Doing a Short Course – A Good Alternative?

Short course

We give you some of the information that you need to know when considering taking a short course – along with all of its benefits. There are more pros than you think!

Sometimes it’s confusing to know if you should go for a full degree/diploma or just take a short course to get your foot in the door to further your dreams. Have you found yourself wondering if you should go the long haul or just take that short course to get started?

It’s easy, and sometimes disheartening, to think that if you want to pick up a skill you have to get a whole 3 – 4 year degree or diploma just to get started. Luckily, this is not always true. Short courses, which are often provided by universities and colleges, can help you upgrade your skills and knowledge to ensure success in your chosen field of learning.

What is a Short Course?

A short course is a learning programme that gives you combined content or specific skills training in a short period of time.

Short courses often lean towards the more practical side of things and have less theory than a university course – this gives you a more hands-on experience within your field of interest. While different institutions can differ in how and what they provide in their short courses, they usually take 1 to 12 months to complete.

There are a wide variety of ways in which to complete a short course: university short courses, residential college courses, as well as online and distance learning short courses.

Who are Short Courses Most Ideal For?

One tertiary institution which provides a variety of short courses is City Varsity. City Varsity is a school of media and creative arts which has a specific focus on film and television. They have a branch in both Cape Town and Johannesburg.

The Johannesburg branch offers a wide range of opportunities in the creative industries and the campus has been strategically placed in the heart of Braamfontein in assisting students have greater access to entertainment, business and education.

At the same time the flagship Cape Town campus boasts state of the art sound, film, acting and photography studios. Along with fully equipped labs for animation, multimedia and journalism.

Short course administrator at City Varsity, Marius van Vuren, says short courses are particularly good for those just stepping out of matric as well as full-time students without any formal qualifications. Short courses can help in the decision making process of a particular career or field of study.

Van Vuren says short courses are mainly a great way to upgrade your current skills and knowledge.

What Short Courses are Available?

Short Courses

The short courses that you can choose from are many, including:

  • Beauty courses
  • Bookkeeping
  • Business Studies
  • Child Day Care courses
  • Computer courses
  • Creative Studies
  • Event Management
  • Hospitality and Tourism courses
  • Interior Décor
  • Investigation Studies
  • Photography
  • Secretarial courses
  • Sports Skills courses
  • Supply Chain and Logistics Management

Skills Courses

City Varsity, who is a go-to media and creative arts school in South Africa, particularly offers short courses which can help you acquire skills in:

  • Acting for camera
  • Basic scriptwriting
  • Camera work and lighting
  • Digital video editing
  • Directing
  • Fundamentals of web design
  • Graphic design for digital media
  • Music production
  • Presenting for television
  • Short video production
  • Sound engineering
  • Vocal training for radio

Short Courses vs. Longer Qualifications?

While degrees and diplomas take a lengthier period of time to complete, City Varsity aims to upgrade skills to ensure success in a chosen field of learning.

It’s important to note the short courses at City Varsity are not credit bearing and are not registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).

The South African Qualifications Authority whose main aim is to advance the objectives of the NQF says a provider or any institution doesn’t have to be registered or accredited to offer short courses.

SAQA adds that many short courses are useful within the appropriate career field and can add value to an individual already in any career.

The main difference between shorter and longer qualifications? Short courses are not generally recognised by NQF, while longer qualifications are.

How Do Short Courses Make You More Valuable?

Although shorter courses aren’t recognised by the NQF, they do show your employer or prospective employer that you are proactive and that you value continual learning and you don’t allow yourself to become stagnant.

Courses that focus on self-development, leadership, workplace communication and conflict resolution could show your potential employers that you are in fact ready for a more important role in the workplace.

Short courses play a pivotal role in developing South African job seekers and those already in the work space. They are generally affordable, easy to take, and provide a way people can become skilled, upgrade their current skills if they need to, or acquire multiple skills.

Short courses allow you to continue your current lifestyle while improving your skills and your CV.

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Short courses are for everyone; whether you’re already in the working world trying to improve on your skills or you’re fresh from high school.

For individuals coming from Grade 12, taking short courses might be a great option in determining what you eventually want to study. Instead of not doing anything at all during a ‘gap year’, a short course might be the best vehicle in helping you drive your interests without ‘losing’ momentum.

For instance, during a gap year it’s easy to forget how to study, write exams and do assignments – short courses keep your mind working.

Short courses also assist you if you’re having financial challenges in paying for longer courses, or if you didn’t pass or meet university entrance requirements – they give you the space to be productive while you deal with other challenges. Not too bad!

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