A BA Graduate in the 21st century
By Amanda Ntibane
The crushed dream
Being a matriculant is very exciting and overwhelming at the same time. It’s the period you realize how close you are to achieving your goals. I remember when I was in matric, my friends and I used to talk about going to the same university, being roommates and studying the same courses, We were going to buy matching bedding and matching outfits. Our life was going to be exactly what we saw on TV, specifically the High School Musical 3 movie.
I was going to study accounting because I was in a class that specialized in commercials. My second choice was a BCom in Marketing and my last choice was a BCom general. By the way, most of us in class had applied for those 3. In our heads we thought we were going to have a high school reunion where most of the people in our “varsity “ class were going to be from the previous high school. I know some matriculants are also planning that and am sure their choices lie either in the Commerce/Science and the chatter boxes are routing for law , and those who are perceived as slow learners have already been placed in the humanities box while those who love drawing are considering graphic designing or architecture .
Am saying this because I went through that as well. It was never part of the plan to attend any lectures conducted by a lecturer from the faculty of humanities but then when my matric results came out I was happy and sad, had mixed emotions because at that very moment, my life had to change, my plans had to change, my future was going to change. Basically my childhood plan was crushed. I had failed Maths, and I got back to back regret letters from the “best “ universities.
Being a BA student
With plan A, B and C not working, I had to come up with a solution. I started from scratch applying. Luckily getting a place wasn’t so hard, and I was going to study a BA marketing and corporate communications .Often people think that pursuing your studies with the faculty of humanities means you are not so intelligent. Hence, in my first years in Uni I told people that I was studying marketing and I was never specific in terms of it being a BA or BCom. Also the challenges I faced were that my achievements were not celebrated as I was said to be studying something that is considered to be very easy. To challenge myself I chose an elective module that included finance and accounting and I never enjoyed that module though I passed it with an A.
Besides the fact that I excelled from day one, I was not just doing this to just have a qualification, I was actually enjoying what I was studying. I understood it , I could relate , I was in love with what I was studying. Now that I have analysed the whole situation I noticed that I never really wanted to study accounting cause I was going to enjoy it ,or because it was something I liked. I was just doing it because the richest man in the neighborhood was either a lawyer, accountant, doctor or engineer therefore I also wanted financial stability.
Perceptions about Humanities qualifications
I know a certain matriculant somewhere is busy applying because of such reasons. Last year I engaged with a few matriculants who were attending open day at UJ and I asked them what they wanted to study. I wasn’t surprised because none of them was considering to study with the faculty of humanities. One thing that I picked up from most male students was that they said humanities are considered feminine and are associated with low salaries and they were not interested.
Most of the students spoke about how they were first generation students and they had to set a high standards with regards to the qualification that they were going to choose. On that point I think parents must give their children a chance to choose something that they are passionate about, because I can tell you now, students who are forced to choose “better” qualifications end up failing and changing programs, spend more years in University, and lose their bursaries. However others do well. I think what matriculants should understand is that you can have a qualification in medicine and still be unemployed; it’s about what you do with whatever qualification you have.
Also I think Universities (faculty of humanities) do not even go all out attracting the best quality of students. They are okay with being second choice or rather last choice. They are okay with being termed the “convenience choice”. If only they would have a specific Faculty of Humanities Day where they have successful people who studied within the faculty.
Some of the trends that we picked up are that students want to be employed as soon as they are done with studying; hence they shy away from humanities. Little do they know that there are opportunities. For example, I studied a BA Marketing and Corporate Communication and in my honors year I specialized in strategic communication but am in the Public Relations industry. I had a choice of being in strategy, internal communications, marketing, client services, events, sponsorship, social media, journalism or radio. The list goes on. If enough research is done one will know that we are one of the fast growing industries as we call ourselves creative. My point is if you are really passionate and want to pursue your studies with the faculty of humanities, do not shy away. Just do it. Protect your dream
I think the Universities’ marketing teams should sit down and see what they can do to attract more students. It’s high time we got recognition, because we also have people who studied in our faculty who are earning as much as doctors are, but like I said it’s not about what qualification you have, it’s about what you do with that qualification.
Life with a BA Honours Degree
After going through this in the past 4 years, I was obviously expected not to get a job easily because mind you I had studied something that was very easy. Surprisingly, just after my last exam I went for an interview and got the job. Nothing beats spending the festive season knowing that you have a job for the following year. I literally had an answer for everyone who asked me questions like “So what now”? And I didn’t get this job because I was better or anything?” I was actually an average student in my honours year. I used to apply almost every day in my final year, which summarizes the point where I said it’s not about the qualification but what you do with it. For those who are still job hunting and are in the humanities field, use bizcommunity. They post new jobs everyday. I am in the best industry, am enjoying every day of my life and I look forward to spending the rest of my life where I am. The question I still have is who said humanities are associated with low salaries?
Advice for a confused matriculant.
Follow your heart. If you are a creative go with it, if you love sciences “hello doctor”’, if you are a radio person, “Hi, Ask a man”. Study what you want not what your parents want, because at the end it’s about you. We are the no collar generation; let’s embrace it through the choice of our careers.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his/her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Kaya FM.