It is university time!
There is very little information that is there to guide university students to choose the right degree programme. I am here to try and address that issue. Now it’s time to see what you need to focus on after graduating from high-school.
Before we do that, I have to say congratulations🎉 🥳👯
Passing your 'A' level exams is no easy feat.
Now it's time to move on 😎
A degree is an investment. You invest 4 years expecting that you will get knowledge that will get you a job which will make you marry that girl of your dreams and buy that dream car.
You PAY for the education. It is not free in most cases. The first thing you need to do is to do your research. Which career do you want to get into?
Why do you want to get into it? Do you have some level of interest? Now do the first step.
But Wait! You haven't talked about my passion
The word passion is a very beautiful one. And so is the word employment! My opinion is that you need to try to find a degree that has some things you are highly interested in and good at.
In addition, you need that degree to have potential. If chances of being gainfully employed in your field of study after graduation are next to nil, then choosing another degree program may be the best option for you.
The next step is to download a prospectus. This has the courses on offer. An example is this https://www.hit.ac.zw/downloads/admissions/degree-programmes-offered-and-careers.pdf . This is a list of the degrees offered by a local Zimbabwean university, the Harare Institute of Technology.
- See what is needed for each degree programme.
- See the jobs you can get after studying each degree. That is why I chose this prospectus.
- It looks quite detailed.
The person who made this needs to get promoted!
You need to do a lot of research. You are going to get enrolled into a degree programme that you will spend 4 years doing. You definitely would want to do research.
I find it quite funny that we people spend so much time on nonsense, but are unwilling to spend time on things that are actually important.
It is like spending the whole day looking for an [unnecessary] ingredient for a dish you want to cook in the evening but not remembering to address the 2 critical issues - you've run out of gas and have 1/10th of a unit of electricity left.
You need to know which field you want to go into. And which outcome you expect. And see if that outcome is realistic in the country you currently reside in.
Here are a few quick examples:
Say you want to get into the medical field and want to get into a field that gives you a decent standard of living. That's an outcome that's arguably realistic. You have several options: Radiology, Pharmacy, Nursing, Health Education & Health Promotion, Becoming a Dentist, or Doctor, Becoming an Animal Doctor (a Vet), Biomedical Engineering, Biotechnology, Biochemistry and the list goes on.
If you want to get into engineering, there are several options. Electronic, Electrical, Industrial & Manufacturing, Chemical, Mechanical, Mining, Civil, Mechatronics, and the list goes on.
If you want to get into finance, there are many options. Financial Engineering, Forensic Accounting, Accounts, etc.
If you want to get into IT/Software, here are your options: IT, Computer Science, Software Engineering, Information Security and Assurance, etc.
The onus is on you to have a look at all the options available. Try and look for people who work in these fields. It really isn't hard. And people are incredibly willing to help you out. You can start online - on Twitter, IG, FB, etc.
Note: People usually say what they don't know. That's why it's important to ask someone who actually works in the field.
They will give you insights into how the field is actually like. After asking 3 or so people, you will eventually get to see what they all agree on, and you can make your own deductions from your findings.
Find the opportunities present in the options available. Have a rough idea of how many students get gainfully employed in their field of study after graduation.
Find out options you have if you don't get gainfully employed - can you move into another field? If so, what alternative options do you have?
After that, use the most important resource you have in your family, your Grandma, to get in touch with your cousins or friends who are in the fields that you want to get into. Schedule a quick call or meet up in person.
Here's where you move onto the next big step:
Which Higher Education Institution should I go to?
Here's a quick list of the universities available in Zim. Note - this is NOT an exhaustive list.
- University of Zimbabwe (UZ)
- Harare Institution of Technology (HIT)
- Africa University (AU)
- Bindura University of Science Education (BUSE)
- Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT)
- Midlands State University (MSU)
- National University of Science and Technology (NUST)
- Lupane State University (LSU)
- Gwanda State University (GSU)
- Great Zimbabwe University (GZU)
- Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University (ZEGU)
Choosing the right Higher Education Institution depends on a wide variety of factors. These include: proximity to where you live, the resources present at the academic institution, opportunities present at the academic institution (e.g. fellowships with other International universities, etc), the culture at the university and costs you will incur at your prospective university.
Here are a few questions you need to ask:
- How much is the tuition fees?
- How much do I pay for accommodation?
- Are meals included with the accommodation cost? If not, how much is breakfast, lunch, and supper?
- If I don't get Uni accommodation, what are my options? Is accommodation around the premises of the school readily available?
- How much does a typical room cost? How many of us will be sharing the room?
- Does the rent include water and electricity?
- How reliable is the water and electricity supply?
- How secure is the house? Tip. Always buy and use keyblockers. Always.
- Where is the university located?
- What's the weather like in that town or city?
- How safe is the area where you will be staying?
- How safe is the area where your university is?
- How am I going to commute to school at the end of each semester?
If your parents use a car then this is very unimportant.
If you commute using public transport, then this is super important. You see, universities are notorious for ending their semesters abruptly.
One minute, your calendar says Uni ends after 4 weeks. Then some random event happens. A protest. COVID. Whatever it is.
The dean then writes a letter telling you students that you have 3 days to leave the university's accommodation. This is why you need to know how much you need to have saved up to go home on a moment's notice i.e. - your emergency travel fund.
Not all universities have the same resources. Some have more than others. This could influence your decision when choosing the right degree for you.
There are many more things to consider when choosing the right program and the right university for you, however, this is all I can think of at the moment.
You need to prepare for going to university. For some, this is the first time that they will leave home. It is a very good idea to ensure that you have everything that is needed before you leave home. Have a look at this blogpost to see all you need.
Once you get to university, you are going to be surrounded by very different people from very different backgrounds. Remember that most people do not know what they are doing, and also remember that it is each man for himself, God for us all. You need to create an exit plan as soon as you get settled.
Have a skill that you learn that you can monetize. It may take a bit of time before you find a proper job so you need to find something that pays you before you find a proper job. This is where freelancing comes in. Freelancing is cool because any computer literate person can get to raise money. When you are at university, you have free Wi-Fi. Use that. I wish I did that. Sigh.
These are people you really need to be in good books with. There is a thing called a recommendation letter. You will need them to write a good word for you to get scholarships. Besides, they are the ones who usually assess your performance. I didn’t say become a lecturer’s pet. That doesn’t always pay off in the long run. Just be an average student who respects their lecturer.
Friends either make you or they break you. When you are in university there is a very great opportunity for you to make life changing events that completely ruin you. Stay away from bad people. Have people who fill your life with good ideas. A YouTuber, Amy Landino calls these people your “Personal Board of Advisors.” I would strongly encourage you to keep checking who is on this board quite often (every month or 2 or
Try finding YouTubers or podcasters who fill your mind with wisdom
Ben Wilson (Podcaster - How To Take Over The World) - We are doomed to repeat the mistakes our predecessors made. Ben gives a deep dive into famous people from the past and shares good lessons.
Vusi Thembekwayo (YouTuber – Vusi Thembekwayo & MygrowthfundSA) – Motivation, really good English and a lot of nuggets for entrepreneurs.
Patrice Washington (Podcaster – Redefining Wealth Podcast) – How to chase purpose in a Godly manner.
Amy Landino (YouTuber – AmyTV) – How to keep your life in order and keep yourself productive.
Bonus tip: Also make sure that you get a good roommate. The roommate that you have will greatly affect the quality of your University life.
I loved electronics. As a kid, each time my parents bought me a toy, they would find it broken apart. I wanted to know what exactly was inside it and how it all worked. In addition to this, I loved writing.
I found the arts rather interesting although my academic records say otherwise. Since I naturally excelled in the sciences, I decided to go for an Engineering degree.
This was due to many factors, the main one being that the other options had a rather bleak future in terms of employment.
I did Electronic Engineering and boy was that the best decision I have ever made. The university I went to had an approach that I found to be quite different from all others. You see, they believe in the motto "Success through Innovation," and to be innovative one has to get their hands dirty and actually do the work. As a result, they forced us to have a practical hardware based project each year.
For 4 years, we did 4 different projects. I would learn more during the practical project than I would in the many courses we did.
You learn where to buy components, how to bring them together, how to read data sheets, how to work with lazy group mates who refuse to do any work, and how to deal with a project that is refusing to work (beating it doesn’t work). I also learnt how to ask for help (it is harder than it sounds) and how to come up with clever statements e.g.
“The design will be finalized in the next reporting period.” That is engineering jargon for “I have no idea how this thing is going to look like or work so PLEASE give me more time.”
I then used my two passions, technology and writing. I am writing here on this blog and as for my technology skills, I make mobile apps based on the Flutter and Dart Framework. Have a look at this app I deployed to the app store last week!
The main challenge with university is choosing the right degree programme. Once you choose the right degree programme, all you need to do is use a lot of common sense and exploit any good opportunities that come your way.
Enjoyed the Blogpost? I knew you would! Be a good person and share this blogpost with your friends : ). You can also follow me on twitter @maputiatota
Didn’t enjoy it? Perhaps this wasn’t a good fit. Try going through these and see if there’s any you’ll fancy.
See you next week Wednesday!