Imagine you are on a walk through lots of fenced fields with gates. You have to go through each gate to get to the next field. Tertiary acceptance is a lot like this. It is important to understand the gates, even from as early as grade 9, so that you can make sure you are on the path that is right for you.
Getting on the path: Generally, to even be on the path to tertiary acceptance, you must gain a Bachelor Pass (code 4/ 50% in FOUR approved subjects). However there are a few certificate courses that you can do with lower level matric passes.
Gate 1: Subject Choice – Most tertiary courses require particular subjects to be passed at matric level. For example:
- If you want to be a doctor you must have maths (not maths literacy) and physics
- If you want to be an accountant you must have maths (not maths literacy) and at many institutes you must also have accounting.
Gate 2: Marks achieved for required subjects – Not only do you have to study particular subjects at school but you have to achieve particular marks for these subjects. For example:
- If you want to apply to UKZN for engineering you will need maths and physics code 6 (70%+) and also English and LO code 4 (50%+)
- If you want to apply to University of Johannesburg for commerce law you will need maths code 4 (50%) plus English and LO code 5 (60%+)
Gate 3: Admission Point System (APS) – All your matric subjects combine together to give you a University Entrance Score. Unfortunately each university and university of technology has it’s own way of calculating the scores and you will need to look this up at the institute you are applying to. For example:
- If you apply to University of Pretoria, your matric final codes combine to give you one score out of 42. LO is not included. Each course has a minimum APS. Social Work, for example is an APS of 30. This means you need an average of a code 5 (60%+).
Gate 4: Final Entry – Assuming you applied on time with all the correct paperwork and you made your way safely through the first three gates, you are now at the final gate. To get through this gate you must be one of the best applications received by the tertiary institute for your chosen course in that year. For example:
- 3500 applications come to the University of Stellenbosch for Medicine. 2000 make it through all the gates but they only have 230 places for 1st year medicine students. This means that 770 applications will be rejected even though the applicants met all the minimum requirements. (Numbers are made up in this example). All universities will take the best applicants first although some universities have special consideration for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
All of this might make it sound like getting into tertiary is quite hard. Fortunately different institutions have different requirements. In general Universities are the hardest to get into, followed by Universities of Technology. Colleges are easier to get into and may offer you a place even if you don’t have a Bachelor Pass for your matric.
The better your marks are, the more options you will have for tertiary education.
One final note – If you receive “provisional” or “conditional” acceptance before your matric results are out, it means that the university will offer you a place as long as your matric marks are the same or better than the marks you applied with.