Despite your level of schooling or job experience, there are ways to still pursue an education at a university or college
Previously, many children with disabilities never considered studying further because of inaccessible campuses, policies that discriminated against them, or because there were no support services available.
Over the years, there have been big drives to include students with disabilities in higher education institutions (HEIs) like universities and colleges. This month, we look at some tips you might want to use if you are considering studying further after school:
Find what interests you
While it is important to work out what subjects you enjoy and are good at, it is also important to find out what you are interested in outside of school.
You might really love working with children, maybe you could consider studying to be a teacher in a school or early childhood development (ECD) centre? When you are selecting your subjects for school, start thinking about which you might need for studying further.
Find out more
Some schools have job-shadowing programmes where learners visit a place of work for a week to really see what employees do on a daily basis. If your school does not have this, you might want to make this happen yourself.
For example, if you love animals, you might want to call, write an e-mail, or visit an animal shelter or dog groomer and ask if you could volunteer during your school holidays.
This will give you a practical experience and you can see if this is really something you want to learn more about.
While there, try to see as many different parts of the job, ask questions and give it your best. Who knows, maybe you will be offered a part-time job that will help you gain experience!
What courses are offered
If you have a Life Orientation teacher who offers support in career guidance, tell her what you are interested in and ask for help.
If not, google search, or ask teachers, friends and family for advice on possible courses that you could take. After that, see which universities, colleges or training providers offer courses.
Find out what subjects your need and what grades you must have in order to meet their entrance requirements. Make sure that the institution and courses are accredited.
There are many people who offer courses, take your money, but do not provide you with qualifications that are accredited, which may prevent you from getting a job.
Recognition of prior learning (RPL)
For some of us, studying after school was never an option because of the level of education or subjects that were offered when we were at school, having healthcare needs, having to get a job to support our families, or having children.
Some HEIs offer people who have never had the opportunity to study a chance to apply.
Some will offer a Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) programme where you can prove that you will be able to take the course because of your workplace experiences, what you have done in your community, or how passionate you are about your area of interest.
In this programme you may be required to create a portfolio of evidence that will help those selecting applicants for the courses see what you have done and may consider overlooking your previous marks for example.
You may need to attend a bridging programme and put in a great deal of work. Have a look at the HEI’s website and search for RPL requirements.
Disability and support
As a prospective student with a disability the choice to disclose your disability is a choice only you can make. Previously, many people were discriminated against because of their disabilities.
The benefit of disclosing your disability is that you will be entitled to receive reasonable accommodations if the HEI has the funds available.
These could be additional time, a note taker, separate venues for writing exams. HEI’s are also needing to meet their equity targets, which includes students with disabilities. Many HEI’s now have disability services or units. Do a google search and see if your one has, and if so, make contact.
If you need financial support, they may be able to guide you on what bursaries are available. They may also be able to assist you with your application forms.
The most important thing is that you need to be proactive and take responsibility for getting the advice and support you may need.
Ask for help, do your research, find out when the deadlines are, what documents your need, ask questions and find out more.