By: Moboluwarin Ogunleye
Imagine asking Priscilla, a second-year Physiotherapy student, to choose her preferred lecture hall between the CBN lecture theatre and the newly erected Umar Ganduje hall. Without a moment’s hesitation, she would select the Umar Ganduje Hall. Her choice isn’t driven by the superiority of Ganduje Hall over CBN (which, incidentally, it is). Instead, it’s because she has never set foot in the CBN or even knows its location. In her own words, “What’s my business with CBN? I have never been there. And I have no reason to go there.”
You might find yourself puzzled, thinking, “Isn’t she a Physiotherapy student? How has she never been to CBN?” While this reaction is understandable, a simple conversation reveals that she is a direct-entry student and, consequently, she hasn’t had the ‘experience’ of the CBN lecture theatre. Direct-entry students are a group that skips the regular process and dives directly into their second year in university life.
This feature story tries to shed light on their unique path, examining triumphs and struggles, camaraderie and challenges, and, most importantly, the transforming influence of education at such a distinguished school.
What is direct entry?
Direct Entry is a type of university admission that permits students to begin at a higher level, often the 200 or 300 level, skipping the first year of study—this way of entrance is meant for people with a degree, diploma, or A-level certificate.
For example, if you have a polytechnic national diploma (ND), a university diploma, or a university degree, you are eligible for direct entry admission. This gives a chance to students who have graduated from a polytechnic but wish to continue their education at a university. Direct Entry provides an expedited pathway for students with specific criteria to get admission to a university program.
The reasons people choose to go through the direct-entry pathway differ per person. For example, Precious, a 200l student in education, decided to write Cambridge a level because of her age. “I couldn’t have gotten into some universities if I had signed up immediately after secondary school; I wrote it to while away time and not particularly waste time. Getting into 200l was like not notably missing out much,” she explained.
For others like Stacy, a 300l mechanical engineering student, Faruk, a 400l student in animal science, or Ngozi from communication and language arts, CLA(200l), who already got a national diploma (ND). Entering through direct entry seemed the only logical path, as they had already spent considerable time studying for their diploma. Stacy commented, “Writing jamb for the second time was never a consideration. It was always D.E”. When this correspondent asked Stacy if she would have considered writing Jamb if D.E did not work out, she said, “ I had a very good result, it was going to work out. But, if it didn’t, I would have continued with HND instead.”.
Direct-entry registration differs slightly from what you would face if you wrote Jamb. First, It’s a different process if you’re using A-levels or already have a first degree.
First-degree holders would have to collect their transcript from their former school, apply for direct entry through Jamb, and upload the transcript during the application. And for some, like Faruk, a 400l Animal Science student who claimed, “It was kinda easy.”
But, that was not the experience of everyone; for example, Ngozi complained about the stress and irregularities involved in the process: “Everything DE related is always stressful. We are meant to send our transcript from our former institution, ensuring that the transcript is delivered. Especially if you’re not in Ibadan, you can’t just send it and be relaxed; I’ve seen instances of situations where they didn’t know their transcript wasn’t delivered to the main office,” She lamented.
She also stressed how tenuous it might be running around and trying to make sure that your admission is progressing. She says “that was the challenge I faced- trying to get someone, there was a point I had even to pay them to assist you in checking these things.” Ngozi also pointed out that that particular issue was something most people did not know about; she only knew about it because she was in a WhatsApp group.
On the other side of the coin, for people with A-level certificates, the process could also be strenuous; according to Precious, “The registration was hectic for me, but I’ll say that it was easier than others cause if you ask others that did at the same time I did they would say it is more difficult.”
She spoke about how her particular situation was different because she did not earlier start with a direct entry form and had to do change of course and go through a separate process at the jamb office. But after that, it gets easier.
But then, whether you have an ND result or an A-level certificate, the process becomes the same when you get to UI, but not without its challenges. Debby, a 300l law student, had no nice words in describing the registration process, “We are the new ones trying to figure out this uncharted territory by ourselves; the process was not easy. When we entered, there was no proper way of onboarding us into the system,” She complained. And for others like Precious, Ngozi, Priscilla, or Stacy.
They would have to decide whether to attend classes or go for registrations. And some of them, for example, Ngozi. Do not end up doing things like Jaja registration or collecting their library card at the Kenneth Dike Library. “I would say that the 100l students timetable was more suited to the process than us,” said Bukunmi, a 300l medical student. This is a sentiment shared by others, who went as far as to claim that direct-entry students were neglected by the school in this regard.
While the stories and encounters of every student would differ per person across the board, some things would always remain the same. For example, fitting into a new class or being the new guy in your class would always be challenging.
Many people often need time to settle down, which may be the same for freshers entering the University of Ibadan.
It’s a different case when you are the ‘new guy’ entering a class in which everyone else is already friends, most especially if you are a reserved person like Precious, who commented, “ Where I came from, it’s like an advanced secondary school in some sort of way. And I think it affected me settling in because I wouldn’t go out or stay out late; there was a week that I didn’t have anybody to talk to, but then later on, we got along”.
She mentioned that for her first few days, her only friends were her friends from a level who stayed in another hostel, and she would have to go to their hostel to talk to them cause she didn’t have anyone to talk to in hers. Stacy also corroborated her story, saying, “ When I came, it looked like they were already paired, they already had these friend groups, and I’m just there like the third or the 4th wheel, so it was not fun”.
And then, on the issue of being referred to as a fresher. Freshers are supposed to be new students resuming into the school, usually to 100 level.
But what if they continue into a class with staylites? Are they still freshers, or should they be staylites by association? Ngozi certainly thinks the latter as she says, “I’m not a fresher obviously. Apart from the fact I’ve been to school before, even generally I am not a fresher,” and she’s not the only one that thinks so. At the same time, Debby does not regard herself as a fresher; she said she was called that a lot, saying, “ I was called a fresher a lot. And interestingly, my coursemates had some other terms for us, which was unpleasant.
“They were not specifically derogatory but condescending, which was not pleasant. Some comments, we were being called foundational members, which did sting a bit.”
She complained about the stigmatization that fresh students face already with the load and stress of classes. But then, some others just did not care, like Stacy or Bukunmi, who claimed. “those that knew me as a DE student called me a fresher, most likely just to taunt me.”
Another issue that came up with DE students was the issue of scholarships. Scholarships are a very common avenue undertaken by UI students for fund sourcing. Most scholarships have a lengthy list of requirements, some of which include a current transcript, CGPA, and student ID card.
Most of these may not be available to a DE student, as they are just joining the school and currently do not have any of those things. Bukunmi states, “I haven’t gotten any; the fact that I’m a DE student could be why I’m unsure.” When asked why he thinks so, he said, “My year of entry was different from that of other people applying. It could be viewed as me lying about my level to be eligible for the scholarship.” And others like Precious or Stacy, who are new and currently have no CGPA throughout their 200l year, are placed at a disadvantage to their Jamb entry counterparts.”
Does it ever change?
When asked what they would advise future UI prospects to do, Direct-Entry or UTME, the answers could have been more precise, with some opting for the DE path, like Bukunmi and Precious. “If the individual is determined and dedicated enough to do A-levels, I would advise them to go through direct entry. It changed how I approached reading and answering exam questions.” Bukunmi commented. But everyone does not share that sentiment, “I would say jamb oh, cause for direct-entry the stress is too much,” Ngozi said. When asked about the stress, she replied, “Registrations” and those 100-level courses. You have to start trying to meet up with them. Sometimes, their GES timetable might not align with yours because the 100-level guys are the majority, so the tutors would go with the majority. I think that’s the challenge: that extra GES workload.” I should note that the sentiments shared about the workload are also familiar to the others.
When asked to pick between direct entry and UTME, Faruk chose UTME, but not for the same reasons as Ngozi. “UTME is still the best, but it depends on the course you want to study. But if you want to study Technology or agriculture-related courses, I can advise you to go through DE by going to a polytechnic; here, we don’t do much practicals, only theory. The main reason I might pick DE is to gain experience.”
After a while, like is the natural order of things, you would expect things to get better, finding the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, and like everything else. Not everyone’s experience is the same.
Bukunmi, for example, says, “Though very thin now, that direct-entry divide is still present. I do not have a problem with it though,” and this feeling was corroborated by Debby, who said, “There’s still a DE divide, I think it’s something that transcends to final year. Because I have DE friends in the 500 level who still have the whole DE student tag, and even though I am in the 300 level now, I still don’t know up to 20 people in my class.
“So I would say yes; the DE student divide would transcend until the end”. However, Faruq feels very differently: “Everything is normal; I work with everyone freely. We still have a lot to learn from people”.