Planning your studies

With so many options in front of you, planning your next move after high school is quite tricky. This guide breaks down the different things you must consider to make the best decisions.   

What type of qualification do you need?

Different professions require different levels of education. It’s important that you know the differences between a diploma and a degree. 

If you’re planning on working overseas one day, make sure the diploma or degree you’re doing is internationally recognised. Remember that some universities are better recognised than others so do your research well.

  • Diploma

    • Have less strict prerequisites.

    • Take less time to get than a degree.

    • Generally take a skill-based approach, allowing you to put knowledge to practice throughout the course.

    • Are offered by a community or technical school (but some universities offer them too).

    A diploma is not as qualified as a degree, but that doesn’t make it less important. Some careers require you to complete diplomas because it offers specialised training. If you want to explore your options before making a long-term study commitment, then a diploma may be right for you.

  • Degree

    • Take an academic, theory-based approach.

    • Offer a rounded education with more subject choices.

    • Take at least three years to get.

    • Is a minimum requirement for most career opportunities.

    • Can be earned at different levels such as Bachelor, Honours, Masters and Doctoral. Going all the way to Doctoral can take up to ten years or longer.

      A diploma is not as qualified as a degree, but that doesn’t make it less important. Some careers require you to complete diplomas because it offers specialised training. If you want to explore your options before making a long-term study commitment then a diploma may be right for you.

What do you know about the industry?

Once you have a better idea of what you want to do, take a closer look at your dream job in today’s world. Three of the most important events you can and should go to before choosing what to study are career expos, university open day, exhibitions and conferences. 

Start looking online to see if there are any upcoming career events you can attend. Don’t forget to ask your family and other professionals for career advice before getting started.

Are you going to study here or abroad?

  • Studying in South Africa

    Every province in our country has a good university, and you also have dozens of colleges to choose from. Here are a few things to consider:

    • Colleges are smaller than universities because they specialise in a field. You can still get a degree from a college.

    • Colleges are generally more expensive than public universities.

    • Some universities are recognised for a specific faculty. Do extra online research to compare.

    • If you’re keen on moving to a new province, res and student accommodation are affordable options.

    • You can study through UNISA. This is ideal if you want to start working and study part time because you don’t go to a campus and attend lectures.
  • Studying at an international university

    Studying overseas is a great opportunity for you to explore a new culture, gain internationally recognised qualifications and expand your working opportunities. It’s not the easiest thing to accomplish, but there are ways. Remember these tips if you want to study abroad:

    • South African matric certificate don’t get recognised by many international universities, so it is difficult to get approved.

    • Prepare yourself to complete country-specific qualification tests. Start gathering all the information you need and get started.

    • It’s very expensive to study overseas, but you can apply for scholarships or financial aid.

    • You can enroll in a South African University and apply for a student exchange program. This way you can complete part of your studies in another country.  

    • If all else fails, remember you can live and work in another country and still complete your degree through UNISA. 


How are you going to pay?

While you explore your different options and universities, you should also compare tuition prices.  You also need to add your textbooks and other learning material into your budget, as these can get  pricey. Don’t forget the living costs of being a student, because you'll pay separately if you're planning on joining res or renting student accommodation. 

  • Four financial aid options for students

    • You can apply for a student loan.

    • Universities offer different kinds of scholarships and financial aid programs.

    • The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is governmental funding that helps students with academic potential but can’t afford university.

    • Many large companies also offer bursaries. You’ll most likely pay the company back by working for them for a set period of time after you graduate, so make your decisions wisely.


Remember, as long as you’re moving forward, you’re on the right track. Best of luck for the long nights of studying and newfound social life ahead!

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