Career uncertainty woes haunting tertiary youth

Second year Bachelor of Nursing Science student at the North West University (NWU) Mafikeng, Tsholofelo Semaushu relates her tertiary experience. She too is tormented by the many challenges that plaque our South African youth.

The 21 year old Semaushu who considers herself an average student, passed all her modules last year and says first year was not difficult for her. She recalls how she enjoyed orientation time last year January. “It felt like we are back again at crèche. We played, we really had fun. It was really nice”, she said excitedly. In addition to making new friends, Semaushu sadly admits that securing financial assistance for her studies was the most difficult part of being a first year.

After matric she stayed at home for a year because she did not have money, as she was accepted for a psychology course at NWU. She discloses that nursing was never an option for her. Her dream was to study medicine, psychology being her second option. The physically captivating student says she also has aspirations of being a model but does not know where to start.

Since beginning with her nursing practical this month, Semaushu says that she is not sure if she wants to continue with nursing anymore. “I enjoyed working at the clinic but the hospital is very different. I meet people who are very ill”, she said in low spirit. “I feel pain and want to help them but I can`t. It becomes too much for me. I feel like I can`t anymore”, she added.

The future looks uncertain for Semaushu. She is currently trying to get all the help she can get. Being a highly spiritual person, she says she trusts God that everything will work out in the end. “If it gets too hard, I always pray”, she says.

Chilombo Mbenga who is a communications lecturer and also a final year PhD student at the NWU Mafikeng advices the students not to “sweat the small stuff and take it one day at a time”. She points out that in high school teachers give you a one on one whereas in university it is everyone for themselves.

Mbenga also shares a few coping strategies for the first years. “Proper time management is the most effective tool. We all have 24 hours in a day. What you do with those 24 hours determines your tomorrow”, she says. “Picking the right friends will either make you or break you. Get the right friends that will help you to go through your university career until graduation”, she added.

A 2017 guide co-ordinated by Dr Andre van Zyl who is the director of the Academic Development Centre at the University of Johannesburg quotes research done by the Council of Higher Education (CHE) in 2013, that tracked students in South African universities over a period of five years.

The research showed that the transition that students have to make between school and higher education seems to be particularly problematic. When the data were more closely analysed, it became clear that the first year of study is a time of exceptionally high drop-out rates.

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