Early University Applications: where do I even start?

The Matric stress

 The Matric year can be quite stressful considering the number of programmes in which final year high school learners are engaged.  Applying late at a higher learning institution can add to the stress and anxiety levels, especially toward the end of the year. From our experience, most matriculants wait until the last minutes or even wait until their final results are out before placing applications at higher learning institutions. Some of the risks associated with the last-minute applications include learners applying for any available opportunity without considering interests, aptitude, costs, graduation rates and economic opportunities post-study completion. Research also shows a high drop-out rate and a change of academic streams with learners who have not made well-informed decisions before applying to universities or other higher learning institutions.

 

Preparing for early applications

 

 According to the Life Orientation curriculum, in Grade 10, learners should be introduced to different types of Higher Learning institutions from Private Colleges/Universities, Universities, University of Technology, and TVET colleges. In Grade 11, learners should be introduced to qualifications, and they should be able to know which career pathway they want to pursue after Grade 12. Evidence shows that, even with these curriculum outcomes, learners miss out on early applications opportunities despite all the benefits associated with being an early bird.

 

 Bridge experience

 

 

Throughout our years of experience dealing with tertiary education and bursaries applications, we have seen that applying improves the learners’ chances of having a smooth transition between school and tertiary, from securing conditional offers, getting approved for a scholarship/bursary to conditional residence/accommodation offers. Applying early has shown that learners have a softer landing in their first year of tertiary without stressing about transitioning challenges. This all comes with the planning and execution of applications earlier than set institution application deadlines.

 

The applications service

 

Gradesmatch has released an applications services offering for Grade 12 learners to assist learners with preparing for this transition better and executing the plan on time. Through the BridgeApp platform, learners are taught how to apply at a higher learning institution using mock applications while they are still in Grade 11 so that they can get knowledge of applying to higher learning institutions earlier. Learners are taught which necessary documents they need when applying like; Grade 11 year-end report card or Grade 12 results, an Identity Document of both learner and parent/guardian and Residential address.

Tips to consider for early applications preparation:

From our experience, these are the best tips we can give when applying early:

  • Decide what and where you would like to study

  • Check the requirements of your desired qualification at all institutions of your choice

  • Check if an NBT assessment is required and book a date before your trial exams

  • Ensure that with your Grade 11 results, there is a high probability of meeting the course requirements. You can do this on our Gradesmatch/BridgeApp web-application

  • Collect all the required documents and portfolio resources needed for your qualification

  • Prioritise your prospective institutions and effort by most likely to least likely acceptance criteria

  • Apply to a minimum of 5 higher learning institutions for 3 different qualifications according to your interest

Note: However, if you are going for a Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery (MBBCh), we suggest that you must apply to ALL medical schools in South Africa.


It is more likely that if your application is successful, the institution of your choice will give you a conditional offer for a space in your desired programme. Your conditional offer will have all the conditions you will have to meet to enrol at your institution the following year. For more tips and information on the transition from high school to a higher learning institution or skills-based programme, visit www.gradesmatch.co.za.