Is Postgraduate Education of Benefit in Nigeria?

“Why would you offer me, a Banking Officer, the same grade that I was before I went to school, despite my Masters from the University of Liverpool?”

I looked at the dude like he just fell out of the sky and gate-crashed into a nudist camp. I swore under my breath; what the heck?

“Dude, that’s the best we can do for this role. Based on policy and work load, this function can only be for, at the highest, a Banking Officer”.

That exchange happened some years ago with some younger colleague who wanted to get back on my team. That same scene has played over a zillion times across a billion hiring offices nationwide.

He grudgingly took the job but he hated me (he was always giving me side eye) for it.

Before you label me the evil boss, probably jealous of the guy’s achievements, hear me out.

The quest for higher education is an insatiable itch for a lot of Nigerians and when our universities went tits-up, we started hustling for foreign degrees. I reckon it’s as itchy as being broody, if you get what I mean.

After 6 agonizing years studying Electrical Engineering, at which I thoroughly sucked, I left school and promised never go to back again. University for me was boring, horrible and we lived in terrible conditions. In those days there weren’t private universities so you either went abroad (only few did as the economy was, em, no comments) or go for top notch Federal Universities.

If you are going to eat toads, go for the ones with eggs.

But just after a few months, I started dreaming of Masters and PhD. I tried to do some bits at UNILAG, but they were arrogant and uncoordinated. Considering I like to be the only arrogant person in the room, I couldn’t stick that. In fact to add insult to injury, I was asked to do 1 year of postgraduate diploma before I could enroll for a Masters in Information Technology. Àrífín!

Lumbering along in my career, I saw so many people, with crushed expectations and broken hearts, who had spent many years earning high quality Masters at top notch schools, being asked to take the same levels or sometimes something less than they earned before they went for higher education. I asked myself – is it worth it?

In the defense of the employers, the lack of regards doesn’t come from inferiority complex (as some have been accused) or lack of understanding (that’s also an accusation) but from asking a simple question – how does your Masters/PhD give you an advantage in delivering superior results in the specific roles than the gorímápás that didn’t bother leaving their desks? Employers pay for output not for robes and mortal boards.

This annoyance was most prevalent in banking but also happened in Telecoms, FMCG, general Commerce, etc.

My itch for higher education didn’t disappear but I advised myself with wisdom – go when you are newly promoted and senior enough to manage the slowdown.

I finally summoned courage to do my Masters at a ripe old age (I was the oldest in my class) but foolishly chose a tough brain-cell killing Masters in Engineering. It almost turned to the worst mistake of my life but after boasting to my colleagues that I wasn’t going to come back to Nigeria if I didn’t knock out a distinction, I read so hard my eyes fell out.

But then I still paid dearly for it. I ended up spending almost 5 years on a single grade. Do I have regrets about the Masters? Absolutely NOT! Do I have regrets about hanging around like an aborigine on a single grade? Absolutely YES! Could I have done it a bit better? YES!

By the way, not all schools are born equal. I know alumni of Ivy League Colleges and other expensive schools fare better. But then truth be told, many of them already have the advantage, connections, money, bla bla, to land the good careers in the first place and the schools are just an extension of the exclusive clubs they belong to.

If you like, you can count this as the rant of a sore loser.

After all is said and done, I have come to the following conclusions:

  • There is nothing better than education.
  • Higher education may not do much for your career unless it’s very highly specialized. For example, if you are going to work in fancy UN style organizations, a PhD is a must.
  • MBAs are too generic. If you must get one, go to a top-notch school. Start saving now.
  • Go to school when your career has become stable and you have established credibility.
  • Nobody trusts your MBA when you have never worked before. It’s like calling yourself a military General just after NDA – either you are a joker or a clown.
  • Nothing substitutes for a good school. It’s foolish looking for a cheap school just for the sake of higher education.
  • Long distance learning is WAY HARDER than being in class! If you see anyone go through it, respect them.

I guess my opinions may be wrong or maybe my experiences are different from yours. If you have had similar or diverse experiences on this, kindly share below.

 

Comments 15

  1. Hafiz wrote:

    Thanks for this. Really informative.

    Posted 07 Feb 2016 at 1:53 pm
  2. Infamous Lord Mayor wrote:

    Just like you stated about Ivy league schools, same applies for MBAs, these places are Networking clubs where the occasional business case is tackled. Should I decide to invest the 18 months for an MBA and don’t see one old money surname, aristocracy or mid management folks from a fortune listed company enrolled in same program, I’m out real fast.

    Our importation of offshore postgraduate degrees has created a new class of entitled berks *pardon me* who are under the illusion they should be rewarded for the 12 months in rural Britain with some high paying position.

    Posted 07 Feb 2016 at 3:40 pm
  3. Dam wrote:

    Awesome!!!!

    Go to school when your career has become stable and you have established credibility.
    Nobody trusts your MBA when you have never worked before. It’s like calling yourself a military General just after NDA – either you are a joker or a clown.

    Powerful!!!

    Posted 08 Feb 2016 at 5:54 am
  4. Jaguda wrote:

    Kabiesi Adédèjì Olówè

    i have followed your ranting for a while now; this is the first time i would respond.

    The MBA school time when juxtaposed with your career and doesn’t seem to have slowed you down in any way.

    Most banks have performance management Policies with criteria that some grades should have a minimum number of years which one can spend on before being promoted (excepting circumstances of exceptional performance).

    So theoretically from entry level to manager level is 10 – 12 yrs (if promoted every two years).

    We hear you are less than 40 and already above SNR manager grade.

    Any advice for some of us who want to tread the path to success(especially in banking and Financial Services)?

    Jàgùdà

    Posted 11 Feb 2016 at 10:01 am
  5. Adédèjì Olówè wrote:

    Hi Jaguda,

    Yes banks have these policies but there is something called demand and supply. If you are good enough, all things being equal, you will move way faster than the average Joe. Trust me, people will seek you out and offer you grades and salaries beyond normal. This happened to me and many more others. But hey, to be good, you have to WORK much more than the hardest working person you know. Are you ready?

    Posted 17 Feb 2016 at 2:10 pm
  6. Chichi wrote:

    Spot spot on!

    Posted 11 Feb 2016 at 1:11 pm
  7. Jerry Ihejirika wrote:

    I have shared something relating to your article here on my blog – http://jerryihejirika.com/pm-degree-students-should-plan-their-project-management-career/

    Your postgraduate education is as relevant as you want it to be.

    Posted 29 Feb 2016 at 2:32 pm
  8. Akpo wrote:

    Employers pay for output not for robes and mortal boards.
    This was very insightful
    Thanks
    I am pursuing a Masters but I don’t think its specialized. It was more like get more advantage since I wasn’t getting jobs with my B.Sc

    Posted 29 Feb 2016 at 7:08 pm
  9. Cece wrote:

    Its funny i experienced the same thing. I think its best not to return to your previous employer after your Masters Degree because you are not showing you have other options by going back.

    Posted 29 Feb 2016 at 8:48 pm
  10. Tallstretch wrote:

    Hi Adedeji. I must say that i love your wit. The way you use it along with sarcasm to pass very serious issues across albeit to the understanding of us your readers. I think imma stick around.

    Posted 17 Mar 2016 at 8:57 pm
  11. Adédèjì Olówè wrote:

    Please do!

    Posted 18 Mar 2016 at 6:27 am
  12. Emperor wrote:

    What is your take about online programmes?

    Posted 23 Aug 2016 at 10:20 pm
  13. Adédèjì Olówè wrote:

    Depends on the school. Few are highly rated while most are run of the mill. Look before you leap!

    Posted 31 Aug 2016 at 11:12 pm
  14. ibk wrote:

    Great and insightful article….

    Posted 04 Oct 2016 at 8:20 pm
  15. ibk wrote:

    Great and insightful article

    Posted 04 Oct 2016 at 8:21 pm

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