With the year already past the half-way mark, many matriculants are now at the point in their lives where they need to make a decision about their tertiary studies. Besides ensuring that they complete high school with the best results possible, there are many other factors that Grade 12 learners should consider as they contemplate their tertiary education and ultimately their careers.
This is according to Vuyo Kobokoane, Executive Head of PPS Foundation, who says that the evolution of the workplace and the types of jobs that will be required by employers and the economy at large, complicate this decision-making process even more. “Jobs as we know them today may be redundant in the future as a result of technological innovations. Consider how the role of the traditional travel agent as we knew it has changed over the past few years. This industry has evolved as a result of digital self-service innovations, such as online flight bookings and accommodation platforms.”
She urges school leavers to sufficiently prepare themselves for the economy of the future and provides the below tips for matriculants when they consider their future career paths;
Conduct research about jobs available in the sector
While a learner may show interest in specific career choices, it is important that they also research available jobs or business opportunities in that sector once they have graduated. As a growing economy, some of our scarce and critical skills in the country are in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. As a result, demand for skilled professionals in these areas are very high.
Attend open days
Matriculants should attend as many tertiary institution open days as possible. This will allow them to fully explore the various degrees and graduate opportunities available in the country. By having a full scope of options to choose from, they can empower themselves to make informed decisions about what they want to study and which institution will provide the best academic path to achieve their goals.
Application deadline dates
Start the application process early. Closing dates for applications vary across institutions and it is therefore vital that applicants abide by these dates. Missing the application deadline could adversely affect your chance of securing a place at your preferred learning institution.
Costs and tuition fees
Hand in hand with the application process is the issue of how you will fund your studies. Most matriculants have to take out student loans, apply for scholarships or bursaries or work in part-time jobs to fund their studies. With good matric results and an early start to the application process, you stand a better chance of securing financial assistance for your studies.
For example, the PPS Foundation opens its bursary application process in October and looks for top performers in STEM subjects. Due to the demand being so high, only a small pool of deserving top achievers is supported. With the advent of student movements like #FeesMustFall and the flat increase in fees, universities are also constrained financially, leading to a dwindling pool of their available funds to support deserving students.
Those applying for student loans need to conduct further research to ascertain which credit provider will fit their financial needs and have the funds ready as soon as their first payment is due, she adds.
“It is imperative that these learners gather as much information as possible in order to make an informed decision about their tertiary studies and ultimately their career paths,” concludes Kobokoane.