Along with the BIG decision of what you want to study, you also need to decide where you are going to study. Universities, FET Colleges and Universities of Technologies differ in many ways. Here are some elements to consider when deciding about your future campus.
Campuses can be inner city, suburban, in rural centres, or just plain rural. Each city or town has its own unique personality and activities on offer. Think about the differences in lifestyle, cost of living, transport and people that appeals to you most. You may prefer sunshine and coastal regions like Cape Town and Durban, or the hustle and bustle of the big city life like Johannesburg and Pretoria.
The size of each campus has a big effect on the atmosphere, social life and facilities of each institution. Big institutions such as the University of Johannesburg and Stellenbosch University have tens of thousands of students, while some smaller institutions only have a few dozen. Some campuses are spread out over hundreds of m² while others are confined to a single central campus.
How hard they are to get into
Generally, universities, especially the top institutions in South Africa, are harder to get into than other universities, Universities of Technologies and FET Colleges. Are you worried about meeting the admission requirements of a particular course? Then it is probably best applying to a few places, including a campus that is not as competitive.
Facilities and services
What range of academic resources, student support services and leisure facilities are available? Big campuses have the comforts of small towns — you can get everything from a haircut to a four-course meal. At some small campuses you can’t always get good coffee, but you can enjoy a more intimate atmosphere.
Have a look at the institution’s website for more information on their alumni. SA universities have some great exchange programmes which will expose you to not only local students, but also to students from overseas. Sometimes you will be pleasantly surprised by the number of well-known people that attended your tertiary institution.
Style and ethos
It’s hard to pin down, but no two campuses feel the same. Some seem serious and scholarly, while at others the atmosphere is bohemian, political, sports-mad, religious, or all about having a good time. So, choose wisely as you will be spending a few years there to complete your selected programme.