Study after school if you can

When making subject choices keep in mind where you want to study after school. What type of institution will suit you best — university, university of technology, a further education and training college, private college, distance learning or learnership.

If possible, any young person should study further once they leave school. There are a few reasons for this. The first is that the chances of employment are generally higher for a person who has studied further. The second is that a person does not always get the opportunity to study later in life because of responsibilities that accumulate with age. Having a base of study provides a stepping stone for postgraduate studies down the line. A person may, for instance, do an engineering diploma after school and then, at a later stage, push on to do a management degree or an MBA. Formal learning serves as building blocks for your career path progression later. If possible, study when you are young.

So where is the right place for you to study? The most important rule of thumb when selecting where to study is: what’s convenient and what’s affordable? It does not help to study in another part of the country if you can’t afford the accommodation and transport costs. In difficult economic times parents should look at cost-effective ways to study. Some consider studying by correspondence.

There is a counter argument to studying further after school. Many will say that it is not what you have studied that makes for success, it’s determination and hard work. This is true if you look at some examples: Richard Branson did not have the opportunity to finish the eighth grade let alone study further. If Bill Gates had not dropped out of Harvard, Microsoft might not have been born. Success is a measure of passion and hard work. Further study for the sake of study is not good enough. The more experience you acquire over time, the less important what you studied. The reason for this is that experience is evidence of a persons’ ability to perform the job. This can count a lot more than a piece of paper with a gold stamp on the wall.

Each institution has its own entry requirements based on the new scale of achievement for the national senior certificate (NSC), which learners wrote for the first time last year. What level of study are you aiming for? If it is a degree, you will need to meet the minimum entry requirements for degree studies.

A common mistake in subject choice selection is to choose subjects based on a career. It is not necessary to settle on a final career in grade nine. Rather look at choosing a career field, which includes a range of related linked careers. One of the reasons for this is that a career field is rather similar to a faculty of study at a tertiary institution. If you can choose a career field then it becomes easy to choose a faculty. Faculties include BA — arts, BCom — commerce, BSc — sciences, BEd — education, BEng — engineering, building science (including architecture), agriculture, medicine and others.

Universities of technology or “Technikons”, as they were known, offer a more practical education than a university. The advantage of this is that graduates come out with knowledge that is career-focused and immediately relevant in the workplace. Universities of technology offer degree, diploma and certificate programmes in applied engineering, biological, chemical and physical sciences, applied commercial sciences, humanities, arts and teacher education.

Further education and training colleges (FETs) provide academic and hands-on skills-based programmes designed in cooperation with industry. FETs offer engineering, general services, business studies, visual arts, agricultural studies and practical skills programmes in a variety of fields, including bricklaying, catering, computer studies, business and many others. The minimum entry requirement to a FET college is a grade nine certificate.

Private colleges offer degree, diploma and certificate programmes that vary considerably in credibility and price. This makes it difficult to choose which private college to go to. Ensure that the qualification for which you register is accredited by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) or by the Council on Higher Education (CHE). Phone 012 3929100 or visit

Distance education, or home study as it is sometimes known, provides education using post, fax, telephone and computer. Sometimes course material is offered on various media including video, tape, CD, radio, TV or the internet. In most cases exams are written at exam centres. Because distance study requires a lot of self-motivation there is often a high drop-out rate.

Learners often choose where they are going to study before choosing what to study. It may be a more practical method to do this the other way round. Choose a field of study and then select where to study, based on the reputation of the faculty or programme offered at a specific institution. The reason for this is that an institution becomes known for the quality of education within a specific academic field of study. The credibility of the institution should not be confused with the credibility of the profession.

It is important to apply to more than one institution so that you have a fall back if you are not accepted at the first institution. It is acceptable to apply to two or three institutions at the same time. Apply early.

For more information on your career interests go to
For further information contact Dennis Stead, PACE Career Centre, or on 011 440 8600

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