CAPE TOWN- The Matric class of 2020 have had a vastly different experience in comparison to the years before them, however the one aspect that has not changed will be the need for them to decide if and what they will study and where they decide to start their higher education next year.
Head of faculty for Information and Communications Technology at the Independent Institute of Education, Nola Payne explains that the considerations involved in making higher education decisions have changed and that there are three factors that prospective students will now need to bear in mind.
“Your journey might seem tough right now, and the future uncertain. But although things are different, you must continue to work towards realising your dreams, and this includes weighing your options carefully before deciding on the best course of action for you, for continuing your education in 2021,” says Payne,
The process and considerations involved in making higher education decisions have changed as a result of the way the world has been affected by Covid-19 and lockdown situations, said Payne.
“For example, in previous years, we would advise students to attend Open Days at various institutions, visit campuses to speak to student advisors and faculty staff, and connect with current and former students. It goes without saying that this physical legwork is no longer an option in the form that it used to be in the past,” she said.
Many institutions will now be hosting Virtual Open Days, which will allow prospective students to virtually visit more campuses. Additionally, some institutions will allow on-campus visits, by appointment.
Here are 3 factors prospective student will need to consider for their higher education options:
1) The ability of an institution to provide a superior online offering
As many students realised during lockdown learning, a good contact education does not necessarily translate to a good online education, says Payne.
“You have to ensure that any institution for which you opt will be able to offer a superior education regardless of delivery method.”
Payne suggests students or parents ask the below questions to determine an institution’s competence in terms or their online offering:
- Whether the institution has an online learning platform
- How the institution uses the platform for teaching and learning
- How lecturers teach using the online platform
- What students are expected to do on the online platform
- What resources students need for online learning; and
- What statistics show in relation to attendance, submission of assignments, and student progress during lockdown.
2) An institution’s focus on work-integrated learning
A focus on work-integrated learning and industry alignment is now it is more important than ever, says Payne.
“Given the massive loss of jobs in the wake of Covid-19 and global lockdowns, opportunities are going to be limited in coming years. When hiring picks up again, employers will want to be very clear that they are appointing graduates who are able to do the job and not just have paper credentials to show for their time at university.
Payne suggests that students ask their prospective institutions how their curriculum is connected to the real world of work
The additional benefit of work-integrated learning, is that it also provides students with a portfolio of evidence upon graduation, which gives them additional collateral during the job hunt.
3) The registration and accreditation status of an institution and qualification
When considering a higher education institution, one needs to ensure that it is properly registered and accredited, Payne says.
“Bogus colleges and qualifications have been a challenge in South Africa in the past. This is why you need to start considering your options now, and not leave your decisions about your future too late, when you might be desperate to further your studies but find yourself with fewer options,” she says.
Payne advises Matrics must start investigating their options without delay, and to spend a little time every week working on their higher education checklist.
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