By Nomali Cele
Parents, guardians and teachers of learners in grade 11 or matric, please pass on this article to them. It’s important we have this chat about application deadlines.
Dear Matriculant, If you haven’t yet applied to the university or programme of your choice, it’s likely you have missed the application deadlines. It’s not the end of the road, of course, but a late application does tend to make things harder.
Most universities close their applications at the end of September, with the rare 31 October final date. Sadly, most programmes in the sciences closed their applications in May already. But that application deadlines have passed does not mean you must give up. Most universities assign places to qualifying students who were late applicants first in January.
South African higher education is no stranger to university application-related complications. With walk-in applicants queueing around universities and colleges for days in January and days after receiving their matric results. In 2012, the experience ended in tragedy at the University of Johannesburg. The queues were long and in no time, there was a stampede at UJ’s Bunting Road campus. Official reports placed the incident just after gates were opened. 17 people were reportedly injured and a mother of one of the potential students died.
What to do if you missed the application deadlines
Since the tragedy of 2012, most universities have moved away from accepting walk-in applications in favour of online waiting lists. Instead of waiting for January to “see,” it’s more advisable that you complete an online application with your universities of choice, even in a case where you’ve missed the deadline. That way, you’re in the pool of waiting list students come January and spaces open up — often due to others not meeting the programme’s requirements in their matric results.
Is a late application worth it?
Missing the application deadlines or preferring to apply late in order to be sure you’ve achieved results that meet the requirements for your potential field of study can be stressful. Many first-year students end up opting to study something completely different from what they are passionate because that course was the only one with spaces.
This is a waste of money and your time. While there’s immense pressure that you “do something with your life,” rushing into a degree you don’t like in a field you have no interest in is not the way to go. Most students struggle studying courses they love and have an aptitude for, imagine how you’ll feel in a course you’re doing so you are not spending the year at home?
If you have missed the application deadlines and are debating a late application, weigh your options. Having next year off will not be the end of the world. When planned right, a gap year can be one of the best things you do for yourself. Weighing your options? Sit your parents or guardians down and discuss your situation because a late application is not always the right thing to do for everyone. And to the grade 11 learners reading, aim to have all your applications submitted by March.