Photo Credit: Stock Photo.
As South Africa entered the new year, it quickly became clear that 2021 would not represent a return to the normal we knew before the pandemic, and that the country, like the rest of the world, would continue living with ongoing uncertainties for at least the near future. Following arguably the most tumultuous year a Matric class had to face in recent history, the Matric Class of 2020 now await their results, with many still not having a clear idea about what their future in general, or this year in particular will hold.
"The one thing that these Matrics can do now, is to focus on those things that are within their control, rather than take a wait and see approach," says Peter Kriel, General Manager at The Independent Institute of Education, SA's largest and most accredited private higher education provider.
He says there are still many unknowns about the coming year, and the only constant one can bargain on during these times is change.
"However, waiting things out until normal returns one day is not an option. The world continues despite the challenges we continue to face, and there are things you can do to continue on your personal and professional journey to ensure you are not left behind," he says.
Kriel says one of the most important things 2020's Matrics can do in the coming weeks, until results are released on February 23 (as currently scheduled) is to review their plans for the year and ensure that they will be able to continue on their chosen path regardless of any new and unforeseen circumstances that may arise to throw a spanner in the works.
"So, if you have signed up to study somewhere, you can use these coming weeks to make sure that your institution will be able to continue seamlessly in the event of, for instance, another hard lockdown. The way to determine this is to ask an institution about their readiness and ability to quickly adapt their offering to a hybrid or online model," he says.
"Additionally, you should not just take an institution's word for it, but also speak to students who experienced last year's response. You need to ask questions to determine whether students last year were able to continue their learning journey seamlessly, whether they got the support they needed to do so effectively, and whether the learning was adapted in such a way that they continued to be engaged," says Kriel.
Kriel says that on-campus education is the preferred and most effective way to learn for many young people and it has strong advantages in terms of outcomes. So, if you want the campus experience don't give up on that aim now – look for an in-contact institution that can move between online and face-to-face as circumstances change. For some students, distance education is a great alternative, but it is not right for everyone – it is a mistake to think that in current times it is a direct swop for contact. If contact is what you want, make sure your institution can move between the two so you can have the benefit of contact with lecturers and classmates in person when the pandemic allows.
Kriel adds that those Matrics from the Class of 2020 who have not yet decided on their plans for the year, and are waiting for results before making a move, should seriously consider approaching an institution to talk through their options rather than leaving it too late.
"Our world has changed forever and is becoming more and more competitive all the time, with technology constantly developing and giving rise to new and exciting career paths. Instead of waiting for your results and attempting to get clarity thereafter, use this time to contact respected registered and accredited institutions that have shown themselves to be up to the task during 2020, and speak to a student advisor about your options."
It also makes sense to ensure that your computer skills – including old-fashioned typing skills – are up to the task ahead of you. Anything you can do to make the transition easier will be very worth it in the long run, he says.
"There is much that is outside all of our control right now. But there is still much that is within our control, and by focusing on what they can make happen instead of the many uncertainties that prevail, the Class of 2020 can continue to build on the resilience they displayed last year, and ensure the best possible outcomes for themselves in the face of any new or existing challenges we will face in the future."