Funding post-matric studies is never easy, especially when you don’t have the financial support you need. Research has revealed frightening statistics that out of a group of 100 Grade 1 pupils; only 40 will reach Grade 12. Of those, 28 will pass matric and four will enter university. Of the four, only one will graduate. Here, a determined first year student shares her top tips for funding and pursuing her dream career, from one student to another.

Meet Lungi Khumalo, a first year Architectural Draught student. Lungi successfully secured a university bursary and intern employment with a leading corporate interior decorating specialists firm earlier this year. But it was not all smooth sailing for the ambitious scholar, after hundreds of applications and turn-downs from tertiary institutions, Lungi had to put her thinking cap on, apply her skills and is now happily working in the industry she so eagerly wanted to be a part of, here’s how:

“I’m the type of person that always has a plan,” quips Lungi.  The determined student always knew what she wanted to study and where she wanted to focus her career efforts. Lungi’s initial idea was to study straight after high school, but the fees were expensive and she had to resort to finding a job. After applying for anything and everything, from waitressing to retail, it was clear that Lungi needed to set her career objectives back on the straight and narrow. “I took the time to research all the relevant companies and agencies within the architecture and design industry.  Here I came across Giant Leap Interior Specialists based in Sandton. The company provided me with a position as a Design Co-ordinator specifically for the Design Department. My role entails putting together colour boards, sourcing samples and mounting plans and 3D drawings.  I worked extremely hard and applied myself 110 percent. After six months of working for the company I approached them for a bursary to study and apply myself further.  By the end of 2014 it was announced that I received a bursary thanks to the Giant Leap Foundation. As you could imagine, I was over the moon with tears of joy”.

For young budding students who are distressed about their future study plans and want to secure their future career role, Lungi has the following tips she learnt from her challenging journey:

  1. To find the best answer to funding needs, you should plan. By the middle of Grade 12, you should know what field of study you want to enrol for. (Use your end-of-year Grade 11 or your mid-year Grade 12 exam results to apply to a university).
  2. When applying to work in the industry you desire: Your chances of finding a job are amplified if you have a qualification. If finances are an obstacle to studying, find a job and start earning money, while putting something away for your future studies.
  3. Working: Work part-time while you study to help pay for your fees. Believe it or not companies offer flexible working hours to students. If you do well in your courses, you can apply to become a tutor.
  4. A great way to make money is through an internship or part-time work at a company doing work you are studying towards. You can get insights, understanding and experience to your field and you may even be offered a job once you graduate, like I intend to do!
  5. Choose a suitable college or university: Compare the costs of studying and make sure you can afford to complete your studies. Also, make sure that your degree, diploma or certificate has been approved by the South African Qualifications Authority.

Although Lungi has secured her bursary and is employed, both studying and work simultaneously can take its toll. She adds, “It’s not easy but if you apply yourself, plan ahead, create structure for your precious time and focus on the end results, it’s much easier and less daunting”.

Lungi closes with her favourite quote for when times may seem discouraging and for when there’s no light at the end of the educational-career tunnel; “Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focussing on what excites you” – Oprah Winfrey.

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