Dr Felicity Coughlan, Director of the Independent Institute of Education has provided some great advice on how to get the process kick-started and running smoothly.
In past years, many prospective students left their registrations and applications until the last minute (or even later). Great distress resulted when masses of applications could not be considered because they were late, a candidate’s chosen course was already fully subscribed, or a school-leaver’s academic record disqualified him or her for a chosen path.
Coughlan says the following tips will empower students to make the best choices for their unique circumstances:
* Broaden your scope and check out campuses for yourself.
“Guidance teachers at school can only offer advice on that with which they are familiar, which often limits their guidance to a small number of public universities. A smart student will explore options in the public and private sector, and will go to the campuses themselves rather than blindly trust advertisements,” says Coughlan.
* Check the facts.
“This is your future so fully explore registration and accreditation, entrance requirements, duration of qualification, price, campus size, equipment, staffing and success rates. Don’t be fooled by hollow promises – check the facts. Read the small print.”
* Keep your options open by having options.
“You must apply to more than one institution and even across institution types (for instance public and private institutions, universities and colleges). It is also better to apply for more than one qualification. Once your results have been released, your foresight will mean that you will be in a position to make the best available choice.”
* Meet the deadlines.
“Several institutions have surprisingly early closing dates and it is important to get your application in on time.”
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* Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
“If degree study is what you want, then familiarise yourself with the different levels of achievement needed for the same degree at different institutions. Understand now what the alternative access routes to degree study are should you not qualify this year.”
* But remember, life is not lived by degrees.
Coughlan points out that it is a myth that all the best opportunities come to those with degrees.
“In fact, there is evidence to suggest that a person with a respected, vocationally focused diploma can be more employable than someone holding a generic undergraduate degree. A degree is no longer the door opener it used to be. Employers are looking for a match between what they need and what you have studied.”
* Local is “lekker”.
It is great if an institution can claim international recognition, says Coughlan. But she warns that there are many scams that could see you pay for a qualification that has no value in SA.
“Look for evidence of a locally registered qualification that has international recognition from a reputable international partner or for relationships that enable you to achieve here and internationally. Just because it is international does not make it good – there are many tragic stories of students being taken in by unscrupulous international institutions.”
* The beauty of accreditation may only be skin deep, so you need to investigate.
“Some institutions advertise accreditation by a range of different organisations. But while the list of acronyms and logos can look impressive, they may have absolutely no value,” warns Coughlan.
If a website does not provide you with detail or is only one or two clicks deep it is important to try to find out more. When you scratch below the appealing surface it may not be such a pretty face you find.”
* Talk to different people.
Coughlan says that the best source of information remains word of mouth.
“What you need to do is talk to students registered at institutions you have heard about but never been to. Ask about that student’s experience of service, class sizes, personal attention, campus safety and success rates.”
“By giving yourself more time and arming yourself with as much information as possible, you will be laying a solid foundation for your studies and your future. The best way to ensure that you have options to choose from when you get your results, is to set up as many for yourself as you can right now,” says Coughlan.
Issued by: LANGE 360 On behalf of: THE INDEPENDENT INSTITUTE OF EDUCATION Image credit: (C) Nagy-Bagoly Arpad