Wednesday, 22 August 2012
There are only a few weeks left before the applications for admission to public higher education institutions close, and it is imperative that matriculants use this time to ensure they have good options open to them next year, an education expert warns.
The deadline for application to many public institutions is already two weeks away, at the end of August, while some will accept applications until September.
“In these last weeks before the applications for admission to public institutions close, there is often an increasing feeling of anxiety,” says Dr Felicity Coughlan, Director of the Independent Institute of Education.
“School-leavers are nervous about the decisions they need to make, and naturally question whether they are making the right choices,” she says.
The Department of Higher Education recently launched the “Apply now!”-campaign, which seeks to avoid a repeat of the desperation witnessed at the start of the current academic year when thousands upon thousands of young people had to be turned away from tertiary education institutions, many of them because they failed to apply timeously.
But Coughlan says that in addition to registering before deadline, prospective students also had to ensure that their applications would open up opportunities and a range of choices to them, to ensure that they were not limited next year because their first or only choices did not materialise.
“Remember that in terms of the new higher education qualifications framework, there are multiple routes to most destinations,” she says.
Plan B and why you should have one
“Matriculants are strongly advised to apply to more than one institution and faculty, and to keep their minds wide open to the less conventional options that will give them direct and immediate access to the fast track to fulfilling their dreams.”
Coughlan says while most young people will chase the university bachelor degree pass level as their goal, many will not achieve the required marks to qualify for their first choice of institution.
“It is very important that you not only plan for what you want, but also for the alternative road you might take if you don’t get exactly what you planned for,” says Coughlan. “That way, you won’t be short of choices or even completely out of options come January. And if you do not really know what you want, it is especially important to keep your options wide open,” she says.
Succeeding in the right qualification takes you further than the expected one will
Coughlan advises parents to keep in mind that the life being lived is not theirs: “Just because your son or daughter qualifies for acceptance into, for instance, an engineering or medicine programme, does not mean that this is their chosen path or where they will find happiness and success.
“Your child is more likely to succeed by choosing the right route for him or her, than the one everyone else would choose. Remember too that while degrees do have real value, they are not the only respected course of study and, in some cases, are not the most efficient route to the chosen destination."
Coughlan further says that, if parents, teachers or peers have exercised normative pressure, now would be the time to correct that.
“Encourage your child to apply for the things they want to do at the places where they will find a good match to their temperament and aspirations. This will dramatically increase their chances of success.”
Many, many more quality options available now
“In addition to the 23 public institutions, there is a strong private sector with 116 registered and accredited institutions which offer students meaningful choices in terms of where and what they study, and the environment in which they choose to study,” says Coughlan.
“While degree study makes sense for some, it is important to note that strong, high quality vocationally oriented Diplomas are associated with high levels of post-graduation employment, because they focus on work ready skills and thus produce graduates who can add value to a company soon after employment.”
Keep your options (and your mind) open
“When the doors to public institutions begin to close over the next month, there will still be many other quality options open to students, as most private institutions have later closing dates for applications with many accepting applications in to February,” notes Coughlan.
“Do your homework to understand what your options are and ensure that the institution you are considering meets your requirements in terms of registration, accreditation, campus environment, affordability, student support and quality. Keep your options open but keep your mind open too. The next six months will define what you are able to do next – your actions now will determine whether you have a range of workable options available to you when those results come in in January 2013.”