On Repeated Academic Failures

#iRemember | Episode 326
“Disappointed by God” came at the right time for a good number of you. As a result, a number of you sent me personal messages to share about a personal ‘disappointment in God’ scenario that you are going through. Interestingly, a good number of them are academic.
As such I thought to reshare my answer to two of you for the benefit of many more…
Case 1: The sister had just seen virtually all her first semester results for her first year in Uni and the results are really bad. Besides failing one course, she’s got quite a number of ‘let my people go’ grades that would put her GPA at a low 2-2 or even worse. Apparently, a lecturer had mentioned to her class that your GPA at the end of your first semester may end up being your final CGPA at the end of your studies.
Below are my thoughts to her…
Hi Beloved.
Apologies for waiting this long before responding to your message.
I know what it’s like to start off in Uni on the “wrong foot” in terms of grade, but I am persuaded that with a better understanding of what works best for you in terms of study times, study patterns, and a general awareness of your limitations shaping your preparation, you will be alright.
You are still finding your footing. That’s what these scores are about. I also started off in OAU on a 2-2 GPA but I ended with a 2-1 CGPA so don’t believe that this is how it will always be.
However, there might be certain changes you’ll have to make. You may have to do some try-and-error first but at some point you will breakthrough into what works for you. Possible areas to reexamine would include:
1. Reading times.
2. Reading venues.
3. Reading partners.
4. Note taking in lectures.
5. Getting more helpful materials and handouts.
6. Enrolling in tutorials.
7. Shedding off some responsibilities.
To expatiate on the 7th point, I noticed you mentioned holding a position of responsibility in your introduction. Is that a departmental or fellowship role? In any case, I think taking up such extra-academic responsibility in your first year isn’t a wise decision. If it’s something you can shed off (and any other unnecessary commitments, too), please, do. It’s not laziness or irresponsibility; it is wisdom in preparing for a stronger future academically and otherwise.
In summary, the major point to make is that this is just the beginning and you still have over 75% of the time you will spend on campus right ahead of you. The past is past; the future beckons. Accept the invitation and go for it.
I wish you the very best.
And you will be in our prayers.
Case 2: A brother who has been out of Secondary school 6 years ago has attempted UTME countless times without being able to gain admission each of those times. That can be really perplexing and wearying. He wants to know my ‘verdict’ on this and to find out if faith is enough to bring about a miracle (since he’s released his faith again and again believing that the admission will come through but always coming short).
Below are the thoughts I shared with him…
Hi Beloved.
Apologies for just responding to your message.
Who am I to give you a verdict on this? ?
But let’s reason together on a few points:
1. Is Faith enough to bring about a miracle?
I think we both know the answer to that. Jesus did miracles where there was no faith involved (eg the man at the pool of Bethesda who when asked what he wanted kept telling stories), but again, there are miracles that did not become complete until the beneficiary had to do something (like the blind man who Jesus sent to wash his face in the pool of Siloam). So, yeah, miracles happen on either side of faith.
2. What makes you think that it is a miracle that you need for your admission to come through?
I understand how desperately you’ve sought for this and worked for it in previous years without any headway but it still sounds to me like something that will happen when adequate preparation meets God’s favour. This is not to undermine your previous attempts but to charge you to refire harder at your next attempt. Great biographies are shaped in such crucibles as what you are going through.
3. What makes you think that you even need an admission/University education to become all that God intends for you to become?
I am a big proponent for getting educated to whatever level you can afford (or opportuned to). But again, I’m aware that God delights in making different melodies and painting different arts with the stories of our lives. Perhaps, there’s something else God wants to use this repeated rejection to point you to, but you’ll need to explore and process that under God. It’s not for me or anyone to say to you emphatically, but I thought to open up your horizon to that possibility.
In any case, your future is secure in Christ. The good thing is that you know Him already and He’s the one ordering your steps in His Will. Let Him do what He does best.
I understand that waiting can be painful especially when you practically see your colleagues leaving you behind (so to say), but you are not working by their clock.
At the end of the day, our times are in God’s hands and He makes all things beautiful in His own time.
It is well, my brother.
God’s got your back.
I shared these so we could find further convergence points in processing our respective disappointments in God. For example, the brother in Case 2 would do anything to be where the sister in Case 1 is. But they are both where God wants them to be.
Whatever may be your story, just remember that God’s not done with you, and the end of your story is glorious. That’s how He writes His stories. He can’t help it. It will always end in GLORY. Hang on.
I also found an old post which I will post next to further address the issue of repeated academic failures. I hope it helps.
May God revive His work in our lives. Amen.
#iRemember is a daily mentoring retrospective look at Chronicles of our past—my wife and I—drawing life lessons from past experiences. It is exclusive to members of Alive Mentorship Group—an online mentorship platform for young adults across the world that provides an avenue to learn practical life lessons across geographical barriers. If you will like to be a part, just click here and/or get added to the Telegram group here.

When I failed…

#iRemember | Episode 269
In this post, I’ll touch on two things:
1. When you trusted God that you will pass…and still failed.
2. When you seem to keep failing repeatedly.
So one of us sent me a message the other day (barely two weeks ago) after she saw the result of one of her courses in her Masters Programme. In her very own words:
“…the lecturer has been really strict…in all the three sets of [continuous assessments] which amounted to 30%…I tried all I could…and ended up with 14/30. I PRAYED “EARNESTLY” BELIEVING IN GOD FOR A BETTER GRADE IN THE REMAINING 70% [exams]. I studied hard…he repeated past questions; they were easy and God was faithful to bring all I read to my remembrance… I checked my grade today and I “failed the course”. I just can’t believe it… I just can’t fail! I trust God so much—like without doubt…”
Sounds like what a good number of us could have written. Here’s what I had to say to that…
1. That you trust God so much without a doubt doesn’t exclude failing from your possibilities. In fact, it most certainly adds failing to your options.
FAITH is believing that God CAN do something and hoping unwaveringly that He WILL do it. On a higher plane, TRUST is believing that God CAN do it, absolutely hoping He WILL…and understanding that EVEN IF HE DOESN’T, He’s still got everything in His charge!
2. While writing this paper next year can be disheartening (not to mention the N30,000 you’ll have to pay to register the course next year), it’s not as shameful as you think! Failing is part of life. It happens to even the very best of us. I’m also on a Masters’ Programme currently in the UK and I’d failed one of my modules because I had 49% and the pass mark for all my courses was 50%. That was painful and disheartening. But no, it wasn’t shameful as it turned out that more than half of the class were in my shoes. (Even if it was only me, it still wouldn’t have been a thing of shame).
While others were furious with the lecturer, I went to him (because he had given us the liberty to come and see him in the feedback he sent to all of us so that he can advise us on where we need improvement). I went to him and he pointed out my flaws. I learnt and did better in the Reassessment. (Here, you are permitted to retake a coursework you fail almost immediately afterwards). I had 66% in the re-sit but the programme policy is that no matter what you score in a re-sit (even if you score 100%) as long as you pass it, your overall score for that module is capped at 50%.
So in essence, I went through all that re-sit just to earn an extra 1% to add to my former score. But I wasn’t bitter about it.
So if nothing could be done about this score you have, it’s absolutely not shameful to take it again whenever.
Now to those who are failing repeatedly…
Again, here are a few thoughts:
1. I don’t think that’s normal. You need to ask yourself some hard questions and be sincere with yourself in your response. For instance:
a. Do I really have the capacity to pursue this course that I’m studying?
You don’t bite more than you can chew and expect God to force it down your throat. At best, He will pull off the excess from your mouth and leave you with just that which He had gifted you with a capacity to handle.
b. (Or even more fundamentally) Why am I studying this course?
Why? Because you (or worse still, your parents/guardian) think that this is the only/best course that will guarantee you a bright future? Or because you are sincerely passionate about the course? Or because that’s what ‘the school offered you when you couldn’t meet the cut-off mark for the course of your choice? These reasons aren’t bad in themselves but they have the common element of setting you up for a journey you may not have been equipped to pursue.
If only many can be like my best friend—Daniel. We both gained admission into OAU in 2005. We both didn’t get the course we wanted. I found myself studying Microbiology and he, Zoology. While he had the boldness to take another UTME and eventually got admitted to the course of his dreams—and had to start all over—I didn’t have the same courage. (I wasn’t even sure if I had any ‘course of my dreams…lol)
c. You can’t do it the same way you did it before and expect a different result.
That’s simple but profound!
Before, you were always getting late to the class and you hardly had a good note for the course and this time you hardly even went to class. Tell me, what miracle were you expecting? Before, you did it in fear. Before the results were out, you were scared it wouldn’t speak good. You were right then. If you maintain the same disposition now, chances are high you’ll get the same response.
d. Have I learnt from the previous failure?
If you don’t learn the lesson your failure seeks to teach you, you will make the same mistake again and again!
e. Finally, who is Your King and what is He saying to you about your failures?
The book of Judges in the Bible is a book of an unpleasant cycle that the Israelites kept going through, viz:
They will desert God. God will send an enemy to terrorize them. God will raise a Judge to deliver them from that enemy. They will serve God for a while. Then they will return to deserting God… and the cycle continues! But the book gave us a clue at the beginning and the end of the book—the very last verse in fact. It says ”In those days, THERE WAS NO KING IN ISRAEL AND EVERYONE DID WHAT WAS RIGHT IN THEIR OWN EYES.”
When you live life on your own terms and by your own wisdom, that’s what you get! But when you are led by The King, He surely must have something to say to you for every failure you encounter—IF YOU ASK HIM.
Maybe tomorrow, I will share with you the testimony of a course I took in my second year where I had the highest score throughout my 4 years at OAU and how that came about.
I speak into your life as one that is privileged to have a voice in your destiny that if there be any yoke of failure that has held any of you bound, such yoke is broken permanently by the anointing today.
Here’s a question to #askJesus2day:
“Jesus, can we dance a victory dance together this morning as I celebrate the end of my cycles of failure” [I can hear His yes already—what are you waiting for?]
Lord, thank You for opening a new page of victory for me IJN.
#iRemember is a daily mentoring retrospective look at Chronicles of our past—my wife and I—drawing life lessons from past experiences. It is exclusive to members of Alive Mentorship Group—an online mentorship platform for young adults across the world that provides an avenue to learn practical life lessons across geographical barriers. If you will like to be a part, just click here and/or get added to the Telegram group here.