Letter: University life not as fun as people perceive it to be

It is the end of the year and pupils across South Africa are concluding their academic year.

The majority of these pupils are excited about completing matric and enrolling with institutions of higher learning.

Some will be searching for job opportunities and others upgrading their matric results, but among the group, there are pupils who will be heading straight for university.

In the back of their minds, these pupils are expecting a Las Vegas kind of life at varsity.

To them, getting to varsity means that all the struggles they faced at high school are history.

While this is true, there is one misconception, that university is paradise.

It could be, or at least if you come from an affluent household.

University might be better than being at high school, but it is not the Garden of Eden.

Challenges at varsity come from a different dimension.

First, students have to adapt to the environment of university from high school and thus close the gap.

This means that you are on your own, literally and figuratively.

If you do not come to the lecture hall (known as class at high school), the lecturer will not ask you anything.

Second, the stress levels caused by the enormous workload are very high. Students have to submit weekly assignments, and prepare for tests and tutorials.

Therefore, the possibility of students dropping out cannot be ruled out.

Third, there is no feeding scheme at varsity, food is very expensive and in a year you could spend R16 000 only on food, not forgetting that each textbook might cost more than R600.

The cost might be covered by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), but the NSFAS might delay the disbursement of allowances.

Are pupils being prepared for this kind of environment?

What is their take when they see the #FeesMustFall campaign?

Do they think these are students who are lazy to study and have nothing to do?

Having gone through the system, my answer is pupils “have not seen it coming”.

The adventure they are undertaking is more mischievous than the pirates of the Caribbean.

Students study for degrees that they know nothing about.

Others enrol in programmes that are overcrowded.

Consequently, they contribute to the unemployment rate.

Pupils must be prepared to confront challenges.

They must know that it is possible not to eat for two consecutive days.

It is possible to eat brown bread with water, while your roommate is having fish and chips.

Your roommate might have nice bedding, while you have only a blanket.

Pupils must be prepared mentally to stand against the tempest of coming from a poor background academically.

It is possible to be in a lecture hall, but still not understand the words coming out of the lecturer’s mouth. It is possible to fail examinations before you even get to the examination room.

It is possible to sleep in computer labs and offices for the rest of the year, because of not being able to pay for accommodation.

This, though, must not frighten those who have written Grade 12, but it must be logical that the first day of lectures (class) is the genesis of examinations.

There is no catching up, but only cumulative work that leads to examinations and thus graduation.

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