Actuarial science student

Published on August 17th, 2011
Actuarial science student

Why did you decide to study actuarial science?
Being young and naïve at the time of finishing Matric (I was 15 at the time), I had not thought out what career I wanted or even the life that I wanted have. To be honest, I changed my mind almost daily on what I wanted to do/become. But when one of the male students who went to the school I attended pointed out that he believed that girls were not intelligent enough to even be accepted to do actuarial science – let alone obtain the degree – I based my decision on proving that girls could be accepted and pass this course. I had no idea what actuarial science was about except that I had to prove that boy was wrong and that girls can do anything they want. I have a strong competitive streak and when challenged I become very goal-orientated.

Where are you studying?
Currently I am studying through ASSA, however, I obtained my degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Did you apply for bursaries?
No. However, I was offered a bursary by the varsity after I obtained the Dean’s Commendation in first year. It covered a portion of my second-year studies, to my parents’ relief.

Is the course what you thought it would be?
In some ways, yes and in others, no. The course requires a large amount of discipline; some students may be naturally intelligent and may not have required extensive study sessions to pass their Matric. With this course, however, simply being smart is not enough: it requires both dedication and perseverance to succeed, and the right friends to encourage you and help you through the emotional roller-coaster of trying to understand lecturers that apparently speak English, and test you on topics that you have not covered at all in class. The way in which lecturers teach the course is not a matter of spoon-feeding: students are encouraged to think for themselves, research topics and pre-study topics before lectures (just in case you get a spot test on the topic before it’s taught) and to puzzle their way though topics that only get easier once you learn something harder. This method of learning requires a lot of determination to succeed.

What, if anything, do you wish you had done differently at school to help your studies now?
My school years were extremely different to most other students. As such the circumstances and what could or could not be done is difficult for me to compare relative to others. However, on the one extreme, perhaps if I had not skipped multiple standards and had finished school at the normal age of 17 or 18 versus 15 maybe that would given me greater maturity as being younger than my peers forced me to grow up relatively quickly. However, had I chosen that route that could very well have changed the path of my life as well.

Any words of wisdom for aspiring actuarial science students?
Persevere and have friends who provide you with both a support structure as well as a study group. Be goal-orientated and know what you want because actuarial science is not the type of subject that you will easily breeze through. If you don’t put your heart into it, you may not succeed at all. Remember the opportunity it presents for you and be determined to succeed. Apparently it is one of the highest-paying jobs, so if money motivates you, keep your eye on the silver lining.

What are you enjoying most about the course?
The opportunities that it presents: you have greater freedom, job security and more choices in respect of the number of avenues this one degree/qualification can give you.