Four years to graduate? That’s just a myth for us

Read hard. Pass exams. Graduate. Right? Wrong, as these four students found out

Photo credit: File | Fotosearch

What you need to know:

  • Some are yet to graduate. We find out why their courses have taken longer to complete and what this means to them and their families.

This week, we have conversations with four young people who took longer to graduate than they thought. Some are yet to graduate. We find out why their courses have taken longer to complete and what this means to them and their families

Richard Sarati, 35
Media and Communications Consultant
I joined University in August 2006 with great hopes that I would graduate after four years. I was admitted to pursue a Bachelor of Education (Science) with Chemistry and Biology as teaching subjects. But, I later changed to study Bachelor of Science in Media Science. I thought I would establish myself in the teaching profession and probably be a principal of a secondary school within 10-15 years into the profession.
At first, I lost interest in units which were too abstract. I got supplementary for over 25per cent of them. This led to a refer in my second year of college. I repeated the year and marginally passed to proceed to third year. In third year the grades dropped in the units I considered too abstract and by fourth year, after teaching practice, I called it quits. I deferred on basis of poor academic performance to go rest then come back later.
As I deferred, I also applied for inter-course transfer to Media Science offered at the same university. The transfer went through and I began as a first year student in Media Science the following year. I studied for the first semester but deferred just before exams as I had not paid school fees. I packed and went back home and got a teaching job at a nearby school. I saved some cash which my brother topped up and went back to begin again first year first semester. Thanks to the double intake of 2011/2012, I was back to university after only three months of deferring.
Ideally, I was supposed to graduate in 2010. As it happened, things changed and I graduated in 2016.
In between deferring my studies, I got a teaching job. I was in for the cash and to avoid boredom. I frequently experienced burnouts and the feeling of being out of place while teaching when my mind and soul were yearning to be in the world of media.
But even after graduating with a degree in Media Science, the sustainable employment and source of income is a challenge. 
My taking too long to graduate obviously invited questions. I heard a story that I had been expelled due to discipline issues while others said I started hawking and forgot my studies. Someone eve claimed that I was pursuing a seven-year course. On the positive side, many back at home concluded I was studying for my master’s degree.
It was difficult for my parents to really grasp what I was up to especially with the refer and the subsequent deferments. They expected me to have graduated by end of 2010.
I did not reapply for the HELB loan to fund my media studies degree. That required that I find cash to pay for my upkeep while my brother paid for my fees.
I am very passionate about media as it is the profession where one gets the platform and skills to interact with other professions and people from all walks of life.

Barry Lukote, 21
I joined university back in 2017, I was only eighteen years at the time. I was admitted to study Economics and Sociology. Joining university was a bright dream that many of us had long awaited for. For a moment, I could comfortably envision having a well-paying job and being productive in the society five years later. I had an academic plan of four years to get my bachelor’s degree.
My studies have been interrupted for a number of reasons, mostly due to the many repetitive lecturers’ strikes, students’ strike and sadly, the Covid-19 pandemic. While the lecturers’ strikes were mainly due to disagreements with the government, the students’ strike was due to poor communication and relations between the university management and the students. All of which could have easily been handled better if only we had better management in our education system.
A year is a long time to wait for a failing system to keep failing so I secured some jobs here and there, and even tried my hand in farming.
Financially, it has it has been challenging as I have had to pay rent for a room I barely live in and being charged a large penalty fee for the strike.
I am still passionate about my course and I hope to complete it someday. However, my faith in the education system is rapidly waning.

Rita Mercy, 28

I joined university in 2011 for a Bsc Biochemistry. My plans were to finish school by 2015, get a job by 2016 in the same line, by either working with the investigation department or a production company or a hospital, then get my masters and PhD within a few years.
However, almost ten years down the line, I am yet to graduate. Initially, my graduation was delayed by missing marks. After what seemed like an endless search for the missing marks, I opted to redo the courses. But then now finances became a problem and the units were scattered across different classes. As a parallel student, the fee was too much and I decided to put a hold on my education for two years because I felt devastated. My class graduated in 2015.
In the meantime, I’m running a snacks business. This is still a challenge because I don’t have a steady market and even though I’m trying to expand my market, I do not have finances to run the business.
At home, no one understood why I did not graduate on time. Everyone was on my case, saying I joked with education, and wasted my four years. Thankfully, my mom eventually understood and she now supports me and encourages me and that’s all I need.
To be honest, I wish I should have taken a different course. I’m no longer as passionate as I was before. Things haven’t been easy, and the job offers are not enticing, but I still appreciate having done the course but for my further studies I plan to change it.

Sam Soy, 31
Gospel Minister
I joined university in 2011 for my undergraduate degree program. I wanted to nurture my career as a news anchor after my graduation and grow to greater heights to make a difference in the industry, to create a name and identity for myself and be the best version of it that I could ever be. But after I completed my class work, I took on a new path which was and is God’s calling upon my life. I accepted the call of God and chose to be a fulltime Gospel minister. I was supposed to graduate in 2015.
I  serve as a worship leader in my home church, where I also fellowship. I also do small scale Agri-business and wallpaper application for house interior design as my side hustles to cater for my needs. 
 The challenges I face in the gospel ministry work is that the support and sponsorships are hard to come by especially in its early stages when it’s still growing.
The delay to graduate frustrated my family so much at first but they’re learning to accept and live with it because the choice is mine to make. However, until now I don’t think they’ve understood why I haven’t graduated. But in the fullness of time, they will.
The financial implications are that I can only cater for my basic needs this far but it’s been tough for my family to cater for my emergencies when they occur and I’m unable to cover them. But funding my music production has been a challenge and I need so much support with that.
I am no longer passionate about media as I was at the beginning. I’m hoping to venture into gospel shows in the future after my gospel music career takes off. And that’s why I intend to complete my undergraduate course and graduate eventually for I was already done with the class work – that is as soon as I undertake my internship.


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