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What are you going to do after you leave school or now that you have completed your matric?The options depend on a number of factors including your results if you have completed your matric, financial considerations, family considerations, your personal interests and abilities, and last but not least your acceptability by tertiary institutions.

By Des Squire

Firstly, let us have a look at your study options assuming that this is the direction in life that you have chosen. I sincerely hope it is!

My first suggestion to you would be that you make a decision related to the career path you wish to follow. Take this seriously and do not just decide a university degree will be right for you. Many university graduates are unemployed and have poor prospects of gaining employment.

As a Father I have always encouraged my sons to study for a trade before deciding to study for a degree.

Why? A trade is a very good thing to have and is possibly the easiest way of starting your own business – there is always a need for plumbers, electricians and so on.

Having a university degree sounds great and yes it will give you status in the eyes of others – but that may be all.

A technical degree through a university of Technology or a Technical qualification through a Further Education and Training Institution may be far more practical at this time of your life. You can always add the degree at a later stage – so be practical and think things through carefully.

If this is your choice then you need to consider the variety of options open to you. Bear in mind that tertiary or higher educational institutions have their own set of entry requirements.

In addition Universities, Further Education and Training Colleges (TVET) both Public and Private and Universities of Technology are all very different and offer a very different range of study choices.

Your choice of institution will depend on your particular and individual need, ability and Career choice.

• University

You will find that the emphasis at university is on the academic and more formal side of learning. In whatever your chosen field of study, you will gain a very broad base of skills and knowledge.

You will need to achieve or to have achieved a matric exemption in order to be accepted, i.e. the required marks in the subjects as required by the university. For some specific faculties of study, there may be additional requirements. These requirements you can establish by contacting the university directly.

Once you have successfully completed your studies you will have a degree awarded or conferred.

You will have a wide choice of study fields that include the Arts, Science, Humanities, Education, Law, Medicine, Engineering, Commerce and Theology.

• Further Education and Training Institutions

Recent changes in the education system has seen the introduction of new institutions of both “Higher Education” and “Further Education” Technikons have been included at the same level as universities and learners can now study for a technically inclined degree. An example would be Pretoria Technikon, which is now called “Pretoria University of Technology”.

Here you will have a combination of theoretical and practical subjects to choose from, and a variety of avenues of study.

The choice you make will be based on the specific career you wish to pursue.

The minimum entry requirement is a Senior Certificate or an N3 plus two languages at grade 12 level.

For some of the courses such as the technical courses, paramedical and science you will require a minimum of mathematics and a science subject.

This could be an ideal choice for you if you decide to combine work and study.

In many instances you can have a contract of employment and be encouraged to or required to study in order to gain the practical experience.

On satisfactory completion of your studies, you will receive a Diploma or a BTech degree.

There are a variety of study options including Art, Design, Performing Arts, Hotel and Catering, Commerce, Business Management, Computer studies, Science, Engineering and Secretarial.

• Public Further Education and Training Colleges (TVET colleges)

Public TVET colleges now replace what historically were called technical colleges.

If your choice is to pursue a specific trade then the TVET College is the choice for you.

Here the emphasis is on trade skills and craft skills.

You would qualify as an artisan, to work with your hands, or alternatively qualify for a specific job in the workplace.

The minimum entrance requirement is a grade nine. You would have to be at least 16 years old.

The FET College offers a more theoretical type training and your more practical or work related training would be done on-the-job.

On satisfactory completion of your studies you would be awarded a National Certificate.

The study options available to you would include Travel and Tourism, Health, Community Care, Hairdressing, Business studies, Engineering, Mechanics and Mining.

• Private FET Colleges

Many private FET colleges now offer tuition in a variety of fields. The concentration is more on smaller classes and a more individualised tuition. Lecturers are chosen for academic knowledge in a particular field combined with their practical experience in this field.

Courses available vary from college to college and new courses are introduced to cater for the specific needs of industry and commerce.

Private FET Colleges are required to register with the Department of Education. Make sure therefore that you check that the college is registered and that the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) has accredited the courses on offer.

The choice as you can see is very wide and varied so you need to consider your options very carefully.

I suggest that you make contact with and preferably visit the various institutions and have a chat with the student recruitment officer regarding your particular interests. Many of the tertiary institutions offer aptitude tests and career counseling to prospective students.

For further information on some of the various courses and qualifications available at Further Education and Training Institutions contact Des at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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