MCGREGOR WALDORF SCHOOL and COLLEGE ALUMNI… WHAT BECOME OF THEM?
“Challenging, adventurous, great school, valuable steppingstone, eternally grateful, insightful, real in a safe and secure environment…”
These are some of the ways in which the alumni students (who responded to the survey questionnaire in full) expressed it when asked to describe their experience at the McGregor Waldorf School/McGregor College in one word.
This survey conducted recently is not a scientific study and the answers, although interesting, can only indicate trends. The High School started in 2001 and since 2005 48 young people have stepped out into the world after writing their National Senior Certificate Exams, commonly known as Matric. Two of those students had to rewrite some subjects but since 2008 there has been an unbroken record of a 100% pass rate. These young people who were nurtured for some or many years by the teachers, go their own way and as a school we need to question whether we live up to what our mission proclaims: “to guide children in their journey towards realising their own inborn potential and to develop into free, responsible human beings”.
All 48 alumni were sent a full questionnaire asking questions around study, work, family and their relationship with the school. 33% of the alumni found the time to answer the full questionnaire but some also let me know what they were studying or where they were working, which brings the total answers for some questions to 52%.
When looking at studies and work, the trend is for most of them to enter full time studies after they finish high school. Some have to wait a few years in order to earn money to pay for studies and a few combine working with studies via UNISA. Seven alumni are studying or have completed a bachelor degree in Commerce, Business, Law, Finance, Education or Language and Literature. Nine alumni study or have completed a college degree in marketing management, secretarial studies, tourism management, sports management, social work and fashion design. Some have managed to land a fulltime job through a learnership or internship. Half of the alumni indicate that their studies are paid for by family while the other half relies on bursaries and/or student loans. Quite a few indicate that they work on weekends and holidays doing casuals jobs in call centres, as waiters, campaign promoters, cashiers, etc. to help pay for their studies and living expenses. One is running his own web design and hosting business while studying.
Few have landed a permanent job as they are all still young and trying either to finish their studies or work themselves up a career ladder. Most of them see themselves in five years time as working in the area of their studies. Four indicate that by that time they want to own a business.
All of those who responded are occupied either with studies or work! Not one indicated that they were idle, which is a great response knowing that in South Africa the unemployment rate of people younger than 25 is almost twice the national average (49 % compared with 25 %). Almost 50% of young people under 25 in this country do not go to school, college or university. They also have no work which is most alarming.
Since our alumni are still young, none of them indicated that they are married although a few have a child to support. Just over half lives with family while the other half mostly rents a house or flat and some live in student residences.
Asked whether they are satisfied with life in general 94% have a score of 6 and higher while only 51% are satisfied with the income that sustains them.
Looking back at their education at our school quite a number found that Maths and Maths literacy was of most use, followed by Drama. Life Orientation, which is a subject that all students nationwide have to take, and Afrikaans were of the least use to them now. Physical Science, Biology and Accounting were the subjects indicated as those the students would have wanted to study. Most alumni found that our High School developed their mental, language, social, personal and practical skills developed. They agreed that self confidence, individuality and self discipline were qualities in themselves that were most enhanced.
Reading the messages the alumni convey to the current students, it is clear that only once they have left and are looking back that they can value more fully the experience they had during their High School years.
The lessons you learn at high school are accompanied by love and care from those teaching you but after high school you are ‘alone’, so you better take those lessons to heart because you WILL need them in this ‘big world’.
Our young people are doing alright in the world; they are busy working or studying, occupied, searching and trying. My sense is that they are not giving up. They look life squarely in the face, and although they find it tough, they also find it satisfying. And these are exactly the qualities that we want our students to develop; to be able to stand strong, be creative and believe that there is a future.