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Planning for Higher Education - Start Early

Grade 9

Make your final decision about whether to continue with FET and get your Matric, or enter the world of work at the end of Grade 9. If you decide to aim for higher education, start investigating the course you want to do, where it is offered, and what the entrance requirements are. Talk to your school councellor and/or parents if you need to talk through your options. Decide what learning areas you will need to choose (besides the compulsory ones) to qualify for entry to the course you want.

Grade 10

Start working towards your goal. If you need an NSC for Degree/Diploma or an Endorsement to get into your course, make sure you are keeping up with your schoolwork and studying hard. Choose extra-curricular activities that will help you to learn more, stay fit and keep up with your studies.

Decide Who You Are - The Self-Assessment.

Before you make the final decision about your career path, course and study institution, you need to understand who you are and what you might want to do in your life. This is called a Self-Assessment or a Career Assessment. There are many ways to develop this assessment:

* Talk with your school counsellor. Your high school counsellor has many tools to help you perform a self-assessment.
* Do the self-assessment quiz on the Central Applications Office website.

Identify What Type of Institution You Are Looking For

* Big vs. small
* Local, close but not local, or far away
* Types of courses/majors
* Other activities (sports, etc.)

Grade 11

Assess Your Progress.

How did you do in your chosen Learning Areas? If you really didn't do well, is this because of outside reasons or because you actually don't enjoy those subjects? Do you need to rethink your choice of career now that you've got more sense of what's involved? If outside factors made it difficult for you to keep up with your schoolwork, can you find support to help with this? Your home situation may make it difficult for you to find time for homework or research projects. You may have difficulties with a particular learning area that can be overcome with just a little extra tutoring. Talk to your school counsellor to discuss your options. Don't give up!

Talk to Others.

Other people, like seniors in high school or older friends or family members, have already gone through this and can give you a lot of good information. Find some seniors who have similar learning areas or interests to yours and see which institutions they applied to and who accepted them.

Start a List of Institutions that Match Your Needs.

Go to your guidance counsellor or library and find out as much as you can about the different institutions. You should come up with a list of 5-6 institutions that seem to meet your needs. The institutions should be divided into 3 groups:

* Schools that will probably accept me
* Schools that I really like
* My dream school (even if it is hard to get into or expensive)

Grade 12

Visit the Institution/s You Are Applying To.

Find out as much as you can about each institution and about the course/s you are interested in. Contact the institution's applications office and ask them for information and application forms (or visit www.cao.ac.za to apply to several institutions in one go). Now is also the time to visit their Financial Aid office, and start investigating options for paying for higher education.

Prepare for Matric Trials.

You will probably write these exams early in the third term. Your initial application to your chosen institution will be based on these exam marks, and they will reject or provisionally accept you based on the marks. Make sure you are well-prepared. Get extra help studying if you need it. These exams will also be very important if you are applying for a bursary or scholarship.

Apply to your chosen educational institution/s.

Prepare for Matric Finals.

Your marks for the Trial Exams should have given you a good idea of your strengths and weaknesses. Get extra help if you need it, and go over your exam papers carefully to see where you went wrong. Get plenty of exercise and eat healthy - you won't perform well in this stressful time if you are overdoing the caffeine and not getting fresh air or exercise.

After the Results Come Out:

If you have achieved your goal and got into the institution of your choice, Congratulations! A whole new adventure is waiting for you.

If you have just missed the number of points or other requirement for the course you want to do, consider your options. You may be eligible for a remark if you are only one or two marks short. You may be able to rewrite certain subjects if you believe that you could do better. Consider whether your marks will allow you to do a similar course at the same or a different institution. If you need to take a year to rewrite certain subjects, find out whether you could do an apprenticeship or take a volunteer job in the industry that you want to get into. Do not waste time and don't be disheartened. If you are determined, you will be able to reach your goals eventually!

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