Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Admission to tertiary: increase your chances

For most learners, and especially their parents, to further your education beyond high school is crucial. Not only does it increase your knowledge in the field you aspire to have a career in, but it also increases your chances to be employed by companies who seek for individuals with the specific qualification.

The first thing learners concern themselves about, in order to guarantee acceptance at tertiary school, is their academic results. If not them, then it’s their parents who pressure them into excelling in their tests and exams, to render an exceptional academic report throughout high school, or at least from grade 10 to grade 12. I recall when I was still in high school that I had to submit my grade 11 academic report with my application – that was when I was applying at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

I’m sure you can understand the pressure to excel as early as grade 8, because one would think you need to build yourself up to a certain level of academic achievement and at least remain constant with it right through to matric.

Many learners think like that and work at that. Unfortunately, that means everybody is competing for a place at tertiary with academic results. Wouldn’t you need something else to give you a competitive advantage then, to stand out from the crowd? The good news is that there is. In fact, there are many things you can use.

You can stand out from the majority through your personality, contribution to/ involvement in the community (and what you can bring in the community you’re applying in), involvement in non-academic activities at school, aspirations/goals/dreams, employment history/experience. The question now is: where do you incorporate all that and in a reader-friendly manner? Remember, just like any job application, tertiary school admissions are a huge pile. Therefore, you ought to be careful how many pages of documents you submit to avoid being rejected at first glance. Too many papers would discourage any recruiter.

An exceptional academic report, or even one that meets the admission requirements, may attract the recruiter to consider you. But what may make them call you in or accept your application is the additional documents that make you stand out. What documents?

Here are a few to consider:

Personal statement
This is a document in which you share who you are, what you’re about and what value you’d be adding to the institution you’re applying at. Depending on which institution, or even department, you want to enroll into, you can get assistance to brainstorm and produce a well-written personal statement. This is package at EssayEdge, the world’s premier editing service, which has editors with vast years of experience, having graduated from various institutions and departments: Law school, MBA, Medical school, Yale university, Harvard, Stanford, to name a few. Having been in operation since 1997, and having had 90% of their customers enter the top 10 universities in the United States, you’re guaranteed an opportunity for your application being successful.

Statement of purpose
This document aims to express your ultimate goal should you be accepted at the department/institution. What is the purpose behind enrolling into the particular course/department/institution? That’s the question this document will answer. EssayEdge can assist you with that as well.

Admission essay
This document may not necessarily be compulsory, but if you want to give the institution the impression that they’d be making a huge mistake by not accepting your application, or that they’d be missing out on the value you’d be adding; if there is any additional information you have not included in the other documents, then this is your best bet.

Résumé/ CV
We usually consider Curriculum Vitae when applying for jobs, but it can be just as suitable for tertiary application. Besides personal information and educational history - especially if you had attended well-respected schools, your experience related to the course you apply to may give you an advantage.

Letter of recommendation
Whether it’s a professional or academic letter of recommendation, when there are respected persons who can attest to you being a good candidate to be considered for tertiary admission, it’s a bonus! If you know of people that can support you in this, and need assistance in finding out which letters of motivation are best for your application, EssayEdge can assist.

Cover letter
These are also usually submitted for job applications. Here, you are selling yourself. Give it your best shot! All the most important values, virtues, experiences, ambitions directly related to the course/ department/ institution you’re applying into – include it all. Be careful to not make it too extensive – you can easily refer to your CV without adding too much information that is already on your CV. But here to assist you at a greater extent and detail is EssayEdge and their expertise.

Make the most of your opportunity to steer your life towards the direction of your future. As cliché as it may sound, your future is truly in your hands. Rather try it and fail knowing that at least you made the effort, than not trying at all and wonder what if  it could have been a step closer to your goal had you done it.

Let’s chat more on this topic on the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Student-talk-blog-For-learners-and-students-496094020519505

Have you ever considered admission documents before? Have you tried applying to tertiary with admission documents before? If failed, do you perhaps feel you should have worked more on them, because you know you deserved for your application to be successful? Let’s talk! 😀

Monday, 30 March 2020

34. Exploitation at work

When entering into the working world, especially as a student or learner who neither had been exposed to the work environment nor has a mentor to guide them, exploitation may be an inevitable thing to happen: you might accept it before you even recognise it.

It’s your first time working. You have this notion that you must impress your boss, to not be problematic, because it’s your first job and you also need a positive reference for future jobs, right?

But what happens in an event that you find yourself doing jobs that are not in line with your job-description or what you expected to do? What do you do?

Let me give you an example:

You are employed to work as a trainee accountant at a small accounting firm to become a Professional Accountant (SA). The training is for 3 years. During your first year, you’re tasked with the following, along with very few accounting jobs:

  • Making filter coffee for the boss
  • Answering the phone when the secretary is not around (twice a week)
  • Preparing re-usable paper for printing: that means taking out the paper that was printed on one side from a pile of papers, and from old files.
  • Making Board and Board Committee job applications for the boss

This continues to your second year and expands to include the following:

  • Being in charge of the boss’ diary (like a personal assistant)
  • Following up on the boss’ completion of income from companies in which he is in committees and boards
  • Buying consumables, like coffee, tea, sugar, printing paper, etc., for the office during lunch time. If that meant being left with 10 minutes of lunch hour by the time you are back because of queues or having to walk to the shop and back, then so be it
  • Booking flights and accommodation for the boss, for board meetings outside the province (and the admin that comes with it)
  • Preparing claim sheets for all expenses spent that need to be reimbursed by the companies in which the boss is a Board or Committee member, incurred because of meetings attended (again, with all the admin that comes with that)

And please note: there are no automated processes. Everything is manual. It’s a small business.

Now, there may be 2 arguments/ a debate here:

1. Be grateful that you have a job. Do what you are told irrespective of the additional work that is irrelevant to what you applied for.

[Question: For how long? The training is supposed to be for 3 years. That’s what the contract says. It’s been 2 years, and you haven’t completed ¾ of the competencies you need to have satisfied by the end of the training. There isn’t even anyone monitoring your progress and work uploaded on your logbook as expected.

2. Address it with the employer; and if that doesn’t work, apply at another company.

[Now, it may sound like a good idea to address it, but when you know your boss and where this will end up, you have to think and do what will bring the best result. As for applying at another firm: you first have to secure employment at that other firm, and that other firm should be looking for candidates like you at the time you need to change firms. Another concern is to think whether they would consider you looking at your reason for changing firms, even the fact that you’re changing firms.]

The above is actually not a made-up scenario. It’s a true story – my story. I had endured the exploitation for 2 years. I got to know the boss well enough to know that addressing my issues will not help me at all.  It would either get me fired or end up still doing some non-accountant jobs as there was still no one else who would be doing them.  I was told, “There is the door” once, since I had told the boss I’d be in his office at 8:00, which was at the time I was supposed to start at work, even though I had arrived much earlier.

Now, do you see where I’m coming from?

I did address some concerns. When I realized that the finger was pointed at me and that the boss is not admitting to the exploitation (not surprising, really), I figured I had no chance here.

The thing is - I felt that I was dragging myself to work. Every day felt like a mission. Is that life? Is it worth it to drag yourself for the sake of income, while at the same time being in a work environment where you feel drained?

I had enough, and when I was provoked one instance by the supervisor, I got angry and decided to quit with a resignation letter, because I knew that my anger would cost me if I stayed there any longer. I did not want to say anything I’d regret, because by then I had tolerated enough exploitation. I did report to the Institute of Professional Accountants, and still awaiting their response. I shall see on which side they are on.

In the real world, this is one side of how it actually is out there in the working world. Perhaps I failed from the beginning for being so desperate for a job that I did not concern myself to research about the company, and trust me online research is not enough. You need an objective opinion from inside. That may not be an immediate and feasible solution. Perhaps standing firm by your rights as an employee pertaining your job description from day 1 would do the trick?

As a student or learner who is about to enter or has just entered the working world, be alert of such things.

It’s either you make a good and informed decision from the very beginning, or endure to the point of delaying your own progress.

Please do share your comments, even experiences and / or advise. You can engage on a discussion on the Facebook page:

Until next time.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

33. STICKING to the budget - it's possible!

The "Can I really stick to the budget?" face 😆 

For some, budgeting seems useless, because already the money is not enough. That's exactly why we should budget: to make sure that we take care of our needs and priorities first before using the money in luxury or wherever we want to use it.

Of course, one the solution is to have more than one source of income. That does not necessarily mean 2 jobs, unless you have the grace for that I suppose. But for now, let's look into the benefits and ability of being able to stick to the budget with your current income.

Benefits of budgeting

Benefit 1: Budgeting helps to know exactly how much you can spend - what your limit is, so that you avoid spending to the extent of being left with almost nothing before your next income. I mentioned on the earlier blogpost on this topic, blogpost 18: Financial education: budgeting , that it helps to budget a little more than the exact amount of the expense. We all know more or less how much our expenses are, as we spend on them every month. So we can over-budget a little bit, just to be on the safe side.

I recently went to Clicks for toiletries, and to my surprise, I spent over R100 less than what I budgeted! Do you know how much of a relief that is - to know that there is extra money you can use elsewhere?!

Benefit 2: The other benefit of budgeting is making sure that all your needs are met first. There's nothing as devastating as spending your money only to find that there are monthly needs that need to be taken care of. Such needs like transport to work and church, food, toiletries, electricity, etc. - all the things you need throughout the whole month, can't be compromised. They are necessities that cannot be compromised. Think about how it is to live without such things. I've been there - not pleasant at all!

Ability to stick to the budget

We can do this thing man! Look up, like a boss! 😎 

It's one thing to budget, it's another to actually stick to it. My oh my! For the past months, I'll honestly say I did not even try to stick to my budget. Here's why: I did not allocate a specific amount of money to my expenses, so I couldn't even consciously stick to a certain amount of money as I spent on my needs. As a result, I ended up spending more than I was supposed to, which meant that the money finished quickly before month end. Not good. But we learn, right?

So, this month I was off to a great start! I'll share some ways to help you to actually stick to your budget:

Ability 1: Once you have estimated and  over-bugeted a little for all your needs, keep in mind the exact amount budgeted for each expense. That way when you go to the shops, you will know how much you can spend and limit yourself. Watch out for those "buy 2 and get 1 free" promotions. If it will take you off your budget, DON'T go for it. If it's within your budget, it's a bonus! The item will last you longer, meaning you have more money next month to spend on other needs/to save for something/ to keep for any emergencies. That's what happened to me when I bought at Clicks! Yeayh me! Lol!

Ability 2: If you shop at shops like Pick 'n Pay and Clicks, make sure you get the Smartshopper card, Clicks clubcard - all these cards that earn you shopping points. Besides the fact that they keep track of what is bought the most so that the items are always on stock, they actually help us financially, too. Those earn you points that turn into money. Every time you buy from there, swipe those cards and accumulate points. They help to reduce the money you spend when you decide to use the points. It's a great way to help to spend less than budgeted.

Ability 3: Make sure you scratch out what you actually buy from your list, so that when you did not find what you budgeted for at one shop, you still keep the money budgeted for it, to avoid spending that money. To leave it in the list will keep you alert of the fact that you still need to keep money for some needs.

Ability 4: This is something I mentioned on the previous post on this topic: do not rush to finish all the money you saved from the budget. There are unexpected expenses that you may come across during the month.

Ability 5: Do not buy what you did not budget for, unless you're buying from the money left if you didn't reach the amount budgeted for. This one requires discipline! In fact, it should be easy, because you know how much you will struggle if you spend more than budgeted. I learnt it the hard way myself! Don't do it! And it's normal to actually borrow money, but the concern about that is you are already not earning enough. Now, you will need to pay back, after which you'll end up with less than what you usually have, which is already not enough. Let that be your motivation to stick to the budget.

Well, I certainly hope that helps. Remember, this is not motivation to live within your means forever - as I mentioned, one solution is to have more than one source of income. This is simply advice and motivation on how you can work with what you have.

Do share your thoughts, experiences and advice on this topic. You can follow and share on the blog's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Student-talk-blog-For-learners-and-students-496094020519505/.

Until the next post 😊.