Tips to make the transition from high school to tertiary education smoother

19 January 2017 Vuyo Kobokoane, PPS
Vuyo Kobokoane, Executive Head of the PPS Foundation and Academy.

Vuyo Kobokoane, Executive Head of the PPS Foundation and Academy.

Now that 2016 matriculants have received their results and know their fate, the planning for tertiary education will take top priority. Vuyo Kobokoane, Executive Head: PPS Foundation and Academy, says whether matriculants choose to further their studies through a university, college or Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) centre, it is vital that they make the necessary preparations for the transition and equip themselves with important life skills.

“There are many components that contribute to the holistic wellbeing of freshmen, and these are factors that will assist in determining the success of their first year at a tertiary institution while setting the bar for the rest of their academic career. Students will need to learn how to cope with the vast academic differences between high school and tertiary education. This includes new teaching styles, demanding academic material, time management skills and developing self-study regimens,” says Kobokoane.

Adjusting to this new way of thinking, as well as classrooms with a high student to teacher ratio, may be overwhelming at first. She states that students who familiarise themselves with this imminent new reality as early as possible will place themselves in good stead.

Kobokoane explains that the best way to prepare for, and manage expectations of tertiary education is to seek advice from older learners or lecturers. “Many institutions offer bridging courses on introductory computer lessons, stress and time management training, note-taking and study methods. Additionally, students can access counselling services which, under the guidance of professionals, are there to help address factors of the student’s personal and educational background that may hinder a positive undergraduate experience. All these offerings are extremely beneficial and students should be encouraged to get as much assistance as possible,” she emphasises.

Kobokoane adds that no-one can deny that the transition to university is an enormous leap across academic, social and economic barriers. “It is important that matriculants, as incoming students, identify all the tools at their disposal. The utilisation of these resources can help deal with various psychosocial issues experienced by many young and new students, because if an individual has access to dependable student support and correct peer mentorship it can create a positive impact on a students’ ultimate success.”

It is also equally important that new students acclimatize to the social and lifestyle changes. “While academics are the primary focus in tertiary, students will quickly learn that campus life is not only about studying but, a healthy social and academic balance is always encouraged. It is advisable for students to join clubs or social groups that are aligned to their personal interests. This is a great way to make new friends and interact with other students in different faculties and years of study, who can also give advice of what to expect in the years to come.”

Kobokoane concludes; “The first year of tertiary education will be a test of character for most of these young individuals as they will go through the maze of having to adjust to a new world of learning. However, if they set personal goals, develop good habits and self-discipline, this will make their formative years in higher education a memorable experience.”

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