How to set the scene for university success after matric


Matriculants heading for their first year at university in 2022 are now in the golden period ahead of the first semester at university.

Here are some things to consider to ensure your first year of varsity is a success and an experience that will allow you to lay the groundwork for a productive and fulfilling college life.

Entering tertiary education is a major culture shock for fresh-off-the-boat high schoolers.

Culture shock and freedom of campus life

College Party: Culture shock and freedom of campus life. PHOTO: iStock

The biggest shock to the system can be the freedom.

“First-year dropout rates have historically been – and remain – a problem in South Africa,” says the Independent Institute of Education‘s senior head of programme Natasha Madhav.

Madhav says one of the main reasons why students with seemingly good prospects struggle during their first year is the relative loss of adult supervision.

College education demands responsibility and learning to work more autonomously.

“Students can be overwhelmed by the increased academic demands, the culture shock of campus life, social scene temptations, personal circumstances and a lack of support,” says Madhav.

Realising your chose the wrong career path

Realising you chose the wrong career path. PHOTO: iStock.

Many students don’t thoroughly research their choices before settling on a qualification and institution.

It’s not too long into the degree that they realise they are probably on the wrong academic path.

Madhav emphasises the importance of getting your head in a good space before even setting foot on campus.

She says prospective students and first years who are already enrolled at a university can take the following steps to firm up their study foundations.

“Probably one of the most important steps to take is to ensure you are confident that you have enrolled for the right qualification (for you) at the right institution,” says Madhav.

How to make sure you are on the right career path

How to make sure you are on the right career path, choosing the right job. PHOTO: iStock.

“Unfortunately, matrics often scramble to apply for studies without having a clear idea of what they want to do, or what they are going to do once they have completed a qualification.”

When considering whether you have made a good decision about your studies, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Have I chosen a qualification that matches my interests and my vision for my future?
  2. Has my institution been clear about the curriculum and its relevance to what is required in the industry in real life?
  3. Am I clear about how my qualification will help me enter a specific field or career, or am I still vague about my prospects post-graduation?
  4. Does my institution have a demonstrable track record in helping graduates bridge the gap between the world of study and the world of work?

“Getting a satisfying answer to the above questions will set your mind at ease that you are on the right track, and remove doubts about the massive investment of time and money you will make in the coming years,” says Madhav.

If, however, uncertainty remains, it is not too late to take action.

“Making the change now, while there is still time and your potential losses are limited, is crucial,” she adds.

“Don’t think what’s done is done and there is no changing direction if you have doubts about your prior decisions. If you already have doubts, or can’t answer the above questions satisfactorily, it is unlikely that things will sort themselves out while you are thrown in the deep end next year.”

The Citizen/Narissa Subramoney