How to prepare for University and beyond
A lot of students tend to get lost when they finish their A Levels due to lack of guidance and advice concerning matters on Tertiary or University Education. They face a big challenge of making a decision that might affect their whole career or even personal life. Due diligence and proper research needs to be undertaken before one makes this life changing decision. It is recommended that high schools organize tours to local universities for their senior students before they finish their studies so as to expose them to the degree programs that are offered by different institutes within the country. Embassies in the country often host exhibitions where they advertise universities in their home countries, it is also recommended that high schools expose their students to such events. Exposing students to these tertiary program offers might give an insight of what their next stage in life will be but they still have to make a personal decision as to what program they will take and where they will be doing this program. The following points will give the student guidance in choosing a path that will fit them best.
Choose a University program you are interested in and qualified for
When a student goes for their A Level studies they probably know the field they want to follow. While this might be true, it is not the case for many students who were forced by their O Level results to choose a certain combination of subjects at A Level. It is very important to follow a path you are interested in because it is this interest that will keep you from giving up when University education becomes difficult along the way. If your combination of A Level subjects limits you from taking your desired path, research of other ways that will help you pursue your path in the future. This path is normally longer than the normal one but with patience you will finally end up doing what you always wanted.
Find a University that offers the best program for your career path
There are many universities out there but each university is known for their strengths in respective fields of study and these are not always the same for all universities. Before choosing to go and study abroad it is wise to first consider if your program is also available locally. This will help you avoid challenges that foreign trained students face upon their return to Zimbabwe (I will cover this in my next article). Before you choose a university you will spend the next 3 or 4 years of your life with, look for one that best suits your career path. You will thank me later.
Research and find out local problems that can be solved by your desired University program
Gone are the days where students go blindly into universities just for the sake of having a degree certificate. You must identify problems being faced locally within the country and see if your desired program will enable you to address them. There are exceptions for programs like Medicine, pharmacy, Law etc that will always have vacancies for qualified students. The more your degree program addresses local problems, the more likely you will be recruited upon completion of your studies. It is also wiser to do a degree that addresses one or more of the Standard Development Goals (SDGs) to better your chances of pursuing your career abroad.
Get involved in projects during the course of your program
When you begin your education at the university, you will notice that the workload is more than that you had in high school. Not only will you have more courses to do but the time during which you must prepare for exams is reduced and on top of that you will have projects to do. Free time will be a scarce commodity and it is wise to use the little free time you have doing things that edify your skills. Get involved in career aligned projects done both as part of your coursework and also as extra-curricular work to enhance your practical skills on top of your education. Your involvement in these projects will also create a network of professionals who will be helpful later in your career.
Certify with international boards and organizations
Academic certificates prove that a student has fulfilled the requirements needed for one to obtain a degree in a certain program but these certificates do not fully prepare you for real world challenges. Professional certificates like Cisco, Huawei etc. will keep you up to date with trending skill sets required by employers. Research about the certifications that are on demand in your field of work and try to do those you can afford. This will enhance your skills and give you added advantages in getting recruited. If you are planning on continuing your studies abroad, it is wise to get language certificates required in the respective country. This will increase your chances of having your applications accepted.