"...I think that students underestimate the change from final year of high school to university. The level, standard and volume of work is much higher. For the first time, they are independent and need to take personal responsibility-no lecturer is going to monitor their attendance at class. They also need to learn how to manage their time more effectively."- Carin Stern
The challenges of education, student finance and graduate employment
Getting educated is no joke, a desperate global market is struggling to either get accepted into a tertiary institution, access funding for their studies, dealing with dropping out of a study program and trying to obtain employment. These are hard challenges, choices and decisions for a young generation which have their whole lives ahead of them. The solution is for individuals to tackle these challenges head on, one individual at a time! FirstStep.me spoke with Carin Stern from Ernst & Young (South Africa) about how young individuals need to be better prepared before heading into university and the working world.
A big misconception amongst young individuals is that getting funding from an institution whether it’s a scholarship, grant or bursary will actually lead to a qualification and inevitably a job. How can individuals prepare themselves to counter factors like this?
At the end of the day-although the company is providing support and assistance to the student in helping them to achieve their goal-it is totally up to the student to work hard, ensuring that they are able to meet the obligations and requirements of their respective student funding. The risk of a student not completing their studies can result in the funding having to be paid back with interest.
First year dropout rates at university is a big culling phase for tertiary institutions, are students entering into fields that they haven’t researched properly and not actually ready for?
I am not sure if students do their research properly however I think that students underestimate the change from final year of high school to university. The level, standard and volume of work is much higher. For the first time, they are independent and need to take personal responsibility-no lecturer is going to monitor their attendance at class. They also need to learn how to manage their time more effectively.
Financing education is a difficult process, globally students always feel the pinch of paying fees, what are the best ways for individuals to tackle this challenge?
There are a number of options for students available provided that they have worked hard during high school and achieved good results. Ranging from banks offering student loans to government funding programs that offer assistance. There are also companies that are happy to provide funding to a student and they do not always expect a “work back” obligation. Companies offering assistance will look carefully at student’s academic history and interview them to determine how consistent they have been and determine their level of potential. Students should also contact universities, the university itself may be able to assist with funding. The various career offices at a university should have booklets or information on companies that offer bursaries/scholarships/grants.
How should an applicant looking for tertiary education funding equip themselves for selection?
At Ernst & Young we look for "busy" people. We like students that get involved in other activities besides work/studying. Whether it is sport, charity work, other hobbies or interests, it is important that the student can manage their time, communicate well and be an all rounder. It is also important to be able display leadership and teaming ability.
Are the right individuals applying for funding or is there a desperate need to pay for studies and individuals chancing the system?
We receive thousands of applications every year so I feel that everybody applies and takes a chance. It is up to us to screen all the applications and shortlist the best suitable candidates.
What tips can you give to students who are awarded funding for their studies in terms of managing their funds?
Always keep in mind that a firm/company has given you (the student) an opportunity-it is up to the student to fulfil their end of the bargain and be fully committed. The student needs to take responsibility and budget accordingly. Depending on the type of student funding - most payments will be made to the university directly. If money is paid directly to the student – the student should draw up a list of their expenses and budget. If they need to supplement the money, they could consider a weekend or part time job.
Student funding provided to students has led to level of thought that employment is guaranteed, is this true and what options are readily available to students who fail to crack the nod of funding or do not complete their studies?
In terms of the accounting industry, this sector is very structured and employment along side a funding program for students generally leads to full time employment options. In the current economic climate finding employment without levels of qualifications is a challenge. Individuals need to be self motivated to create their own opportunities and be proactive.
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