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PSA to Nigerian graduates; A 3rd Class degree is not a death sentence.

3rd class Nigerian graduate Richmond Okezie

I saw a tweet that made my heart bleed. Someone has been taunted so much by his own father that he is considering ending his life, not because he killed, stole or committed a crime, but check this, because he graduated with a 3rd class.

I am not here to cast judgement on the father or teach him how to do his job as a father, but I want to address the person in question and hopefully, in doing so, address others too who may be in similar situations, writing themselves off because of what class of degree they graduated with. Listen, people with 1st class degrees are jobless, more are underemployed. Don’t get me started with 2:1. While I encourage students to put in their best and get good grades in school as they will make getting jobs relatively easier, good grades do not automatically make everything smooth and rosy in the real world. Your skills, character and drive matter a lot.

To the brother in question and anyone else in a similar situation, I am here to tell you that you can be anything you put your mind to, in today’s world. Technology has made it easy to build platforms, products and services. You have dreams, you have gifts; potentials that have nothing to do with a 3rd class degree, potentials that do not require a degree to work or be activated. Use these! This is not some motivational mumbo jumbo.

Do you know that if you devote the next 6 months to learn Web Design using WordPress alone, you can build a web design business targetting SMEs, add graphics design to this and you have a full creative agency.

OK, web and graphics design are not your thing, maybe it’s digital marketing. Spend the next 6 months learning SEO, PPC, and the rest, then sign up to or any other freelancing site and start bidding on jobs, all you need is your phone. Save up to get a laptop, start small and grow.

Ok, digital is not your thing, how about data analysis? Learning advanced excel, python and other tools to teach others? You start your data analysis training company, organise monthly training for individuals and companies?

Ok, Ok, I hear you, tech is not your thing. How about being a travel agent? Booking flights for a commission. Add international admission and visa processing to this, and you have your own travel and educational consulting company.

Find distributors of food items in the UK and supply them palm oil from Nigeria.

Buy used Photocopying machines and position them in strategic spots in a university campus and you’re a business owner.

I could go on, and on. At the end of the day, your life is what you make of it, not what your degree states.

I hear someone say yeah, not everyone is business-oriented man, some of us want to work! Great, I hear you. Now remove 3rd class from your CV if it’s there, identify the major skills employers look for in your field and make plans to acquire them.

Then identify the professional course that is applicable to your profession and start doing it. ICAN, CIBN, CIPM, etc. Become a professional, so people address you by your profession and not your degree.

Look at you, a Chartered Accountant, Chartered HR, your 3rd won’t matter then I promise you.

Beef up your portfolio so much that the 3rd class is buried under piles of qualifications, skills and expertise.

But Richmond, I have dreams. This entrepreneurship and corporate things are not for me. I am a creative, with an artistic mind. I want to build my personal brand doing what I love. I hear you; I hear you. But what has 3rd class got to do with being the best artist your generation has ever seen?

Stop sulking, nobody cares what you graduated with. We care about what you’re doing with your life right now. The choices and decisions you’re making right now to better yourself and those around you. That is what matters. When you identify the value of the gifts you carry, the potential that was placed inside you when you were born, then come to terms with the affirmation that you have all you need to achieve greatness inside of you, no man or woman or thing can ever make you feel less of a person because of the class of degree you graduated with. Not your mother, your father, no one. Oh, but they will doubt you, they will shame you, ridicule you and call you a failure, let them. It is your God given right to prove the fools wrong. That is your vengeance, by going to do and achieving more than that which any fool has said you cannot achieve because of a piece of paper. Spend half the time you spend sulking, thinking and scheming how to bring your dreams to reality.

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