Help me get into varsity!

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Confused about your next step on the road that lies ahead?
Read on then plan the best route to take you to your chosen destination…

Q: I met the minimum admission requirements, but I haven’t been accepted into the university programme I had my heart set on. Why is that?
A: Unfortunately, having a university entrance and meeting the basic admission criteria doesn’t guarantee you a place. A lot of courses are over-subscribed, and the varsities will pick the top candidates to fill the number of places they have available. You should try to improve your matric marks and apply again.

Q: How do I do that?
A: If possible, go back to the high school where you wrote your matric and register to redo some or all of your subjects. You can also apply to your district or regional education department office to write a supplementary exam.
Another alternative is to rewrite certain subjects through a college. There, you would need to enrol for an NQF Level 4 qualification, which is the academic equivalent of Grade 12.

Q: I’ve heard horror stories about dodgy colleges. How do I know which are legit?
A: Whether it’s a public or private college, you must make 100% sure it is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training and the South African Qualifications Authority before enrolling.

Q: If I want to rewrite matric subjects, who should I contact?
A: Contact your school, the Matriculation Board, Umalusi or the Department of Higher Education and Training for a list of accredited colleges.

Q: Must I waste an entire year redoing subjects so I can get university exemption or upgrade my pass level?
A: No need. You may be able to complete a bridging course that will give you easier entrance into your degree of choice. Some universities offer bridging courses, so find out from your university of choice if you can sign up for one.

Q: Can I register to redo certain matric subjects part-time?
A: Yes, many colleges offer this option. You can also complete them via correspondence or distance learning.

Q: I made poor choices when I selected my subjects in Grade 10 – and now that I’ve matriculated, I can’t get into the course I’ve set my sights on. Can I start from scratch with a new subject?
A: There will probably be certain conditions attached, but it is possible. You may be required to complete Grades 10, 11 and 12 in that particular subject.

Q: My matric marks weren’t good enough to get me into university, but I’ve since gained work experience in my chosen profession. Can I get a second stab at going to varsity?
A: Luckily, the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) programme acknowledges the fact that you have gained on-the-job experience and you may be able to register for a degree even without having obtained a university pass. You can approach Higher Education South Africa or a university with a copy of your matric certificate, mentioning any experience and training that may be relevant. They will evaluate your application, assess whether you have met the necessary learning outcomes and may provide you with a certificate that recognises your prior learning.

Q: Can I wait a few years after matric and only then go and study, even though my matric results were dismal?
A: Yes. If you are 23 and older, you are regarded as a ‘mature student’ and many academic institutions (Unisa is one of the more popular options) will allow you to register for an undergraduate degree even if your original matric marks prevented you from studying at the time.

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