Maintaining all-round excellence: An intellectual discussion with Directorate of Studies MSSN-UI

Waleeyah Olalekan and Musbau Sulaimon
Maintaining all-round excellence: An intellectual discussion with Directorate of Studies MSSN-UI
Peculiar to the Muslim Students' Society of Nigeria, the University of Ibadan Chapter is the passion to groom students who would not only excel academically but also individuals who would be proud vanguards of high moral and spiritual conduct. In a bid to ascertain the readiness of the organization during this session, we had an interview with the Directorate of Studies, Abdulsalam Oladapo.  He left no stone unturned while he reassures us that MSSN-UI is forever committed to the improvement of the lives of students on campus through its various programs.
Abdusssalam Oladapo popularly known as Salami. He is the Director of Studies, at MSSN UI, a 500-level student of the Department of  Civil Engineering, the president of the Ecovanguard Club, and the National President of the Association of Muslim Engineers, Technologists, and Technicians Students affiliate. 
What freshers would be facing is a kind of freedom that they have never imagined. The campus is a different ecosystem than our secondary schools. In secondary schools, all you have is a teacher threatening to beat you in case you don't do something, but here you are free to do as you like. Only your grade will later judge you at the end of the day. You have much more distractions, time-space, facilities and quite a lot of things. The heat is coming. Tests and exams are six weeks away, but six weeks is near. It's nearer than you can imagine. So, the heat is coming that's what I will tell the freshers. So, how prepared are you to weather the storm? 
Distractions are coming. You know every organization would want to do freshers' welcome, and everybody wants to do one event or the other. What I will advise is that you have to be much more calculated about how you go to events; about the activities, you partake in and even the time you ascribe to yourself for reading and the time you ascribe to yourself for leis. At this juncture, you have the freedom. But nothing is free even in Freetown. Know how better to prepare for the heat that I said is coming. It's a very big one.
There is no doubt. I remember a friend of mine then I think we were in the 200 level. It was on the day of the exam that he just broke down. The reactions of a lot of people are even different. You will see some people and you will be like is this one just coming from the dumpster? You will see some of them they will be so sad. Some of them will be dishevelled. Some of them will be dragging their feet. It is about the heat and the impact it has left on them. The heat is unavoidable. How do you now manage it such that you become victorious in the end? 
Like I always say; strikes are an avenue for personal development. I have used it for personal development. They are times for self-reflection, you have ample time to reflect on the trajectory your life is taking. But there can be quite a lot of things. But one of the consequences of the strike is that your focus or determination towards academics; your level of commitment towards academics windles. No matter how strong you are. You can't read for eight months straight without having an exam. It's very hard for you to read for something whose date of testing is uncertain. It will be a very hard thing. 
One of the things you can do to revive it is what I have also just imbibed and it's about planning your day. A more structured life is much better than any other thing. You wake up and you know these are my tasks for the day. And as you finish every one of them, you cross them out. 
Another thing I would also say is that you should cut down on movie consumption. We know in the school there is free wi-fi; people want to download the latest movie and films. But please, cut them down because movies stimulate the adrenaline in our bodies. You keep watching more. One of the things that I have been able to do is just watch a documentary. They are shorter. In less than 30 minutes, you are done with it than spending 2hours 30minutes on a movie. You will even get to learn more from documentaries. 
In addition, don't procrastinate. Procrastination is a time-eater. At this juncture, your time is much limited for you to procrastinate. Learn to say no to some tasks. If it's going to eat up your time, just say no to it.  Reward yourself for some milestones you have reached. You know, it's something like getting momentum. And you know when you get a mentum, you tend to realise this is the effort you have put into something in the past and you use it to further in the future.
 If you know you are a night reader, you read very well between ten and two, read very well between ten and two. Stick to that time for twenty-one days. Don't let anything distract you from reading during those times. If you read very well in the morning like five to eight, just be consistent with the time you read and don't let any task take that time from you. That is my advice for returning students. 
One of the programs that we have in mind is a local scholarship master class. Like I always say, you can go to school for free. And you have to ask relevant questions to know how to do it. Scholarships are a means to study for free, especially in faculties like Engineering, Law, Medicine, Pharmacy, Science, and others. We have that plan for the students in general where we lecture and tell them how to write a personal statement for a scholarship. How do you submit your documents?
Number two, we have the annual paper and PowerPoint presentation, that's in the second semester by the way. And we are making it bigger. It used to be among different halls of residence when we will give them some topics, controversial by the way. And then we will put them against each other to discuss the topics. They will first submit a paper presentation and then we have the PowerPoint presentation together. They will be judged and the results will be released. Now we want to take it bigger. Faculties will be included. And one of the things that have been part of us throughout even with this program is that we always want 100-level and 200-level students to participate and not the finalists. That is one of the programs that would stimulate the inquisitiveness in students to research, and also it broadens their memory. How do you even write a research paper? How do you tackle a research topic?
When  I was also at the 100 level, I didn't attend quite a several tutorials. But I made sure I attended CPMSS. CPMSS is for science students. It's about what we are offering that others can not offer. Some of them even ask for money. The standard that we have been able to maintain for more than twenty-one years of existence. If I am not mistaken, it should be up to thirty. We are among the best on campus in terms of the teachers who teach. They are the best Muslim students in any course. It's something that you can learn from the person's experience aside from what he is even teaching you. How did he even tackle the questions compared to how you had it in mind to tackle the question? 
I know some people can do pretty well without a tutorial but a tutorial gives you focus and direction. A textbook can be as large as 5000 pages and the questions that you will be asked maybe twenty. Tutorials will show you the direction of getting those twenty questions instead of wasting your time reading everything. If you are not going to attend tutorials at all, I enjoin you to attend the ones by MSSN; we have CPMSS, CPMARS, CPSMS, MTSG, and MMS. We have a whole package and we are also aiming to extend to other faculties like pharmacy, veterinary medicine, and so on. It is also advisable to attend tutorials to learn from people’s experiences and be exposed to lecturers’ dos and don’ts during tests and exams. 
MSSN-UI as a body is divided into three parts; Spiritual, Academic, and Extracurricular. The office of the Directorate of Studies is in charge of everything that deals with the academic performance of Muslim students on campus. We track them, we advise, we suggest, we recommend and we proffer solutions to anything that has to do with academics on campus for any Muslim students.
I think people should know what matters to them most and go for them. Leave out what won't add to you in this life and the Hereafter. As-Solat, As-Sawm, and a host of others are fundamental to the faith and there is no doubt about that. Why go for an elective that will stress you and add little to nothing to your grade point and consume your time when the compulsory and required courses are there?
Why are you taking the online course that you are doing currently, is it out of passion or because you see your other friend doing it? Does it add to the final image of yourself that you see?
Why are you joining that organisation when you know that it doesn't align with your goals? Is it because you see it will add to the weight of your portfolio or because you want to contribute your quota? We live in a world of information glut. You need not attend every event, you need not perform every task, and you cannot be everywhere. What is worth doing at all is worth doing well. Just pick the little ones that are enough to take you to your cherished place in history and stick to them.
It was an awesome and inspiring time with you and your responses are quite expository. Jazakumullahu khayran.

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