Students should do their homework

2018-01-17 06:00
Dr Felicity Coughlan

Dr Felicity Coughlan

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As first-year students prepare to head off to higher education institutions for the first time, many are having second thoughts about their chosen course or institution.

While feelings of uncertainty are healthy and normal, education experts warn parents and prospective students to look at all their options and change course right away if necessary, instead of taking a wait-and-see approach.

Dr Felicity Coughlan, direc­tor of The Independent Institute of Education, confirms that South Africa’s first-year dropout rate is significant, but, at an individual level, it is a costly outcome that could be avoided if prospective students took more time to ensure they investigate all offerings in terms of institutions and qualifications.

In a statement released by the institution, she indicates that learners often apply for the same qualifications, or at the same institutions as, their friends, who in turn opted for a standard three-year degree without knowing much about what it entails, or due to pressure and expectations from others.

“There is so much research evidence that success in the first year requires that students are doing something that has meaning to them and not just what they have always been expected to do.

“So if there is any chance that there is a better fit available, even at this late stage, we encourage students and their families to make the move now.”

She states this applies equally to high-performing students who are often those who have the most options and yet still find themselves doing something they do not actually want to do, or being somewhere that does not match their personal needs.

“The pressure – particularly for strong students – to pursue a traditional degree at a traditional institution is very strong. Now that they have their results in their hands, those with an interest in a career-focused professional qualification such as accounting, law or teaching, or whose interests lie in a new and exciting career path such as brand management, digital marketing, network engineering, game design and deve­lopment, or application and cloud development, should take this last opportunity to confirm they are making the right choices. This means looking beyond the public system too.”

She believes that private higher education is increasingly becoming the study route of choice, in line with international trends, for students who want quality workplace-orien­ted and recognised qualifications, niche degrees, smaller class sizes and modern campuses.

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