Daunting university applications – helpful tips for parents and great advice for kids

university applications

Its one thing embracing the moment of letting go of my baby girl, but the added pressure of university applications makes it all the more overwhelming and emotional.

Gone are the days of simply applying to the 3 faculties you may consider a career in – at the 3 universities you may find yourself comfortable in. University applications have become a little more complex, and perhaps rightfully so.

What is more pertinent for matriculants to understand is that this is not the only way to go! The world is your oyster, and besides getting a Bachelors Degree there’s so much to explore and learn from.

So..where to, like many would ask. Anywhere, really. But for the purpose of this article we will explore university applications and all it entails, with a tad bit of advice from a Mama.

Dear Parent: all you need to know about University Applications

To begin with, this is your childs application. Not yours. The information below should help you help your child. Make some time to sit with the applications and processes together. AND, its ok if your child does not want o go to university, but rather pursue a career in arts or photography or the like.

If need be, you should visit an educational psychologist who can assist with your childs career choices, opportunities, strengths and weaknesses and so on.

  1. When does it open: Universities across South Africa have opened the application process from 1 March 2024.
  2. When does it close: The various universities and faculties have their own stipulated closing dates. It is best to diarise these dates if you are still unsure.
  3. Who can apply: Current matriculants and the matriculants of the previous years or undergraduate students wishing to further their studies
  4. What do I need to apply: A grade 11 school report, school testimonials and further identification and other requirements specific to the faculty or university
  5. What is NBT: National Benchmark Assessments- This is a specific exam written for entry into health sciences and possibly other faculties, depending on the University. UCT (University of Cape Town) in particular requires this assessment for all applications.
  6. What is an APS (Admissions Points Score) score: Your matric results are scored on a scale of 10. Each university and faculty has a baseline score you need to achieve in order for your application to be successful. You would need to visit the websites of the various universities to understand what is required of you. A good APS is 35 or more
  7. Does a provisional acceptance guarantee final acceptance: No! You would still have to work hard to obtain the best matric results, and thereafter await final acceptance from the university.
  8. Is it first come, first serve or will everyone be given a fair chance: Remember that the number of applicants nationwide outweigh the capacity of the universities. Get your app in early, but it will be your results or APS that will determine the final outcome.

Subject choices in grade 9 play an important role in determining your career. Get excellent tips on subject choices, here

Bookmark these pages for varsity applications

There’s so much to consider when choosing the best campus for your child. Besides looking at what the various universities have to offer, you would also need to consider fees, accommodation, transport, meals, socials and more.

Nevertheless, apply to as many universities as you can, so you don’t close the door of opportunity. Bookmark these pages and slowly start working through the applications, making note of the APS, closing dates and other requirements:

  1. University of the Witwatersrand (WITS)
  2. University of Johannesburg (UJ)
  3. University of Pretoria (UP)
  4. University of Cape Town (UCT)
  5. Stellenbosch University (SU)
  6. University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN)
  7. University of the Free State (UFS)
  8. North West University (NWU)

There are many more institutes and universities in SA that you can consider. Just keep browsing the net to find one that suits you and your child.

TIP: if your child is writing NBTs, apply at your earliest convenience. Applications for 2024 open on April 1st. The earlier they write, the less stressful this may prove to be. Click here to apply.  Past papers for these are available too.

Dear Matriculant.. a note to my younger matriculant self

Keep Calm. Thats all you need. At every turn there will be the

“hows the matric stress”,

“what do you want to study”

“university applications are open – have you applied?”

Its ok to ignore these. You are only answerable to yourself. Even though it may seem that all eyes are on you, this is truly about you. Its your canvas to paint, and make splashes. Don’t work to please anyone, don’t feel pressured by societies expectations – just do what you have to for yourself.

Its ok to be confused. You cant expect to make all the right decisions at 17 years. Explore, if you can. Travel, Job shadow. Take a gap year. Do small courses that will enrich your soul. Find your passion. Live it.

Its ok to change. So what if you apply for a career and then find you’d rather be studying something else? Change courses – do what makes you happy, so you never have to work a day in your life. Every experience, every change, every hurdle is there to mould you to become the best version of yourself. Embrace it. Learn from it.

Its ok to lose some friends – you will soon outgrow some of your friends as your paths take different directions. Its ok. Don’t get hung up on that. Soon you will have your own tribe of people you can resonate with. Your high school friends will always be special, but on your journey you will encounter many new friends – and its beautiful.

Its ok to cry – let it out. Cry, and pick yourself up. Then walk into that exam hall and conquer! The best gift you can give yourself this year is a sense of calm. Anxiety breeds failure.

Its ok to be different – throughout your schooling life, your educators, parents and friends only awarded excellent academic outcomes. Let them be. Success doesnt stop there. A bachelors degree is not everything. Some of the worlds most successful people are golfers, chefs, plumbers and technical engineering consultants – go for it!

Its ok – no matter what. All eyes may be on the distinctions that will soon be forgotten, but 2 hearts will always support and love you. Your parents. Treasure them!

Soon it will be The MD (matric dinner). Enjoy these moments, they are special. No need to be extravagant, or build frenemies with competition – just embrace being celebrated. You deserve it.

Your success is not measured by a piece of paper framed on a wall, but rather by your passion, ambition and determination that will make you exceptional in any career. Happiness and contentment are the best measures.

In a nutshell, work consistently (click here for past papers) and enjoy the best year of your schooling life! Your university application may be daunting, but it will all fall into place and will soon be behind you. All the best to the class of 2024 – You’ve got this!

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Analytikal Mama

Analytikal Mama

Analytikal Mama, mother of 4 beautiful children, wife and co-chef to a braaimaster.  She loves spending time with family and friends, traveling, and is endlessly curious about religion, parenting and the culinary world. 

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