Mail & Guardian
How RPL and the skills you have can count in your favour
Age might just be a number, but when considering a postgraduate qualification, it could also be an advantage. The qualifications you hold, the skills you’ve acquired throughout your life and the real-world experience you bring to the table can (and should!) count in your favour.
Recognition of prior learning (RPL) refers to formulised evaluations that acknowledge the relevant knowledge and skills that mature learners have gained throughout their lives and careers, by means other than formal education. Universities will assess a candidate’s work and life experience in the context of the learning programme they are being considered for, and these are put towards admission for formal graduate or postgraduate academic studies.
The National Plan for Education prioritises broadening participation of employed workers and mature learners in further study opportunities, and all South African universities have RPL policies in place. Prospective students can contact the university they would like to study through to find out more about the accessibility and admission criteria or how to qualify for entry to a programme
NMU’S Centre for Access Assessment and Research has the following advice for postgraduate candidates returning to studies:
Be clear and honest about the reasons for studying. Don’t compare yourself to others and believe in your abilities.
Tell your loved ones why you are studying and how they can support you in your goals. Ask your family and friends to respect your study time, but keep them informed about your progress and activities. Schedule time for social interaction so that you do not lose touch with the people who are important to you.
Manage yourself. Allow yourself enough time to get accustomed to the demands of academic life. Use your time effectively and be organised. Technology is your friend. Use it to your advantage.
Campus support services exist to make academic life easier. Build an on-campus network of friends and acquaintances — this will help you adjust and grow. Reward yourself often, whether for completing a difficult study task, acing a test or coping with the demands of university life. Share your successes with the people closest to you.