In today s world of work, working and studying simultaneously has become the norm. This has given rise to an increasing number of students who have to constantly navigate between work and studies. During the first year of postgraduate studies, students wellness undergoes a process of degradation. These working students experience difficulty in functioning, demotivation and exhaustion. Thus, in order to manage the pressure students resort to substance use or other coping mechanisms. This confirms the need to better understand the challenges faced by postgraduate working students in respect of their wellness.
The primary objective of this study was to identify and explore the factors influencing postgraduate full-time working students wellness by focusing on how the situation of working and studying simultaneously impacts the three aspects of wellness, namely: physical, mental and social wellness. The researcher embarked on this study from an interpretivist stance in terms of which a qualitative research strategy was employed in order to explore the experiences of postgraduate full-time working students and gain an understanding of the factors influencing their physical, mental and social wellness. A purposive sampling strategy was utilised in order to determine the nineteen postgraduate full-time working students, who constituted the sample for this research study. The data was obtained through semi-structured interviews, essays, as well as drawings and was analysed using thematic analysis.
The results of the study revealed that various factors impacted the wellness of the participants of the study. Significant factors such as a balanced lifestyle, time and task management, the nature of the job and studies, coping mechanisms, overarching emotions, mental capacity and effective functioning, attitude and motivation, as well as a support structure were identified in this study. Many of the factors were within the three domains of wellness, thus demonstrating significant links among physical, mental and social wellness. The participants also highlighted the lessons learnt from and the benefits of concurrently working and studying. Along with this, the participants indicated a need for an effective support system, more awareness concerning wellness management and the nature of the masters course, as well as clarifying expectations from the University.
This dissertation focuses on an under researched, but important aspect of student wellness and therefore opens avenues for future research. This paper makes a contribution to the literature on postgraduate student wellness, as there is little known literature in South Africa that explores the factors influencing postgraduate working student wellness.
Dissertation (MCom)--University of Pretoria, 2016.