Finding out that your child wants to change their degree after only one year of studying could very well send your head into a tailspin, with your most pressing question(s) being ‘How could this be happening?’, ‘Why now?’, ‘How much is this going to cost me?’ or even ‘How will this affect your chances of getting a job after graduation?'
As a parent you would be well within your rights to ask yourself these questions. Before you completely lose it, you must bear in mind that after their first year of study, your child’s perceptions about their career could have changed drastically after being exposed to new information. They could no longer feel connected to their initial career path, because:
• They have become more informed about their career options
• What they had in mind is not what they really want or
• They realise they cannot cope with the demands of their chosen career or
• They could also be dealing with a fear of uncertainty, or failure.
So what should you do?
Remember that your child most likely trusts that you have the strongest interest in their well-being and success. Therefore, as a parent you are their base for stability and emotional back up when they doubt themselves – do not be judgmental. Yes there are cost implications and time that may seem to have been wasted, but it will be much better in the long-term if you deal with the changes now, rather than two years down the line.
Firstly, have a reflection session with your child on:
• Their current circumstance, why they want to change?
• Their future circumstance, what do they want to change to? Do they want to change their major within the same faculty or do they want to move to another faculty (or another University for that matter), that may be best for their career pursuits?
• Do they know what steps to take? Have they investigated their options regarding this change?
• If they are a bursary holder, what does the contract stipulate regarding change of studies and what will be the implications?
Secondly, move into action by considering these options:
• Read the prospectus and get more information on the curriculum for their current studies and look at the different subjects that your child can consider towards their new career pursuit. Consider the curriculum of the new qualification they want to pursue, and see if there is a possibility that they may be granted credits towards the new course.
Note: Institutions have rules and regulations for students applying for credits for studies passed in another faculty or at another higher education institution. In most instances a maximum of 50% of the prescribed NQF credits may be awarded in the form of credits and exemptions. Only in exceptional circumstances may the Executive Dean grant a student exemption for core modules or major subjects that have been passed at another institution or in another programme.
Bear also in mind that each qualification is unique and has a clearly stated purpose and the learning content and the articulation options are different, as such your child might not receive credits for learning done in other institutions if they are changing to another university.
• Seek Support from Faculty Officers/Subject Advisors/Lecturers: should the information on the prospectus not be clear or enough for you to make an informed decision, you can then consult with the Faculty Officers/Subject Advisors/Lecturers for clarity and advice. There are other support services on campus to take advantage of that can help with study skills where they can learn also how to manage their studies; such as student support services.
• Check the Application or Admission Rules in some instances a student must still apply for admission into the new program they want to pursue. Once admitted, only then will they be able to apply for credit transfer.
• Communicate: ensure that you inform the faculty or the institutions of your movements and ascertain from each of them what your options are as far as credit transfer is concerned, then get their approval on the options suggested. Also keep communication lines open with your child should there be further challenges in regard to their studies and career aspiration.
When all the information and options have been considered, you can now support your child to proactively create and manage their new career plan through goal setting; tracking progress, anticipating risks and opportunities, and implementing the action plan accordingly.