Taking the plunge into student life

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THERE were mixed emotions as thousands of students embarked on their first day of tertiary education at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) yesterday.

More than 27000 students started classes across NMMU's six campuses, spokeswoman Debbie Derry said. More are scheduled to join their ranks following the closure of late registration.

BEd foundation phase student Sarah Miles, 19, who was among the new students, was "scared, and very excited".

"The last 12 years of school amount to this! It is very intimidating to go from being the big shot at school to not even knowing which building your next class is in.

"But I am excited to get the year going, meet new friends and learn new things," she said.

Electrical engineering student Zolisa Tom, 18, was not as nervous, and was approaching tertiary education as a chance to reinvent himself.

"New people, new challenges, a new life is what I expect from first year. Nobody knows you here so you can be whoever you want to be. I've decided to hang back and analyse the groups before choosing friends because there is so much diversity," Tom said.

Byron Malambo, 18, said he was not sure what was expected in his LLB studies.

"I have no idea what to expect from university as a whole. It is a major adjustment, from being spoon- fed at school to having to learn independence and responsibility for my own work.

"In a way I look forward to having to rely on nobody but myself."

Mechatronics engineering first year Yusuf Abrahams, 18, said he thought it would be "easier than school". "Well, I only have five modules as compared to the seven subjects at school. So in theory I think it will be easier. However, chances are there will be a lot of other aspects which will be more challenging, like simply fitting in," Abrahams said.

NMMU spokeswoman Roslyn Baatjies said the number of first-year students had increased by more than 1000 across Port Elizabeth's four campuses to more than 8000, but final figures would only be known once the late registration process had been completed. The total for new first-years last year was 7224.

"The faculty of business and economics sciences alone recorded a first-year intake of more than 2300 students.

"It is an annual trend for the programmes in this faculty, especially the BCom programme which is popular and comes highly recommended," Baatjies said.