dear africa – Matric 2016 Edition

NB: For a change, this is not about finance, but dedicated to the Class of 2016 that is now going to Universities and Colleges across the country.
For the past couple of years I have been writing and sharing a list of do’s and don’t’s for first years. This is by no means the gospel, just my own experiences and observations. The last time I was a full-time student was over a decade ago, so some of these may well be irrelevant.

– Most institutions only take online applications, please check with your respective one to see how they administer (late) applications.

– The website of most institutions, is the institution’s acronym, followed by Eg: University of Pretoria is
Tswane University of Technology is and so forth

– don’t bring your big bags with all your belongings when you are still coming to look for space and accommodation, arrange to travel back home and get it or ask someone to bring it as soon as you have settled, only carry the essentials
(Most colleges now only accepts student who have applied the previous year, so perhaps this is not relevant anymore)

– don’t carry large sums of cash on your person, make a direct deposit into institution’s bank account and take the deposit slip to the school

– be careful of fly-by-night schools, if you never heard the name before, move along

– avoid the brown A4 envelope, it’s a dead give-away that you are new in town, looking for a job or place to study, get a nice bag

– use google maps on your phone, also get your local campus map to avoid attending wrong classes

– if you get lost, ask someone in a uniform for help, not just randoms

– walk with confidence, Bheki Cele style, even if your are lost

– don’t be shy to ask stupid questions on campus/in class

– by all means, buy 2nd hand textbooks

– lose the mxit lingo, Professors can’t be bothered to decipher what you trying to say

– choose your friends carefully, make an effort to be-friend the smarter kids in class (You will meet your lifetime mates here, most probably even your future spouse)

– forget that you were an A student in high school, work your @$$-off, most of the work will be new material

– find something to take your mind off school every once in a while, sport, social group, church, etc

– don’t open clothing accounts, resist the temptation

– if you have NSFAS, go easy on it, use it for tuition only. You will have to pay it back when you finish school, with interest. So think twice before buying that tablet, or swiping trolley-full of food that you will sell to other students with.

– if you want to start drinking, smoking, dating, taking drugs, don’t do it because you now have the freedom to do so, do it because you want to, and you know all consequences

– if/when you start dating, please use a condom, your parents didn’t send you to school to make babies

– register for 1 or 2 courses that are outside your main field, but interest you, eg: Philosophy, Foreign language

– if you’re studying IT related course, try to get some international IT certificates while you’re still in school. Eg: Microsoft courses, Cisco courses, Oracle courses etc. You might score yourself a nice student job on the side, getting real industry experience while still studying

– if you join SASCO, PASMA, or any other student political organs, please just keep your education first priority, then politics second, or find a perfect balance.

– google the word ‘plagiarism’ good, now that you know what is means, avoid it like the plague

– bookmark this website (, if you run into a subject/topic/concept/word you never heard of, forget Google, just search for it on Wikipedia. (Check the point above this one, about Plagirism, don’t copy and paste)
Also, note that Profs don’t like Wikipedia as a source, so after you understood the concept, try to find a reputable academic journal, and rather use that as your source

– try to attend a graduation ceremony, it will keep you motivated

– try to get vac work, it will place you miles ahead of your peers when you start job hunting

– having said all of that, have fun, varsity is meant to be fun, don’t be uptight, go to parties, socialise

– make new friends and have fun, but never forget why you are here

– bonus (stolen, don’t remember who posted it): you will meet some 17 year old driving your father’s dream car, move along swiftly

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