Nneka just arrived home a bit earlier than the other days. Her result was the major propellant. Taking the 18th position in a class of 30 was enough to make her make up her mind… She decided, unlike before, to be reading for two hours every day owing to her recent poor performance in the just released second term result. If not that she comes from her parents’ house where she takes care of most of the home chores, her mind was to be reading for 4 hours daily. For her, it was the drawing of the battle line and she resolved strongly to take the first position in the next exam.
As she entered her room and undressed that afternoon, the thought of how to start up this arduous resolution kept flying in her mind like a wondering bird. As she tried to calm herself and grab the thought to a stand-still, it flew yet sparsely this time making her heart to beat a bit fast. It was like when a man was going to his in-laws for the first time!
“Come and see what I’m up to”, Egondu mumbled to Osinachi. The two had been very close friends who scarcely stayed apart even after school hours. The two were neighbours living in the rich Ebili estate and were also partners-in-crime. They were attending the same school, were in the same class and wanted to study the same course in the university. Just as Ego finished the statement, Osinachi hurried up from the wooden bench she had been sitting on to get her hungry eyes a soothing sight. Both girls usually stayed in each other’s house after school till it was evening. This happened in turns; and followed that order – Osinachi’s house today and Egondu’s house tomorrow. As she lifted her pale but robost body on her left leg, Egondu quickly hit the other leg without notice, in a swift perpendicular strike and she landed straight on the red, foam-like rug. This had been their usual way of proving one’s superiority and wit, and Egondu seemed to be taking the lead. Both girls laughed heartily and the play continued.
These girls were always on top of their class despite their playful attitude. Their secret was midnight reading; they would play all through the day and sleep early after doing the little work at home. They had younger siblings who made their house work less. In the midnight, they would wake up to read. They had their usual way of helping each other wake up: whoever woke up first would flash a torch light on the other’s window since their houses were close. It had been a consistent practise and so didn’t get them into trouble with their studies.
Nneka managed after a while to control the thought although she didn’t altogether seize the thought. When she had put on her common house clothes, she made out for the kitchen. As she walked through the door from their sitting room that was just adjacent to the kitchen, she was first greeted by the heap of plates she left unwashed in the morning. She hurriedly ate the remaining rice in the pot and started washing the plates, as if, simultaneously. Before too long, the entire dishes were twinkling in radiance again. She swept the kitchen and kept the sitting room in order, positioning the chair clothes in their usual askew posture. The chairs in their sitting room wore a soft, black leather covering; such that caresses the buttocks with a warmth embrace. She did all these in a robotic manner, taking advantage of her light and flexible body. It didn’t take her more than 50 minutes to do all these; she then allowed her nostrils a deep breath to recover some of her energy. It was like when the sea waves returned after the cool breeze of the evening.
As she entered her room again, it was a call of duty! She started with her Mathematics Basic textbook and later read two other subjects. For the next few weeks, she continued studying till she had mastered her Maths and some other subjects.
While all these went, Nneka had a strong dislike for French and Igbo language. She neglected these two subjects without any remorse. In the tremendous vastness of the passage of time, minutes grew into hours and hours grew into days and days grew into weeks. Soon, the next exam came around the corner and two friends were fully prepared. Nneka was also prepared this time save for French and Igbo language. Because she hadn’t been reading them for so long, the topics and lessons had accumulated so much that it needed more than one week of consistent study to get them in. As a result, she only ‘picked’ some topics and read them and left so many others untouched becaused of the shortness of the time. “The teacher normally emphasizes this and that” she said to herself, just to console her unnoticed laziness to the subjects. With this mindset, Nneka prepared and wrote the exams. Of course, while she improved very well in Mathematics and some other subjects, she narrowly passed French and Igbo language because she couldn’t answer most of the questions that were set.
It was very clear that Nneka could have achieved her best if not that she decided to gamble with some subjects. As the results were announced, Nneka was surprised to hear that she took the third position, coming immediately after the two girls. She was so impressed with her performance when she saw her average grade for the examination, totalling almost 80%. While she was getting excited about this, another thought spang up in her mind and she said to herself: I could have taken the first position like I anticipated if I had taken French and English serious. Indeed, she would have realised her dreams if she hadn’t gambled with some of her subjects!
Academic Gambling! How does that sound? Could it be true of you? Have you been gambling with your studies?
Here is it: Academic Gambling is a concept I developed recently to help explain why most students fail. To gamble academically means to ‘pile up’ your books without reading them until it’s exams. When the exams eventually approach, you discover that you have so much to study and cover up in a very short time. Owing to this, you now ‘pick’ few topics and study them since you can’t cover all of them due to the shortness of the time. The implication of this would be that you will be banking on the few topics you just ‘picked’ to guarantee your success in the exam. When you see the questions from the topics you ‘picked’, it works for you and when you don’t see any, that’s good for you, you fail! This is gambling because you could have read and known all the topics like the two other girls in the story normally did, but you choose to ‘gamble’ the topics by being lazy till it all accumulated…
It’s not a crime if you’ve gambled academically, but it could become devastating if you continue! Now is the time to say no to academic gambling and start studying till you know it all! Goodluck…