Think before you leap into tertiary study

Before this point, parents usually make all ‘important’ decisions without much input from their children. So it’s not surprising that most people are not ready to make this decision when the time comes.

The country’s first-year drop-out rate is alarmingly high.

And although there’s a long list of reasons for this, I strongly believe that readiness, or lack thereof, plays a major role.

There is also a large number of people who change degrees or courses after their first year of study.

Between the pressure from our parents and the excitement of going to university, most of the smaller details are overlooked.

I remember being 18 and the excitement of making it to university.

I had a good idea about what degree I wanted, but courses to take, not so much.

When I received my course options at registration I ended up choosing sociology because it sounded ‘fancy’.

I knew very little about my institution of choice, the area I lived in, the funds I needed to complete my studies…

It was just guesswork and thumb-sucking for the first six months.

I was fortunate to have older friends who knew what needed to be done.

In retrospect, I was unprepared.

And the scarier part is that there are so many like me every year who just flock to tertiary without a plan.

I wish I had taken more time to research my options before making the final decision.

It is one thing to know what you want and another to know how to get there.

Methodical planning is a characteristic I found mostly in people who took a ‘gap year’ before pursuing any tertiary qualifications.

Those who spend a year asking the right questions and researching job prospects seem to make better decisions about their qualifications.

I recently met an amazing young lady who got six distinctions in her finals.

When I asked her what she planned to do this year, she said: “Figure out what to do with the rest of my life.”

Despite her excellent results, she was honest about the fact that she will not pursue a degree immediately, but serve on a mentorship programme first.

Not a popular decision, right?

Tertiary education steers your life in a certain direction.

If you make the wrong choice here, you may have to live with it forever.

Most of us can’t afford to change our minds later on.

Moral of the story is, exhaust the resources you have to find out as much as you can about what you think you want to study.

If you are still not sure, maybe you should jump in right now.

Bother some people who are in the line of work you are interested in.

Ask questions.

Xoliswa Kali

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