Interested in educating yourself further in a Financial Sciences degree? Luvuyo Hlatshaneni shares her experience on what you need to understand when it comes to choosing a Financial Sciences degree.
Where to start?
I have always known that I wanted to be in the commercial field but never really knew what exactly I would land up doing. I felt the most pressure from myself and my fellow peers. Everyone who shared similar dreams to mine of going into the corporate field seemed to want follow the BCom Accounting stream. Initially, I wasn’t completely convinced that BCom Accounting was what I truly wanted to do. I ended up trying to convince myself that one day it will be worthwhile, because I’d be a Charted Accountant and have a well-paid job.
I attended school at Victoria Girls High in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape. My favourite subjects were Life Sciences as well as all the languages (IsiXhosa and English). Where I come from there wasn’t really a lot of awareness about the commercial fields that one could potentially branch into. So, that played a huge role in my confusion because I didn’t know much about any other options, other than BCom Accounting. Once I made the decision to study at the University of Pretoria my perspective was enhanced and I was able to explore, learn and understand what I enjoyed most – Internal Auditing. My degree allowed me to experience each of the core specialities and in turn gave me the opportunity to choose my specialisation in third year.
There was a lot of support from the Auditing department during my studies. What was especially helpful were the Internal Auditing specialists who came in to share their industry experience with us. Furthermore, Honours students also came to us in second year, to share their Honours experience, tell us about opportunities and answer our questions.
How does it work?
Undergraduate and Postgraduate degrees are both within the same Auditing department at the University of Pretoria.
Most of the BCom degrees do similar prerequisite subjects in first year. Some of the subjects include: Statistics, Economics, Computer Literacy, Business Management, Informatics and Accounting.
The work load can get very overwhelming especially because of the transition from high school to University. I could say the work itself is not difficult to do and to understand but the major challenge is in delegating enough time to do everything in time especially if you procrastinate a lot.
All of the four core modules are covered in second year, which are Accounting, Internal Auditing, Financial Management and Taxation.
You have the opportunity to specialise in three of the four core modules. In my case when I got to third year I dropped taxation because I didn’t need it to qualify for Honours in Internal Auditing. However, it is not compulsory to drop a module, but instead you can still pursue all four modules. In turn, this means that upon completing your degree you could do honours in any one of the three majors, namely Internal Auditing, Financial Management or Taxation, should you qualify. In second year I had already decided that I wanted to pursue a career in Internal Auditing, so this didn’t apply to me.
To qualify for honours it depends on how many people the specific programme (Financial Management, Taxation or Internal Auditing) is willing to take. Percentage requirements vary from 55%-65% average. This average mark is based on the core subjects that you do in your third year. So the aim is to get an average of more than what is required to have a better chance. But again, they are quite lenient in some cases, because if you have 58% when the requirement is 60% they can consider your application and accept you into the programme.
What do you need to know?
- Core Mathematics in high school is a compulsory requirement to apply for a BCom Financial Sciences degree. Although it is not required to have completed other subjects such as Accounting, Economics or Business.
- During your studies it is possible to do a part time job. You just need to plan ahead and manage your time properly.
- There are various honours programmes you can pursue with a BCom Financial Sciences degree such as a Bcom Honours in Financial Management, Taxation or Internal Auditing depending on your preference.
- There seems to be a high demand for Auditors in the market, Accounting firms as well as other established organisations are constantly recruiting graduates. Essentially there is a place in the market for auditors.
Advice and suggestions
Try and establish what it is that you would like to do, then pursue that. Do not choose a course purely because someone else told you to. You might end up hating that degree and therefore change between courses multiple times. University is an environment that is filled with pressure. It is crucial to have the motivation to learn and improve yourself in a field you are passionate about.
Research the various options that are available to you for the specific field that interests you. Don’t decide upon something purely because it’ll end up providing you with a high-paid job.
Always be open to grow and learn more about yourself and don’t put limitations on yourself. Find yourself a mentor for guidance, if possible. Don’t be afraid to ask others who have travelled the same path to gather some insight on what to expect and gain wisdom from their experiences
Also, remember that not everyone’s journey turns out the same. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. During University it is important to understand yourself and your abilities. Grab the opportunities that come your way for personal growth and remember to believe in yourself no matter what because that will definitely take you a long way.
Having to choose what you want to do for the rest of your life as a teenager is a very scary part of life. It’s hard enough with the indecision and conflict going on inside your brain, but with the added pressure of family and peers, the decision seems so much harder. In the end, you’re the one that needs to be happy. You need to feel fulfilled and never feel regret about this decision. So choose what you feel is best for YOU, not anyone else. That way you’ll do extremely well and succeed and make everyone proud anyway.