So you want to Study Further

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If you’re in Matric, the future seems to loom before you and the pressure is on to figure out the next steps.  So, what are you going to do? 

If you’re in your last years of high school, it’s likely that all that everyone has been talking about what they want to study after Matric. You might find yourself unable to contribute to the conversation because you aren’t sure you want to study further. Is there a rule that says you have to study further to make a success of yourself, or that you have to do so right away? Do gap years still count for something? What’s the right or wrong way to do this?

Study Further: to be or not to be

Studying further is often the go-to option for learners; however, studying for the sake of studying is a costly past time, not to mention a waste of it. Don’t allow the pressure to be doing what everyone else is doing cause you to prematurely commit to something you aren’t ready for or aren’t even sure you want to do.

You aren’t on anyone else’s timeline but your own.

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What are the Alternatives?

Some of the pathways that don’t follow the studying further journey include the following:

Getting an entry-level job: this doesn’t require a qualification and you can work your way up.

Traineeships: doing a short course at  a company while gaining work experience. This also qualifies you to do a degree apprenticeship – working for a company that pays for your studies toward a degree. 

Apart from taking a gap year, these options offer great alternatives to diving into a course of study for the sake of stuyding.  In some cases, you could find that the work you do interests you to the point where you’re motivated to study further.

Motivation to Study Further: find it

It’s important to consider the following when it comes to deciding to study further:

  • Passion fuels purpose.
    While it is a given that your choice must also be able to support you financially when you eventually enter the world of work, choosing a field of study that you feel passionate about is the first step in the process.
  • Find Funding.
    Can you afford to study? Would you be willing to take out a student loan? Are you eligible for a bursary or would you like to apply for partial financial aid? Should you first spend a year or two saving up?
  • Job availability.
    It is also important to make sure that your course will enable you to find a suitable job. For example, if you decide to study Psychology, you have to make sure your qualification allows you to register with the HPCSA; and you’re only able to do so once you’ve done an honours degree. You won’t be able to practise with a bachelor degree only, plus becoming a clinical psychologist requires admission into, and passing of, a master’s degree. Research your field and find out how many years of commitment it entails.
  • The reality of the profession.
    Once you have an idea of what you may like to study, it is also a good idea to speak to others already studying or working in your chosen field to gauge their experiences and challenges.
  • Introspection.
    Are you seeking to emulate someone else? It isn’t a bad thing to have a role model but you have to make sure this is the best option for what you want your future to look like. Sometimes you can’t see that at eighteen and need to spend a few years working various jobs and finding what you’re passionate about.  Personality traits and values are further things to consider.

So you want to Study Further: now what?

In the public education space, you can study at a University, a University of Technology, or a Technical and Vocational Education and Training or TVET college. Universities generally focus on academic research, degrees and postgraduate qualifications.  While Universities of Technology focus on higher certificates, diplomas and, to an extent, degrees. TVET colleges mostly offer certificate courses that enable you to work in a technical or vocational field. In order to gain admission to a University or a University of Technology, you have to pass Grade 12 and meet specific admission criteria. TVET colleges generally allow admission with a Grade 9 pass.

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The most important thing to remember is that there is no rush. Despite what others would have you believe, you do have a bit of time to figure yourself out. If you’re uncertain, it is better to wait, build some life experience and allow that to mold your decisions regarding your future. After all, it is your future and no one else’s.

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