Young people finishing high school are often attracted to tertiary education, but are also intimidated by it. It is difficult for both parents and students to navigate the available options as the working world and educational options have changed substantially over the last few decades. It may be the first time the child attends school for some families.
Atelisha Harilal, head of student recruitment and marketing at STADIO, says that her advice to parents differs from family to family. “There are two types of parents I generally encounter,” she explains. “The first has a vision for their child’s life, which may or may not be one that the child shares.”
Harilal says that as the world continues to develop rapidly, the most important role of higher education is to promote critical thinking, rather than technical skills only, because the reality is that technical training can quickly become obsolete.
She adds it’s also important that parents recognise every child is different and will follow a different path.
“The second sort of parent I see is less concerned with what their child should study and more with whether their child will succeed at studying,” she says. “For these parents, it’s key to know that there's a level of custodianship when a student registers to study where the institution also shoulders some of the responsibility in creating a nurturing environment that can help the student to become all they can be. It sounds like a cliché, but our job is to create a safety net and the kind of environment where they can thrive and find success.”
To lessen the chances of a child dropping out during their first year of tertiary studies, Harilal suggests parents should understand the gap between school and university upfront. This massive gap across various aspects, from finances to the accountability required of students, requires parents to draw near and support their children through the process.
She encourages parents to engage with tertiary institutions and to tap into the many support and education resources available for parents and students alike to assist in navigating the higher education environment.