Opinion: Most matriculants are not quite ready for varsity

MARCH 25, 2015

If you are not entering university with at least a 70% average on your matric results then you probably aren’t going to make it through your first semester of studies at University.

This is the hard-hitting view of Peter van Nieuwenhuizen and Jacques De Villiers of The Growth Institute, who believe that many matriculants today are setting themselves up for failure due to a lack of adequate preparation for tertiary education. 

South Africa’s university drop-out rates have been a cause for concern for quite some time now. Despite the country’s critical need for high level skills, it seems the higher education system remains difficult for students to access and complete successfully.

According to the Council of Higher Education (CHE) and Department of Higher Education and Training, university dropout rates have hovered around the 50% mark since the 1990’s, a level which is high by international standards.

However, even a comparison with other African nations indicates problems for South Africa. Nigeria and Ethiopia both have a similar-sized higher education system, with estimated dropout rates of just 20% and 35%, respectively.

More than one third of all South African students entering higher education system will drop-out before the end of their first semester.

Some of the reasons for this include financial constraints and a lack of support. For some, it’s the shock of moving away from home and the reality of a step up in educational standards that students are not quite prepared for.

Another reason is that students, who were not adequately informed at school about the wide range of different career opportunities available, may choose the wrong type of university courses and struggle with learning areas they’re not suited or adequately skilled for.

For a lucky few, there is the option of the gap year, a year that may be spent travelling or working overseas while deciding what career path to follow.

However, unfortunately many South African students cannot afford this luxury or are under pressure from family to start studying immediately. These students will more than likely abandon their studies at some point, seek employment to support their lifestyles, and are unlikely to ever return to their studies.

Their lack of tertiary education will haunt them for the rest of their lives as they are repeatedly overlooked for promotion, and have to contend with lower pay than their colleagues with tertiary qualifications.

What if there was an alternative option for students leaving school that could better prepare them for the emotional, mental and financial demands of a tertiary education? The Growth Institute believes that students who enter the workplace immediately after school, while continuing with education and learnerships have a far better chance of eventually completing their tertiary studies. This bridging period gives the learners a chance to mature and become familiar with the practical demands of the workplace, while earning an income.

These programs also allow students to build on their qualifications before they enter university courses, equipping them with valuable practical skills and significantly improving their chances of successfully completing tertiary studies. The more emotionally and mentally mature a student is when entering university; the more likely they will be able to handle the stress and demands of a full-time university degree.

A student will have a better chance of completing his or her tertiary education with the help of an adequate bridging course that educates school leavers while providing much-needed support.

 

IMAGE sourced from destinyconnect.com