmuch as I did not engage so much in these activities as I ought to; to my satisfaction, I still hold myself high as someone who really conquered his little undergraduate world in no small measure. Having served in various capacities and made some impact, I still relish and cherish those times, even now. My actions and decisions impacted so many persons and still serve as an inspiration to some others. But as I stated earlier, if given the opportunity to rewrite or relive some of those experiences we had had, I believe we would willingly accept it, either to perform better than we did or to avoid some mistakes or take decisive actions to be at our best.
Be that as it may, those things we missed to do, at best, are only in our historical wish list now which can serve as an exoteric “pot of wisdom” where advice can be drawn from to help the next generation. And perhaps they can really learn from them.
It is a wonderful idea that I had shared my little wishlist here.
About the Author
Solomon Ekeoma Ogbu is a Law graduate of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State.