Marriage on campus fetches degrees of pain. Behind the veil of shining rings and marital bliss displayed outwardly by married students on campus, investigation reveals that several of them bear a crushing yoke silently in their quest for degree certificates.
Take the case of Chisom, a Microbiology student who got married during her first year at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) as a case study. One wonders why female undergraduates accept to get married on campus in the face of academic workload and other challenges?
“It’s a matter of choice. I saw it that every lady has her own time and are like flowers. I got my own blossom when I was in first year.” Chisom told our Correspondent..
Chisom’s desire to settle down came with a prize. She had to bear the challenges of attending lectures during her pregnancy.
She explained that she doesn’t regret her getting married in school since she is getting a degree and child at the same time, unlike most of her mates who are getting degree now and will start waiting for a man to marry them.
“There is this joy that you have your husband, your child and your family. You know most girls will be wondering how they will get married when they graduate but for me I have passed that one.”
Another student, Peace, studying Nutrition and Dietetics, got married as a student in another school and later changed to UNN where her husband works. She chose to get married despite being a student because, in her words, “I think I can cope with it; my husband is into academic field. I knew he could help me.”
When she came up with the idea of getting married, her parents objected but later gave their consent. “They were not happy and wanted to stop it. But they finally allowed me. They are very happy. My parents love my kids and are happy to be grandparents,” she added.
Her academic performance improved after she got married and changed school. “I’m not stressed up; I have someone taking care of my kids. I read my books and I even do better than my mates who are not married,” she said. “My academic life has been very fine because he has been of help; he teaches me.”
In her class, she gets mixed reactions from her coursemates, she remarked. “They pamper me, though some of them grew jealous that this girl is enjoying both sides. Academically, I’m fine and even doing better than some of them; I have my kids and my home. But I can’t do anything about it; they have to take it like that.”
She admitted being considered by her lecturer when she missed class test because she needed to go to hospital, but quickly added, “It’s not like they will load you with good marks because you are married.”
Marrying while schooling has taught her a lesson, as she rightly knows where the shoe pinches. “Don’t just rush into something because you see others doing it. You have to know yourself and what you are capable of doing. Without God in your home, there will be quarrels, fighting… which will definitely affect your academic performance.
Because if you are not happy at home when you come to class, you can’t understand what is being said,” she explained.
Despite enjoying her marriage, she admits taking the rough lane, “It is not very easy; you need to take care of your husband and kids.”
Oma Chizoba, a student of Applied Biology and Biotechnology, Enugu State University of Science and Technology turned down marriage proposals. She told our reporter why she decided that her marriage will be after school. “I don’t need anything that will destroy my academics,” she explained. “One thing is that when some men get married, the next thing they will expect from you is that you bear children and I don’t want to be going to school and at the same time being a nursing mother.”
She said married students in her class often have poor academic performances. According to her, most of them will not read anything during examination, and they often look for somebody to help them during exams.
Gladys, Psychology student who got married in her second year said: “The time I met my husband, I felt that if I leave him, I might not get to meet that kind of person again.” However, she admitted that it was not based on desperation “but meeting the right person you have already wanted to meet.”
Does her marriage not affect her academics negatively? She cuts in, “It’s already happening because I didn’t write my first semester exams in third year. I put to bed then,” before adding quickly: “But I don’t really count those things because the gains outweigh the loss.”
She confessed that her academic performance is generally better now that she is married, “Because I concentrate more.” In your curiosity to find out why, she explains: “Now that you are married, you are sure this person is yours. But when you are in a relationship, you are not sure. When he doesn’t call, you feel he’s out there with someone else. But I don’t think about that again.”
Gladys said she drops her child at the pre-nursery school, from where she picks her up after school.
Amaka got admission into Imo State University, Owerri but couldn’t register since she got married at that time. Therefore, her husband requested that she change her school to UNN and she agreed because “it will bring us together.”
But why did she make this choice despite the obvious challenge of combining schooling with marriage? “To be honest with you”, she started, “looking at the financial state of my family, I know that it will be difficult for me to continue in school without getting married. So I decided to get married.”
Despite the fact that many ladies lured into marriage with a promise to train them in school were not given the opportunity to further their education, Amaka has no doubt that her husband will support her education.
“One of the reasons I considered his proposal is that he is in academics; he works here in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. So, he will like his wife to be educated,” she said.
How has been the experience of being a married student for Amaka?
“Stressful!” she exclaimed. “You will be thinking about a lot of things unlike the single students, who after class, goes home and rest. But someone like me has to go through a lot of things, like taking care of my kids and cooking,” she admitted.
However, she revealed that her mother has been helpful. “She stayed with me for nine months. At the 10th month, the child started daycare.”
Talking about her performance, she spoke calmly, “To be honest, considering my performance, I will be much better if I were not married.”
Another student, Chizoba, said she accepted marriage proposal the same year she got admission because time was racing against her. “I suppose I was ripe for marriage before my admission,” she confessed.
But she admits that it has some disadvantages attached to it. “It pulls you down that you won’t be able to attend classes. I skipped my classes just because the baby is sick. There are certain things you want to do but your husband won’t let you. You have to share yourself to be enough for your husband, children and school,” she noted.
Concerning her academic performance, she had this to say: “Yes in my first year; because that was when I had a child, coping with having a baby and being a fresher was difficult. I couldn’t run around with my classmates. Sometimes there is a lecture and I will be called. I had to run back home; so I would the lecture.
Sometimes, I will go for exams and scribble something just to go and meet my child who is already crying for food. But with time, I started understanding the school environment and what is demanded of me as a married person.”
She, however, gave aspiring married students survival tips for their marriage: “Manage your time when in school, concentrate when at home, do house chores, making sure the family gets enough of you. I ensure that I prepare everything the family needs before going to school so that I won’t be called when I’m in school. I always pray to God to guide me in my academics and family life. I’m not finding it easy but God is there for me.”
She told our reporter that marriage in school is not a total loss, as there are some advantages she gets that her unmarried colleague don’t. Hear her: “I have full financial support, unlike being with my parents. Also, I have dignity which my undergraduate mates don’t enjoy. My husband ensures that I don’t miss classes; even if it means him not going to work. Even tutorial classes at night, he makes sure I am there. He comes to pick me up after our night tutorials.”
Jane, a Biochemistry student of UNN, said she got married in her third year because, “I wouldn’t want to lose him nor keep him waiting for longer time because he has been waiting since my first year.”
She admitted that it has not been easy handling baby, family and lectures and described it as hectic. She relates a pathetic experience: “There was this day we wrote BCH 381 but my baby was very sick that I couldn’t leave him. So I had to forgo the exams.”
Her husband did not leave her to go through the pain of missing her exam alone. “He was feeling for me and pitying me and he gave me all the support and love I needed.”
She however added, “When you check the advantages and disadvantages you find that the advantages are more. When I look at my son, he is just a bundle of joy for me. And I don’t regret getting married in school. It’s just the coolest thing anybody can do.”
Ese Umukoro got married before going for higher education. Her husband was not in support of her leaving trading to go to school but she insisted and went to school without his knowledge.
She reveals her tactics: “In my NCE days, I disguised myself as a normal market woman from my house but when I get to the shop, I will dress up and go for my lectures. When I have an assignment, I make sure I come back to my shop on time and get my assignment ready for tomorrow morning since it will be suspicious for him to see me reading my book at home. That would make him think that I have something doing apart from my market. Even if I have to write test, I also read in the store. Whatever, I read in the store is what I would carry with me to do the test.”
Even though she started school and have continued without her husband finding out, this left ugly marks in her academic performance. She recollects, “There was a time I use to have 7.00am class and I couldn’t meet up and the lecturer will ask me to stay outside and take attendance of those in the class which has marks allocated to it. That way, I get D or E in the course I should get A or B.”
She continued going to school secretly as an NCE student until her husband discovered and her schooling was interrupted and she was forced to put off her programme. She could not go to school again until 2009 when she went back to school to finish her NCE programme. In 2012, she became a Biology graduate of Delta State University, Abraka.
Prof. Emmanuel Ibezim, a lecturer in Faculty of Pharmaceutical sciences, UNN and an author of several youth-based books, has encountered many married students and noted, “I have seen some of them come under pressure in a bid to meet their husband’s expectation. Some of them would say, ‘If I don’t pass my course, my husband will divorce me.’ So, apart from children and pregnancy, there are expectations from their husbands and relatives and these put them under unnecessary pressure that affects their performances.”
For students who want to get married and go to school, Prof Ibezim advised, “Before you start thinking of coming in as married person, especially a child-bearing married person, you should really think of your standing academically.”
For those that will want to seize the opportunity of getting educated to marry, with the excuse that good husbands are generally scarce, Prof Ibezim warned: “You can’t eat your cake and have it!”
In his characteristic calm style of speaking, he advised the married students: “If you must meet the demand of a married life and still do well in your academics, you will have to put in extra efforts than ordinary students who don’t have such distractions.”
For Dr Nnenna Ola Onuoha, a senior lecturer and relationship experts, “Marriage on campus is possible but not always expedient. One needs to consider a lot of things like your GPA, financial and social status status.”
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