KUCCPS: Does the university you go to matter?

six woman standing and siting inside the room
Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

90,755 students scored a mean grade of C+ and above in the 2018 KCSE examination, hence eligible for placement to universities as Government-sponsored students come September, some as early as May, to pursue various courses after the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) released its report for the 2019/2020 cycle. Most of these students, especially those who were lucky enough to have been placed in universities of their choices to do their dream courses, were exhilarated, which is okay. If you worked that hard to get enough points that would let you pursue your dream course, then it’s only okay to celebrate, though with a little moderation.

But some of these students are disappointed with their choices; the courses they took, as well as the universities they’ve been placed in, even though it’s them themselves — some with the help of their parents and teachers — who made those choices.

During the university application process, one has to take into account their personal weighted cluster points. If you chose, let’s say, University of Nairobi as your first choice, The Technical University of Kenya – my University — as your second choice, and maybe Kisii University as your third choice, and you don’t meet the admission points for the first two universities, then you are most likely to end up in Kisii i.e if you managed the cluster points for Kisii University. It is that simple. So brace yourself for life in Gusiiland.

All these sulking, swearing and cursing everyone and everything; from Prof. Magoha, the Education CS, to your teachers and former classmates, to your family and even the pets in your household isn’t really necessary. In life we all live by the choices we make, and it’s better to start learning this early.

I had the opportunity to be around this beautiful girl who was among thousands others waiting for the KUCCPS to release the the placement report. To be candid, she was worried, like seriously worried, even though she kept denying that fact. And I was there when she was login into the KUCCPS website to meet her fate.

When the page opened up, you wouldn’t believe the university she had been placed in, exactly the same one she had been skeptical to go to even though it was among her choices. We stared at each other and shared a hearty laugh. It was interesting, especially the fact that she had nightmares the night before about that particular choice.

But what’s the problem with TUK? It’s not a bad university, on the contrary, it’s the best place right now for anyone eager to pursue a technical cause like hers (sorry I’m not obliged to reveal her course). The problem is that earlier on I had shared with her my experience at the Technical University of Kenya, and she didn’t like the accomodation part.

The truth is that the university doesn’t have enough accommodations for all its students – it forced some of my friends to find alternative accommodation in bedbug-infested Land Mawe area and other nasty neighborhoods — and the few available ones are in South B, Nairobi, only a stone-throw away from her family home, hence the probability of being asked to commute from home, which is the last thing she wants.

Actually I understand her dilemma. When you’ve lived all the eighteen years of your life under the watchful eyes of your stringent parents, all you want is a little freedom of your own to enjoy campus life. The freedom to eat all the junkies – mutura and smokies and some cheap liquor for supper – and the freedom to wear those skimpy cloths campus girls clad in the name of dressing, or the freedom to go partying with your pals come weekends and at the end of the day answer to no one but yourself.

For her, going to TUK means having none of that freedom, missing that experience, coming back home each day like a high school day-scholar at least for the first two years before her parents eventually decide to let her fly on her own. That’s what was stressing her. That was the fear I saw in her eyes even as she disguised it with her charming smile, still staring at the Congratulation message displayed on the monitor.

But anyway, does it really matter which university you go to in this country? You go to Maseno, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Maasai Mara, or even Strathmore University, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter if you come out a failure. All that matters is what you come out the other end with. Are you coming out of that particular institution with the answers to some of the problems ailing our society today? If not, then you failed.

In Kenya today we have high unemployment rate because, as much as we blame the government for not doing enough on its part to create jobs for millions of youths in the country, most of us who went in college to acquire education so we can come out and get employed are partly to blame. Most students from an earlier age think by going to some well know university enhances their chances of getting a job after graduation. And that’s what the fuss about university placement is all about.

There are people who went to prestigious university around the world and still came back to join the multitudes searching for jobs in the country’s job markets, while there are those who only went to third-class universities with barely enough resources and still made out fine. It doesn’t matter which university you went to, all that matters is the type of person who walks out of that university at the end of their study. If you went there with the right mindset, then you’ll come out a success, someone the society can be proud of. But if you went there for the experience and the papers – to get a job – then you are a failure, doesn’t matter you got a distinction.

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