The second semester has commenced, and it is time to recalibrate your sails into the desired direction.
The recent university rankings placing Wits at an impressive number 115 worldwide and the best in Africa will surely come as pleasant news to everyone. I propose a toast to excellence! Those already on the last lap of their undergraduate race cannot believe they have done it, but perhaps may also not believe their exciting campus life days are coming to an end. Well, the exciting news is that postgraduate studies guarantees cliff-edge, adrenalin-filled adventure that may be missing in the arguably gruesome undergraduate task.
When you zoom in to the constitution of postgraduate students at Wits, and in fact in most South African universities, you find that the ratio of white to black is staggering. Zoom further in among the black students, you find that many are foreign students. There are various reasons ranging from students being tied by the companies sponsoring their busaries to work immediately, to challenges at home, to simply not seeing the need to remain at school when you could be having the time of your life earning a salary as a reward for a hard-fought degree.
I have an interesting picture to paint of postgrad life that I would like you to pause and have a look at with the hope that it will inspire, motivate, and perhaps lure you into continuing your studies. Post graduate is more than just an effort to get a better salary – which may be true but not necessarily. It is also not a daunting experience where you search for a needle in a haystack without a magnet. Instead, it an opportunity to refine your ability to become independent, to enjoy university without assignment deadlines and sleepless nights studying for exams, and it is a time to discover yourself.
When I enrolled for MSc Engineering in February last year, I had no idea of what was to follow. I spent the first five months trying to find a good topic—not treated by other researchers but at the same time doable. When I eventually did, working closely with my supervisor, the rest was as exciting as bungee jumping. Within a few months I got to enjoy travelling to Stellenbosch in the Cape and to Glasgow in Scotland to present my research work. I got to tour not only Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland, but also tourist attractions in London and Old Trafford in Manchester—the home of my favourite club Manchester United!
If that was not enough, I got to discover myself. I have always considered myself a shy person of few words. But that soon was to change. I joined Toastmasters, an international organisation on public speaking and leadership. Before I knew it, I was the president of the Wits Business School Toastmasters Club. Not long after, I became the executive director for the Wits chapter of the Youth Alliance for Leadership and Development in Africa, an organisation on leadership and entrepreneurship with a focus on African youth. In the process I discovered that I enjoy public speaking, social entrepreneurship, and leadership.
Have you considered venturing into postgraduate studies? If you haven’t I hope these few paragraphs will give you a different perspective and encourage you to join the community of postgradus nerdus.
Ndlovu is the president of the Wits Business School Toastmasters Club.