7 things you can do if you didn't get into university

PHOTO: Gallo images/ Getty images
PHOTO: Gallo images/ Getty images

You’ve just passed matric, but studying further might not be possible.

You do have other options, however deciding on the next step to take post-matric is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make, especially when you don’t have time and money to play with.

“It’s a decision that could bind you for a lifetime. You need to find a balance between what you can or prefer to do and the resources available to you.” says Zimasa Kala, an East London-based career coach and counsellor.

“There are various career compatibility tests online and elsewhere that you can take to get a general feel of the careers that could best match you,” Zimasa recommends.

These are the options available to you.



Maybe the marks you got in matric weren’t good enough to qualify for a tertiary education.

You may opt to rewrite some of the subjects early in the following year or repeat matric entirely in order to improve your results. If you can’t afford to go to university you can apply for bursaries or study loans from government entities such as the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) or approach a commercial bank.

You will need someone, such as a parent or guardian, who is employed and has a sound credit history to stand surety for you. The closing date for Unisa applications is at the end of September. For other universities and Technical and Vocational Colleges (formerly Further Education and Training Colleges) it’s at the end of November.

Do a bridging course

Some universities offer bridging courses to candidates who have marginally missed the qualifying criteria. The application dates for these are similar to those for degrees, so 2016 will be the earliest that you can start one. 

2. Find a job

As a new entrant in the job market, you need to be flexible and willing to take on a lower position in the company, be open-minded in order to learn and keep to company policies.

The last thing you want to do is create an impression of being ungrateful for the employment opportunity, thereby limiting your chance of advancement.

Register your CV with as many employment agencies as possible. Usually the agencies will have a large number of companies approaching them for temporary workers.

They can also help “clean up” your CV to make it more presentable to their clients. You can also volunteer your services to an organisation in or around your community until a vacancy becomes available. You won’t get paid for your work but it will help you gain some work experience. Visits websites such as Careers24; Indeed; and Pnet.


At the beginning and end of each year various companies that experience a shortage of skilled labour usually offer internships, which provide a monthly stipend and training.

Look out for these types of opportunities in your local or national newspaper, on career portals or on the websites of companies that you might be interested in joining. 


A learnership is a structured learning process for gaining theoretical knowledge and practical skills in the workplace, leading to a qualification registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).

Learners participating in a learnership programme have to attend classes at a college or training centre to complete classroom-based learning, and they also have to complete onthe- job training in a workplace.

The workplace experience must be relevant to the qualification. Learnerships are open to unemployed people as well as employed staff. Entry requirements vary from none to Grade 12 and you will be paid a stipend. For a list of learnerships, contact details, advice and tips on how to draw up a CV, visit SA Learnerships.


Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College courses are vocational or occupational by nature, meaning the student receives education and training with a view towards a specific range of jobs or employment possibilities. You earn a certificate at the end of your training.

Under certain conditions, some students might qualify for admission to a university of technology to continue their studies at a higher level in the same field they were studying at the TVET College. Contact the TVET College directly for their qualification criteria and fees for the course you want to study.

For a full list of colleges in your area and contact details, go to www.fetcolleges.co.za 


Some universities and private institutions offer part-time study options with evening classes or online lecture facilities, which makes it possible to work full-time.

Other institutions such as Unisa offer subject selection for a degree based on two semesters per year. You can select the number of modules you would like to register for, which allows you the flexibility to study at your own pace and for what you can afford. The cost of half a module is about R700 and a full module will set you back about R2 700. Visit www.unisa.ac.za for more. 


If you’re still unsure of what to do or burnt out from your studies, consider spending the year finding out enough information on what you would like to do – researching different options before deciding on a course of action. This is not just time to spend playing video games or sleeping late. Have a structured plan.

Ask yourself where you want to go, what you want to do and for how long. You could travel overseas to become an au pair; work on a farm, cruise ship or resort; or teach English, do conservation work or share your sports skills.

There could be a registration fee involved and you will have to pay for your own travel expenses. For more info, visit www.statravel.co.za or call 0861-781-781.

For volunteer projects, visit www.projects-abroad.org.za or www.gapyear.com   

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